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9 Best Types of Gravel for Your Driveway (Pros & Cons)

Stone Gravel

Stone GravelWhen it comes to laying down gravel for your driveway, you’d be surprised by the sheer number of types of gravel out there. All gravel is not just gravel. Instead, many different types are suitable for different situations.

Choosing the correct gravel for your driveway can mean the difference between your driveway being washed away or still standing for years to come. There are many types and sizes of gravel. In most cases, you’ll use more than one type of gravel together to create the perfect driveway. Some of these types are used all the time, while others are only used occasionally.

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Types of Gravel for Driveways

1. #3 Gravel

Every type of driveway is going to need base gravel. This gravel is usually larger and is made to create a solid foundation and encourage drainage. It is what all the other gravel sits on top of. The most popular choice is the #3 stone, which is about one to two inches in diameter. This is the “average gravel” that you’re probably used to seeing.

To cut costs, some people only use this type of gravel. However, we recommend augmenting it with other rocks as well. It is made to be the foundation, not the only stone on there. You should lay a layer of about four inches thick of this gravel onto your driveway. This ensures you have proper drainage, as there is a lot of room between these larger rocks for the water to go.

This gravel is made through a machine crushing stone. For this reason, the pieces are often irregular and can be quite sharp. It isn’t the best type of gravel to walk on by any means.

Pros
  • Cheap and plentiful
  • Creates a solid foundation
  • Good drainage
Cons
  • Irregular sizing
  • Not pleasant to walk on

2. Item #4 Gravel

“Item #4” might not seem like a very marketable name for gravel, but this type of gravel is also popular as a foundation. It is a mixture of golf-ball-sized stones, stand, and dirt. It makes more of a solid layer than #3 gravel since it has the dirt and sand mixed in.

This gravel comes in many different subtypes. This typically refers to what the larger pieces of rock are made of. In the end, it doesn’t have a significant effect on the actual function of the gravel. Here is a quick rundown of some of the costs:

  • Recycled Item #4: Consists of recycled concrete, blacktop, brick, rocks, and other stones
  • Quarry Item #4: Limestone
  • Gray Item #4: dark grey rock
  • Crushed Bluestone Item #4: Dark blue-grey stone
Pros
  • More solid than #3 gravel
  • Comes in many subtypes
Cons
  • Mainly used as a foundation

3. Crushed Stone #57 Gravel

Usually, crushed stone #57 is used as the middle layer of a gravel driveway. It is typically golf-ball-sized crushed stone, hence the name. It is made from machine-crushed rock and is often used in many different sorts of landscaping projects. The rock’s size and shape are suitable for drainage and prevent the gravel from getting stuck together, which can be a severe problem with other stone types.

Otherwise, this stone is pretty simple.

Pros
  • Good for drainage
Cons
  • Only used as a middle layer

4. Crushed Stone #411

This is a small stone that is used along the top of the driveway. It is made of coarse rock dust and smaller bits of gravel. It includes crushed stone #57 in it as well. The rocks and dust mix, creating somewhat of a solid surface on top. It’s a surface that can stand up to heavier vehicles, which is precisely what you need for a driveway.

Of course, you can’t only use this type of gravel, as it doesn’t provide excellent drainage. It is usually only used as a top layer.

Pros
  • Creates a solid top surface
  • Can withstand heavy traffic
Cons
  • Poor drainage
  • Should only be used as a top layer

5. Crusher Run

Crusher Run is a rarer type of gravel used for driveways. It is a blend of tiny crushed stone and stone dust. It usually has more dust in it than smaller stones when compared to other types of top-level gravel. As it settles, the dust sinks into the space between the rocks, creating a smooth and solid surface.

This type of gravel does not drain well in the least. For this reason, it must be slightly higher on the sides than in the middle. This will ensure that the rainwater drains properly off of the road and doesn’t wash everything away. It takes a bit more skill to lay than other options.

Pros
  • Creates a smooth and solid finish
Cons
  • Doesn’t drain well
  • Takes skill to apply

6. Pea Gravel

This sort of gravel is designed to be more aesthetically pleasing than other options. It is made of weathered stones that are smooth, small, and rounded. It is a suitable top layer and more comfortable to walk on than other options.

There are many different colors available for this sort of gravel, which isn’t something you can say about most gravel we’ve discussed. It is much more attractive than other options, though it may be a bit more expensive. Furthermore, they won’t lock together as neatly as irregularly shaped gravel will.

Pea gravel is more likely to move around as you drive over it and migrate to other areas of your yard.

Pros
  • Looks nice
  • Many color options
Cons
  • Slightly more expensive
  • Will migrate to other areas

7. Jersey Shore Gravel

Unlike most types of gravel, this gravel has a yellowish tint. It is composited of many different shades of gold, brown, and white. It looks a lot like beach sand, which is probably where it gets its name from. It is popular in beach areas for this reason.

It is very similar to pea gravel but is a unique color. It requires driveway bordering or edging to keep it in place.

Pros
  • Aesthetically pleasing
Cons
  • Moves around a lot

8. Marble Chips

These white chips are very aesthetically pleasing. They shimmer in the sunlight and have a much different appearance than usual gravel. It is more elegant and may be suitable for your home, depending on your landscaping.

The main downside is that they cost substantially more than other options. They also aren’t as practical and require edging material to keep them from leaving the driveway. Plus, they tend to wash away frequently, which means you’ll need to add more as the years go by.

Pros
  • Beautiful finish
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Requires edging to keep it in place

9. River Rock

As you might expect, this type of gravel is composed of river rocks. The stones are rounded and somewhat polished. Often, they come from actual river beds. This is not the best material for the top layer of a driveway, as they will shift significantly under the weight of a heavy vehicle.

They can be used as an attractive edging material, though. They do an excellent job of keeping other, smaller pieces of stone in place.

Pros
  • Attractive look as edging material
  • Keep smaller pieces of gravel in place
Cons
  • Not for top surfaces

Featured Image Credit: Jan Ranft, unsplash

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