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DIY Dirt Road maintenance and improvement  RSS feed

 
gardener
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Location: PNW Oregon
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Okay - so my rock road that's been fine up to this fall, but now is turning into a mud bog with this years heavy PNW rains.

I've been talking with people about how one can deal with: sinking rock - rising mud, one guy said there is fabric you can put down to keep your rock from sinking. I imagine there must be other solutions too, so does anyone here at Permies have dirt road maintenance experience?

I can keep throwing rock down on my driveway, but my road community did that last year on the main road and now it's falling apart too this winter - so rocking isn't the perfect solution.


(Edit to add - I've learning that not all rock is equal : )
 
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Road Fabric is probably your best bet. I installed it through a swampy area, about 100ft. x 12ft, and we were able to run pretty heavy equipment over the road during building. I remember it costing about $500.- for a 12ft roll... not sure. Fifteen years later it still looks great. You can, of course, keep dumping tons of stone into the mud and hope that eventually it will solidify.
 
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I throw down asphalt chunks of various sizes that have been dumped following renewal of nearby govt maintained road. The asphalt is heavy and next time it rains acts like a checkdam, so the road that became a river becomes a road again. Just throw the asphalt into the deepest ruts and they self fill next time it rains. It's not an instant one time fix. I've been doing this for several years, and it gets better each year.
 
Jami McBride
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Wow, that road fabric sure is expensive. I could see it coming in handy for spot applications.

I don't know if I can find asphalt chunks, there is a lot of broken cement chunks at demolition sites around here. But I don't think I would want to head that route. A lot of heavy back work not to mention the addition of chemicals to the homestead. I do know people (relatives) who use them for walkways and such.

Thanks for the ideas!

 
pollinator
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Location: northern California
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I imagine it would be ugly if not covered by gravel or until it fills over with whatever washes in, but a friend of mine in Georgia threw old carpets into his driveway. I imagine these have the same effect as the commercial fabric described above. As an aside, a couple of pieces of carpet are good to keep in a vehicle that has to navigate such a road as well, being handy to provide traction in a rut to get the vehicle unstuck.....
For years and years there, I and many visitors and interns went with the rubble route. Any time a vehicle went to town, it was considered an obligation to bring back several buckets of gravel and rubble from whatever free sources we could find, and we were always on the lookout. Big flat slabs of blacktop or cement were particularly valuable for the deepest holes or ruts, especially when"locked in" by gravel dumped around and between. Otherwise sometimes they would tip up on edge when driven over and make a worse mess. But we used just about anything durable....bricks, coal, chunks of treated lumber.....
 
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Location: BC, Canada
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Like a house, your road is only as good as its foundation. If you add gravel on top and mud squirts through, your base wasn't prepared properly.

All organic soil has to be removed, 3" clear or 3" minus is the best rock to start with in wet areas, and build up at least a foot of that and transition to finer material.

I have a monstrous driveway project planned for spring to redo and rock 2 km's of private driveway. Tired of the mud here too!
 
gardener
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Like Rob mentioned the foundation of a road is paramount to the longevity of the road surface.
Your road sounds like it was built without a foundation, hence the mud coming up through the rock.
Putting more gravel down should be thought of as a Bandaid it will last a while but then the problem will come back.

(I am in the process of rebuilding our driveway and widening it 3 feet, it is 400 feet long, goes up 150 feet and follows the hill's contour, and I am having to do this work with hand tools, I expect it to take me a full year to complete).

You have some choices for a permanent fix to this issue.
1. dig out what is there and build a proper road bed.
2. start from where your road is at now and build up, thus raising the road surface. (This means you are going to use what is already in place as the road bed and build up from there, this would necessitate use of some type of barrier (road bed cloth, carpets, etc.).
3. go with a solid road surface such as asphalt or concrete, however, with the "mud" leakage either of these will eventually fail.

There is great information on how to build rural roads available from the US Forestry service which gives all the particulars for building dirt, gravel, and hard surface roadways.
forestyserrvice road data This link will take you to all the information they have on roads.

Be ready for a lot of work if you want to fix your road issues permanently, having access to some machinery is a real help in getting this type of project done.



 
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I have a problem with dirt road maintenance, too. I have a solution that seems to work for me. I found that, at least for my region in Western mid Michigan, if I scrape the top few inches of road into the center of the road, then spread it so that a cross section of the road looks slightly convex, the water just runs off the center of the road when it hits, does not infiltrate, and then goes various places into the land on either side. There are a few points where the water from one side of the road wants to go to the other side of the road. Drain tile works here. This turned a 900 ft two track rutted out mess into a dry usable road, but it takes maintenance of about two scrapes in spring, and maybe one in fall before snow flies.

This winter, a local farmer decided to help us out by plowing. I thought we would try it. He scraped fully 3 inches of that nice convex road shape, and deposited plenty of the road on either side, forming a water-catching bowl 900 ft long. I just sighed, and wanted to cry, and politely told him that we would be plowing for ourselves from then on.

It sounds like your problem is much more difficult than mine. Michigan gets rain, but not like PNW. Good luck.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Sounds like you re-crowned the road Andrew, yes that is one of the down falls of road building, not putting in a proper crown.
there are parameters for any road and the crown functions to move water to the sides before it has a chance to degrade the surface by seepage.

Ditches also are part of water management for roads, if they are not placed correctly, they can actually degrade the road as the water erodes the side of the road bed.
Roads are not simple, unless you want deep ruts, narrowing travel ways pot holes and wash outs, you need to engineer the road for optimal survival from both traffic and water.

Our driveway was in fair shape when we bought our land but it had sat unused for seven years. When we started using it the road started degrading rapidly.
Our main issues are: lack of an up hill side ditch to move rain water away from and down the hill, collapse of the road track and the subsequent formation of a high crown.
These factors made it necessary for me to rebuild the road completely for longevity and this means putting in a wide ditch, resetting the road crown, adjusting the slope towards the new ditch and the final steps will be laying the gravel and setting the surface.
The gravel will need to be put down in three layers, large, medium and the topping of SP2P for a smoother drive surface. Each layer will need to be compressed by rolling so it becomes stable before the next layer can be laid down.
 
Posts: 108
Location: W. CO, 6A
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:Sounds like you re-crowned the road Andrew, yes that is one of the down falls of road building, not putting in a proper crown.
there are parameters for any road and the crown functions to move water to the sides before it has a chance to degrade the surface by seepage.

Ditches also are part of water management for roads, if they are not placed correctly, they can actually degrade the road as the water erodes the side of the road bed.
Roads are not simple, unless you want deep ruts, narrowing travel ways pot holes and wash outs, you need to engineer the road for optimal survival from both traffic and water.

Our driveway was in fair shape when we bought our land but it had sat unused for seven years. When we started using it the road started degrading rapidly.
Our main issues are: lack of an up hill side ditch to move rain water away from and down the hill, collapse of the road track and the subsequent formation of a high crown.
These factors made it necessary for me to rebuild the road completely for longevity and this means putting in a wide ditch, resetting the road crown, adjusting the slope towards the new ditch and the final steps will be laying the gravel and setting the surface.
The gravel will need to be put down in three layers, large, medium and the topping of SP2P for a smoother drive surface. Each layer will need to be compressed by rolling so it becomes stable before the next layer can be laid down.

So true. My road was not prepared or crowned properly.
In the end I put roadbase down, and it packed down really hard just by driving on it. It's cheaper than gravel, and doesn't seem to sink through the mud.
Where we had deep mud ruts it's still nice and dry 2 years later.
It also helped that I crowned the road properly.
So OP might try roadbase as an option. Of course, YMMV.
 
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I had the same problem and can tell you how I fixed it.

Around here, our soil is very deep clay and sand mix (10ft+). In the summer when it is bone dry, it is very, very similar to concrete. But when it gets wet after a rain or snow melt, it is very mushy. Water takes a long time to drain through it, so when you walk on it your foot sinks into the mud a few inches just from body weight. It is impossible to drive on it.

Most people around here use Crusher Run for their driveway, which is a combination of small 1/2 inch stones and stone dust. They may call it something different where you live. Every year it sinks (even if topsoil was originally removed), gets lots of potholes, and everyone gets a new layer installed each year. Keeps the road guys in business.

After much research, and talking to farmers, I fixed my 500 ft road 6 years ago for $1000 and it is still good as new. zero maintenance. Lots of people told me to dig ditches along side, but if you do that, you will be re-digging those ditches every few years as they erode. Instead, I suggest raising the height of your road so it is at least 12 inches above surrounding soil. BTW, if you put 6 inches of dirt over a plastic culvert pipe, you can drive a car over it without damaging the pipe. 12 inches of packed dirt and you can drive trucks over it. So raising your road 12 inches (after packing) above the constantly wet ground, will disperse the weight so that very little weight (psi) makes it down to the mushy ground level. Obviously, soil types will vary slightly, but in general this is true.

First, raise the height of your road using all sorts of cheap fill. Something that drains well is best, but almost anything will work. Use cheap stuff because you might need a lot. Much more than you think, till it gets packed. Drive over this for a few weeks to pack it down. Alternately you can put down 6 inches now, and 6 inches in a few weeks so it packs well. Grade it smooth and put a 2 inch crown in the center of the roadway so it is 2 inches higher in the center than the sides so water drains off quickly.

Obviously, if you don't have a road and are starting from scratch, it is best to remove the top few inches of organic soil.

Second, after your base is very well packed, spread at least a double layer of stone. I used number 2 white stone (about 2 inches in diameter) but bigger is better. If you go very big (4 inches or more) you will need to add additional layers of smaller stone which will get expensive So I put down about 4 inches of 2 inch stone to save money based on my research. This stuff is much more expensive than fill dirt. This cost me $1000 for 500 ft x 13 ft. and I had it tailgate spread, meaning they dump it as they drive down the road, instead of in big piles, so I have very little work spreading it.

Then pack the stone. Drive on it with your vehicles for a few months. This will cause the stone to "kint" together. What happens is the stones will actually move around over time as you drive on it and will settle so their flat side is up (mostly) and will fit together very tightly, almost like a stone mason placed each stone in place (like building a dry stone wall with no mortar). The roadway will become fairly smooth as you look at it, but will still vibrate the hell out of your car. If you haven't seen it yourself, it is amazing how tightly together the stones will fit themselves. This will distribute the weight of your tires over a much larger area to reduce downward pressure (psi) on your base.

Lastly, get some Crusher Run (or whatever they call 1/2 inch stone and stone dust mix, in your area) and spread it out on top to fill in all the cracks and cover the stones so you can no longer see the stones. Maybe 1 or 2 inches of Crusher Run. This stuff is not too expensive. It will take a few good rains for this to work down tight between all your stones, and the stones will start to show through.

You're done! After many pot holes every year, I now have zero road maintenance. Other than once in a while grass grows tall down the middle where no tires hit it, so I just mow it.

Probably not of interest to Permies, but in an attempt to be complete, after this is settled for a while, you can add a few inches of Millings on top. Millings are what people around here call the asphalt that is scrapped up off roads to roughen the surface, when the govm't resurfaces a blacktop asphalt roadway. They are very cheap. I have never used them, but I have seen where they have. Millings are like tiny gravel, but get fairly packed after driving on them for a while and will prevent grass from growing, and help the water drain off the surface better.

Where I live, if you don't have trees lining the south side of your road, the sun will melt the snow in a few days, even if it never gets above 25F. So I never plow anymore. If it snows less than 12 inches, I can drive my 4WD truck over the snow, otherwise I just make sure I have plenty of firewood and food, and prepare to spend a week working at home once or twice a year if I need to. I have yet to see anyone that can plow snow off a dirt road without damaging the road. To a plow or FE loader, stone is just as easy to move as snow.

YRMV, but this worked great for me. Best of luck!
 
Jami McBride
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I'm learning a lot Thanks everyone.....

One issue with my driveway is that it is perpendicular to a steep uphill incline. My buildings/driveway are on a wide pad cut into a slopping hill. So all that winter sub-water is moving down and past my driveway to continue down hill. Add to this that the french drain empties into this area and there are no better places for it to empty to, just worse. I'd like to put in a few cisterns to pump surface water into from this area for summer watering but that's a big dream. The driveway in this area isn't that bad, but it's starting to have surface puddles during rains, and be a little soft with tire groves showing. This area is as long as a small truck, and a bit lower than the rest of the road and up-hill land. I think some large rock in this section along with some shallow surface water draining might suffice.

The area of my looping driveway I'm here to learn how to fix is where my daughter has to walk her dairy cow to get to the milking stanchion/tent. Everything worked great last winter (year 1), but this year that section of my circular driveway is a muddy bog - where did my rock go! I can actually get stuck with spinning tires in this area now, and so I have not been able to use this turn around. This area started out as 'rocked' as the rest of my road, so I'm learning that animal traffic is a big factor on all land, even when rocked.

I'm so glad to learn that the soft-squishy muck needs to be removed first - that helps a lot. And I like the idea of using the fabric under permanent animal housing or buildings.

Where I'm at - just digging ditches isn't always the right answer - for one it can call to more water, so ditches need to be only as deep as the surface you want to help drain. Any deeper and you will collect water that moves well under your road, in the subsoil. In winter our soil is 100% saturated. Another part of my problem in dealing with water coming to my driveway is if I send it out to the roadside I have to go under the main road to get to the uphill of the road where the ditching is hit and miss and I'd have to improve that too. On my side of the road there are no ditches, my land is lower and flat coming off the main road.

Venting Here - it's a big construction project to properly fix my driveway and the main road in front of my property. Now moving about 250-ish feet toward the back of my property is a seasonal creek where all of this could be sent to (in theory) - I just find it all very overwhelming (the construction parts). It sounds so easy - just hire someone! I find that they can't do what they don't understand, and won't do what they don't agree with, $700 later lesson learned. Okay venting over - sigh....


 
Jami McBride
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Awh Brett, you must have been posting as I was

I agree - raise the road above the soaked land! And your right, the guy that does the road around here lives in the neighborhood and puts down what we call quarter minus - dust + small rock, and all it does is sink. But this guy is liked and respected so he has job security.
 
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Jamie, sometimes it is just a matter of more and more rock, like if you kept throwing large enough stones into a creek you'd get a dam. But the driveway rock on a hillside has to be no smaller than 1 1/2 inch crushed rock (not the smooth stuff) with trenches (so you can keep an eye on things) crossing the driveway sending it off to the side. There is no getting around this, and one of your best investments is a solid driveway that survives running water. One of the best combos I had for a shed foundation is baseball sized concrete (rip-rap) and small 1 1/2" rock in between. Those two firm up together to make something really solid, but rip-rap is expensive, and it takes more loads to haul. But if you can put the time in, it's worth it. Otherwise, just stick with the 1 1/2" or 2" stuff.

I haven't found road fabric to work on a hill because everything slides downhill, including the fabric. I haven't found small crushed rock with fines to work because it completely disappears into mud, or else pounding rain sends it straight down the hill. Trucks won't come out with more rock because they will get stuck, so keeping a big pile of 1 1/2" rock around for maintenance/emergencies is really important.

I have a section of driveway that not only gets saturated when raining, but the ground water for 10 days afterwards saturates it and makes it too slick to even walk on, despite the gravel because it's going across a hill. I dug a trench 6 inches uphill and parallel to the driveway, dropped in perforated pipe in the trench, with 45 degree T's every 6 feet to drain it downhill from where it settled on the driveway. I prefer 45 degrees as opposed to 90 because it doesn't slow down the seepage. I found out how close the T's had to be by just shoveling small drainage ditches across the driveway until the sections between the ditches dried out. Sometimes it took half a day for it to show how effective it was. I had to walk away and wait a while. I just told myself I'd dig ditches until it dried out, and they were closer than I expected, but they worked. Then I dropped solid pipe into T's, the pipe going under the driveway, although a trench would work as well, and it's done well. There have been probably 3 coats of 1 1/2" rock over the pipes. But then it got stable, and could be trusted.

Since your French drain can't drain anywhere else, is there a way to move it even 18 inches? If where it drains is level, road fabric or even weed block fabric and large crushed rock would help.

I mentioned elsewhere in this forum that when a huge downpour tore out about 200 feet of driveway, and I'd spent 20 years fixing that on and off as it got eroded, I moved the driveway over 18 inches, and now it's high and dry, and all the rushing water is in a trench off to the side. Makes me shake my head every time I drive up it when it's raining, that I didn't just believe Mother Nature and listen to her years sooner

 
Cristo Balete
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Another couple reasons for the 45 degree angle trenches or pipes is so that you don't get both wheels in a muddy trench at the same time and get stuck.

And when the gravel truck can finally come, it won't have both wheels of a multi-ton truck on your plastic pipe that is probably not too far under the soil.

And when you dig trenches you want the water moving as fast as you can make it run in the trench and a couple feet beyond the side of the driveway. So if it has to be at more of an angle, say, on a hillside, that's better. You don't want it slowing down while in the driveway section, even if it's seeping after a heavy rain.
 
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Location: Colorado Springs, CO zone 5A / Canon City, CO zone 5B
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We are collecting tires for a road fix using something like this system: http://www.ecoflexlimited.com.au/

It is also used in South Africa by a company whose name I can't recall.

It is basically tires made "topless" and "bottomless" and filled with 3" aggregate. Some of our areas will need more than one row to be well out of the water, but it has a long and successful history in Australia in marshy areas. I like the idea of containing the aggregate in the "forms" so it stays put. It is not cheap, but then none of these solutions are if your road is long.

And then there is this, but I shudder at the cost. http://bionicsoilsolutions.com/
 
Cristo Balete
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T. Phillips, the previous owner of my place built a tire platform at the edge of the pond for digging the pond out by sinking tires and filling them with concrete, so I've seen this work. Although the tires were not connected and they were underwater eventually and wobbling independently and separated some. I think they would have worked better had they been connected somehow, although the concrete, rather than rock stayed solid inside the tires.

Not sure how well this would work on a hillside because it would settle in different ways that might take maintenance, but on a level area it might do well. Although I think I would still use drainage on a pad so things won't keep sinking.
 
Brett Hammond
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T. - That tire solution is very cool. Looks like it would work well where you have moving water hitting your roadway, to prevent it from getting washed out. Maybe even crossing a stream, provided you put a big culvert through.


Hi Jami,

So sorry you are feeling overwhelmed. I understand.

This is a long post, so unless someone REALLY wants details of what I already briefly described above, they may want to skip over.

It is hard to picture your property, but hope I do enough to offer a few tips.

#1 - Don't hire your local road guy, if he puts small (less than 2 inch) stones down every year. He is running a racket. Or he is ignorant and doesn't know any better. You can be the general contractor and fix this yourself. No need to spend many thousands to hire a pro. Just hire helpers if you need help.

#2 - grade, grade, grade. French drain (and sometimes ditches) can plug up with leaves/debris/nests and also plugged with ice when the ground freezes. They also require ongoing maintenance to keep them clear and will eventually fill with dirt. So the best solution to water problems, is always to grade the land so it slopes where you want the water to run. Every square foot of your property should have some place where the water can run all the way off without hurting anything (or into a holding pond, terrace garden, field, etc).

Sometimes grading is not possible, as when your driveway is cut into the side of a hill. In this case, the water running down the hill will want to cross over the top of your driveway and wash it out. So you need to dig a ditch between your driveway and the hill to catch the runoff, and install a culvert (usually 12 or 16 inch flexible plastic culvert pipe) under your driveway where you want water to run out of your new ditch. Never allow water to run OVER your driveway. If you have enough slope so your ditches slope a few inches every 10 feet, the water may move fast enough that it keeps the ditches from filling with dirt for a long time. More ditch and culvert details below.

#3 - ELEVATION. I also have flat land that is saturated all winter/spring and is flat with no place to drain, until the water gets deep enough to cross over onto my neighbor's property and run off. Some parts of my property that my driveway crosses have several inches of standing water for 3 or 4 months continuously (because my neighbor installed a flower bed in the runoff swale). So in this case, the key is ELEVATION, and KNITTED 2-INCH stone. If you build up your driveway 12 inches higher than surrounding soil, with a gradual slope on the sides of the driveway down to ground level (or ditch) so you don't have mini landslides, it doesn't matter if the driveway is saturated at the bottom or not. Because the top 12 inches will drain after rain and provide a solid base (on top of the saturated mush subsoil) that will stay solid, provided you keep the water level always 12 inches below the top of your driveway. Don't allow the water to build up along side your driveway or everything will sink. This is why a culvert under your driveway, from the ditch you dig between your hill and driveway, to the other side of your driveway,  is important: to keep the water level ALWAYS 12 inches lower than the top of your driveway. AT ALL TIMES, ON ALL SIDES.

You also are going to need a culvert from the ground in the middle of your circular drive, to ground that will eventually drain downhill outside your circular drive, even if fairly flat, so you don't end up with a pond in the middle of your circle after a heavy rain. Even if the ground all around your property is level. Then, if you get 6 inches of rain, it will drain out so you have maybe 1 inch everywhere (assuming some runs off somewhere), rather than create a 6 inch pond in the middle if your circle, that will soak through the bottom 6 inches of driveway and cause it to start sinking.

Make your driveway at least 13 feet wide so your vehicles are not putting pressure on the sides, and slop sides 40 degrees or less, from the drive down to the ground (or ditch) along side. The wider the drive, and shallower the slope, the more it will stand up to weather. One advantage to making all slopes gradual, other than lasting much longer, is that it is easier to mow any grass that grows there.

#4 - KNITTED STONES. Stones smaller than 2 inches will not last very long in a driveway. A few big stones will not last very long and will eventually sink. I put down some bricks in old pot holes and were sunk into the mud in less than a year. 12 inch chunks of concrete sunk here. If you dump a pile of 2 inch or bigger stones into mud, then will eventually sink.

The key is allowing 2-inch stone to KNIT in large numbers, and create a matt to drive on. If you put 4 inches (or more) of 2-inch stone on your whole circle drive, on top of a 12 inch base of packed dirt, the stones will knit together before sinking (provided you put the stone on dry dirt base). Never dump any size stone on top of mud unless it is an emergency and you have deep pockets, because it will sink. When the stones have time to knit together (on a dry base), there is a lot of friction between a stone and its neighbor on all sides. This side friction prevents the stone from sinking, and spreads the pressure from your vehicle out over a very large footprint. The double layer (4 inches of 2 inch stone) has a second layer that will spread that weight over an even larger area, and the 12 inches of packed dirt, even more area. So by the time the weight of your vehicle reaches the mushy sublayer 12 inches down (actually 16 inches if you count the 4 inch of stone), it is dispersed so much that nothing sinks. If you can afford more than 4 inches, then do 6 inches of stone to be extra safe. I did 4 inches of 2 inch stone over a dry base of dirt, and it works fine. My driveway fill dirt, is mostly sand, which everyone told me would not pack well and my vehicle would sink into it when it rained. But with the knitted stone on top, it is fine.

Here's what I would recommend you do, in exactly this order:

Step 1. - Call MISS UTILITY to mark buried cables before doing any digging. Hire someone to dig a 2x2 foot (or larger) ditch between your hill and driveway (cost maybe $200 for 100 foot long ditch dug by backhoe). And dig temporary trench(es) across your driveway at low spots to bury culverts (I paid less than $150 for a backhoe to dig my culvert ditch, and wait an hr or so while I buried it so he could back fill it, done in 3 hrs). Bury the bottom 1 or 2 inches of culvert below ground level. This will ensure your culvert is not accidentally too high, causing a backup or dam, and will provide a wider mouth at ground level to catch runoff. If the area is mostly flat, and not much water runs through that area, a 6 inch black flexible drain pipe sold at the home center will work. Solid pipe cannot be used for culvert (unless it is thick concrete pipe) because it will crack as it settles. As the culvert ditch is filled, pack it by stomping on it, or pounding with the end of a 2x4 after the backhoe dumps every 4 inches back into the ditch.

If lots of water runs down the hill into your new ditch along side your drive, buy a 10 or 12 inch plastic culvert from a mechanical distributer for about $100 or so. They come in 20 foot lengths, but I cut mine in half and used a "connector" to connect the two 10 ft halves back together when I buried it, so it would fit in my truck for the ride home. I installed a 16 inch culvert pipe to drain about 12 acres under my driveway, and it is about twice as big as I really need. Always get bigger than you need so your drive doesn't get washed out during a hurricane or 100 year storm. Keep in mind you will need at least 6 to 12 inches of packed dirt on top of a culvert, so in my case I built up my driveway over 24 inches above ground level (16 inch culvert buried 2 inches + 12 inches of packed dirt = top of driveway is 26 inches above surrounding ground level at the deepest spot). So if your property is very flat, try several 6 inch culverts/drain pipe instead so you don't have to build up your driveway as much. The smaller the culvert, the more likely it is to get clogged with debris (leaves, etc.) so keep it as big as you can. It is better to bury 10 or 12 inch culvert, and add a lot more dirt to build up your driveway, but that will be more costly. Then again, how much will it cost if it gets plugged up and the water rushes over top your driveway and washes it out? Your choice.

Bury culvert pipe in packed mud (NOT STONE) thick enough to hold together when compressed in your hand, but wet enough to push the culvert down into it to eliminate air pockets and settling. Slope 4 inches every 10 feet if you can, but if on flat ground, just set flat. Dirt will eventually fill in the bottom inch or so of the culvert pipe and smooth out the slope through the pipe. Extend culvert pipe 3 or 4 feet further than you think you need, and trim to size a few months after settling.

Fill in the temporary culvert trench so there is at least 6 inches of dirt over the top of the culvert pipe. This might result in a bump in your driveway until you get to step 3, which is ok. Just drive over it slowly.

If you are on fairly flat land, try to level your driveway from your house to the street so there is no uphill/downhill. This will help keep the driveway draining well.

Step 2. - Wait for your drive to dry out before proceeding.

Step 3. - Call a local guy that hauls dirt and get him to dump lots of fill dirt on your drive to build up to 6 inches above ground level. If you can find a guy that can do tailgate spreading, there will be no manual labor involved. Otherwise, invite friends and neighbors to help rake. Or hire someone to help for the day. Have the driver dump some dirt over your culvert before he drives his truck over it. Full trucks weigh 10 or 20 times more than a car, so be careful of your new culverts until you have 6 to 12 inches of packed dirt over them.

Step 4. - Pack the new dirt by driving on it for a week or two. Or, if you are in a big hurry, or heavy rain is a few days away and you don't want it to wash away, rent a road roller to pack it, or just drive your car back and forth 50 times, or ask the truck driver to ride over it with a full load of dirt several times, then move on to the next step. If the dirt is very dry and kicking up dust, spraying with a little water will help it to pack tight very quickly.

Step 5. - Get 6 inches more dirt spread on your driveway. If the first guy did a good job tailgate spreading the first load evenly, call him again. Otherwise try another driver. There are lots of independent drivers that haul stone/dirt for people/contractors/developers. Some are great at tailgate spreading, and some are not.

Step 6. - Pack it like you did the first layer.

Step 7. Chances are, after packed, you may need one more load of dirt to get 12 inches packed. So do that now (i.e. repeat step 5 and 6). Make sure you have at least 6 inches of packed dirt over any culvert. 12 inches is best.

Step 8. - Call anyone you know with a tractor, backhoe, front end loader, or bob cat, and get firm fixed-price quotes for grading your driveway so it is nice and smooth with a 2 !or 3 inch crown in the middle. DO NOT HIRE SOMEONE BY THE HOUR, and do not pay in advance. Inspect the driveway and get issues resolved before paying. Alternatively, if you want to have some fun, rent a bobcat for the day for about $300 and grade it yourself! There shouldn't be a lot of dirt to move, just smooth it out to remove car tracks from packing and add a crown. You may also be able to do this by hand with a rake, but will take a while, and will make you very sore, but is an option when you have a lot of time and no money.

Step 8. - The next day, or well before the next rain, call your best truck driver, and get him to deliver enough 2 inch stone to cover your drive with 4 inches. Call the quary so you know how much stone you need, and how much it will cost. Then when you call the driver to schedule, tell him how much stone you need and how much the quarry charges, and negotiate a delivery fee. So you pay for the stone + a delivery fee of less than $100 per truckload to the driver. If he charges you by the truckload for the stone (not weight) you are getting ripped off. Ask to see the quary scale ticket for each load he delivers so you know the driver got a full load and is not pocketing some of your stone money. Always pay truck drivers in cash if you can, after each truckload, and give them a tip on top of their fee and they will go out of their way for you and save you lots of labor. You will have called all your friends/family and asked them to bring a heavy rake to help rake out the stone so the drive is nice and flat, crowned in the center. The amount of work required, will depend on how good your driver is at tailgate spreading stone. If he dumps it in big piles, you may need to rent that bobcat again. Park on the street just in case he dumps it all in one bug pile, so you can still get out to rent that bobcat.

Step 9. Drive on it for several months and then check it. Look at it closely and when it has a very, very flat surface with no stones sticking up (almost like pavement). Every stone should be down tight so you can't wiggle them. You should not hear any stones moving as you drive on it. The stones should be packed tight. Then you are ready for the next step. After the first few dozen trips up and back in your vehicle to pack it a little, rain won't harm it anymore so don't worry too much if it takes you several months, and several rain storms to get it packed real tight. But remember, never dump stone of any size in mud, or it will sink.

Step 10. - Get 1/2 inch stone mixed with stone dust, spread 2 inches thick. Rake smooth again but don't disturb and of the packed 2 inch stone. Now your driveway is smooth and won't vibrate loose the fillings in your teeth when you drive on it. By the end of the year, most of this top layer will disappear down into the cracks between your stone, so you will see the top surface of your 2 inch stone again, but it will remain smooth driving and you are done with your driveway, never to have to work on your driveway again, so you can put all your time and energy into other projects.

After a few years, when you tell your neighbors you no longer have to maintain your driveway anymore, they will hire you to fix their's!
 
Jami McBride
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Cristo Balete wrote:Since your French drain can't drain anywhere else, is there a way to move it even 18 inches? If where it drains is level, road fabric or even weed block fabric and large crushed rock would help.


Funny you should say this - the second guy I hired to put in my french-drain was suppose to continue the ditch and rock all the way, but stopped at the drain part. It was a big job and he was out here for many hours, maybe he bid the job wrong, but I couldn't get him back out by then he was to busy with other jobs.

LOL - yes, my daughter and I went out during a downpour and dug a trench starting at the end of the french-drain rock (a bit up slope) to end right at the bad area that has standing water. The next day we dug a fish-pound to hold even more water, but it only helps a little.
From here we are at our front gate and the main road, so no where to go - at least not this winter. The french-drain end was flooding better section of road, but past that it went right into the cow tent (very bad) so I had to move it further down the driveway no options.


Cristo Balete wrote: You don't want it slowing down while in the driveway section, even if it's seeping after a heavy rain.


You've got that right..... but I'm in a pickle now with this extra water coming into this area that was already in use cow/car/truck. So I have some earthworks in my near future for sure.

But before I start anything *grin* I do need to learn about roads and best practices. That's where you all are helping me loads.

And I'm going to use this information to help with redesigning the cows common areas.
 
Jami McBride
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Brett Hammond wrote:So in this case, the key is ELEVATION, and KNITTED 2-INCH stone. If you build up your driveway 12 inches higher than surrounding soil, with a gradual slope on the sides of the driveway down to ground level (or ditch) so you don't have mini landslides, it doesn't matter if the driveway is saturated at the bottom or not. Because the top 12 inches will drain after rain and provide a solid base (on top of the saturated mush subsoil) that will stay solid, provided you keep the water level always 12 inches below the top of your driveway. Don't allow the water to build up along side your driveway or everything will sink. This is why a culvert under your driveway, from the ditch you dig between your hill and driveway, to the other side of your driveway,  is important: to keep the water level ALWAYS 12 inches lower than the top of your driveway. AT ALL TIMES, ON ALL SIDES.

Make your driveway at least 13 feet wide so your vehicles are not putting pressure on the sides, and slop sides 40 degrees or less, from the drive down to the ground (or ditch) along side. The wider the drive, and shallower the slope, the more it will stand up to weather. One advantage to making all slopes gradual, other than lasting much longer, is that it is easier to mow any grass that grows there.

#4 - KNITTED STONES. Stones smaller than 2 inches will not last very long in a driveway. A few big stones will not last very long and will eventually sink. I put down some bricks in old pot holes and were sunk into the mud in less than a year. 12 inch chunks of concrete sunk here. If you dump a pile of 2 inch or bigger stones into mud, then will eventually sink.

The key is allowing 2-inch stone to KNIT in large numbers, and create a matt to drive on. If you put 4 inches (or more) of 2-inch stone on your whole circle drive, on top of a 12 inch base of packed dirt, the stones will knit together before sinking (provided you put the stone on dry dirt base). Never dump any size stone on top of mud unless it is an emergency and you have deep pockets, because it will sink. When the stones have time to knit together (on a dry base), there is a lot of friction between a stone and its neighbor on all sides. This side friction prevents the stone from sinking, and spreads the pressure from your vehicle out over a very large footprint. The double layer (4 inches of 2 inch stone) has a second layer that will spread that weight over an even larger area, and the 12 inches of packed dirt, even more area. So by the time the weight of your vehicle reaches the mushy sublayer 12 inches down (actually 16 inches if you count the 4 inch of stone), it is dispersed so much that nothing sinks. If you can afford more than 4 inches, then do 6 inches of stone to be extra safe. I did 4 inches of 2 inch stone over a dry base of dirt, and it works fine. My driveway fill dirt, is mostly sand, which everyone told me would not pack well and my vehicle would sink into it when it rained. But with the knitted stone on top, it is fine.


I already kind of used your idea of building up - for my hay storage tent. I had an area just above where the water is standing on my driveway now, up toward the house. This area has a large oak tree near the road and always became swampy at the back near the hill. So I had a dump truck load of washed 2" rock dumped there, sloping up from my road, about 3' deep and meeting the hillside. This is where the last 20' of french drain was buried. On this I put my pallets and car canopy. It has worked out great, so high and dry - a perfect hay barn, easy to load just off the driveway.

I cannot widen my driveway in at least one of the bad areas - the one where the cow walks is hemmed-in by large trees and pole fencing.

All my my oak-park (the center of my loop driveway) is gently slopping and has no problems. Even my road on the up-hill side is higher while my road on the down-hill side is lower - so the rain is moving without causing any issues to the roads. The area the cow walks through is a bit lower than the part where the fencing is - so bringing it up higher in that section sounds like the answer.

Thanks for all the detailed reply ~

I'll take some pictures and post



 
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The error I see here in the PNW is people filling potholes with gravel and no fines. The water in the hole keeps the gravel lubricated so each time it is driven over it splashes to the side. Then you have the same hole but deeper with a circle of gravel around it. To repair a pothole ad stones and gravel to the level of the road then take sand and clay from the side of the road, so that you maintain the crown, and tamp it inaround the stone and gravel until all of the water is driven out of the hole. make sure the water that comes out drains to the side of the road. The glacial till subsoil here makes great roads if it is elevated and crowned. Bogs and clay flood plains are another matter. One advantage is that except for August the road stays damp enough that it is not dusty.

One of my memories of the Allagash Wilderness in Maine was driving a logging road where they kept dumping dirt in a bog and the weight of the log trucks pushed it down and it came up on the sides making a hill on each side of the road higher than our car.

A maintenance trick is to take an old bed frame and weight it with some logs. Fasten a chain to the ends so that it tows at about a 30 degree angle. Drive slowly as close to the edge as you can so the the surface is swept to the center of the road. Then drive back on the other side. This works best when the road is damp [not wet or dusty] and there is time before the next storm to pack it by driving the same as when you were grading it to pack it properly. other people will drive down the center and pack the ruts. If you personally always drive with with the drivers side wheel in the center of the road you will be surprised at how much longer it will last between maintenance.

I like the 45 degree drains under the road. What is often done with driveways on slope here is to build a 2x4 'U' channel and put it across the road at an angle to keep water from running down the ruts and washing them deeper.
 
Jami McBride
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Hans Quistorff wrote:A maintenance trick is to take an old bed frame and weight it with some logs. Fasten a chain to the ends so that it tows at about a 30 degree angle. Drive slowly as close to the edge as you can so the the surface is swept to the center of the road. Then drive back on the other side. This works best when the road is damp [not wet or dusty] and there is time before the next storm to pack it by driving the same as when you were grading it to pack it properly. other people will drive down the center and pack the ruts. If you personally always drive with with the drivers side wheel in the center of the road you will be surprised at how much longer it will last between maintenance.

I like the 45 degree drains under the road. What is often done with driveways on slope here is to build a 2x4 'U' channel and put it across the road at an angle to keep water from running down the ruts and washing them deeper.


I will have to look into these U channels -

I also drive on our main road like you say, one tire on the crown and one on the side keeping out of the normal ruts. But the driveway road on my place is flat, and most of it is working great even though I'm sure it could use some rock in places. That reminds me, does anyone have suggestions for keeping new loose rock from getting moved off road. I imagine applying it when the ground is soft and then compacting it would help, walking on a loose rock is so annoying.

Here are the pictures I promised - I hope they help. It hasn't been raining today, but it was last night. Water is flowing in my hand-dug ditch, but the entire low-area is not flooded just a puddle or two - so that's a big improvement. However, when lots of rain is coming down the entire area up to the berm of my ditch is flooded in 2" of water. The animal areas across the driveway are very mucky this year. I put them there because it did have rock and was very solid and nice one year ago.... In the last picture, all that muck used to be my looped driveway, but it's a steady down-hill until it flattens out just before connecting with that other bit of road in the first pictures. I have much more road, a large parking area and road to my pump house, but these are the only places that are in need of help - so I guess it's not to bad :-)

Winter-Road-ditch.JPG
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Driveway low area & French Drain to Ditch
Winter-Road-lowArea.JPG
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The soil is lower in the area from everything around it
Winter-Road-Hay-Shack.JPG
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Shot of how my road looks normally
Winter-Road-Muck.JPG
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Cow path to her milking house
 
Brett Hammond
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Jami, thank you for the photos. It helps a lot.

It appears from your photos, that if you look 12 inches to the right and left of your driveway, that the ground level is about the same height as your driveway, give or take a few inches. That is why your driveway is always soggy and mushy. If you raise your driveway 12 inches and put knitted 2 inch stone on top, like I described above, you will not get any more potholes, or soggy driveway.

If this results in a wider driveway, then move your fence. Even if you put blacktop or concrete at the level it is now, it will sink and crack. It must be raised high enough that the additional mass will dissipate the load so enough to no longer sink when your subsoil gets soaked.
 
Brett Hammond
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Also, I can't tell how all the water running down the hill and into your ditch and french drain, gets off your property. You need to provide a place for that water to go so it doesn't swamp your driveway in a storm.
 
Hans Quistorff
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If you want to improve the puddle area that is low without doing a major renovation you can use the method I outlined
Hans Quistorff wrote:The error I see here in the PNW is people filling potholes with gravel and no fines. The water in the hole keeps the gravel lubricated so each time it is driven over it splashes to the side. Then you have the same hole but deeper with a circle of gravel around it. To repair a pothole add stones and gravel to the level of the road then take sand and clay from the side of the road, so that you maintain the crown, and tamp it inaround the stone and gravel until all of the water is driven out of the hole. make sure the water that comes out drains to the side of the road.
You may be able to use some of your rocky slope as a base in the puddles and then the fines the side of the road that is higher than necessary. My driveway across a one foot flood plain which is clay was established 100 years ago as a CCC work project with a ditch on both sides. It had to be widened to bring the hose in so they cleared the vegetation on the field side and added subsoil to move the ditch over 5 feet. That made a grassy slop to one side just like yours. The road is even better now because the drainage from the floodplain is farther from the main road bed. There were a few ruts and low spots from the construction traffic but also a pile of drain stone left over so I was able to repair using the method outlined above.

What my raw milk dairy does for the path to the milking parlor is put down a strip of the canvas that is used to carry the paper as it dries in the paper mill but that scrap may not be available in your area. Check with carpet layers for replaced carpet it will work well over a path of arborist chips. When it gets covered with cow pies turn it over and the rain will filter that down and eventually your cow path will be a compost pile. [see my youtube on carpet gardening.] Yes cows are the worst for driving gravel down and bringing mud up. It is more work to maintain a path for them than a road for vehicles. During dry weather walk them where you want a ditch. When the wet weather comes the pat will fill with water. I have seen many hillsides rutted by the water fallowing the cow path.

Permis principle: Observe, use or avoid to get the most benefit with the least extra input.
 
Cristo Balete
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If it were my cow walk, I would start with a parallel trench about 4 inches deep, just uphill from it, which from the photo looks to be between the walk and the tree, (but I'm not sure) one end heading as downhill as you can make it, crossing over the cow walk at the lowest point and extending beyond it. If it requires starting higher than the tree and ending up lower than the walk, that may be how it needs to go, but no more than a 6 inch difference from beginning of trench to end of trench so that the high end of the trench catches that water that is on your cow walk.

The trench takes precedence, and it might reroute the cow walk in a place or two, but Mother Nature isn't going to necessarily agree with where you want your pathway. Dig it so that you can see the water moving as quickly as possible. Dig it when it's sloppy like that so you see the results as you dig. Then wait 30 mins or so and see if the walk doesn't dry out, and that the water stays in the trench, moving along it.

It will take some gravel there, which doesn't hurt in any case, since it helps keep mud from getting on shoes and being tracked onto patios, decks, garages, etc.

If that puddle on your driveway doesn't get much bigger than that, it seems like several shovels full of 1 1/2" or 2" gravel there would solve that problem and raise the driveway. Add to it as the vehicles press it down. Eventually it will stop sinking. If more than 4 feet of the driveway is lower and goes under water, a second trench parallel to the driveway, about a foot away, between the driveway and the French drain, will catch that water and send it in the same direction as the French drain.

And, yeah, definitely extend that French drain beyond there, even if it has to pass back over the driveway to a lower spot.

The trick about adding 1 1/2" or 2" rock to the road is do it when it's wet so vehicles press it into the wet ground. If you put it there when it's dry, vehicles will shoot it off to the side, and it can even roll out from underfoot. So even though this wet time of year doesn't make it easy, it get the gravel pressed well into place and it will show you which sections sink the most and need more gravel.
 
Brett Hammond
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Cristo,

Filling potholes only works if you have the right type of soil or bedrock. Where I live, we have clay 13 feet deep. I have tried it all. small stone, large stone, bricks, 12 inch rocks, everything sinks in 6 months and my potholes where back. I can put rocks and pack with rock dust, even filled holes with concrete. Everything sinks.

Lots of people told me to dig ditches along my driveway, but since the ground is flat, they eventually fill up and flood the drive anyway (or close enough that is soaks through to soften my driveway). Ditches are great if you can slop them enough that the water rushes out and keeps them from filling with sediment, but around here it is very flat, and the county pays a fortune every other year to dig them out again along all the roadways.

Instead, I took that money I was going to spend for digging ditches and spent it on fill to raise my driveway, and lay knitted stone so I have zero maintenance for a few decades. I just shake my head every other year I see the county come through and re-dig the ditches again. And the black top roads are sinking and cracking, and get flooded when the ditches fill up with rainwater. If they rasied the road 12 inches, the ditches would still fill and flood everything, EXCEPT the roadway.
 
Cristo Balete
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Brett, yeah, I know what you mean. I have an 8-foot clay base and when saturated even the 2" stuff sinks at first. I imagine your fill was not clay? And how thick was your fill? Did you put fabric under it? How long ago did you put in your fill and how it is holding up? My rock driveway does need occasional additions, but fewer now than 20 years ago.

Jamie and I may be in similar situations in that there is little or no summer rain, so the trenches and seeping water only happens in about a 4- or 5-month period. A two-foot puddle isn't exactly as big an issue, compared to a whole roadway or driveway that is sitting on saturated clay. And like I mentioned above, my most favorite combo is rip-rap and 1 1/2" rock embedded together, which is sounds like you did something similar on your fill.

Here's what I did on the flat part that was saturated with seepage, even a week after rain:
SeepingOnFlatBefore.JPG
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Seepage before parallel trench on right-hand side
InitialCrossTrenches.JPG
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In progress, six cross-trenches dried out sections in between
 
Cristo Balete
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Sorry, Brett, I reread your post, you did it 6 years ago and raised it 12".
 
Brett Hammond
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Cristo,
My fill dirt was mostly sand, which is terrible because it never gets real hard. Ever tried driving on the beach? I think clay fill or rregular soil would be better, but it really doesn't matter, because the method I am suggesting the fill doesn't do much besides raise your roadbed, and help dissipate the pressur.

Think about if you were to build a road over a bog. You can just put down dirt and drive on it
because you would sink in the bog. So you could build a bridge, with concrete piers and footings, but those piers would sink into the bog unless you had HUGE footings. That is what I am doing. The fill dirt simply acts as a footing to dissipate the weight of your vehicle. But what keeps my vehicle from sinking into the sand base? The knitted stone bed/matt I put down on top. See details above in my first post (the 11th posting to this thread). So the ground under my driveway can get soft from long time standing water seeping through my subsoil, and when it rains, through my sand. But my vehicle never sinks because its weight is spread over such a large footprint by the time it reaches the subsoil, the psi load is very very small. You can think of my 12 inch thick driveway as floating on the mud, although that isn't technically correct.

I did not put a fabrick anywhere. My old driveway was many years of Crusher Run (1/2 inch stone and stone dust) that sunk every year, so I adadded 12 inches of sandy fill soil, packed it, then 4 inches of 2-inch stone on top. Once the stone knitted (very, very, very important), then I spread 2 inches of crusher run. See details above.

I put it in at least 6 years ago, maybe 10, can't remember exactely, and it is as good as the day it was installed.

I would never cut a ditch across my driveway or it would defeat the knitted stone and would start sinking again. All my stones are very tightly packed and cannot move. See details above.

22

 
Brett Hammond
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The key is raise the road bed 12 inches above ground level so the surrounding standing water cannot soften / soak your road bed, and the 2-inch knitted stone. Not much else matters.
 
Brett Hammond
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Here's another analogy that might help you understand what I mean. Have you ever seen those old Roman roads? The stone masons cut those large 12 inch stones to fit together very tightly. That is what I did with my 4 inches of 2-inch stone. If you put it down when your base fill dirt (sand in my case) is packed and dry, the stones will roll around a bit and after months of driving on them, and a few rains, the stones will settle with their flat side up, very tightly packed, just like a Roman road (except with smaller stone and a LOT less work).

Since the stones are so tightly packed, there is a lot of friction between each stone and its surrounding neighbors, that the friction keeps it from sinking when my car runs over it. It is acting like a fabric, but is just packed stone.

Then when everything is packed nice and tight, and flats ides are up to provide a flat road surface, put down some 1/2 stone and stone dust to settle in the cracks to permanenty lock your 2-inch stones in place, and never worry about it again.
 
Cristo Balete
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Brett, yeah, I learned to drive a stick shift on the beach, you let some of the air out of the tires! Just don't take your eyes off those rogue waves while your brain is trying to get the hang of where the clutch point is! Bad for the paint job and the engine compartment!

Eventually the rock in the photo did stop sinking, so it packed together in some fashion, and it's stable. I would say there was about 3 layers of 1 1/2" rock on there, so about 4" maybe over three years. But there are no open trenches on it. The photo just shows the layout of what worked as far as drainage coming from a seep uphill from that 40-foot section. The perforated pipe is below the surface, and the ends are covered with screen that rodents can't chew through. But however many hundreds of kinds of clays there are would all react differently, so I guess the better we understand what soil we have, the more we know how to anticipate what it does.

I'm no soils engineer, but I am not sure about just any fill on just any native soil. I imagine there are many combinations that wouldn't be as successful as yours.
 
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TO: Jami McBride
FROM: Eric Koperek
SUBJECT: Building Gravel Roads
DATE: PM 5:23 Thursday 31 Mars 2016
TEXT:

1. Here follows the condensed form of a lifetime of road building experience in developing countries:

2. You need to know what kind of subsoil is underneath your proposed road bed. If you have sticky clay, or slippery clay, or expanding clay, or an old pond or lake then you are going to have problems. You can dump rocks for years on these soils and the stones will just keep sinking. What you need to do is build an "upside down road": Spread a 12 inch deep layer of SAND first. The sand will stabilize Jello-like clay subsoils. Next, spread a 2 foot thick layer of rip-rap = orange to grapefruit sized crushed rock. Last, spread a 1-foot thick layer of "crusher-run" = 1/2 inch and smaller stones mixed with rock dust. In any area with unstable subsoil always spread SAND first. If you have really deep clay you might have to use 2 or even 3 feet of sand.

3. In areas with stable subsoil = no moving clay follow this standard recipe: 2 feet of rip-rap + 1 foot of crusher-run = road that will last a lifetime and will take the weight of heavy trucks and mining equipment.

4. Beware of hillsides next to roads. Hillsides collect vast amounts of water that can wash out your road. 1 inch of rain on 1 acre (209 feet x 209 feet = 43,560 square feet) of hillside can produce 27,000 gallons (3,600 cubic feet) of water. Translation: You need good ditches alongside your road. Build "swales" = broad, shallow ditches lined with rip-rap. Swales should be not less than 8 feet wide and 2 feet deep lined with at least 6 inches of rip-rap. This may seem big but is necessary to carry the volume of storm runoff.

5. Install culverts any place water cuts across the road bed. This is necessary to prevent road washouts.

6. The best time to inspect roads is during the rainy season or any time you get a big rain storm. Drive or walk the road and flag areas that need attention.

7. To build "rough" roads you need to use any convenient source of local stone. You also need 4 essential pieces of heavy equipment: A dump truck, a front-end loader, a grader, and a roller. Dig out the roadbed 3 feet deep. Fill with any kind of rock no matter what size. (Just dig up rocks then dump them into the excavated road trench). Grade stones to level road surface. Roll to compact stones as best you can. Rough stone roads are not ideal but they are cheap, durable, and quickly constructed. Look for sources of rock on your property.

8. To control dust on gravel roads spray road surface with CALCIUM CHLORIDE solution. Calcium chloride binds dust to road surface preventing dust clouds from moving vehicles.

9. If money is a problem, you can lay a temporary road: Dig out road bed then fill with 1 foot of rip-rap. Bind with crusher-run or rock dust as funds become available. Rip-rap makes for rough driving at speeds above second gear, but any road is better than no road. Please note: Any road less than 3 feet deep cannot be considered permanent. Use this as a standard for budget planning.

ERIC KOPEREK
 
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I've been searching the site for a solution to our problem, and this is as close as I was able to find. We inherited a very useful road on our new farm, but it was built on the side of a sand bank. This means, on the Pacific Northwest Coast, that during the rainy season water runnels dig trenches up to a foot deep. Building it on the side of a sand bank is not a choice we would have made, and now we're stuck with it. The rate of water flow through the sand means that the water collects and runs on the road, but also seeps out of the bank and adds significantly to the flow. We've tried digging ditches along the bottom of the bank, but the water flow becomes so significant and the sand so fine that it quickly silts and we're right back to square one. There's also an intersection at the bottom of the bank, still on sand, which makes it impossible to just ditch it all away, anyway. Short of abandoning the road, are there any suggestions on how to prevent the sand road from getting so badly gouged in the winter? We've thought of dyking and trying to create small swales/weirs to slow the flow of water and allow it to seep into the sand so that it would interflow under the road, in other words try to imitate what the intact sand bank did before the road was dug through it.
 
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Oh shoot, you want something like this I think.

This is a USDA-NRCS funded road and meets their stringent requirements. It does not look it, but it is a heavy haul road on a 9% grade. The key to longevity is water bars that channel the water off the road and into rock check dams. We just got a 50 year storm with no erosion.I did not mean a little erosion, I had NO erosion. I built this road myself this summer using just my farm tractor and Wallenstein Trailer.

I do not have time to explain how I did it at this time, but here is the before and after photos.



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DSCN5167.JPG
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Travis Johnson
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I LOVE open top culverts, and really debated using them on my road, but they just would not work well for this application. I bring this up so that people can understand why they are perfects for Hans but not for me. In two words: snow removal!

The key thing to remember here is that despite my heavy crown in my road, because of the steepness of it, water does not travel off into the ditch, but down the roadway. As wheel ruts develop that will only get worse, so some means to get the water off the road occasionally must be done. In my case, a 9% grade which a person does not want to exceed as it is hard to negotiate anything steeper with a truck, needs that many. Less of a grade would need less of them, and regardless, where these following methods are in place, they need to terminate where rock check dams slow down the force of the water.

These water diverters can take on several forms. As Han's pointed out, U-shaped culverts made out of wood with pipe across the top to keep them from crushing inward does this. They are cheap and easy to build, but tend to get filled with silt and stop working. They also get pushed up by frost action which can cause havoc when a plow comes through removing snow from the road. In short it will tear them right out. A better variation on this, but a bit more expensive, is a steel culvert with slots cut in the top occasionally that let in water. It allows a snowplow to pass overhead without catching, but is hard to clean out when it gets filled with silt.

Another great one for roads that are not plowed of snow is a rubber razor. It is simply a piece of rubber belting, 7 inches wide, bolted to a 2x6 and buried in the ground at a 15 degree angle. As the water runs off the road surface, it is diverted by the rubber razor and is channeled into the ditch and subsequent rock check dam. I would have built these too, but I had a hard time sourcing belting material, and it would have meant cost had I ripped one out when clearing snow with my bulldozer.

Broad based dips work well (which is what I used and can be seen in the photo), but they are far from perfect. They are free since it means shaping of roadway surface material, but I am pretty sure when I push snow with my bulldozer, if the ground is not frozen, those broad based dips (also called water bars) will be bulldozed flat. The reason I used them still however, is that as easy as it is to bulldoze out a water bar, it is just as easy to bulldoze one back. If I bulldoze out a hollow top culvert or razor, its replacement will mean money spent to replace it. They kind of suck because there is this smooth road, then every 100 feet there is a dip that has to be negotiated, and honestly I was going to just bulldoze mine flat after the USDA approved and paid for my road. However, when I saw how much water they channeled off my road, I realized they were not only working, but working well. Surprisingly my truck drivers do not seem to mind them being there so I left them. The real test will be what they look like after a winter of snow plowing. They really need to be in place for spring thaw, so we shall see.

But as hans said, this is the missing link people do not apply to their roads on hillsides. It can take different forms based on a landowners preference, but must be in place in one form or the other.
 
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I personally don't care for the fabric, they used it under gravel roadways around here and now it looks awful as it's sticking out from under the edges when you walk along the road. I've had a gravel driveway my entire life and it just takes regular maintenance. Still cheaper than any alternative but if you want to keep it mud and pothole free you just need to keep up on maintenance. If it's just a few potholes your dealing with I'd get a load of 2" stone and mound it up over the pothole. As you drive over it it will displace the mud and level out with the rest of your driveway, for the longer ruts that appear I would get an entire dump truck load of crush or run and spread it out over the area, again mounding it up higher than the rest of your driveway, If you keep up on the little potholes it will make long term maintenance easier. As soon as you see standing water, deal with it. That's what degrades your road.
 
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I do not like it either Justin, and in fact on my latest road the soil engineer called for it stating it was required for such a steep grade. I did the subgrade on it though, she stood at the bottom of the hill and looked up and said, "Oh, you do not need fabric on this." I kept telling her but she just insisted I had to have it.

Like you I am a big fan of rock. The last I knew the Romans used rock to build roads some 2000 years ago and did well, they did not pump oil out of the ground half a world away, make it into some sort of hole filled fabric then put it on the roadway and call it superior. No give me some rock any day.
 
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