How to build a gravel road for your farm

Badlands Country Road - Badlands N.P. South Dakota, U.S.A.

Farms roads are too often perceived to be hastily built or poorly maintained, but with some careful consideration and well-thought-out planning, this can be avoided. Bear in mind that the stronger your road is, the more visitors you’ll get and the less frequent your maintenance will be.

Here are a few key points to keep in mind when planning to build your gravel road:

Start with a purpose in mind

When looking to build a gravel road for your farm, it’s important to know the use beyond it simply being an access point for customers, suppliers or staff. If you know that you’re predominantly going to be accessing that road with heavy-duty vehicles and farm equipment, you need to ensure that the road is strong enough to handle the pressure. A good starting point would be to analyse the traffic frequency that will be passing through that road, before choosing the right materials and machinery to construct it.

Build your foundation

A strong foundation will set the tone for the outcome of your efforts. When planning your farm layout, the road foundation requires careful consideration as you cannot build on weak or wet soils. If this is your concern, two of the most used methods include raising the current soil with new materials or extracting the weak soil to make room for new material. The difference depends on the width of your road.

Use of the right equipment, quality materials and the correct building technique

Depending on your location, factors such as the climate and available resource will impact your material search. When looking for the right gravel, it’s important to select a gravel that has larger top-sized stones with less clay or fine material. This is necessary for the strength and drainability needed in base gravels. Especially when it comes to gravel, testing your material beforehand is well-worth the investment.

The right technique would be to build from the bottom up, which is more complex than it sounds. There are a number of different road graders, particularly the universal grader, to assist you in in your process.

Along with having the right equipment, ensure that you apply the correct materials in the right order, as that could be the differentiating factor between a sustainable gravel road and a weak one that needs constant repairing. Once your road is complete, make sure you apply a palliative solution to further strengthen and protect the gravel.

Drainage is the key to a successful gravel road

All building steps lead to the drainage process. Roads that allow water to properly drain off the surface and out of roadbed soils are much easier to maintain and less costly. Ensure that you have the proper drains, ditches, culverts and underdrains incorporated into your plan to prevent water from pooling.

If these elements are not a focal area, your maintenance team will constantly deal with surface problems that come from wet or weak soil conditions underneath the road.

Have a regular maintenance plan in place

If you live in a climate with heavy rain conditions or the reverse of that, be sure to keep a regular maintenance plan to ensure the road performs well, with the correct equipment. It is advised that you hire professionals to do the maintenance checks as they will be able to detect future complications.