Help with gravel on clay driveway

We have a long gravel on clay driveway that is about 2 years old. It has done fairly well until recently when we had a lot of rain & snow. The gravel just got pushed down in the the gel/slime/whatever and the driveway got in bad shape in a hurry. This residential driveway has more traffic than a normal residential driveway but it is limited to about 10-15 cars a day and normal a normal residential delivery truck (USPS, UPS, FEDEX) 2 or so times a week.
I would appreciate any help with how to improve the driveway so we won't have to frequently re-gravel it and then have it go bad in the next long spell of wet weather.
Thanks for any help. (Is there a better place I could ask this question?)
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

There is a lot of information that you do not supply. Was the clay base compacted, how thick is the gravel topping, what type and size(s) of gravel used, was the gravel crushed gravel or round river gravel, was the first layer of gravel a large size and then covered with finer gravel, do you have deep frost in your area, do you have snow and/or lots of rain. That is what I can think of for now.
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Thanks for your reply - I will do my best to answer your questions below.
wrote:

No - except by construction trucks & modular carriers during construction.

Not more than 3" originally, now zero in some places.

The gravel ranges 3/4" to 1 1/2 inch. It is rounded brown river gravel.

No
We are southeastern coastal Virginia, once every few years we have a heavy snow. About half the winters have no snow. All time low is 0F, ground almost never freezes as deep as 1 foot. We have extended periods of drought and lengthy periods of a lot of rain. Our road really deteriorated after a recent snow, we'vd had lots of rain too.
Thanks again

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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Two questions I forgot to ask: Is the driveway wide enough so that the vehicle tires are not always running in the same spot causing a rut? Also was the organic topsoil removed from under the driveway? Topsoil is a surefire guaranteed failure as it is never stable and will just absorb the gravel forever as the soil migrates up as mud and the gravel gets buried.
3" of rounded river gravel is not enough, especially with an uncompacted base. You need several inches of coarse crushed gravel as a base. Rounded gravel does not lock together, it rolls, moves and slides about as traffic goes over it, crushed gravel has sharp edges and will jam together and hold up better. You need a foot or more of quality gravel. One technique I have seen is to use a heavy duty landscape type fabric to separate the clay from the aggregate. I have a driveway that is 16 feet wide, built on a clay base, in a high water area. I have a foot of old highway gravel and ashpalt pieces covered with 6" of 2" crusher run limestone (this has all the crushed limestone fines inbetween the stone causing it to harden when compacted into a soft concrete), another 6" of 3/4" crusher run limestone and topped with limestone screenings (the dust that is separated from the crushed gravel). I can handle fully loaded concrete redimix trucks without a depression, only a scuff on the surface which heals over.
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I have had driveways of gravel atop clay for 34 years, in a place where winters last 4 to 5 months. The only known "improvement" is to add gravel every 4 to 6 years and roll judiciously. (It is no good just accelerating the natural tendency for the gravel to burrow down into the clay.)
--
Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
  Click to see the full signature.
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On Fri, 20 Mar 2009 14:21:47 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

That is a lot of traffic for a gravel driveway. Consider asphalt, or even better, concrete.
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Phisherman wrote:

Down south, they till in cement powder before they gravel- called out on plot plans as 'soil-cement'. Not sure how you would do that on an existing drive- maybe sprinkle it on with a lawn spreader, than go back and forth over it with a box scraper? TOH landscape guy addressed it a few times- the right mix of gravel sizes locks together with traffic or rolling, and almost becomes like pavement. Beleive it was all unwashed gravel, so maybe the stone dust acts like the cement they use down south with the shell gravel.
No, I'm not a paving expert- why do you ask?
-- aem sends...
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One way to improve your driveway is to first put down at least 3 inches of rip rap, a common, large type of stone. This gives you a good road base, and then you can put smaller gravel on top of the rip rap. Once you get a good roadbase with the rip rap, it is highly unlikely that common cars and light trucks would drive the gravel back into the soil.
Having 3 or 4 inches of small gravel will not always hold up during spring freezing and thawing. The spring season is the hardest on a gravel road or driveway.
James
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James wrote:

It will, but it took 25 years in our case!
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Consider using slag, limestone 57's, or berming gravel (mix used along highway berms), on top of a good base.
James advice on using rip rap is excellent advice.
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On Mar 20, 1:21pm, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Yes. Your county highway department. A friendly conversation with the chief engineer will tell you all you need to know. He will have the skinny on your area relating to sources, prices and whatever else it will take to make things more permanent and nearly maintenance free. Maybe be a good guy and buy him lunch.
Joe
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wrote:

Joe,
I'm not out to start a flame war, but you made me LOL.
I work for our States Department of Transportation. One thing, which will get someone canned in a hurry, is taking something even as small as a cup of coffee, let alone a lunch. That is a no-no within all government.
Government pricing will not apply to individuals.
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Good point, Anthony, but we do things differently in Illinois. >G< Of course, any business luncheon invitation should be handled with circumspection for all involved. Cheers,
Joe
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In addition to all the other advice you have been given, you need to be sure the driveway is built up and properly smoothed and crowned so that water will have a chance to run off. Your contractor needs to have a good compactor and a motor grader to build a good driveway. Mine is about 25 years old and is still in good shape.
Don Young
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Reading this thread, these are some things that have occured to me. I'm not an expert on soil conditions in Virginia, but my job is in road construction. So here goes:
1. The principal trouble is that there's no barrier between the driveway and the sub-base. This allows mud to migrate into the driveway aggregate and vice versa. A layer of geotextile fabric is the best, most effective and least expensive way to provide that barrier. Were it me, I'd look at woven versus non-woven fabric, but that's entirely up to you. Expect to pay between 50 cents and a buck per square yard of driveway surface, and the fabric comes in rolls with widths of 12.5', 15' and 17.5'. You will have considerable waste.
2. The aggregate for you driveway is, as another poster mentioned, not the best for a road base. Round rocks roll against one another-- hey, that was alliteration! Anyway, if you're stuck with what you've got, you need to amend the road base with some well-graded material, i.e., some stuff with lots of different particle sizes. Around here, #610 limestone with fines is the standard, but if you plan to reuse what you have, I'd maybe try some #411 or something similar. The idea is to have as few voids as possible between as widely varied particle sizes as possible. A much less expensive, but less stable alternative is to use sand/clay fill.
3. Your driveway or the soil under or next to it is holding water. Take your pick on how to alleviate that problem.
Having said all that, here's what I think I would do, keeping budget as the primary constraint: Dig up the existing drive and save the rock. Pile it along side, whatever. Put down your fabric. Spread the rock back out over the fabric, then put a thin layer (just an inch or two) of sand atop the rock. Wash the sand into the rock with a sprinkler (or let it rain or let it work its way in naturally) and then do it again. And again, if needed. Since you only have 2 or 3 inches of gravel, probably twice is going to do it. This will provide a reasonably stable matrix that will not leave ponds in ruts that develop (which can be fixed easily by filling with gravel/sand mix) and the geotex will keep migration to a minimum.
More expensive alternatives are a sand layer under the fabric, and crushed limestone of varying grades in place of the sand washed into the gravel.
Holy crap, that was long-winded. If you have more, or more specific questions, I check in here a couple times a week, or you can email me directly. I hope this helps you out.
Phil
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On Mar 22, 10:20�pm, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

the fabric will rip easily as vehicles pass over top.
a gravel base covered with low grade or recycled asphalt then covered with stone will last forever.
personally hated muddy gravel and replaced my driveway with asphalt over 20 years ago. never regretted it for a moment
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Bob,
Geotex comes in many shapes and sizes. That's like saying, "Joists made of wood will crack." What kind of wood? What kind of joist? See my point? We're using some stuff on a drainage structure (I think it's Skaps W-315) that I'd twist into a rope and pull a semi with if I needed to.
I'm not arguing that RAP (Recycled Asphalt Product) or 610 limestone or concrete aren't really good answers. All of those, in fact, serve as a better road than some geotex and river gravel. Your solution could cost some pretty serious bucks. Mine can do nospam's 1/4 mile, 12-foot driveway for, let's see...about 3 grand in New Orleans dollars, even with throwing in a load of rock (excluding labor and equipment,but that's another discussion). If money's no object, I can offer solutions that will hold up the Space Shuttle. With fabric :-)
Phil
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On Mar 24, 7:31�pm, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

a neighbor tried the geo cloth, it was very heavy. spent a fortune on dig out and gravel.
in 3 years it was a muddy mess he gave up and had it asphalted.
unfortunately they barely dug it out, put in no sub base, trees are sprouting in the asphalt. he uses vegatation killer
often its better to spend more money, do it right, do it once and forget about it
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