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Originally published Friday, June 13, 2014 at 8:03 PM

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For a less-expensive driveway surface, consider gravel

But while gravel is an attractive option if you like a rustic look and want to save money, it can require more maintenance than you might think.


McClatchy-Tribune News Services

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There’s no easy ride when it comes to selecting driveway material. That is especially true for gravel driveways.

While gravel is an attractive option if you like a rustic look and want to save money, it can require more maintenance than you might think.

Contractors say that a gravel driveway can cost 90 percent less than one made from concrete, asphalt or pavers. And the stones come in a variety of colors and textures.

But you’ll need to replenish stones every one to five years, and they need to be compacted with a weighted roller or hand tamper.

Unless you install a border or edging of some kind, you’ll need to occasionally rake stones out of your yard. And depending on the style of your home and those in the neighborhood, gravel may not provide the same curb appeal as other materials.

To keep gravel driveway maintenance to a minimum, place landscape fabric beneath the gravel to reduce weeds. For added protection, pour sand on top of the weed-blocking material before the top layer of gravel is added.

You can reduce dust by watering occasionally and driving slowly. A contractor may also suggest applying salts or binders, which will make it denser and helps to absorb dust.

Installation and maintenance costs can vary greatly, depending on the size of the driveway and depth of the gravel layer. Most experts recommend a depth of about 6 inches.

Because of concerns about drainage and the need to have gravel compacted, homeowners may decide to hire a professional to install or maintain a gravel driveway. Service providers who work on gravel driveways include landscapers, stone suppliers and concrete companies.



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