Selecting the best gravel for driveways can be a confusing and difficult task. Most of us don’t interact with gravel other than to drive on it, so how do we know what is the best driveway gravel? If you’re wondering what’s best, we’re here to help!
A gravel driveway offers better drainage and easier repair than other materials. The best gravel for a sloped or muddy driveway is #57 crushed stone mixed with smaller screenings and gravel dust, or #411. For a splash of color or to be different from the neighbors, consider yellow Jersey Shore, red or white marble chips, or even green slate or jade chips.
In this guide, we’ll identify the different types of driveway gravel and what to consider when selecting gravel. We’ll explain gravel sizes and their uses, and what’s the best driveway gravel sizes. Plus, we discuss which size and type is best for a sloped or muddy driveway, and include a gravel size chart to help you out. We aim to provide you with the information to make the best selection for your driveway.
- What Is the Best Gravel for Driveway?
- Different Types of Gravel for Driveways
- Best Size Gravel for Driveway
- Driveway Gravel Size Chart
- Best Type of Gravel for Muddy Driveway
- Best Gravel for Driveway on a Hill
- What to Consider When Choosing the Best Stone for Driveway
What Is the Best Gravel for Driveway?
The best driveway gravel typically contains a mix of stones 1/2″ to 1” in size plus smaller screenings and gravel dust. The smaller gravel compacts well and the dust and screenings hold them together while still allowing drainage.
Most types of crushed stone or gravel are available in top layer sizes, so depending on budget or aesthetic appeal, you can choose from crusher run, decomposed granite, marble chips, or Jersey Shore gravel.
Pea gravel and river rock tend to migrate, which can also make traction and steering difficult. Plus, they require borders to reduce spreading.
Different Types of Gravel for Driveways
Gravel or crushed stone are often used for driveways. Gravel is usually naturally occurring and has smooth, rounded edges due to nature’s tumbling or grinding actions. Crushed stone is limestone, granite, or other bedrock that has been mechanically crushed, so it has angular or jagged edges.
Both gravel and crushed stone are sorted through screens with openings of different sizes from large (2.53” – 8”) to very fine (0.08” – 0.16”). Anything larger than 8” is commonly called boulders, and anything smaller than 0.16” is usually referred to as gravel dust. Driveways are often made of different layers made up of various sizes or grades of gravel.
1. Crusher Run
Crusher run gravel is typically 3/4″ crushed limestone blended with stone dust mix. It is also known as ABC (aggregate base course) or GAB (graded aggregate base) and other terms.
The stone dust mix fills the spaces between the limestone pieces and helps prevent them from shifting or moving. It compacts well to form a level solid base but still allows moisture to percolate through for drainage.
Crusher run is commonly used for structural foundations and to surface driveways, parking lots, drive shed floors, paths, patios, and other outdoor spaces. It weighs about 2,500 pounds per cubic yard, so it is sold by the ton or truckload.
- Compacts well and doesn’t move or migrate
- Creates a smooth, solid, level base
- Readily available
- Uniform color
- Needs skill to place and heavy equipment to compact
- Rain runoff drainage can be an issue
2. Pea Gravel
Pea gravel is small, 1/8” to 3/8” diameter pea-sized gravel with rounded surfaces if natural or angular surfaces if from the crushing process. It is available in mixed colors of grays, reds, browns, tans, greens, and whites, or sorted into one color or tone.
Often used for walkways, around playground equipment, gardens, building perimeters, and between pavers. Pea gravel is commonly available in 50-pound sacks for small projects or by the ton.
- Easy to place
- Variety of colors
- It retains moisture
- Inhibits weeds and rodents
- Spreads easily so needs fixed borders
- Moves as it’s walked on
3. River Rock
River rock is usually naturally rounded rock between 3/8” and 5” in size, however, it can be mechanically smoothed and rounded too. Natural river rocks have a wide color range and blend based on origin and man-made are often more uniform in color and more expensive.
The rocks are commonly used for decorative and landscaping purposes such as borders, water features, drainage courses, and gardens. Smaller diameters are available in 50-pound bags or by the ton like the larger rocks.
- Heavier and tends to stay where placed
- Prevents erosion and rodents
- Numerous color possibilities
- Difficult to walk on
- Slippery when wet
4. Decomposed Granite
Decomposed granite or DG is naturally worn or weathered granite eroded or broken into pieces 3/8” or small, and includes sand, silt, dust, and clay. Depending on the granite region, the color will vary from reds, pinks, grays, browns, blacks, whites, and other colors.
Commonly used for decorative borders instead of mulch and for paths, patios, driveways, and landscaping. Decomposed granite compacts well and doesn’t migrate, but is permeable so helps soil retain its moisture without becoming muddy. Sold by the bag or ton, it is relatively inexpensive.
- Stable and easy to compact
- Provides drainage while preventing erosion
- Prevents weeds, rodents, and pet damage
- Idea for wet or damp ground
- Snow removal lifts and moves it
- Can develop potholes and ruts depending on the base material
5. “Jersey Shore” Gravel
Jersey Shore gravel has a yellowish sand-like coloring due to its blend of brown, gold, and white shades of gravel. The gravel is commonly extracted from gravel mines and sifted through 3/8” and 3/4″ sizing screens.
The gravel is frequently used for decorative and landscaping purposes and helps prevent erosion and weeds. Jersey shore gravel is also used to top paths, patios, and driveways. It has some similarities with pea gravel, so also requires edging to prevent spreading.
- Looks like sand
- Helps prevent erosion
- Helps retain moisture
- Prevents weed growth
- May require borders to prevent migration
- Hard on bare feet
6. Marble Chips
Marble chips are crushed pieces of marble left over from the marble industry. They have angular or broken edges and a uniform color depending on the quarry they come from.
The chips sparkle and shimmer in the sun, help retain water and prevent weeds, so are commonly used for decorative purposes like gardens, planters, and borders. However, marble chips are also used for utilitarian functions such as paths, patios, and driveways.
The chips are commonly sold in 10-to-50-pound bags but can be purchased by the ton too.
- Uniform color
- Help retain moisture
- A good range of colors are available
- Prevents weeds
- Requires edging to keep in place
Best Size Gravel for Driveway
Building a driveway isn’t just spreading a finish on the grass. It usually involves removing the ground cover plus 12” or more of dirt, earth, sand, or whatever is there. Smoothing it out to the desired slope or level, and then laying out a base for the driveway. #3 (1/2” to 2”) or #5 (1” to 1-1/2”) size gravel is commonly used for driveway bases as they compact and drain well.
The top layer is usually #57 (1/2” to 1”), #67 (1/2” to 3/4″), or #411 (1/2” to 1” with screenings and dust). The stone dust and screenings make #411 more stable and less likely to migrate, so it is the best for finishing a driveway.
Driveway Gravel Size Chart
The Chart below identifies the cost of driveway gravel by ton. The cost will vary with ZIP Code, amount ordered, and delivery charges. It will cost more per ton for small amounts and less for larger amounts. The average cost identified on the Chart is based on 1-ton and 21-ton load sizes.
A ton contains approximately 0.83 cubic yards, or about 22 cubic feet depending on the type of gravel – some are denser than others. To determine the amount of gravel required, multiply the length by the width by the depth in feet of the area to be covered for the total in cubic feet.
Divide the cubic feet by 27 for the number of cubic yards. To convert to tons, divide the number of cubic yards by 0.83 for a rough tonnage measure.
|Type||Stone Size||Average Price
(1-ton vs 21-ton load)
|#5||1” or smaller||$242 to $95 per ton|
|#8||3/8” to 1/2”||$115 to $58 per ton|
|#57||1/2″ to 1” for average of 3/4″||$122 to $58 per ton|
|#67||1/2” to 3/4″||$115 to $58 per ton|
|#411||1/2″ to 1” but includes screenings and stone dust||$123 to $66 per ton|
Best Type of Gravel for Muddy Driveway
A muddy driveway is often due to poor drainage, or because it traverses low wet ground. Dumping and spreading more gravel on top will solve the problem for the short term, but it will only sink into the ground and the mud will reappear. Rebuilding the driveway and adding drainage to move the moisture away while raising the base of the driveway is the best solution.
Remove the existing driveway and about a foot of depth under it. Make sure the driveway is wider than the vehicles using it. Lay down a permeable fabric barrier that will let moisture through but not the building material. Begin by laying a single layer base of 4” to 6” sized crushed stone or gravel and cover it with 5” to 7” of 1-1/2” to 2” screened rock.
The combined base should be about 11” thick at the sides and 12” to 13” in the middle. The higher center or crown sheds water to the drainage ditches. Cover with 3” to 4” of #411 gravel and compact it smooth.
The screenings and gravel dust coupled with the 1/2″ to 1” gravel will fill in gaps in the base layer and provide a more stable, solid gravel solution.
Best Gravel for Driveway on a Hill
The best type of gravel for surfacing driveways on a hill is crushed stone. It has angular faces making it less likely to roll or move on a slope than rounded pebbles. Plus, it improves traction.
Crusher run, decomposed granite, marble chips, or Jersey Shore all have angular edges and are more likely to stay put. Use #5, #8, #57, or #67, and add screenings and gravel dust to help hold them in place. Alternatively, use #411 which is 1/2″ to 1” crushed stone with screenings and gravel dust.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Stone for Driveway
When selecting gravel for a driveway there are a number of things to consider. A driveway needs to be functional but also aesthetically pleasing to you, visitors, and passers-by. It also needs to meet your purpose and budget. Below are some things to keep in mind when making your choice.
The physical aspects or lay of the land where the driveway will go are a top consideration. Sloped ground or poorly drained low wet ground differ in requirements from flat well-drained ground, and all affect the building needs. The ground substrata are also important. Bedrock won’t settle and sandy soils drain well, but clay will become soggy and suck up your driveway if not built properly.
Precipitation, temperature, and winds can affect the type and size of the surface gravel laid down, as well as the base construction. Building a driveway in an area that experiences frequent rains such as Louisiana versus one that is built on frozen muskeg in Alaska holds unique challenges.
Some will require better drainage, others more stabilized gravel selection, or even larger size to prevent wind movement. The freeze-thaw cycles can also wreak havoc on driveways, as can snow removal.
The rounded edges of natural gravels like pea gravel make them easier to displace. They require edges or borders to reduce migration as they are driven or walked on, reducing the driveway’s durability.
The angular surfaces of crushed stone help keep them in place, and when mixed with smaller screenings and gravel dust they make for a very durable driveway. Both gravel and crushed stone driveways, though, require a properly prepared base for optimum durability.
The curb appeal of a gravel driveway is of much greater concern to some than to others. Crushed limestone is much more utilitarian in color and attraction than marble chips or Jersey Shore gravel. However, limestone isn’t the only choice for crushed stone.
If a gray stone driveway or sparkly white marble chips don’t suit the color palette, consider crushed red or black granite, black lava, or even crushed green slate. A gravel drive is reminiscent of the gravel drives of European Manner houses, whereas concrete and asphalt are much more industrial in look.
Gravel driveways do require maintenance and the type of gravel or crushed stone affects the amount of seasonal or yearly care they require. Removing weeds, raking or regrading and packing the gravel, or even adding more are common maintenance issues for stone driveways. Gravel will also require more care than crushed stone due to its rounded surfaces and tendency to move.
The type, size, and amount of gravel or crushed stone, along with the delivery distance and ZIP Code affect the cost, as does availability. A truckload can range from 10 to 21 tons, and the cost per ton tends to decrease the larger the load.
Base material 3” to 8” in size will cost about $109 for a ton or $70/ton in a truckload and #4 around $123 for a ton or $79/ton on a truckload. Surface gravel like #57 gray limestone is $175 for 1 ton but only $58/ton if ordering 21 tons or more. #57 multi-color river gravel, though, will run $170 for a ton or $62/ton on a 12-ton load.
One-inch chips of white marble or Georgia red marble will cost around $350 for one ton but only $250 if ordering 18 tons. So, determine the amount and choose what will best suit the budget and desired look.