Prepping dirt lane for gravel
Interview source: Dave Creamer, Dirt and Gravel Field Specialist, Penn State University
Dirt lanes are often plagued by mud and ruts that could swallow a car. Adding gravel would help, but the lane must be prepared or your problems will continue.
Dave Creamer is a dirt and gravel field specialist at Penn State University. He says the most important step before putting gravel down is to have a crown already built in the base to direct water away from the center. Too many people think they should shape the crown with the material they bring in.
"I always kind of liken that to trying to build the pitch in your roof out of shingles as opposed to building the peak in your roof and then put the shingles on it," says Creamer. "So, you've really got to take some time and prep that road base to have crown in it. And what that's going to do is it's going to make it much easier for you to put the shape in the road that you want, and it's going to make it a lot easier for it to stay the shape that you want."
Any potholes and ruts must be completely smoothed out before adding gravel or they will reappear within a few weeks.
Creamer says it's also important to determine the type of soil on your dirt lane. Many sub-bases are heavy clay, which can migrate up through gravel and eventually create more dust and mud.
He recommends laying down a geotextile fabric, a product that's designed to separate layers of the earth.
"Get the road base in the shape that you want it, put a layer of the fabric down, and then put your gravel on." says Creamer. "Depending on the manufacturer's recommendations, they would like to see six-or-eight-inches of gravel on top of that fabric under normal circumstances."
Soil moisture in the road bed must also be managed before laying down gravel. A sub-surface drainage system may need to be installed to prevent the gravel from washing away.
There are different types of gravel depending on your needs
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