But you want to go at bit
further than that. You want a smooth trouble-free road that you can travel
in second or third gear all the time. You want something UPS and
FedEx aren't afraid of, and if you have garbage pick-up in your area,
something the garbage truck can navigate without spending the afternoon.
How you get to this point is by
applying crushed rock. If this sounds expensive, it can be. If
you have a brand-new road, the road-bed will be very soft and you may need
a LOT of rock, maybe ten or twelve truckloads per quarter-mile.
On the other hand, if you’ve been driving your road for more that a year
or two then you may be able to get by with as little as a truckload per
five hundred feet or so.
The purpose of the rock is to
stabilize the surface. If you have soft spots that turn into a bog
after each rain, this is cured by rock. For the rest of the road, a
thin layer of rock will smooth out the inconsistencies, harden the
surface, and create the smoothest road you’ll find short of paving.
Rock doesn’t have to cost so much,
but it can. In our area, you can get a large tandem-axle dump truck
full of rock for about $225. You may have someone suggest that you
can save money by using creek gravel as it comes out of the stream-bed,
which is called “creek-run” or screened creek gravel of whatever size you
want (typically 1-inch). This tends to cost about half or
three-quarters as much, as quarried, crushed rock but it has some
drawbacks. For filling that giant mud-hole that swallowed the
mail-man last week, it will work pretty well, and is probably the most
cost-effective way to go, but for long, thin applications it doesn’t work
too well because where the angular, broken edges of the crushed rock dig
in and hold themselves in place, the rounded creek rock tends to roll off
into the ditch over time.
When ordering crushed rock, there
are two types you need to be familiar with. The first, “clean rock”,
sometimes called “road rock” is simply rock of a given size only. This
provides a uniform surface that can be graded and re-graded many times.
It’s a good way to dry up wet areas.
The second type is called “base
rock”. This is the most useful for all-around applications.
Base rock is rock of a given size and everything else smaller than that
down to dust-size particles. Base rock is about as close as most
mortal beings will ever get to having concrete. Once applied and
packed down, it tends to hold it’s shape and sheds water. This
last property is invaluable to your purposes.
1-/12 to 2-inch rock makes good
material to fill deep mud-holes and does a better job than creek run; a
nice improvement, but 1-inch base rock will bring your road surface to a
wonderfully smooth condition that will be very, very apparent the first
time you drive over it. You’ll love it to pieces.
Road-building Rule Number 3 is
there is NO substitute for crushed rock.
I can’t say enough good
about this wonderful stuff. Put down two or three inches on your roadway
and you’ll think you’re driving on a cloud. If your cloud gets a little
rough after a year or two, you can use a farm tractor with a box-blade to
drag it once or twice and it’ll be just like it was when you first put it
The box-blade is the very best
implement to use for private road maintenance because it picks up the
surface rock, smoothes the surface and puts the rock back down evenly.
Lots of people try to accomplish the same thing with a straight blade, but
those move the material from one side to another which tends to cause
small windrows of rock along the edge of the ditches instead of spreading
it out on the wearing surface where you want it. What I like to do
is to use a straight blade first to bring material across the surface in
both directions, then smooth the resulting center windrows with a
box-blade. If you can only afford to buy one type of blade, make it
My 3/4 mile driveway has become
more than just an access route to me, it's become a source of pride. Maintaining it has become one of my hobbies. Sometimes I
just sit and look at it with a moronic grin on my face. If you're
not getting this kind of warm, fuzzy feeling over your access road, maybe
it's time you did.