Maintaining Your Unpaved Driveway

Reader Contribution by Heidi Hunt

Living in the country frequently means having an unpaved, dirt or gravel driveway that requires periodic maintenance. Many farm lanes began life as a two-track wagon or truck trail that over the years has been slightly improved with the addition of some crushed rock, coal slag or even metal filings from a mill. The base layer of a driveway should be constructed of coarse gravel, so it drains well, but you can’t count on that.

Even professionally built “improved” roads suffer from the effects of spring runoff, heavy summer rains, and winter frost heaving. The constant erosion by nature and the occasional grading of the road or driveway to even out the high and low spots will cause the gravel layer to thin in places and “pot holes” to form.

I had a quarter-mile driveway whose rock layer had long since disappeared into the mud. There were two places where the road bed collected water and were virtual quagmires in the spring and after heavy rains. I asked at a local gravel pit what I could do to stiffen the road surface after it had been graded. They suggested I have a load of what they called “dirty twos” laid down. That was obviously a local term, as no one here in Kansas had a clue what I was referring to when I inquired about its local availability.

It turns out that “dirty twos” is crushed rock, less than an inch in diameter, which includes the rock dust, called “fines.” The angular crushed rock fits together like puzzle pieces and the fines packs down between the rocks making a dense surface. After the rock is spread on the road, it should be driven over, preferably by the heavy, large-wheeled gravel truck, to pack it well.

Maintaining your country driveway on a regular basis – grading, adding a “dirty-twos” layer and keeping the runoff ditches clear of obstructions will add value to your property and provide an attractive introduction to your homestead.

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