Gravel driveways commonplace in the UK and are the preferred driveway material option for a large number of homeowners. And it’s easy to see why gravel is such a hit. It’s unbelievably cheap, immensely easy to install, and needs very low maintenance. Gravel also looks delightfully brilliant in homes that are located in a country setting or in towns where stone and brick colours dominate the landscape. Moreover, gravel is also pretty wide-ranging when it comes to size, texture, and colour, which makes it perfect for resurfacing duties.
A less obvious advantage, unless you are the homeowner of course, is the notably satisfying crunch sound the gravel emits every time a car rides over it. This noise also acts as sort of defensive measure by alerting owners about uninvited guests or worse still, intruders. But owners of homes that are situated on a gradient cannot use gravel as it can be hard to keep in place.
Maintenance of Gravel Driveways
With time and usage, a gravel driveway will bed down before being invaded by a combination of dirt and weed. While it’s hard to prevent this process altogether, you most certainly can delay it with regular maintenance. That usually involves removing the weed, spewing weed killer, and sweeping back to the drive area all the gravel that has managed to escape. Even then, there comes a point when the top surface of the gravel will need to be replaced with new gravel. This happens sooner than later in homes where cars enter and leave the driveway more frequently as their weight breaks down and compacts the gravel.
Types of Gravels Available for Landscaping
The reason why gravel driveway ideas are so popular is because of the extensive number of varieties they are available in. If you are looking for the cheapest gravel option, opt for the pea gravel or pea shingle variety from a contractor’s vendor. Depending on the kind of option available for the lowest cost in your area, this can look remarkably good. However, as the cost goes up, the gravel becomes rounder, less sharp, and of better grade when it comes to colour and size. So while the cheapest variety may contain a mix of different finishes and sizes, expensive varieties tend to have smoother stones with a more consistent size.
In fact, there are also certain other types of special mixes available, with some not having stone in them at all. However, these are better suited to be used in garden setting rather than a driveway. For instance, you can buy stones created from tumbled glass or even slate mulch with the latter available in a spate of colours including blue, green, purple, and grey.
Appropriate Usage Scenarios for Different Gravel Types
First and foremost, when you are buying gravel you must consider its usage scenario. So if you are looking to use gravel on your patio, garden path, or other similar landscaping duties, you can go for a mix of colours and patterns. However, such a layout will not suit a driveway at all as its coherence will be lost almost instantly thanks to the cars’ wheels. You also need to consider how suitable the gravel is for walking. For instance, slate mulch is not known to be good for walking.
Ordinary gravel, however, does well for a driveway. Depending upon your budget, you can go any stone, texture, and colour. That said, avoid gravel that is excessively round as it has a tendency to sink to fast and roll away when someone walks over it. This nature also causes them to scatter more easily and roll away further by a car’s tyre rotations.
The Case for Self-Binding Gravel
If you are the owner of a particularly long driveway, you could give a serious thought to self-binding gravel. These are gravels that are dirtier than the usual variety. However, this dirt is what it makes them so useful. Known as ‘fines’, it is this dirt that holds self-binding gravels together. In fact, certain gravel varieties even come loaded with a higher than normal amount of fines, which leads to a better binding abilities.
Over time and with the downward pressure generated by cars driving over them, these gravels bond together rather tightly. Because of this, you end up with a gravel driveway that is significantly more consistent and harder than conventional clean gravel. Although not comparable to a concrete or asphalt driveway, self-binding gravel driveways are an excellent option for those desiring a middle-path between a gravel driveway and a concrete/asphalt driveway. Furthermore, self-binding gravels also lend themselves to be dug, broken-down, and re-laid several years later if required. This means you do not need to spend on procuring new materials again.
To sum it up, a gravel driveway not only adds to the aesthetics of your house but also contributes to the practicality outside of it. That it’s a material offering a high degree of personalisation, weather resistance, low maintenance, durability, and low cost, is the icing on the cake.