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How to Maintain Your Country Driveway

There’s something special about gravel and dirt driveways – they truly bring an old-fashioned charm to any property. But what isn’t so quaint about country driveways is maintaining them! Between rain washing them out, snowplows wreaking havoc, and mud season capping it off, there are plenty of opportunities for driveway disruption. But proper driveway maintenance can help prevent most major issues and keep it in good shape for years to come.

Make sure the driveway is clean

Throughout the different seasons, your driveway will show the same wear and tear as any part of your home’s exteriors. It’s important to keep up with general maintenance and cleaning as soon as it’s needed. Treat spills or messes when they occur, remove sprouting weeds, and rake away yard debris that could cause future weeds or divots.

Fill in potholes

All country driveways inevitably develop potholes and other gaps. Potholes can turn into a serious problem if left untreated. They can pop your car’s tires, damage the rims, and even nudge the steering system out of alignment. The “quick fix” solution is to even out the gravel with a pick and shovel, but this will leave a weak spot that’s likely to grow into another pothole.

Car driving over potholes Potholes shouldn't be overlooked – they’ll only get bigger!

The most sustainable solution is to widen the pothole by removing the whole area, then add layers of coarse gravel into the bottom with a shovel. Compact each layer as you go with a tamper. Top it off with a layer of more finely crushed gravel and tamp it down firmly.

Repair water damage

Water can create chaos on a gravel driveway. If you’re noticing areas getting washed out or ruts forming, your driveway needs some drainage help. Start by adding more gravel to make your driveway higher than the land around it. Make sure your driveway has a “crown” or higher middle ground so water will naturally run off to the sides. Next time it rains, check for any puddles. You can then add more gravel to raise these low spots.

If water is still collecting or washing out the driveway, install a culvert or make a ditch to pull the water away from wherever it flows onto the gravel. It’s best to clear several inches on both sides of the driveway to redirect water flow.

Fix plow damage

Winter sure is beautiful – until you try to find your driveway after! If you’ve been using a snowplow, you can usually expect the driveway to be a mess. As areas are disrupted by plowing, it’s important to pack the gravel back into place to support the driveway’s structure. You can avoid a lot of this maintenance by using a shovel or snow blower instead of plowing, unless you have a long driveway!

Person using a snowblower on winter driveway It's best to use lighter-weight tools like shovels or snow blowers on gravel driveways.

Prevent weed growth

When grass or weeds start to creep up into the driveway, a safe method of removal is spraying a non-toxic herbicide over the driveway. There’s a variety of products available or ways to make this yourself. A popular method is to combine 1 gallon of white vinegar, 1 cup of salt, and 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap.

Grade the driveway

After a season of driving over the same strips of land, country driveways can show “cart paths” or divots that run the length of the driveway. An important but often overlooked step of driveway maintenance is to keep it properly graded and leveled. Not only does this make your driveway look nice and manicured, but it also helps prevent long-term divots and risk of injury.

Raking the driveway is a simple way to remove any lodged twigs, leaves, and other small debris. It also keeps the surface level of the driveway even. But using a rake is a short-term solution that’s ideal for minor touch-ups, not leveling the whole driveway.

A power grader in use on a driveway. The DR Power Grader quickly attaches and evens out challenging driveways.

Many country property owners resort to hiring a local farmer or landscaper to truck in new gravel and grade the whole driveway with commercial equipment. But this comes at a large cost and isn’t always convenient. Grading attachments like the DR Power Grader enable you to gauge up and redistribute existing surface gravel, just by hooking up a grader to the back of your mower or ATV. These tow-behind machines can smooth out the toughest of driveways and save you lots of manual work!