I grew up with gravel driveways. Where I lived, everyone had one. Usually they consisted of two tire wide swathes of gravel, with the in-between part grown up in grass and weeds.
They aren’t necessarily pretty, but they can be practical and less costly than concrete or black top driveways – and they may be kinder to the environment.
We currently live in a large metro area, in the Midwest where we have freezing, thawing, snow and ice, ‘torrential’ (don’t you love that word) rains and hot dry summer days. We have a large (4 car widths) gravel driveway. Many of our neighbors have gravel driveways. We used to have a concrete driveway, but as part of a landscaping project, we ripped it out and replaced it with gravel.
Here are four reasons we keep our gravel driveway.
Gravel Is Less Expensive To Install Than Concrete.
We paid $300 for a load of gravel more than a decade ago and haven’t had to spend any more since.
When we had the concrete, every year we would find new cracks and chips and heaves from freezing and thawing. The gravel just sits there without any of these issues.
Gravel Allows Rainwater To Soak Into The Ground.
We avoid runoff into the dry runs that feed the rivers, avoiding more erosion as the water courses through the dry runs. Instead, the water soaks into our water table, helping our trees and bushes moisturize.
Because of this, in April 2013, Maryland lawmakers implemented what is referred to as a Rain Tax.
According to The Washington Times:
“The Rain Tax essentially charges homeowners for any surface of land they own that does not absorb rainwater. The ultimate goal, according to My Fox, is to reduce storm-water runoff and improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay.”
Gravel Provides Better Traction For Us In Ice and Snow.
We no longer shovel the driveway unless the snow is more than 5 or 6 inches deep. The combination of front wheel drive cars and the added grip we get via the gravel lets us ease right on out to the road in snowy conditions. Ice doesn’t sheet up as much as it does on a paved surface, also providing better traction.
Gravel Doesn’t Cause The County to Raise Our Property Taxes.
If we re-installed a paved surface driveway, the county assessor would no doubt cruise by and decide to raise our property taxes – at least according to my spouse!
There Are Drawbacks To Gravel On A Driveway.
Of course, gravel isn’t for everyone and there are things some consider drawbacks to having a gravel driveway.
The kids can’t skate on it or play basket ball. Some claim it is harder to use a plow or snow blower or to shovel the snow off the driveway if it is gravel. For us, if the snow gets too deep, hubby will use the snow blower. He just sets it up higher and leaves a bit of snow on the drive – to avoid the issue of the blower sucking up the gravel. Many don’t like the way it looks. If you are in a subdivision where everyone else has a paved drive, you are likely to encounter criticism if you put in plain gravel. I actually do like the way a concrete driveway looks better than how a gravel driveway looks. However, I don’t feel strongly enough about it to put one in, considering the benefits we get from gravel.
If the base for the driveway isn’t created properly, you could also encounter issues with water pooling up, sinkholes developing and gravel washing away.
Have you ever had a gravel driveway? What other kinds of materials for driveways are kinder than paving to the environment?