Grading a gravel lane
My grandparents had a long, gravel lane that was in constant need of a blade. There always seemed to be big holes, even though they had a pile of gravel handy to fill them in.
Russ Lanoie is a Private Contractor and says since water is a huge contributor to a bumpy road, it's important to have the center of the lane elevated so the water runs off the sides and doesn't pool or create washouts. This is called a crown, and if you don't already have one, it's easy to create.
"You pull the material from the shoulder to the center, it's basically as simple as that. Angle the blade, pick up the wheels, so that the outside is digging deeper than the center," says Lanoie. "But the rule to start with is to cut the potholes out of the center of the road first, and then bring the side materials in. Whether you're working with a $300,000 road grader or whether you're working with a small tractor with a tag-along rake behind it, that rule remains the same."
The best time to grade a lane is right after a light rain. It loosens the material and helps it compact after grading. Lanoie advises spending a little time after each rain shower going over the crown and smoothing it out. If you let it groove and wash out, you'll have to start the process again.
You may even have to replace the gravel.
"When you start to work the road and you're loosening up nuggets that are fist size, baseball size, football size and basketball size, then you know you don't have the surface gravel to work with. That is the key," says Lanoie. "If you're losing material that can't get worked back into the road surface when you're reworking the road, then it's time to add material that can be reworked without being lost."
After grading, the material should be compacted down. Lanoie says the wheels of your vehicle will do the job just fine. Because the weight is concentrated on a small area, any imperfections will quickly show up, allowing you to rework them before they become potholes.
Learn more about road shaping principles
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