Best gravel for driveway: avoid washouts (AVOID Doing This!)

If you are planning to pave your driveway with gravel as it is a low-cost option, then you have reached the right place. You might be thinking about completing the task before the monsoons arrive so that you need not to worry about the muddy driveway. Gravel driveways are better than traditional mortar or concrete driveways because they help a lot in sorting out drainage issues.


Choosing the right gravel for your driveway is very important because if you choose the right one, it will last for years together. However, choosing the wrong type of gravel will incur extra costs as after one rainstorm, it will be washed off leaving only mud and mess on the path.

There are two types of gravel that are used on any construction site. Naturally formed gravel and crushed rocks. As the name suggests, the first one did not have much human intervention and nature broke the huge rocks. For the crushed gravel, huge chunks of rocks were broken down into pieces using man-made machines.

How to build the perfect gravel driveway?

To build a perfect gravel driveway, you will have to use multiple layers of gravel and allow it to set in properly.

  • The bottom layer is known as base gravel #3 and normally gravel is laid directly on the earth without cementing the area. This ensures that the gravels get a proper grip and they can set in properly. This layer is about four inches thick and the stones used in them are not larger than two inches in diameter.
  • You can create the base layer using item #4 which is basically a mixture of sand, dirt, and golf ball-sized gravel stones. You can choose to use recycled item # 4, which is made up of recycled stones. You will get the feeling that you are being eco-friendly and helping Mother Nature. Even brick, concrete, rock, and blacktop are common substances for creating item number 4. Some people even prefer to use quarry item # 4, which includes crushed limestone. Due to the presence of the limestone, your driveway will appear gray in color. Some people even use crushed bluestone item #4 for the same purpose.
  • Once the base layer is spread on the driveway, it is time to put the middle layer. Most people use the #57 type of gravel for the middle layer. It is made from machine-crushed rock and it offers excellent drainage. Check out this video which will help you to understand the difference between gravel and item#4.
  • Now comes the time for the topmost layer for your gravel driveway and there are many options to choose from. Let’s look at some of the best ones-

Some of the best surface gravel for widening your driveway

Now we have come to apply the final layer for the driveway and along with strength, this layer should look aesthetically appealing too.

  • Crushed stone #411

This is a small stone that is made of coarse rock dust along with small pieces of gravel and crushed #57 varieties of stone. The rocks and dust blend well and create a smooth upper layer of the gravel driveway. If you use a heavier vehicle like a pik-up ruck or a heavy SUV, you should go for this type of gravel driveway. However, this type of gravel is not the best for drainage and if you live in an area that receives very heavy rainfall, we would advise you against it.

Crushed stones
  • Quarry process/ Crusher run

Crusher run is a rare type of gravel and it is a mixture of tiny crushed stones and stone dust. The dust settles in the space between the rocks and it gives a smooth finish. Since it does not drain rainwater very well you need to take care of the leveling while laying it. The middle of the driveway should be a little higher than the sides. This will ensure that the water flows down the slope to the drain or mud on the sides. Only skilled masons can handle this type of gravel. This type of gravel is perfect even for walkways as big chunks of the stone do not hit the shoes while walking and the surface is quite smooth.

  • Pea gravel

Pea gravels look awesome on driveways and hence many homeowners prefer them over the other options. Weathered stones that are smooth and rounded are crushed to make this type of gravel. The stones are more round and colorful and look good when paved on the surface layer of the driveway. They are low on maintenance and once the heavy vehicles start moving above them, they settle well.

Driveways made of pea gravel are comfortable to walk on too. However, they will move around once heavy vehicles start moving over them. They a costlier than other types of gravel and are available in multiple colors for you to choose from.

  • Jersey shore gravel

This gravel has a lucrative yellowish tint and looks good on the driveway. You will get to see many shades of golden, golden-brown, tan, brown, gray, black, and white pieces. It looks like beach sand from a distance and you will have to border your driveway properly to keep it in place. Since the sizes of the stones are uneven, it moves a lot and it is not very comfortable to walk on. However, many homeowners like it for its aesthetic appeal.

  • Marble chips

These broken pieces of marble rock look awesome and shimmer when light falls on it. It is more expensive than the other types of gravel and it needs edging material to keep it in place. Since they are bigger in size, they wash away too and hence are high on maintenance as you will need to add more pieces along the years.

  • Blackstar or blacktrap rock

These gravels look very attractive with dark gray-colored stones. They fit into each other well, however, you will need a stabilizing grid paving system to stay stable on your driveway. They don’t move too much and give strong durability to the walkways or driveways.

River stones
  • River rock

They actually have been smoothened by the rivers over the years when the rocks rolled and handled the pressure of water. They look great if used as walkways. They may not be the best materials for driveways as they shift a lot under the pressure of heavy vehicles. However, if you do not use your driveway to park heavy vehicles, you may use them for walkways or driveways.

Pavers can be used to finish a driveway as well.


Installing a driveway with rocks can be challenging as you need to have multiple layers to have stability but also let rain flow away. In this post, we have discussed what gravel works best for a driveway. It is a cheap option but has to be installed properly as it can result in a pool of mud if you don’t follow the best practices.

We have mentioned how to avoid stains on the driveway here.


We have discussed how to build a driveway here.

The 5 Best Gravel for Driveway Types and a Better Paving Alternative