In this episode, Vitaliy Bednaruk talks about how to install a gravel driveway including excavating, types of stone and gravel, tools and equipment, visual features, and challenges.

AAA Construction LLC · Installing A Neat Gravel Driveway

Joe Demarco: Hey, I am Joe DeMarco. Today I am here with Vitaliy Bednaruk from AAA Construction LLC, and we’re gonna be talking about installing a neat gravel driveway and everything that goes into that. Welcome Vitale. How you doing?

Vitaliy Bednaruk: Thank you, Joey. How are you?

Steps in Installing a Neat Gravel Driveway

Joe: I’m good. Glad to have you. I guess the first question I wanted to ask you would just be, can you give me an overview of the steps that are involved in installing a neat gravel driveway?

Vitaliy: So the first steps, obviously, is we have to figure out the budget that the customer’s dealing with. And obviously they have to mark out a plan of where they want their driveway to go, right? So, and then also soil analysts and soil conditions. So if they’re in a real muddy area, like we did a job here in Auburn, Washington, in Washington state, where it was really muddy. It was about near Five Mile Lake in Auburn. And so on that site we actually needed to do geo fabric and put a base layer of two- to three-inch quarry spalls on there. So we put the quarry spalls on. And then we had a inch, an inch and a quarter, put on after that. And then we had five eighths minus put down on top.

But there’s a whole long process in between that. So we excavate out the soil. That’s what’s called organic material, right? And that’s more like farm dirt. So we excavate out the organic material soil, and then we put down we have…so we’re talking about this Auburn job site…we had two dump trucks of quarry spalls come in, so the dump trucks bring the gravel and then we use a skidsteer to place those quarry spalls in.

And then we use a Mikasa MVH 408 and MVH 508 plate compactor or diesel compactor. And it puts it massive pressure on the soil and compacts it real well to where you could drive through it instead of before you couldn’t drive through. So it’s like, construction entrance quarry spall gravel. And then we put down inch and a quarter and then we compact it again so it gets compacted really, really hard.

It’s almost like concrete. And then for a final touch-up base layer, we put inch and quarter and just give like a nice, smooth, real landscape-like finish. And then the customer sells their property for a ton of money. That’s the best way.

Installing a Gravel Driveway in a Muddy Environment

Joe: So the process for installing a neat gravel driveway is different if you’re in a muddy environment, rather than if there wasn’t any storm that happened? You have to take some extra precautions is what I’m asking.

Vitaliy: Yeah. So like this driveway in Auburn, it was pretty much what you call wetland location, right? And how you determine where this wetland is, there’s a bunch of cottonwood trees growing compared to, say, Douglas Fir or Cedar tree or Alder.

But cottonwood seem to grow in a wetter environment. So the driveway where it was going into this house, it had a bunch of cottonwood trees. We actually cut down about 27 cottonwood trees on this property with a land clearing permit. So yeah, it’s a, the difference really is, is you have to excavate more when it’s wet, and when it’s not so wet you have to excavate less.

And on a non wet soil analyst, you’d put inch and a quarter, and then five eighths, compared to where it’s really wet you have to put even bigger rock.

Joe: So do you run into that problem a lot in Bonney Lake, Washington?

Vitaliy: In Bonney Lake you’ll run into that problem if you’re digging near creeks. So yeah, it in the wintertime perhaps, but the main thing is as long as your house is in a higher spot to where water runs away from your house, then you don’t have to worry about that. If your house is in a lower spot, then you actually would have to put a drain around your house to catch water and divert water away from your house, so your house doesn’t have erosion near the foundation.

How to Decide What Type of Gravel to Use?

Joe: So how are you able to decide what the right type of gravel is for a driveway?

Vitaliy: So a lot of it is, it depends on what the customer wants. You could have a…there’s really two types of gravel. There’s gravel with sand and there’s gravel without sand. So there’s something called five eighths minus for a top layer. And there’s something called five eighths clear. So five eighths clear rock. So say if you don’t want a dusty driveway, you would go with five eighths clear. And if you want the driveway to be more compact, you’d go with five eighths minus.

Joe: Okay, so that’s dependent on not just the weather, that’s dependent on the actual driveway.

Vitaliy: So for the neater homes, usually they opt in for the five eighths clear. So say if they’re driving like a Range Rover or a BMW or luxury car, if you don’t want any dust or very minimal dust, you’d go with the five eighths clear. With the five eighths minus, if you’re driving through your driveway at about 20 or 30 miles an hour and it’s been very hot in the summertime, about 90 degrees, then you have a lot of dust, right? So dust control. So unless you wanna be applying dust applications, five eighths minus you know you’re gonna have a lot of dust with it. So five eighths clear is the way to not have any dust.

Joe: Oh, okay. I see. I didn’t know the vehicle also played a factor in what kind of gravel you installed into a driveway.

Tools and Equipment for Installing a Gravel Driveway

Joe: I guess one other last thing to also talk about would just be, what are some specific tools and equipment that you need to use to install a neat gravel driveway?

Vitaliy: So the tools would be a tape measure, streamline. You’d have marking tape to kind of design the gravel driveway, or you could do even a paver driveway.

Either way, you need mark out tools. The customer has to agree to the plan. The customer has to be on board with the plan. And then, you know, when the customer signs a contract, we’ll bring in our excavators, our dump trucks, our pickup trucks, our skid steerers, and our skid steerers and excavators both have tilt buckets, so we could really fine tune the driveway for a grade. So we get to make the water flow a specific direction. And we’ll bring in our plate compactors or rammer compactors if we have to dig out. If we dig out over one foot, then we bring in a rammer compactor, and that’s a compactor that jumps up and down. And those are for a heavy soil compaction. Or if we have to bring in a lot of soil before the actual driveway goes in a rammer compacts more dirt per time than a plate compactor. So with a rammer compactor, you could put up to two feet of dirt before having to compact. And with the plate compactor, you can only compact about two to four inches at a time.

Joe: Does that help you get a consistent spread on the gravel?

Vitaliy: Yeah. And you’re able to put down more weight per a square inch with having it compacted.

Joe: So allowing you to have heavier vehicles go on the driveway.

Vitaliy: Yeah. Heavier vehicles without having the gravel spread or feel like it’s sinking.

Adding Visual Features to Your Driveway

Joe: Also, I was just wondering, what are some different visual features I could add to my driveway during the installation process of the gravel that’s going to make it more visually pleasing?

Vitaliy: Visual features to the gravel or like you’re saying after?

Joe: Yeah, visual features, like going down the sides of the driveway, like any shrubbery or plants that you might line up along the driveway.

Vitality: Oh yeah, there’s a ton you could do. Landscape shrubbery. You could also do landscape lighting, right? Lighting always increases the value of a home and always increases the neatness of it. And it’s really a design factor. And really ideas are unlimited. It’s all about what you could think of, and if we could buy it, we can install it.

Challenges To Installing Gravel Driveways

Joe: Okay. And, and last thing to go over would be just, what are some common questions or challenges that you or customers may face when…I know we talked about the weather, it can be a factor in this, but what are some common concerns and challenges a customer may face or you may face when installing a neat gravel driveway?

Vitaliy: You know, today the rock quarries are really…we’re running out of rock. We’re running out of mining permits, right? So a bunch of these rock quarries are, really essentially disappearing because the state’s not allowing many more permits. And this…pretty much we’re running out of land out here, Washington state, to come up with the rock right from the rock quarry. So the cost of gravel is increasing because of having to get shipped in from further. I’d say that’s the biggest thing. And the amount of traffic in our area that we’re having is probably the biggest factor. So I’d say those are the two. And equipment prices are increasing. I mean, everything’s just increasing, right? The price of inflation.

Joe: So does it take a while to get a shipment of gravel in?

Vitaliy: Usually it takes about two to three days to get a shipment of gravel in.

Joe: But it’s more expensive, of course, right now.

Vitaliy: I mean, you’re just paying the cost of just normal cost of inflation is what you’re paying.

Joe: I think we covered a lot of great ground, no pun intended, on installing neat gravel driveways. I’m Joe DeMarco. I had a pleasure interviewing Vitaliy Bednaruk from AAA Construction, LLC. You can find them at, based out of Bonney Lake, Washington, correct?

Vitaliy: Yeah, that’s correct. Bonney Lake Washington.

Joe: Yeah. Bonney Lake Washington. Vitaliy, it was great having you.

Vitaliy: Hey, anytime Joey.

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