Dirt roads, gravel driveways and all manner of non-paved pathways have to be maintained differently than paved roadways. They require a little extra TLC. When damaged, they can be tough to repair, without the proper know-how. And, the longer you wait, the more difficult the repair job will be.
For example, if there is significant washout damage and standing wastewater, you may have to hire a sludge-hauling company to remove some of the material before you can even begin to repair the road itself.
This guide will break down the process to help you rebuild and maintain a dirt road.
Limit Speeds on Dirt Roads
Potholes are like the Grim Reaper of dirt roads. Not only do they make the road a bumpy, not-so-comfortable ride, but they also harm the integrity of the road and make it more prone to washing out.
While country music may glorify “tearing down a dirt road,” high-speed travel on dirt surfaces is what leads to potholes and damages the road. So, limit the speed of travel to no more than 20 mph. Your car will thank you, too.
Invest in Machinery
Even a small gravel driveway can be painstaking to repair and maintain without machinery, and it is an absolute requirement for longer dirt roads. Ideally, you should invest in a tractor or small Bobcat front-end loader. This will make it easier to move gravel/dirt around and haul the other equipment required to maintain a dirt road.
Once you’ve purchased your chosen machine for the heavy-lifting, you’ll want to get a box scraper to haul behind the tractor or another vehicle. A box scraper is one of the most critical devices for maintaining dirt roads. It helps even out the road by picking up dirt mounds and high, uneven surfaces and then redepositing that dirt into potholes, ditches and other low surfaces. Depending on the quality of the road, you may have to run the box scraper over the surface several times before you get a nice even surface.
Wait for Some Rain
It’s best to work on a dirt road after a hearty rain. This will loosen up the dirt and make it easier to move around and manipulate. So, once you have your machine and box scraper attachment to haul, wait for a day when the road is soaked from a recent rain and set to work.
Consider a Grader Blade
Some dirt drives will gather dirt on the edge of the road. You may notice the road doing this after you run your scraper over the surface several times. While the scraper helps even the road, it also pushes excess dirt to the edges. If this is the case with your dirt road, you may want to grab a grader blade. This is a similar piece of equipment to the scraper, but is thinner and angled to push dirt on the edges of the road back to the center. This creates a more proper pitch that handles water runoff more appropriately.
The real trick to maintaining a dirt road is being vigilant and staying on top of repairs. The longer you wait to fix that nasty pothole or fix a lousy washout, the more grave the problems will become and the more damaged the road will be.