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  • Lucketts Excavating, Inc.

Wear Leads to Tear on Gravel Driveways

Updated: Nov 3, 2023

You go to work, school, grocery stores, family gatherings, soccer practice, and to visit friends. You have family members who are in and out of the house throughout the day. You have deliveries, gas and trash trucks, and other construction activities coming and going as well. Maybe you even share a portion of your driveway with a neighbor. Let's face it—you go up and down your driveway hundreds, if not thousands, of times a year. Over that time, the rubber-to-gravel will deteriorate the road, causing potholes and drainage issues. Not to mention weather patterns with intense rain that can wreak havoc on a road. All of this to say, you may be in for a bumpy ride.

Lucketts Excavating clears way for a new gravel road in Northern Virginia

Gravel Driveway and Road Repair Process

Lucketts Excavating uses heavy machinery—like excavators, backhoes, and bulldozers—to remove loose gravel, debris, and weakened portions of the road or driveway. This excavation process ensures a clean and stable base for the subsequent repair work:

  1. The first step in repairing gravel driveways and roads is to grade the surface. Grading the surface of the road restores the surface and achieves a level of smoothness and shape needed for the subsequent work.

  2. We will assess the need for repair or installations for any necessary culverts. Without adequate drainage, water can pool on gravel driveways, leading to soft spots and weakened areas. Over time, this can cause the road surface to deteriorate, resulting in potholes, ruts, and washouts. Culverts help manage the flow of water and ensure that water is directed away from the road. Proper drainage on gravel roads is also important for managing the environmental impact. Without culverts, water runoff from the road can carry sediment, pollutants, and other contaminants into nearby water bodies, potentially harming the local ecosystem. Culverts help control the flow of water, allowing for filtration and reducing the negative impact on the environment.

  3. Then, Lucketts Excavating evaluates and reassess the road crown. The crown of a gravel road refers to the slight slope or curvature designed to facilitate proper drainage—it is typically higher in the center and slopes down towards the edges. The desired crown specifications based on factors such as road width, expected traffic volume, and local climate conditions.

  4. Once the sub-base is prepared, Lucketts Excavating typically uses 21A stone for the topping. Then, after using our proven grading technique, we use a 84" vibratory roller for optimum compaction. Completing this step with moisture in the road provides maximum compaction.

  5. After grading and the crown in complete, the gravel sub-base is compacted—this helps to create a stable foundation for the road and ensures that the crown shape is maintained.

  6. Once the road is properly installed, we then set the gravel road up for success by cutting in ditch lines or reliefs to help with proper drainage.

Prevention is Key

Excavation services may also address any underlying drainage issues during the repair process. They can evaluate the drainage patterns around the road or driveway and make necessary adjustments to redirect water away from the repaired area. This attention to drainage helps prevent future pothole formation by minimizing water accumulation and the subsequent weakening of the roadbed.

Beyond the Pothole

A pothole here or there is one thing, but the real issues arise when you begin dodging them left and right and when ruts begin to form. The best path forward in instances such as these is to resist the urge to fill them for a quick fix, and take care of the problem from the ground-up. Refilling a pothole on an overall problematic gravel road is like "rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic"—it's pointless, as it doesn't address the significant, underlying problems. The best course of action in this scenario is to rip up the road, re-grade it, and add additional stone, if needed.

Broader gravel road and driveway maintenance is usually the best way to maintain a smooth driving surface—by grading the surface to ensure proper drainage, removing overgrown vegetation, and performing necessary repairs to prevent erosion, we leave no stone unturned. Yearly maintenance will save you thousands down the road—pun intended!

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