What to do with a VERY steep, 2,000 foot dirt driveway?

10 Replies

This is for my personal home that we purchased in February, 2017.

The driveway is 2,000 feet long.  The first 500 feet are flat and shared with a neighbor.  No issues there except a few potholes that need to be filled.

Once past that point, it goes up at about a 12% grade for about 250 feet, then goes into an s-turn, then goes up at another 12% grade for another 100 feet or so.  Then it goes up at a slight grade for another 150 feet, make a downhill u-turn as it heads toward our house.  The last stretch is level.

The problem is that the topsoil keeps washing away, leaving exposed rocks, ranging from golf ball to softball size.  Also, we are getting serious washboarding on the steep parts.  UPS and FedEx deliveries are really doing a number, as is my wife's pickup truck.

I expect that normal paving will be cost prohibitive at the $100,000 range - not to mention that we're in Massachusetts and will get several feet of snow and ice each winter, so a smooth, paved surface will be too slick to be safe.

Right now I plow the snow with a 4WD ATV.  I don't think I'm tearing up the road very much.

Before you write me off as nuts, there's a lot we love about the property.  We overlook a pond and cranberry bog, have two barns, 5 sheds and a cottage that I commandeered for my real estate office.  We're in 5 acres of forest, surrounded by 30 acres of conservation - so no, we're not selling it!

But that driveway... what to do with it?  Any sage advice from BP Land?

You've already got exposed rocks, so I would double down. Add gravel. Tons of it. It would be much less expensive than the paving estimate you mentioned, and it would cut down on some of the erosion you are experiencing. It's not the most ideal solution, but it is the least expensive.

I agree with the gravel approach, but you don't want just any kind of gravel. The sharper the stone the better because it will pack itself in tight. The stuff I used on my driveway is called crusher run or 3/4" minus. The biggest pieces are 3/4" but they are mixed in with all of the smaller crushed pieces all the way down to 'fines'. It's these small pieces that will sort of act like glue and keep it all together. The nice thing about this stuff is that it makes plowing a little more reasonable because it packs down to a harder surface. You will want a compactor though to get the best results. It sounds like a real cool place you have. Good luck!

Maybe you should have some gravel brought in and buy a drag-behind grader for your atv to maintain it. 

Bring in someone with Regrind? Not as expensive as paving but easier to plow then gravel.  Maybe not the whole driveway just the strech with the grade.

Dig drainage trenches on the side with the hill with the pipe at the bottom going under the road. I also agree with millings that are rolled/ packed down good. Will still require maintenance but far less. Also your wife is washboarding it spinning her tires tell her to put it in 4x4

I agree with @Thomas Hickey on the drain. You may want to look into French drain systems to divert some of the water flow and prevent soil erosion along the driveway.

I recently had to plan one for a house on a steep grade that was getting some water in the basement after winter snow melted (basically used a drain to divert water to the sides of the house and also put in gutters). I did a lot of reading/research but I found videos the most helpful.

If you look up French drains on YouTube, you’ll find tons of helpful content. I personally really like the videos from Apple Drains. The guy who hosts the videos, Chuck, is obviously a pro, but he’s great at telling you how to do it yourself (and in fact he’s really encouraging on that front).

I probably watched most of his videos before I got started. There are a lot of different things you can do, but I bet you’ll get a sense of what will be best for your situation after watching a few videos. Good luck!

ok , first look in your area for someone that sells asphalt millings . When you spread them in the summer they will tighten up almost like asphalt . Sounds like you have some property , find yourself a 35 hp tractor/loader with a 3 point hitch .Get a land plane or grade boz for the back . You use this to regrade the drive when necessary . You can adjust the box on the back to keep a crown on the road . Plus the loader with a scraper blade on the rear will dig out the drive in heavy snow . You could even get a rear mounted snowblower .  

I have 600 ft of gravel drive and I regrade it 3 times a year . i use a tractor for that and so much more 

Lots of posts above gave good ideas on the paving.

But you also need erosion control from reading your post. That could be as simple as getting grass to grow; on the steeper parts of the hill at my house a product like in this link was used to help get grass to grow and kept soil from washing away until grass became established:


If grass isn't an option, then look into other ground covers, like ivy perhaps; hard for me to recommend anything because you are in a different growing zone north of me, so plantings that are suitable to that specific locale should be given consideration.

An old backhoe is also an option. You can get a decent running backhoe for $20k. That would handle just about anything you could ever need to do including tree work

100k, that’s a little too much. I like road work, pretty sure it won’t cost that. It might be 2-3 week job with only an owner operator. Say that’s 120 hrs at I assume 120/hr, that’s 15k, materials, culverts, concrete, eeeehh 5-10k, say extra 5k buffer for other labor. Permanent solution, at least.

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