What Does a Gravel Driveway Cost to Create and Maintain?

Every property needs a well-maintained driveway, and you can choose from a variety of options like concrete, asphalt, or even plain gravel. A gravel driveway cost is slightly lower than other materials, and this makes it a more budget-friendly option that many people like to consider when they want to add a new or overhaul their current driveway. Gravel driveways feature layers of stone that will drain after every rain comes through while withstanding cars driving on it. You have several options available when it comes to creating a gravel driveway, and your gravel driveway cost will fluctuate depending on the materials and method used.

No matter if you want a basic gravel driveway or something more stylish, your gravel driveway cost depends on the size of the site, the condition the land is in, and whether or not you need to clear an area for it. It could require heavy machinery that you have to rent if you do it yourself, and drainage is an important factor because an improper installation process will require more maintenance down the line because it won’t drain properly after each rain. Additionally, you have to realize that it takes more than simply spreading small stones to make it work. You’ll need several layers in different sizes with a geotextile fabric on the bottom.

Most people spend around $1,750 for a two-car gravel driveway that gets topped with decomposed granite. Your gravel driveway cost range starts at $1,00 and goes up to $3,000. This works out to $1.25 to $1.80 a square foot. If you wanted a 16-foot by 38-foot gravel driveway, you’d spend around $1,500. If your driveway is on the smaller side, you’d be on the lower end of the cost spectrum. However, a very complex and longer option can increase your gravel driveway cost by as much as $60,000.

If you’re wondering what your gravel driveway cost estimate is, this guide will lay out everything you need to know about this project. In turn, you’ll be able to take note of which options match your needs and which ones you can disregard. Once you get a rough estimate, you can call local companies to see how well your budget matches up with your gravel driveway cost.

1 White Gravel Driveway with Concrete
You can tailor your gravel color and size and use it to enhance or blend into your design aesthetic and decor. The price will fluctuate depending on how premium the materials you want to use are, but it can be worth it for a neat finished look.
Gravel in the Driveway by Karin Dalziel / CC BY-NC 2.0

Gravel Driveway Costs by Size

One of the first things you have to figure out is how large your driveway will be. You can do this by cubic yard or square foot. Per cubic yard, your gravel driveway cost will fluctuate depending on which gravel you want to use. Material costs start at $15.00 a cubic yard for your base materials, and premium materials can easily surpass $100 a cubic yard. Your gravel driveway cost per cubic yard to have it delivered and installed is right around $75.00.

The good news is, your gravel driveway is one of the least expensive options. The only labor comes from dumping and spreading the gravel, so the cost per square foot ranges from $1.00 to $3.00. The stone you want will be the biggest gravel driveway cost factor. If you want premium materials or you need a lot of grading, the price will go up. If you want a stabilized gravel driveway, you’ll pay between $3.00 and $7.00 a square foot. This brings your total costs up to $4.00 to $10.00.

Type of Gravel Driveway and Price Points

Once you know the size of your driveway, you can use your findings to figure out what types of gravel you can afford when you build your gravel driveway. You’ll need a triple layer of stone, and they start around baseball size and go down to small gravel pieces. From this point, you’ll get to pick which materials you use, especially when you talk about the most visible layer. Some materials only work for edging and you shouldn’t use them to cover the entire top layer. The most common types of materials include:

Base Gravel #3

This is the most common material used for the base of your gravely driveway. It utilizes stone that measures between an inch and two inches in diameter, and you can hear it referred to is clean stone. It has a crushed stone mixture with irregular edges, and it’ll increase your gravel driveway costs by $15.00 to $25.00 a ton.

Crush and Run

A crusher run or quarry process is another popular material for the top layer of your driveway. You get a fine mixture of stone dust and crushed stone. The dust will settle and pack between the bigger pieces to give you a smoother driveway. This material will increase your gravel driveway costs because you have to crown it to make the center higher than the sides so it drains correctly without causing damage. You’ll pay between $40.00 and $50.00 per ton.

Crushed Granite

Granite is popular for countertop installations, but it’s also popular for driveways. Decomposed or crushed granite is usually on the top layer of your driveway, and it has rock dust and a fine crushed granite mixture. Since it has a much finer texture, it’ll pack into your driveway very tightly to give you a long-lasting surface. It comes in several colors, and your gravel driveway cost using it will fall between $25.00 and $50.00 a ton.

Crushed Limestone

Limestone is popular for use in crushed stone #3 or in crushed stone #57. You can choose from several different colors and sizes, and it has different compositions that make it very flexible. Your gravel driveway cost using this medium will range from $66.00 to $75.00 a ton.

Crushed Stone #57

This is the second layer that you’ll add to your driveway. This layer will go over the base layer of gravel #3 or item #4. You get an irregular stone that is around the size of a golf ball with it. There is also a machine crushed stone that is rougher than the other options. You’ll add between three and four inches of this layer to help the driveway drain beneath the top layer. Limestone is one of the most popular materials used, and it’ll increase your gravel driveway cost between $66.00 and $75.00 a ton.

Item #4

This is a popular option that works well as a base for your driveway. Your driveway will feature three layers, and the first layer is between three and four-inches deep. This material uses dirt and sand mixed with crushed gravel. It can also have different recycled materials in it like bluestone, limestone, or asphalt. This is a more cost-effective material, and it’ll increase your gravel driveway cost by $12.00 and $22.00 per ton.

Jersey Shore Gravel

This is a very pretty stone with a yellow hue to it and a rounded surface with a very smooth texture. It makes for a beautiful driveway, but it’s not extremely popular because the smooth stones are easy to move, shift around, and fall off your driveway. If you choose to use it, it’s a good idea to build a retaining wall and prepare to replace the stones every year or two. This makes an excellent border stone, and it’ll increase your gravel driveway cost by $85.00 to $100 a ton.

Marble Chips

Marble chips make a very eye-catching and luxurious top layer on your driveway, but it’s not always the right choice. The chips have a smooth texture and feature a white coating on them, so it won’t interlock well and it can move around. You can get a mixture of marble chips that come from mosaics in certain parts of the country, and these are great for driveways. You’ll pay between $100 and $400 a ton, so it’s on the higher end of the cost spectrum.

Pea Stone

Pea gravel’s name comes from its surface texture, size, and shape. You can get this option in a broad range of colors, and it uses smooth, small pebbles instead of larger rough crushed rock. This makes for a beautiful driveway, but you’ll run into the same types of problems as you would if you chose Jersey Shore gravel. It makes your driveway high-maintenance and it moves easily. You’ll have to add extra material every year or two, and you’ll have to rake it frequently. Your gravel driveway cost with this material runs from $100 to $180 per ton.

River Rock

River rocks are very smooth stones that measure up to two inches across. They make a nice top layer in looks, but they’re not good in function. If you want to add them to your driveway, save them for the border because car tires tend to break them down. They do work well in rock gardens or as decorative elements. You’ll need to add gravel to them as a border, but this will eliminate a lot of the maintenance. Your gravel driveway cost with this material is around $45.00 to $100 a ton.

Shells

Crushed clamshell will cost you around $0.60 for every square foot, and this works out to around $40.00 per cubic yard and $50.00 a ton. The type of shell will impact your gravel driveway cost. The shells come sold in bulk and washed well to ensure that there is no odor. Any smell they have will vanish after they’ve been in the driveway a few days.

Steel Shag

The gravel driveway cost for this material runs around $24.00 per ton, and it comes as a steel byproduct. It has to undergo screening and crushing before it can work in driveways to meet gradation requirements. It is very rough to the touch and angular-shaped, and it has a tendency to expand if you live in a more humid environment.

2 Types of Gravel
There are many types of gravel you can choose when you create your driveway, and they will influence your gravel driveway cost. Local contractors can help you pick out the best choice for your location and climate.

Figuring Out How Much Gravel You Need

So, we talked about how much your gravel driveway costs by the ton and how to measure the driveway in cubic feet or square feet, but how do you figure out how much gravel you actually need? Finding this out will help you lock your price in closer to the actual cost. The driveway slope, size, and material will all factor in. Interestingly enough, some larger driveways can actually use less material.

Measure the length and width of your driveway before multiplying these numbers together to get the square feet. Multiply this number by the depth of your driveway, and this is typically between 8 and 12 inches deep. This will give you your cubic feet, and you’ll divide this by 27 to get the cubic yards. This will help you get a basic estimate because one ton of gravel equals right around 1.13 cubic yards. The gravel size can cause this to change though.

Finally, multiply your number of cubic yards by 1.13. This will give you a very rough estimate on how many tons you need to finish your driveway. Depending on the material, you’ll have a broad gravel driveway cost estimate. You’ll need three individual types of gravel to finish this project, and each one comes with a different depth recommendation. This is why you want to speak with a professional to get a more accurate price so you know what to budget for.

Recommended Depths for the Three Necessary Layers

Ideally, your driveway will measure 12-inches deep, and it should have three unique layers by the time you finish with it. Each layer should be right around four inches deep. However, some materials only require three inches instead of four, and this includes your base layer if you use item #4 or gravel #3. You’ll follow this base layer with three or four inches of #57 gravel and top it with three or four inches of your finish material.

Additional Gravel Driveway Cost Factors

Your total gravel driveway costs like whether or not you want edging, the driveway’s size and shape, depth, gravel type, location, slope, and area conditions. The more work that needs to be done to the area before you put the driveway down, the more your costs will increase. Stabilizing the driveway or adding edging to help prevent the gravel from moving also increases your prices. Doing a chip seal driveway or using a premium material will make your gravel driveway costs go up too.

Another factor that comes into play that many people don’t think about is how far your gravel needs to come to get to your location. A lot of companies tack on a delivery fee that ranges from $50.00 to $100. If you live further away, your delivery fees will start to increase. This is why it’s a good idea to work with a local company and see what they recommend to help you control your project costs.

Cost to Create a Stabilized Gravel Driveway

You’ll find yourself adding new gravel every three to four years for most driveways. Gravel will slowly migrate off the top due to snow plows, car tires, shovels, or natural wear and tear. If you choose to have a stabilized gravel driveway, it helps ensure that more gravel stays in the correct position. In turn, you’ll have less maintenance and go longer between adding more.

A stabilized driveway uses a set of honeycombs. The contractor will set them into the ground and fill each one with gravel. They hold the gravel in one location so it doesn’t move. You can choose from a few different materials, sizes, and depths. Your gravel driveway costs for this option adds between $3.00 and $7.00 a square foot, and this brings your project prices up to $4.00 to $10.00 a square foot.

Labor Costs

Your labor costs will have a large price range attached, and these fluctuations are mostly due to the land’s condition before you start the project. It’s very common for companies to come out and excavate the area to around 12-inches down because they’ll build it back up with gravel. They’ll also have to grade and compact the space before they lay the first layer of gravel down.

Once they finish this portion, labor is fairly straightforward. They’ll dump and spread each gravel type. Most contractors will charge between $60.00 and $100 an hour, and this makes up the bulk of your total gravel driveway costs. Assume that you get six tons of gravel for two tons for every layer. Your materials will range from $400 to $500. You’ll add a $100 delivery charge for a two-car driveway. Labor will make up the remaining $1,150 to $1,250 for the project. If your yard features trees, bushes, or it’s an odd shape, your labor costs will creep closer to $2,000. You have to add in material costs too.

3 Labor Costs for Gravel Driveways
If you choose to take on the labor portion yourself with your driveway, you can shave several thousands off the final gravel driveway cost. You may have to hire heavy equipment to complete the process, and this can cut into your savings potential.
How to Build a Driveway #1 by Michael Tyler / CC BY-SA 2.0

Optional Enhancement Costs

Once you get your driveway in, there are optional enhancement costs that can increase your gravel driveway costs. However, most of these items are purely optional, so you don’t have to break your budget by adding them if you’re already at the top end of your budget. They include:

  • Driveway Garden – You can create a driveway garden with your driveway running through it. You can add plants to the sides and center of it. Depending on the plants you choose, your typical landscaping costs will apply.
  • Drainage – You’ll usually end up crowing your driveway to get the correct drainage and avoid damage. It involves having a higher center point with lower edges, and it costs around $100 more in labor.
  • Painting – You’ll use an oil-based or acrylic paint on your gravel driveway if you want to paint it. Any time the stones move, you’ll see unpainted areas, so you may need to repaint it several times. This can increase your gravel driveway cost by $1.00 to $2.00 a square foot.
  • Paving – Depending on what you want to pave it with, this option will have a large cost range. Concrete starts around $5,000 with asphalt staring around $4,000. These prices include the gravel removal and grading costs.
  • Regrading – You may need to grade your driveway and crown it after you install it. It generally takes one to four hours to complete, and your contractor will charge between $60.00 to $100 an hour.
  • Repairs – It’s relatively easy to repair most gravel driveways when they need it, and you’ll grade it or add additional gravel. On average, this will cost between $100 to $300.

If you work on maintaining your driveway properly, there’s no reason why it can’t last up to 100 years or more. This can help you easily justify your upfront gravel driveway cost.

Which is Cheaper: Asphalt or Gravel?

Generally speaking, your gravel driveway cost will be lower than an asphalt driveway. However, asphalt is relatively affordable too. On average, asphalt will cost around $3.00 to $4.00 a square foot with the total project costs topping out around $4,500. Repairs are easy too, but asphalt can get soft in the heat. It’s also only available in black, and the average lifespan is 20 years.

On the other hand, gravel is easy to repair while being available in several different colors. It can easily last upwards of 100 years with the proper maintenance, but it doesn’t work very well in areas where it snows because it’s easy to scrape it off with a shovel or snow plow.

Should You DIY or Hire a Professional

If you’re an experienced DIYer and you do your research, you could tackle this project on your own to help save on your gravel driveway costs. If you don’t mind spending a bit more and you want your driveway done quicker, it’s generally better to hire a professional contracting company. You can bring the materials you need to your site before you bring in a professional, and this can save in delivery fees.

Where to Find Gravel Driveway Installation Experts Near You

You want to find a company that is close to home when you start looking for contractors to help you with this project to keep your delivery costs low. Additionally, local companies will be able to recommend which types of gravel work best, and you can start your search here:

Frequently Asked Questions

4 Gravel Driveway Cost FAQs
Get a set of questions that you want to ask your local contractors and make sure you ask all of them the same questions to get solid estimates across the board.
Drive Way Repair – The Heroes! By ☼☼Jo Zimny Photos☼☼ / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

If you’ve brand new to the driveway world and you have no idea where to start, start with questions. The more questions you ask, the better grasp you will get on the scope of this project. In turn, the gravel driveway costs will make more sense to you.

1. How much is a truckload of gravel?

Your gravel costs range from $10.00 to $50.00 a ton, $1.00 to $3.00 a square foot, $15.00 to $75.00 a yard, or around $1,350 per truckload. The price will depend on the travel distance, volume, and rock type. Most companies include delivery up to 10 miles without incurring extra costs.

2. Do you have to install a fabric under the driveway?

The soil under your driveway has to be strong and well-drained. It has to be free of sticks and other organic materials like grass, leaves, or tree roots. You might want to install a geotextile fabric on top of the subsoil before you put down the first gravel layer to help control weeds.

3. Is it possible to seal a gravel driveway?

You can pave a driveway using crushed rock or gravel over a packed and graded dirt bed. If you already have a gravel driveway and you want to pave it, it’s more cost-effective to add a hot-asphalt seal-coat layer over the top layer of gravel before you add another layer of crushed rock.

4. Can you sprinkle salt on a gravel driveway?

Salt can kill weeds and prevent grass from growing up through it for years at a time. You can apply rock salt to any crevices and cracks in your driveway. Spread it over the entire driveway and it’ll stay active to prevent growth without damaging your driveway.

Bottom Line

Your gravel driveway costs will depend on a large range of factors. Getting a good understanding of everything that goes into this project will help you get a firm grasp on your budget. It’ll also help you understand what you can and can’t afford, and you can get the driveway you want without going over your budget.

Gravel Driveway Costs 1 Gravel Driveway Costs 2

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