It might seem difficult to make a gravel driveway look nice. Afterall, what can you do with a long stretch of gray rocks?
But you’d be surprised at how much you can do to make a boring gravel driveway pop. In this post, we look at the best ways to make a gravel driveway look good.
I’ll also touch on a few maintenance tips for keeping your drive looking nice over the years.
What You'll Learn Today
- 5 Ways To Make A Gravel Driveway Look Nice
- How To Keep A Gravel Driveway Looking Nice
5 Ways To Make A Gravel Driveway Look Nice
Here are a few ways to upgrade the look of your gravel driveway. A great thing about these ideas is that most are not just for aesthetics; they also have a practical purpose.
1. Lay It Properly
A poorly laid gravel driveway will look bad, no matter how much you try to dress it with borders, edges or lights.
It’ll develop potholes and ruts, and you’ll start seeing bare spots along the driveway.
The most important thing in making your driveway look nice is making sure you install it the right way without any rush. If you don’t think you have the skills or time to do it yourself, call in the pros.
Here are some important things to keep in mind when laying the driveway.
- Don’t just spread gravel on the ground and call it a day. A shallow gravel driveway will not last long. You’ll need to dig the driveway to a depth of 12-18 inches. This not only makes the driveway look nice, it also ensures it lasts a long time.
- Make sure your gravel driveway consists of at least three layers, with larger rocks at the bottom and fine gravel at the top.
- Ensure proper drainage to prevent water from leaving bare patches and unsightly ruts on your driveway.
- Use professional equipment like a box grader or a land plane to level the gravel. If you just eyeball it, you might be left with strange lumps and dips on the driveway.
2. Use Borders
Adding borders gives your gravel driveway a nice finished look. It also helps keep the gravel in the driveway, especially if it gets a lot of vehicle traffic.
There are plenty of driveway border ideas to choose from.
Pavers are popular, especially if you want a raised border. If you want something to contrast the gray gravel, lay brick along the edges. Wood planks also look great.
You can also build a low stone or brick wall, line the driveway with tree logs for a rustic look, or use concrete edging.
When choosing what kind of border to install, consider how it’ll impact the look of the driveway as well as your home. For instance, you can choose a border that matches the color or style of your home.
3. Line the Edges With Something Interesting
In addition to adding a border, consider lining the driveway with something interesting.
Plants are foolproof. They add much-needed greenery to balance out the dull look of gravel.
Depending on what kind of space you have and the look you are going for, you can plant trees, shrubs, flowers, or even food plants.
You can plant them directly in the ground or line the driveway with potted plants and flowers.
Another idea is a fence. A white picket fence lining one or both sides of the driveway looks great against the gravel. You can also build a simple cedar fence.
Garden lights also look great along the driveway, and they provide illumination at night.
Instead of hiring an electrician to wire lights all the way from the house to the driveway, solar lights are easier to install.
Look for those that have a timer or light sensor so they only light up when it’s dark.
4. Use Colored Gravel
Gray-colored gravel driveways are the most common kind, but not the only one. Driveway gravel comes in many other colors other than gray.
For instance, red rock gravel adds a splash of color to your driveway. Green stone gravel also looks amazing.
And even gray gravel itself is available in different shades.
Another option is to use regular gray gravel and then top it up with more colorful gravel or marbles. This option is ideal when you are applying a gravel binder (see the next section for more on this).
Instead of adding the resin to your existing gravel, mix it with different gravel and then apply the mixture on top of your driveway.
Vuba, seller of the popular Easihold gravel binder, sells different kinds of decorative stones and marbles to go along with their resin.
5. Use Gravel Binder or Grids
If you envy the firm and smooth look of asphalt or paved driveways, you can make your gravel driveway look almost the same.
One way to do this is using a resin gravel binder like Vuba or Gravel-Lok. These resins bind gravel together, creating a firm and solid surface. Some resins even add a nice sheen or a different color to the surface of your driveway.
Another option is to lay gravel pavers or grid systems on the driveway. The main purpose of these is to stabilize the driveway and keep the gravel from shifting. But they can also give the gravel a nice paved-like appearance.
How To Keep A Gravel Driveway Looking Nice
Gravel driveways are generally low maintenance, but you still need to do some work to keep it looking nice.
Here are some tips on how to maintain your gravel driveway.
Fix Ruts and Potholes Immediately
One of the most common mistakes homeowners make is to ignore small problems like potholes, bare patches and ruts. They get worse over time and more expensive to fix. Each time you drive over a pothole or rut, it gets bigger.
Keep a pile of gravel nearby to fix these problems as soon as they occur.
Tip: When repairing deep potholes, place bigger rocks at the bottom and top up with smaller gravel. Then use a hand tamper to compact the area. This will prevent the pothole from reappearing.
Re-grade The Driveway Once or Twice A Year
Over time, your gravel driveway will eventually lose its nice level look. You’ll have bare patches in some places and small hills of gravel in others.
This is inevitable with regular human and vehicular traffic. Thankfully, it’s easy to fix.
First, decide if you need to add more gravel to the driveway. This is necessary if some of the gravel has washed away or has shifted away from the driveway (Tip: A border can prevent this).
If most of the gravel is still there, you just need to level it to return the driveway to its brand new look.
The easiest way to grade a gravel driveway is using a land plane. You can pull it behind a tractor or truck. Here’s a video of it in action.
In most cases, you only need to do this once or twice a year. But if the driveway gets lots of traffic, you can do it more often.
Keep It Grass and Weed Free
Grass and weeds growing in your driveway will ruin its look. The best way to keep plants out of the gravel driveway is to install an underlayment fabric when you are laying the driveway.
The fabric blocks weeds and grass from penetrating through spaces in the gravel.
Of course, this is only possible if you are laying a new driveway. If you already have an existing gravel driveway, your best option is to permanently kill grass and weeds that are going in the driveway.
Herbicides like RoundUp 365 and RM43 are the most effective for this. You can also use salt, boiling water, or burn the grass with a propane torch.
If the weeds are not too many, you can also pull them out.
Keep It Clean
You cannot scrub clean a gravel driveway as you would an asphalt or paved one. The best way to get rid of debris and dirt that’s trapped within the gravel is using a rake.
The rake drags away the debris while leaving the gravel in the driveway. For best results, use a wide tooth rake to avoid dragging the gravel.
As you rake away the debris, you’ll also turn over and distribute the gravel, which can help refresh the look of the driveway.
If the gravel appears dirty, it’s probably dirty water that’s flowing through the driveway. Improve drainage to keep runoff from the lawn or garden from reaching the driveway.