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The Best Types of Gravel for Driveways: What You Need to Know

If you live outside of the city gravel driveways are a great option to have because they offer affordability and low maintenance. But there are various types of gravel can be used on your driveway, which means it’s important to know which one is best suited for your property and usage before making a decision (it’s different if you are comparing city vs. country living).

In this article, we will explore all of the best options available while also discussing their pros and cons so that you can make an informed decision about what type of gravel best suits your needs!

best gravel driveway


The different types of gravel for driveways are:

The type of gravel you get for your driveway can make a world of difference in how safe and comfortable it is to drive on. The size, shape, color, texture, and composition are all important parts that contribute to the overall quality of the surface.

Some gravels to keep an eye out for include crushed stone, quarry process, pea gravel, jersey shore gravel, marble chips, and river rock. These types have been shown time and again as being some of the best for creating solid driving surfaces!

The type of stones used below ground level has less variety, but there are more options at this point when considering what kind should be used above ground.

Crushed Stone

Crushed Stone

Crushed stone is made from old rock. It can be crushed into any type of shape, making it a great option if you’re looking for something specific to your property.

Crushed gravel is best suited as the base layer on top of compacted soil because it’s heavier than other gravels and will stay put while also providing drainage when wet. This is one of the best types of gravel.

This driveway gravel can handle heavy traffic and is best at absorbing impact.

This is the best gravel if you’re looking for a cost-effective driveway with low maintenance needs. The dense grade is best suited to rural or newer properties, where the soil is less compact and more stable. This type will range from a1/8 inch to 2 inches in diameter. 

It is not recommended in areas that deal with snow very often because it can become icy when dampened by melted snow.

The negatives of using crushed stone are that it is best suited for rural or newer properties, where the soil is less compact and more stable. It also cannot be used on top of other gravels if you want drainage in your driveway.

If you’re looking to save money while still having low maintenance needs, then crushed stone may just fit the bill! That’s why it’s best suited for those looking to have a low-maintenance driveway that is best in rural or newer properties.


Quarry Process

crushed stone gravel driveway

Quarry process rock is a very cost-effective way to build a gravel driveway.

Quarry process is the basic way gravel is made and essentially involves quarrying stone from the quarry. Thus, the quarry process refers to how gravels are created by quarries. This type provides great cost savings but can be difficult to maintain because quarry stones are not uniform in shape or size.

This process is best for those looking to save money on their driveway because it can be very inexpensive while also being highly durable.

The only negative of quarry stones that come from a quarry is that they do not have any uniformity in shape or size, meaning you won’t know what your final product will look like until it’s completed. In addition, quarry process doesn’t offer drainage when wet. It also requires quite a bit of work before being fully installed as part of the driveway.



Pea Gravel

pea gravel driveway

Pea gravel is a type of crushed stone. It is made up of a mixture of different sizes in diameter and shapes, which gives it its distinct pea-like appearance. This gravel has a smooth texture and is a clean stone compared to other ones on the list.

Pea gravel comes in various colors, depending on the type of stone used to create it.

This gravel type provides one of the best surfaces for driveways due to easy maintenance and low cost.

Pea gravel doesn’t have any sharp edges or seams that can trap water or ice, which means it won’t crack or break and will be easy to maintain. It’s also commonly used in other places like playgrounds and other kid-friendly areas due to its roundness which makes it safer. 



Pea gravel is a type of stone that can be used in driveways and provides good drainage when wet.

Pea gravel is best suited for rural or newer properties, where the soil is less compact and more stable.

Pea gravels are not uniform in shape or size, which means you won’t know what exactly your final product will look like until it’s completed.

Cons of using pea gravel on a driveway:

Pea gravel does not offer drainage when wet – pea gravel requires quite a bit of work before fully installed as part of the driveway.

Another downside of pea gravel is that it can sometimes come out more expensive than other gravels because you’ll need a significant amount for your driveway.


Jersey Shore Gravel

Jersey shore gravel looks like small rocks and is an excellent choice for driveways. They’re just the right size to not be too heavy or coarse, but enough that people can’t easily walk on them either. The material consists of small pieces of stone that resemble sand. Because of this, you will need to have stabilizers in place to keep it from spilling out.

This gravel is very similar to pea gravel and may be more affordable depending on your area. Plus, you should know that there are a few types of Jersey shore gravel, so be sure to consider the types and grades you want before making your decision.



slag driveway

Slag is used for road construction, but it is also an excellent type of gravel for driveways. The types of slag that are good to use in a driveway depend on where the slag comes from because there are different types with various chemical compositions and colors, such as blue-gray or black.

This type of gravel is heavier than other types mentioned here, so it is best used for driveways that don’t have a lot of traffic.

Types of slag

The different types of slag are determined by the types of minerals and rocks that are used in their production. This is often slag from coal mining, steel plants, or glass manufacturers.

Pros and Cons of Slag


The advantages to using this type of gravel for driveways include that it lasts a long time with good drainage because there isn’t much clay content in them. They also have beautiful colors, which is an added aesthetic advantage.


The types of slag with the highest amount of clay are prone to crumble and should not be used in driveways or other areas where there will be a lot of traffic because it becomes unusable over time.

Another thing can be certain types of slag can promote rust on vehicles depending on where the slag originated from. Slag also never forms a hard base like others types of gravel. 


Marble Chips

Marble chips, also known as marbles, are a type of decorative substance commonly used in architecture and design. They have been around since ancient times and continue to be used today.

Marble chips are one of the most popular stones to use within an architectural design because it’s simple but hardwearing at the same time. In addition, they add an aesthetic appeal to your driveway, so if you’re going for something that looks nice, marble might be your best bet!

Marble chips are a good type of gravel for driveways because they’re not too heavy or coarse. They come in two sizes:

Under about one inch

If you have a small driveway, this is a great option to go with since it won’t be as expensive, and there will be less excess material on the ground. On the other hand, if the driveway has a lot of traffic, this might not be the best choice because it can easily crumble and become unusable.

One inch or larger

Marble chips that are about an inch big will still look nice, but they won’t break as easily when people drive over them. The downfall for these is that they’re more expensive.

Marble chips are durable, excellent in wet, and last for years with little wear and tear.


Trap rock

Trap rock is a type of gravel that you might not have heard about before. It’s used for driveways and other types of construction, but trap rock has some benefits and drawbacks as well.

Benefits of using trap rock

Trap rock traps the water between it, so in the wintertime, when there’s ice on your driveway or sidewalk, trap rock is the best option. In addition, the trap rock can keep you from slipping and falling, which can be dangerous, especially for those who are elderly or have other physical vulnerabilities.

Traprock gravel is great to use for driveways because trap rock is heavy enough, so it won’t be moved easily but not too rough. It also doesn’t trap water, which can lead to ice later in the season.

Drawbacks of traprock

The trap rock tends to crack over time, so it’s not usually a good choice if you’re looking for something that lasts a long time and doesn’t get destroyed.

You can find types of trap rock in different sizes, so it’s up to you what type of trap rock will work for your driveway.



Asphalt is one of the more popular types of driveway material because it’s less expensive than other options and blends in well with many different styles. So if you’re looking for a cheaper option that will still last, this may be what you need.

Pros and Cons of Asphalt

Asphalt doesn’t hold up as well in wet conditions like snow or rain because it’s not deep enough to trap the water. It can also lead to pooling and can cause spots to sink down. The other major disadvantage is that it’s more expensive than some of the other materials available. Still, if you can afford it, then asphalt will work very well for your situation.

As a positive, asphalt can be touched up and repaired more easily than concrete if it cracks or sinks.

River rock

River rock driveway

River rock is a type of gravel that can be used in your driveway. River rocks are heavy and can resist being moved, but they’re not as expensive as other types of gravel-like marble chips or trap rock. River rocks also tend to look good in any kind of setting, so you won’t have to worry about the aesthetics.

Pros of a river rock driveway

The benefits of using river rock in a driveway are that it’s less expensive and heavy-duty, so it won’t be moved easily. River rocks also have a natural beauty to them that will make your driveway look very nice.

Cons of a river rock driveway

The downside is that they are more difficult to work with when compared to other types of gravel because the river rock needs time in order for you to shape or cut it into pieces.


How is a Gravel Driveway Built?

Gravel driveways are built using the same materials that most other types of driveways use—gravel, crushed stone, and some type of binding material (like stone dust). Of course, how they’re constructed can vary as well, but for this article, we’ll focus on how to install a gravel driveway yourself so that you can get started right away!

Before we begin, it’s important to know how a gravel driveway is built because of there different layers of gravel at different stages. These layers of gravel come in different inches in diameter at each layer, so knowing how a driveway is built can save you huge money in the long run. 

gravel driveway layers

Gravel driveway layers

Step One: Preparing Your Land

This step is absolutely crucial if you want to install a gravel driveway. First, you’ll need to make sure your land has good drainage and that the ground is level, as this will help ensure that water drains away from your property instead of pooling up around it!

If there are any low areas in your yard, then these would be great places for you to put gravel.

As an optional step, you can lay down the weed-blocking fabric to help keep weeds out of your driveway, which is especially useful if you have a yard that’s prone to weed growth. It won’t stop weeds from the top of the driveway, but a good weed-blocking fabric will help prevent weeds from coming up from underneath the fabric. 


Step Two: Pouring the Gravel Base

The next step (out of your three layers) in installing the foundation for your driveway is making sure that you have a solid base for the stones that will go on top of it. You will be placing the largest stones first, followed by a series of smaller stones in the middle and a final layer of stones on top.

This means having a strong foundation at least two inches or more of compacted stone under where you plan to lay down the gravel, with more if possible!

How much is enough? How high should it be? The general rule of thumb is at least two inches, with three being even better and four being ideal.


Step Three: Installing the Gravel Base

Now that you have your base in place, all you need to do now is lay down a layer of gravel on top! This gravel layer should be at least an inch thick, but a thicker layer is better for longevity and stability.

How high does it need to be? You want your gravel base to rise above the water level in the winter months so that there’s no chance of flooding happening on your property!


Step Four: Laying Down Stones

The last step before your gravel driveway is complete is adding a top layer of stones.

How thick should this be? It’s best to add at least an inch, but two or three inches would be better for greater stability over the long term.

Over time the stone dust and weight of the vehicles can pack down the gravel giving your driveway a nice aesthetic appeal.


Take time to decide which type of gravel is best for your driveway

Gravel is a great option for driveways. It’s inexpensive, aesthetically pleasing, and can be easily replaced if you ever need to change it up.

The best type of gravel will depend on your location and how much traffic the driveway sees but no matter which one you choose, make sure that it’s not just washed down dirt or larger rocks because these won’t hold up as well in higher volumes.

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