Four Reasons to Have a Gravel Driveway

iStock_000003676357XSmallI 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?



Four Reasons to Have a Gravel Driveway — 12 Comments

  1. The one thing I don’t like about gravel driveways is that my kids couldn’t ride their bikes and tricycles on them =/

  2. No, no gravel driveway – but the private road to the cottage (I know, this sounds very spoiled!) used to be. They’ve slowly been paving it because it kept washing away!

  3. We just had our driveway repaved so I’ve read this post two days too late! Another bad thing about the tar driveways is that they stink to high heaven when they are repaved, and those fumes cannot be good to breathe in! But, nobody in our neighborhood has a gravel driveway, and like you say, the kids want to play basketball and ride bikes there, so I’m afraid we are stuck with it for now.

  4. I also grew up with a gravel driveway which was then paved. I honestly like paved better because you can seemingly do more stuff on it (basketball, ride bikes easier, shovel easier) but I can totally see gravel having tons of environmental advantages. Most subdivisions around me won’t let you have the option, so for some it’s not really an issue/choice

  5. This is some great information, and I appreciate your point that gravel is cheaper to install than concrete. My husband and I have been trying to decide what to pave our driveway with, and we’d like to save as much money as possible. We wouldn’t mind the look of gravel, so we’ll definitely look into that as a less expensive option. Thanks for the great post!

  6. I like how you mentioned that gravel allows rainwater to soak into the ground. My driveway is unpaved right now, so I want to pave it somehow. It kind of slopes towards my house, so using a solid pavement would probably lead to flooding problems, so maybe gravel would be a good option.

  7. It is amazing to know that gravel driveways provide better traction in ice and snow. My brother and his wife need to choose the type of driveway that they want. I’ll suggest that they choose gravel since it snows frequently in their area.

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