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Whats happening to my Gravel Driveway

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MacDaddy
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 95 Western NY
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2006-02-03          124009


I installed a 1800’ gravel driveway about a year and a half ago. It has held up pretty well until the last few weeks. Recently here in western NY, our snow has melted we have had unseasonably warm weather with lots of rain. Compounding matters is that I am in the process of building my home and the driveway has had a lot of heavy use. The drive was constructed with 1.5’ of bank run gravel over geotextile fabric. Now the top layer is soupy mud and ruts. Still passable, but in bad shape. My question is this…. right now I believe it is too much of a mess to do anything. Should I wait until it freezes then grade it with my boxblade, or, should I just wait until spring then grade it and stone it w/ #2s? I am tempted to get the stone on now because I don’t want to have irreversible damage, but I think it would be a big waste of money with all the mud that will mix with it. Any thoughts?

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Whats happening to my Gravel Driveway

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JasonR
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 142 Northern Indiana
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2006-02-03          124010


I the mud coming up through the 18" of gravel or somewhere else?

I've got a 200' drive witha 100'x100' parking lot. It sees an average amount of traffic, which includes tractor/trailer u-turns and the heavy garbage truck. I didn't use any fabric. I went with a 4" layer of large stone (2-3") covered with another 4" of grade 8. I've been very impressed with it, as it will easily puddles water and very few weeds have grown. It's been in service for about 3 years now. I have a similar climate as you do, so the gravel sees it share of snow, frost, etc. It's on an old farm property, so the soil is black dirt, and the water table is pretty high.

Jason ....

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Whats happening to my Gravel Driveway

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Iowafun
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 955 Central Iowa
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2006-02-03          124012


I'll take a stab at this and I may be wrong. I am absing my answer on my experience here in central Iowa. I sually have the same problem in spring when the days warm up, but the nights are still cold. BAsically, the ground is frozen. The moisture from rain, snow, etc cannot drain away because the ground below it is still frozen. But the top is melted by the warmth of the day. So you get a slurry of water, mud, gravel, etc. The heavier stuff falls through the permeable mud mixture. I get it every spring and I get it in the same spots of my drive.

Winter should be a good time for you for heavy use by construction vehicles. But you are getting boned by the warm days which melts the top layer, but not the underlayer. As for your mud problem and the fabric you put down, I cannot comment on that. I just don't have enough knowledge.

I'm having a similar problem this year due to January being extremely warm for Iowa. My driveway is much more rutted up right now than it should be.

I hear people say how happy they are about the warm weather. I'm not happy because the driveway rutts up bad, the dogs and people drag gobs of mud in the house. You can't go outside in the yard because of the mud and softness. Heck, ask any parent and they'll tell you the kids are inside playing video games. When we have snow, then the kids are outside playing in the snow. Give me snow in January. It's easier to clean up. ....

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Whats happening to my Gravel Driveway

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MacDaddy
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 95 Western NY
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2006-02-03          124015


Iowa... I couldn't agree with you more... especially about the kids and the mud. Throw my yellow lab into the equation, and its a real mess. I like snow in winter. Crisp and cold. If I liked this miserable weather, Id move to Seattle. ....

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Whats happening to my Gravel Driveway

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grinder
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 677 central Maine
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2006-02-03          124016


Did you remove the topsoil and or overburden down to the hardpan before laying in the gravel? If not it is probably coming up through? In my experience the filter does not always work, I think you need elevation/drainage on you side, in order for it to allow you to get away without removing the topsoil.
....

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Whats happening to my Gravel Driveway

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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
Posts: 7154 Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada
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2006-02-03          124018


IMHO, the big problem is the "bank run gravel" combined with a poor base.

Crushed aggregate has very sharp, jagged edges which will lock together. On the other hand, gravel found in banks is usually very rounded from the scour of moving water. It is like packing ball bearings.

The purpose of the gravel in a driveway or road is two-fold, first is to give you a clean durable surface to drive on of course.

Most importantly though, gravel spreads out the weight of the vehicles passing over it. In order for this to be possible to MUST be compacted and locked tightly together. The way it works is like a zillion little pyramids, your tire rests on say 6 rocks, those six rocks are sitting on 6 rocks each, those 36 rocks each sit on 6 more each, etc. Before very long your wheeel is resting on an area of gravel that is many square feet in size. That is why you need larger rocks at the bottom, and smaller ones as you get closer to surface, a several large rocks down below will withstand tremendous force without being pushed down into the earth.

It is this stability you are missing in your driveway.

You have two real options, just keep pouring more & more gravel on top and hope to eventually have enough base to support the driveway, or get a big machine in and start digging for the base for a new driveway.

Best of luck. ....

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SG8NUC
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 579 g
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2006-02-03          124022


My friends and I went to the concrete company and bought the left over concrete that they wash out of the mixers. When you use it on top of the gravel it will set up and not wash away. I would not use to much as it will cause dust. The price is for the dump truck to haul it. After a few rains it will setup. It is wet when they deliver it and does have a few bolders, but it will spread like peanut butter with the fel after the large setup boulders are removed. ....

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____________________________________________________________________________________
Whats happening to my Gravel Driveway

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Chief
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 4285 Southwest MiddleTennessee
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2006-02-03          124030


I have lived on a long dirt drive for almost 15 years and if you did not lay down a good base of large rock, chirt, and base mix or "crush & run" as Murf has already mentioned; you will have to regravel the drive. I would suggest using "base" which is a mix of large, med., small, and crushed limestone. Runs about $5 a ton around here. Grading the drive now will just make a bigger mess. ....

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Whats happening to my Gravel Driveway

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Art White
Join Date: Jan 2000
Posts: 6885 Waterville New York
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2006-02-03          124036


Your driveway has taken a set against the fiber at this time but it is wet from the rains and the moisture and you only have dirt in the upper layer. The heavy or larger rocks have been jambed into the fiber and are ready to hold but really need to be dried out to top grade and install a three inch layer of run a crush, or crush or run should be applied as close to the stone top level as possible. A good sized roller is needed for good compaction after grading. This applied with a layer of moist two inch stone dust over the top and rolled again would give a drive way the ultimate top surface which could also be professionally oiled and easily maintained and near blacktop strong. ....

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Whats happening to my Gravel Driveway

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dkheckmanl
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 134 Middleton, ID
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2006-02-03          124054


As Art mentioned, the fine material has worked its way to the top and turned to mud or soup. If you can blade some of that soup off to the side or remove it someway, you will be better off. If it freezing and thawing daily, it can be difficut job getting it dried out plus you will still have a layer of fines if you do not get it removed. If you can afford it, I would put down a 4" lift of crushed 2" minus and then if you want a little smoother running surface put 2"-3" of crushed 3/4 inch on top of the larger rock. You need to compact each lift even you just use heavy equipment such as a loaded truck; however, using a roller will give you a better product.
Good Luck with whatever you do. ....

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Whats happening to my Gravel Driveway

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MacDaddy
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 95 Western NY
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2006-02-04          124058


Before the gravel was installed, the topsoil was completely removed down to clay. We then layed the fabric, which is the dense woven type designed for road-base support. The bank run that was installed appeared to have a good ratio of stone and fines. I then pounded the hell out of it with a viberatory roller. It tightened up very nicely and remained that way till last month. I think what im going to do is backblade the surface mud into a pile and get rid of it. I dont want to be too agressive with the surface, so I dont think ill use the box-blade. I'll wait until its dry for that. Then Ill add a few inches of crushed stone and compact, and hoe for the best. Thanks for your comments. ....

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Whats happening to my Gravel Driveway

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Iowafun
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 955 Central Iowa
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2006-02-04          124060


Sounds like you have some rock problems like I do. The guy that built my place used 1-2" diameter bank rock and I haven't found a base. So when it thaws, it just squirts down into the mud. Basically, I need to strip it all back and start from scratch. But I'd rather have concrete. But my employer is being bought so I don't know if I'll be fully employed all year. So I live with the problem for now.

I think your plan is about the best for now and will help. It got me thinking about getting some gravel and doing some repairs on my drive. ....

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Whats happening to my Gravel Driveway

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Art White
Join Date: Jan 2000
Posts: 6885 Waterville New York
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2006-02-04          124062


Macdaddy the crushed stones will always stay loose on the top but would be good for a layer in between the stone dust which would hold and compact hard for a strong surface that is not always plowed off every winter for when you do have snow. ....

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dkheckmanl
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 134 Middleton, ID
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2006-02-04          124084


Art, out of curosity what exactly is stone dust? That is a term which is not commonly used here the West. Most well constructed driiveways, farm to market or rural county roads here that are not paved are capped with a layer of uniformly graded crushed gravel 1/2 to 3/4 inch maximum size. It has just enough fines {usually a clayie material) to bind the crushed rock together when compacted. There is a fine line on the right amount of binder material. Not enough and the crushed material will not bind and too much and the crushed material will be soupy on the surface or evern start rutting.

What keeps the stone dust from blowing away when it is dry and under traffic? Sounds like it might sort of cement together. Does it hold up pretty good under heavy traffic or when it gets wet? ....

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Whats happening to my Gravel Driveway

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ncrunch32
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 762 Kingston, NY
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2006-02-04          124085


My understanding is that stone dust is the by-product of crushing rock into different standard stone sizes. We use it a lot here in the east - as the top layer under patio decks and for sweeping between blocks, top layer for driveways over item #4 (angular stone), etc. I have a pile left over from patio work in a side area with a tarp over it to keep it from solidifying. One of the larger stone quarry's told me they didn't sell it - but a guy who delivered stone to me told me they have it - but only for a select few customers.
....

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Art White
Join Date: Jan 2000
Posts: 6885 Waterville New York
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2006-02-05          124095


We have great amounts of stone quarries here with solid stone and the dust comes from under the conveyors and from grinding the stone to size. It sets up great when compacted wet. To spread a little motar mix on and it is really like concrete. ....

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