How to build a gravel road

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gravel roadgravel road


How to build a gravel road

If you own a large plot of land, a farm or are just a civilian who always wondered how gravel roads came to be, then this article is for you. There are many reasons why people would prefer to build a gravel road over a tar one and if the circumstances allow it, then it should be done. It's safer, in general, to have a some sort of path or road system in place to guide and support cars of all calibers and encourage rules of the road even off the main roads.

Here are the steps you need to take when building a gravel road, as well as the equipment you need to get the job done.


Purpose of road use

Before you begin with any kind of construction efforts, you need to analyse what the purpose is behind building this gravel road and what it will be used for. This will determine the size and necessary quality that the road needs in order to be functional. Most of the time, gravel roads are built around farms to make the operating and transport of heavy farm equipment easier. Yes, there are also commercial uses of gravel roads, for when visitors and suppliers come around, but that’s why you need to know what the road will, majority of the time, be used for.

If there will be heavier vehicles on the road or even the road being a predicted high-traffic path, you’ll need to know that it is strong enough to support that kind of activity. Based on the purpose of road use, you can accurately decide on the necessary materials and equipment for the task.  


Equipment and materials for execution

Now that you know what you’re building the road for, you can make sure you have the necessary equipment and materials to get the job done.

  • Road graders: Graders are the necessary blade-tool for levelling and laying out gravel roads and you would, preferably, want a wide one if you’re looking to create a vehicle-wide road. It’s definitely needed in the road building process, especially for setting the foundations and working up in layers.   
  • Compactor or road-roller: The compactor/roller is another necessary road building equipment item that is used to compact (obviously) the gravel together to increase strength and durability.
  • Rock removal equipment: When it comes to rock removal equipment, it’s generally used in road maintenance processes but can also be used in the initial phases of gravel road development to gather loose rocks and stones for their efficient removal.


First, the foundations

Your road building efforts will be wasted if you don’t start by creating a solid foundation. And this begins by analysing the soil, in the area, that will be used to build the road. Make sure you bring in any extra ground materials, such as stone, sand or even concrete (purely for the base) if they are needed, to ensure a strong foundation.

Areas that have generally wet soil or a high clay content won’t make for a great road, nevermind a foundation.  


A layered method

Best practice for building roads is to start from the bottom and build your way up, working in layers of suitable materials. Here your road grader and road-roller will come in handy to overlay and ensure all the materials come together as they need to.

This, layered on top of your solid foundations, is how your gravel road will be built. And by using this method with the correct equipment and materials, you will ensure that your road is sustainable and strong enough to carry the weight of the vehicles that will be using it.    


Don’t forget about drainage

The whole idea behind the right materials and application method is that the road has drainage abilities (which is why a substance like clay wouldn’t work). If your gravel road has an effective drainage system, it will require less maintenance in the long run and will last for a longer period of time (this also means that less money will be spent on maintenance, which is always a bonus). It will also be a good idea to create some type of drainage system along the sides of the road to discourage a build-up of water that will, eventually, begin to affect the road you’ve built.


Maintain thorough road maintenance

And, finally, once your gravel road has been built, it’s important to have maintenance protocols in play to keep its, pardon the pun, roadworthy status. This is where rock removal equipment will come in handy, to remove any loose stones that have been driven out of place underneath car tyres, easily preparing the area for a roller and new layer of road to be created.

Other, minor, maintenance tasks that are vitally important to the health of a gravel road include clearing the drain systems to encourage better drainage, reshaping the road when and wherever it is needed, as well as having professionals “test” the road as a final clearance that it is, indeed, good to go.

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