How to…

Create A Gravel Driveway

Guide to creating a gravel driveway

Basic Construction — Creating A Gravel Driveway

  1. Existing soil or sub-base/sub-grade ideally fairly level, though Type 1 MOT will sort out any undulations further up
  2. A layer of the geotextile membrane
  3. Type 1 MOT laid to a depth of around 150mm and compacted
  4. Driveway gravel, approx. 20mm in size, to finish.


Tips & Tricks To Laying A Gravel Driveway

You will normally need a mini digger to dig a new driveway down to a suitable level. If you are looking to hire a mini digger, then we are here to help you! We, JW Clark, have a wide range of mini diggers available for hire at the click of a button. To find out more about our mini digger services, click here

Your total driveway construction will normally be about 175mm in total, this is the amount you will need to dig down by if you want your driveway to be finished to the level the ground is at currently.

*Be careful of underground buried services. 

Don’t underestimate the amount of rubble and debris you’ll need to get rid of after having it dug out! An area 5m x 10m for example, dug down by 175mm will generate more than 20 tonnes, which is a bit more than you’ll get on an 8-wheel grab lorry

You can work out the approximate amount of earth to be removed by multiplying the total volume (length in m x width in m x depth in m) by about 2.3, to get the tonnage. Or for ease, we have a handy aggregates calculator to make your job that little bit easier! 

Having dug down 175mm you will need to be into generally good ground. It should be fairly dry, and all vegetation and roots should be gone at this point. If not, you’ll have to go down a bit further, but remember going down further is going to generate more material to be removed and more Type 1 MOT required.

Geotextile membrane IS A MUST at this point. It has nothing to do with weed prevention – we’ll come to that later – and everything to do with something called ground stabilisation. If you don’t put geotextile membrane down, your Type 1 MOT can penetrate the ground below under the constant weight of vehicles. In some cases, you will find the Type 1 MOT being pushed into the mud below and the mud coming through the Type 1 MOT and even through the gravel on top. Imagine the mud, the Type 1 MOT and the gravel put into a food mixer and pulsed on high!

Geotextile membrane will normally stop any contamination of your new Type 1 MOT and the existing ground underneath. The only time we recommend leaving out the membrane is if you are into good solid stone having dug out your 175mm. We sell membrane in large rolls (450 sq.m on a roll) but you won’t often need this for a domestic driveway, so we sell it ‘off the roll’ as well, we can sell you just the amount you need. To find out more about our Geotextile membrane, get in touch with one of our team members who will be very happy to answer any questions or queries you may have. Make sure the membrane you are using is a geotextile membrane, not a weed prevention membrane. Geotextile membrane is normally black in colour and of a ‘woven’ nature, though not always.

Type 1 MOT should always be compacted, ideally with a heavy flat wacker for very small areas or preferably a roller for most driveway sizes and larger areas. Remember that what you don’t compact at the beginning will always compact on its own over time. Always compact your Type 1 MOT in layers and ideally a few inches at a time. 100mm layers are too thick for compaction with a standard flat wacker.

When you’ve got your Type 1 MOT to a certain level, top it up where you need to and re-compact with your flat wacker or roller. Now you’re ready for your driveway gravel. And this is where it gets really complicated... Only joking! Nothing complicated, just spread your gravel to a depth of about 25mm – 50mm. An absolute maximum of 50mm! Never any more. An inch may not sound a lot, but your gravel has one purpose – it is decorative. Your Type 1 MOT underneath gives the driveway all the strength it needs.

The gravel is JUST .. FOR .. DECORATION. Nothing else!

Frequently Asked Questions (and some silly ones)

You don’t. Weeds grow in from the top, not from the bottom. No type of membrane will ever prevent weeds in a gravel driveway. It’s just a case of pulling them out as they come through or putting weedkiller down regularly, or probably a mixture of the two. A gravel driveway is a porous construction, it is not sealed such as a concrete or tarmac drive is, and therefore is not totally maintenance-free when it comes to weeds. That said, you’ll get less weeds where you are driving on it regularly, just keep an eye on the edges and pedestrian areas in particular.

No! You can ‘just put gravel on top of mud’, or on top of membrane for a decorative area that isn’t being driven on. But not for a driveway. We’ve seen it before, people put gravel on top of mud, they drive on it and they make ruts in the gravel, which then gets contaminated with the mud underneath. So they add more gravel. And more gravel. And more gravel. It never gets any better, and the gravel gets deeper and deeper with obvious and disastrous results.

Click here for our calculators and input your figures, it will tell you how much Type 1 you will need. will I need? For an area 10m x 5m you will need 16.5 tonnes if laid at 150mm thick.
1 tonne should cover about 15-25 sq.m. Beware though, if you are having your gravel delivered in jumbo bags, these will only be 800kg each. 2 jumbo bags is 1.6 tonnes and 5 jumbo bags is only 4 tonnes, not 5!
Of course you can. Especially in the case of a very deep construction, i.e. more than 150mm of Type 1 MOT, we would recommend putting something cheaper and possibly something bigger on the bottom. Speak to us for options, we can supply various alternatives to Type 1 MOT. But please have at least the top 100mm or so as Type 1 MOT, otherwise you’ll be compromising the quality and construction of the driveway.
It’s not ideal, it tends to get stuck in the tread on vehicle tyres and you’ll be taking it out onto the road in your tyres and spreading it all over the neighbourhood. It also gets stuck in the soles of your shoes, and you’ll end up with it in your house, and at worst you’ll be scratching your wood floors as you walk around your house with 1 tonne of gravel in the soles of your shoes. Okay, so the 1 tonne in your shoes is an exaggeration. Oh and another thing, cats will dig holes in 10mm gravel, though they will be a bit less likely to do so in 20mm gravel.
Of course you can, Cotswold Gravel is quite a popular alternative to 20mm driveway gravel. Just beware though that other premium types of gravel can be twice as expensive as standard 20mm ‘driveway gravel’, sometimes more. We stock plenty of options at our Drive In & Collect yard at NN9 5QQ. Come and see us!
Probably, yes, if you don’t have any already. A concrete edging is ideal, but you can use 4” x 1” timber as a cheaper alternative to separate the driveway from a grass area for example.
You won’t normally need any drainage on a gravel driveway, the whole construction is generally permeable. However, the ground underneath won’t be, if you are into clay underneath then you could get some water sitting in a low point. It also helps if the driveway slopes in one direction or the other, so the water doesn’t sit in a low point. If you are worried about drainage then you can put some land drainage in underneath to help the water travel, but you won’t always know if it’s required until after you’ve finished the new gravel driveway. That said, it’s not the hardest thing to do retrospectively, in the unlikely event that you do need a bit of extra drainage.
We don’t really rate them, we think you are over-complicating a gravel driveway by using these. Some people think it stops gravel spilling out onto the road, but that normally happens when people put too much gravel down (and not enough Type 1 MOT!)
Yes this is good, but we don’t have any knowledge of this.
Afraid not, but ask any of our staff for a recommendation and we’ll point you in the right direction.

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