How to Create a Low-Maintenance, All-Gravel Driveway
Use a chip seal paving technique to get a classic driveway look that stands up to plowing and doesn't require annual raking and replenishment
Q: We'd like to have a gravel driveway, but we also need to be able to plow it in the winter. Is that possible? —roland boucher, Weston, Mass.
Roger Cook replies: Sure, if you use a paving technique called chip sealing. Basically, it's just a layer of washed stone embedded in a tar-like substance sprayed over asphalt. (It won't work on concrete.) But when the paving crew is finished, usually in a couple of hours, you have what looks like an upscale, all-gravel driveway without gravel's maintenance headaches: There's no raking stones out of the yard or adding new ones every year. And when it snows, the surface can be cleared with care using a plow or a snowblower, just like regular pavement.
This job must be done in dry weather—after the ground gets above 50 degrees F and before the leaves fall—by a paving pro with experience handling the hot tar, heavy machines, and tons of stone that chip sealing requires. Here's what to expect when a crew shows up at your house.
Note: Not a DIY project. Requires a paving crew of eight, heavy machinery, and specialized equipment for heating and applying bitumen.