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Cheap alternatives to gravel for a budget driveway

gravel driveway

For many homeowners, the driveway is one of the first things visitors see when they arrive at your house. As such, it’s important to keep it in good condition. But driveways can be expensive to install and maintain.

If you’re on a budget, gravel can be a great option. Gravel is one of the most affordable driveway materials, and it’s easy to install yourself. However, gravel does have some drawbacks. It can be difficult to remove snow and ice in the winter, and it can be tracked into your house by shoes and tires. Some people simply don’t like the appearance of gravel.

Most people think of gravel as the most inexpensive option for a driveway material. But there are actually a lot of other cheap alternatives to gravel that can be just as attractive and effective. In this article you can find a range of alternatives to suit different styles and budgets.

gravel driveway

Cheap and expensive types of gravel

Not all gravel is equal in price and suitability for use on driveways. Before ruling out gravel altogether, consider the three major types of gravel available.

The higher price option is self binding gravel. This is a mix of clay and gravel that forms a strong surface when compacted. It’s ideal for driveways because it doesn’t shift or move around like loose gravel can.

The middle ground option is loose gravel. This is just plain old gravel that you can find at any landscaping supplier. It’s not as stable as self binding or path gravel, but it’s still a viable option for driveways if you don’t mind a little extra maintenance.

The cheapest option is pea gravel. This is smaller gravel that is often used in gardening and landscaping. It can be used on driveways, but it’s not as effective as the other types of gravel as it can easily be moved by rain or heavy use.

Do you need underlay for a gravel driveway?

You might be tempted to avoid using underlay with gravel to reduce the cost. However properly installed underlay will save you money in the long term.

One of the main benefits of using an underlay is that it can help to stabilize the gravel and prevent it from shifting or migrating. This is especially important if you live in an area with heavy rains or high winds. An underlay can also help to protect the gravel from being uprooted by grass or weeds.

On the other hand, if the underlay is not properly installed, it can create a barrier that prevents water from draining properly. This can lead to pooled water and eventually to mud and dirt buildup on your driveway.

It’s best to have underlay properly fitted to make the most of your budget.

Alternatives to gravel driveways

Crushed concrete

crushed concrete driveway material

Crushed concrete is a recycled concrete aggregate that can be used as a base for a driveway. It’s made from the same materials as concrete, but it’s been crushed down to smaller pieces. This makes it a more affordable option than traditional concrete.

Crushed concrete is also easier to install than concrete, and it drains well. Crushed concrete is one of the most affordable options, and it can be easy to find since it is often recycled from construction sites. However, it can be susceptible to cracking and uneven settling.

Recycled asphalt

recycled asphalt driveway

Recycled asphalt is a sustainable and affordable alternative to traditional asphalt and gravel. It’s made from recycled materials, so it’s good for the environment. And it’s also more affordable than traditional asphalt.

Recycled asphalt is just as durable and easy to maintain as traditional asphalt. However, it can also be prone to potholes and requires regular maintenance.

Grass pavers

grass paver for driveways

Grass pavers are a type of paving stone that allows grass to grow through it. They’re often used in parking lots and driveways. Grass pavers are a sustainable option because they allow rainwater to seep through to the ground below, which reduces runoff. They’re also more affordable than traditional paving materials.

Grass pavers are a more aesthetically pleasing option, but they can become expensive depending on design and size, and require frequent watering.


shell driveway

Shells are a sustainable and affordable alternative to gravel. They’re often used as a base for driveways, walkways, and patios. Shells are easy to install and they drain well.

Shells are a good choice for driveways that see a lot of traffic, as they’re able to withstand the weight of vehicles without becoming compacted. However, Shells can be difficult to remove if they get tracked into your house.

Pea gravel

pea gravel for driveways

Pea gravel is a type of gravel that is rounded and smooth. It’s often used in driveways, walkways, and patios. In general, pea gravel is cheaper than normal gravel because it’s smaller and doesn’t require as much labor to produce.

Pea gravel is also more versatile and can be used in a variety of different applications. A few downsides of pea gravel are that it can be difficult to keep in place and can be easily washed away by heavy rains.

Wood chips or bark mulch

wood chip driveway

Wood chips or bark mulch is a type of organic material that can be used as a base for a driveway. It’s often used in gardens and landscaping. Wood chips and bark mulch are sustainable and affordable options.

They’re easy to install and they drain well, but they can also be difficult to keep in place and may not last as long as some other materials under heavy usage.

Rubber mulch

rubber mulch driveway

Rubber mulch is a type of mulch made from recycled rubber tires. It’s often used in playgrounds and landscaping.

Rubber mulch is durable and can withstand heavy traffic, making it an ideal choice for driveways. In addition, rubber mulch is easy to maintain and can last for years with proper care.

However, there are a few things to keep in mind before using rubber mulch in your landscape. One of the biggest concerns is that rubber mulch can be a fire hazard. If you live in an area with high fire danger, it is important to take precautions to prevent the risk of fire.

In addition, rubber mulch can be harmful to plants and animals if ingested. If you have pets or children who play in your yard, make sure they are kept away from areas where rubber mulch is present. 

How to choose the right alternative to gravel for your budget driveway

When choosing a material for your driveway, there are several factors to consider.

Perhaps the most important is price. Some materials, like asphalt, are relatively inexpensive, while others, like concrete, can be quite costly.

Durability is another important consideration. If you have a heavy use driveway, you’ll want to choose a material that can withstand wear and tear. Asphalt driveways, for example, are designed to withstand heavy use.

Appearance is another consideration. Some homeowners prefer the look of pea gravek, while others prefer the more natural look of bark or shells.

Finally, you’ll want to consider the environment. If you live in an area with cold winters, you’ll want to choose a material that won’t crack when the temperature drops. Asphalt and concrete are both good choices in this regard.

In conclusion , there are many factors to consider when choosing the right material for your driveway. Price, durability, appearance, and environmental considerations should all be taken into account before making a final decision.

While gravel is a popular choice for driveways, there are several alternatives that may be better suited to your needs. These include asphalt, concrete, shells, pea gravel, wood chips, bark mulch, and rubber mulch

With a little bit of research, you’re sure to find the perfect material for your budget driveway.

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