Forget everything you know about driveways.
Asphalt, concrete, crusher run gravel, rail road ballast, paving stones… If you have a long driveway, or if you need a system of driveways on a farm, and you are planning to go with those common methods of paving a driveway, you are going to need a separate mortgage just for the driveway (or driveways). Believe me, I’ve been there. But no worries, I have a better idea for you. With a little bit of resourcefulness and work, you can cut your driveway expense significantly.
My affair with driveways started after we bought our 20 acres of farmland, last August. There was no access to the land, so for a while we used the nieghbor’s driveway every time we came to visit. This could not last of course, so I started researching how to build a driveway.
I was very ambitious, I wanted to be able to park our RV at the end of the field, so we wouldn’t be too close to the road. I thought “come on, how much can a 400 ft driveway cost? Surely not too much, it’s just stone…”
Well, try thousands!
Asphalt, concrete and paving stone were out of the question – we couldn’t afford any of them. And who needs a concrete driveway on a farm anyway?
So we were left with railroad ballast and crusher run gravel and the widely known way of building a driveway. But wait, even then we couldn’t afford a 400 ft driveway, every truckload of stone cost $350-$400, and each truckload only covers about 50 ft.
You need a layer or two of railroad ballast (the professionals told me), depending on how packed your ground is, and on top of that a layer or, more likely, two, of gravel. This adds up, and don’t forget the price of a hired tractor man and his machine, cause you are not going to rake it around, ain’t nobody got time for that! (this lady is hilarious, have a laugh…)
So anyway, we compromised on a 50 ft driveway (as if we had any other choice, pahh!), and I convinced myself that maybe it wouldn’t be that bad to park that close to the road.
A 15 inch concrete pipe had to be installed in the ditch. It cost $322.60 delivered, I was happy to find out that the local DOT people would install it for free if I didn’t mind waiting a few days. I didn’t.
This is the length of driveway one truck load makes. Maybe about 50 ft long and 12 ft wide. We had another truck load delivered which we used to widen the end of this strip so that we can maneuver the RV. Total cost for two loads was $822.66.
$1000+ later, I was sitting at my house, happy to finally have access to the land, but realizing that my vision of a future house by the wonderful, clear-water, creek at the end of the property was in jeopardy. It is at least 1500 ft to the end of our rectangular-shaped property. We just spent more than a $1000 on 50 ft, and this is without the gravel since we decided to let the railroad ballast pack a little before we order the gravel. There must be a better, “not normal”, creative alternative, I thought. I just had to find it.
Then I did.
We went to visit friends in Virginia. They have a beautiful 50 acre farm on the river with lots of outbuildings connected by driveways. The moment I stepped out of my car I noticed their driveways were different. They were black, almost like asphalt but not exactly.
“What is it?” I asked.
“It is grated asphalt,” our friends said and then explained that they have a friend who drives a dump truck. He was called to work with a road construction company, and after they had filled his truck with the grated asphalt, he was looking for a place to dump it. They paid him $100 a truck load to dump it on their farm.
Since that weekend, I never looked at a dump truck driver the same. They were all my potential friends now.
We got three (as in 3, just to make sure we are clear on that) full dump trucks of grated, scraped or whatever you want to call it parking lot for….. Wait for it…. Wait…. $50 (as in 50 dollars for all three, just to make sure we are clear on that). Then we used our new tractor and box blade to shape the material into a driveway.
This is our driveway in town (about 200 ft or so…), which was also suffering. You can see that we still have some work to do, organizing the rocks on the sides, smoothing it further and so on.
I want to point out a few things. First, of course, is the difference in money spent ($1000+ vs. $50), second, the first driveway is 50 ft, and this one is 200 ft. Third, since the rail road ballast is a bigger and cleaner rock, weeds grow in between the rocks so I had to deal with them. The parking lot grated material has sand mixed in it, so weeds don’t see the sun, therefore, I don’t see them, we don’t meet, no one needs to kill anyone and everyone is much happier.
Lastly, we ended up with a pile of bigger asphalt pieces. At the beginning, I was a bit terrified, it didn’t look good in the driveway and our neighbors gave us the evil eye (we share the driveway with two other families). But we ended up piling the bigger pieces on the side and now I am thinking a raised garden bed. What do you think?
Oh, and one more thing… I just might get a house by the creek after all!
Read what happened a few months after I wrote this post… A Dump Truck For the Farm.
Also, make sure you check out how we ended up paving the farm’s driveway. We used crushed concrete there, a much much more affordable option that works great!
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