How to build a gravel driveway - Drainage Superstore Help & Advice (2024)

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Creating a gravel driveway is a great way to update your home or building, creating an area of usable space. As space increasingly becomes a premium in the housing market, and parking is often limited on streets in urban areas, building a gravel driveway is a great way to add value and convenience to your property.

Here at Drainage Superstore, we have everything you need in order to create a gravel driveway, from gravel and aggregate to weed barriers and more.

Read on to find out how to build a gravel driveway.

How to build a gravel driveway - Drainage Superstore Help & Advice (1)

The benefits of building a gravel driveway

Low cost

Gravel driveways are one of the most cost-friendly driveways around, which is one of the reasons they are so popular. Not only is the material required low-cost, but gravel driveways can be installed by almost anyone, which helps to further keep labour costs minimal.

Easy installation

Gravel driveways are super quick and easy to install. As soon as the gravel has been laid and compacted the driveway can be used – there’s no need to wait around for materials to dry or harden.


Gravel is available in a wide range of colours and sizes, meaning you can customise the colour of your driveway and ensure it either matches your home style or opt for a contrasting look to create a striking finish. Browse our range of gravel for more detail.


Because gravel driveways consist of many small pieces of gravel, it is quite porous. This means that water can naturally drain away into the soil and fewer puddles and potential flooding will occur during times of heavy rainfall.

However, it is important to note that one of the downsides of installing a gravel driveway is that it may require some maintenance. Over time, ruts may start to develop where the gravel is regularly compressed in specific areas, which will need filling in. Additionally, when wet, the gravel may turn within the soil, and create a large amount of dirt that can get spread around the exterior of your home.

How to build a gravel driveway step by step

Preparation and planning

Before beginning any work, the first step when looking to create a gravel driveway is to ensure you have planned out the works properly.

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Ensure the driveway is accessible and wide enough to allow cars and other slightly larger vehicles such as delivery vans. Additionally, driveways should always be designed in such a way that allows rainwater to run off and into a drainage channel or drain through the soil, and ensure that rainwater does not create puddles in the centre of the driveway.

Mark out the area

Once you’ve planned the dimensions of the driveway, take a number of stakes to mark out the driveway. Place them at intervals around the driveway area, and attach them with string. Then measure the length and width of the driveway in order to calculate the dimensions. If working with a curved driveway, we’d recommend splitting up the total area into sections to make calculating the length and width more manageable.

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Calculate the amount of gravel required

Decide on the depth you’re looking to fill with gravel – professionals will generally recommend laying a minimum of 3 layers of gravel in order to increase stability. A rough guide to the amount of gravel required is that a 20kg bag generally will cover around 0.25m2, and a layer of gravel should be around 80mm thick. However, you can also calculate the amount of gravel required more accurately.

To determine the amount of gravel you’ll require, multiply the length and width by the depth. This will provide you with the volume of gravel required. For example, 6m long x 4m wide x 80mm = 1.92 metres cubed of gravel required.

Ensure you have gravel and tools required

Once you’ve calculated the amount of gravel required, place your order or go to a retailer to purchase your gravel. Ensure you also have a rake, shovel, wheelbarrow and gloves, as well as a compactor – this may need renting as they are expensive to purchase for a single project.

How to build a gravel driveway - Drainage Superstore Help & Advice (4)Remove top layer

The next step is to prepare the area. If relevant, remove the top layer of soil, grass and dirt, and then dig 80mm per layer of gravel. Whilst digging the area, ensure that the driveway area is relatively level, and make adjustments where required. By levelling out the area, you’ll prevent the pooling of rainwater and puddles from forming.

Compact the area

Once the area has been prepared and levelled, use the compactor, or alternatively drive over the area repeatedly with a heavy vehicle to compact the soil.

Lay weed barrier

Once the area has been compacted, lay a weed barrier or landscaping fabric down. This will prevent weeds from growing through the gravel. Ensure you have enough to cover the total driveway area – we’d recommend exceeding the driveway area by half a metre or so to ensure the rolls of fabric can overlap slightly.

At this point, consider using timber battens, bricks or another form of heavy material that will act as a border and hold the weed fabric in place before the gravel is installed.How to build a gravel driveway - Drainage Superstore Help & Advice (5)

Spread the first layer of gravel

Spread the first layer of gravel evenly across the driveway, using a wheelbarrow, shovel and rake. Once this has been done, use the compactor to ensure it is securely in place. Then repeat with the following layers of gravel.

Alternatively, gravel grids can be used to ensure the gravel remains evenly spread across the area. If using gravel grids, place them on top of the weed barrier, before any gravel is laid. Then lay the gravel across the gravel grids, ensuring they are equally filled.

Not sure how to use a gravel grid? Check out our installation guide for support.
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Ensure the centre is elevated

Once the gravel has all been laid, ensure the driveway is slightly elevated in the centre, and lower on the sides, particularly if there is channel drainage along one of the sides. If required, do this by adding extra gravel in the centre of the driveway, and raking gravel from the edges up towards the centre.

Remove stakes and rake excess gravel

And that’s how to build a gravel driveway!

Now, just tidy up the area, removing the guiding stakes and ensuring no gravel is on the surrounding areas. Your driveway may need raking from time to time to ensure it remains in the correct shape, as gravel may become displaced over time.

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Gravel driveway not your style? Check out how to block pave a driveway for something new! Learn about the benefits and use our step-by-step guide to learn why it could work for you.

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How to build a gravel driveway - Drainage Superstore Help & Advice (2024)


How to create drainage for a gravel driveway? ›

Different from concrete driveways, gravel driveways do not require channel drain. Instead the solution is to lay some land drain or twinwall underneath the gravel in a French drain system and redirect the water to a suitable outlet.

What should I put down before a gravel driveway? ›

Add Landscaping Fabric

Before you add stone, you'll need to first lay down a layer of landscaping fabric. This will help prevent the growth of plants and weeds from beneath the driveways surface, and will also help control erosion and shifting.

How to divert water runoff from gravel driveway? ›

When paving walkways, patios or driveways, use materials that have small gaps to make the area more porous. This method allows water to seep through the surface and slowly trickle through the gravel and into the soil. Permeable paving products not only reduce runoff damage, but look great on any surface.

How thick should gravel be for drainage? ›

In general, you want to aim for ½ inch to 1-inch gravel for drainage. Areas that will see especially heavy flow may need larger gravel. Or, projects without drainage pipes may also need larger gravel. For example, a French drain without perforated pipe needs 1 ½ inch gravel.

What gravel is best for drainage? ›

The unique size and shape of pea gravel make it particularly efficient for drainage. Its loose, granular structure ensures that water can flow between the gaps with ease. When used as a top layer or foundation, pea gravel acts as a barrier, directing excess water away from areas prone to flooding or pooling.

What is the best material for a gravel driveway? ›

If you want a tried-and-true gravel for your driveway, crushed limestone is a solid choice. This material is durable, comes in a range of colors, and can help offset heat in hotter regions because of its lighter color compared to other darker gravel options.

How deep should gravel be for a driveway? ›

The total depth of a gravel driveway should be 12 to 18 inches thick. Each layer should be four to six inches thick—three layers are best for durability and longevity.

Which gravel is best for driveways? ›

What kind of gravel do I need for my driveway? #57s or Crusher Run are the two most common and best options for driveway gravel. 57 Gravel is made of gravel alone and is the best option for most driveways because it is composed of long-lasting gravel. Crusher run is a blend of gravel and sand.

Should you put anything under gravel driveway? ›

There are many types of gravel driveway underlayment you can use to help stabilize your gravel, and underlayment is a far better option than simply using loose gravel.

How do I keep my gravel driveway from sinking? ›

It is important to make sure the bottom and edges of the excavated driveway trench are compacted to help prevent shifting, sinking, and settling throughout the years. After the trench is compacted, a layer of landscaping fabric should be applied to the trench prior to adding the first crushed stone to the driveway.

How do you add drainage to a driveway? ›

The drain needs to be lower than the pavement to help water flow. Use a circular saw with a diamond-impregnated blade to cut through the driveway. Dig a trench approximately 6 inches deep along the driveway. Fit, connect, and glue drain pipes together on the side of the channel drain you want to direct water.

Does gravel allow water to drain? ›

Its coarse texture maintains gaps that allow rapid water flow. This prevents standing water and redirects runoff away from problem areas. There are several effective ways to leverage gravel's superior drainage properties: Gravel driveways and walkways shed water to the sides where it can infiltrate into the ground.

How do you fix a puddle in a gravel driveway? ›

Every splash takes a little bit more. As the hole gets bigger, the bigger the splash, the more gravel gets carried away. And so on. The quick fix is to shovel more gravel into the hole and tap it down.

Can I dig a hole and fill it with gravel for drainage? ›

Adding drainage to a backyard does not have to be a complicated project. One drainage solution might be installing dry-wells in the areas that tend to get the most water. A dry well is simply a deep hole filled with gravel to allow water to reach a more permeable soil.

How to stop gravel driveway from flooding? ›

Four Effective Driveway Drainage Ideas
  1. Catch Basins. If your driveway is extensive and covers a lot of area, one of the better options for you might be using a catch basin. ...
  2. Channel Drains. ...
  3. French Drains. ...
  4. Permeable Pavers.
Jun 21, 2023

How to stop water runoff from a driveway? ›

How to Divert Water Runoff from Driveway. Dig a trench. Use a shallow, gravel-filled trench to catch and slow runoff, especially at the base of a slope or alongside a driveway or patio. For slopes, consider creating a dry creek to catch, slow down and direct runoff, perhaps to a rain garden (see below).

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