De-Dusting: Paving Our Driveway with 3/4″ Minus Rock

Even though we are basically on an extended camping trip because we live in a travel trailer while we build our home, we are not fans of dust and filth. We despise it. That said, we want to do everything we can do to keep our temporary home clean and tidy. One of the ways to do this is to stop dirt long before the door.

When we first checked out our land it seemed that the ground was packed fairly well. However, as soon as we were living on our land we realized that dust was everywhere! We first tried to lessen the problem by building a deck for our RV. By building the deck, we were able to not only keep things off of the ground that we were storing outside such as cat food on occasion, a trash can and our shoes, but we were also able to dust off our shoes somewhat before coming into the trailer.

Look at this dust cloud! Not all of the property was this bad, but some areas were!
Look at this dust cloud! Not all of the property was this bad, but some areas were!

While this helped to lessen the problem of filth, we still weren’t content. Every time we would move the car or the truck we would create a dust storm. Every time we would walk from the car to the trailer, especially after paying $5 for a GOOD, LONG shower, we would get our feet all dusty before walking into the trailer.

And don’t even get me started on wearing flip flops or flats…. nope! Not unless you want your feet to feel gritty all of the time! We also had many dust piles that Malek would roll in and then trot into the trailer.

We decided that it was time to stop the dirt long before it even came to the door of the trailer by “paving” the driveway with 3/4″ minus rock.

We now have a clean path to the trailer!
We now have a clean path to the trailer!

What is 3/4 minus rock?

This is rock, or gravel, that is roughly 3/4″ in size or smaller. The minus means that it is “uwashed” so a lot of the grit is left in with the rock or gravel, but don’t confuse this with dust! As you will see in the video, when you jump on the 3/4” minus there is no dust cloud.

3/4" minus rock.
3/4″ minus rock.

3/4″ minus is the most common paving material. It compacts well and is most commonly used under concrete, asphalt, etc. Here is a site that shows 3/4″ minus rock in comparison to other types of rock.

Jesse gives a much better and much more thorough explanation of this rock choice in the video above.

How much did it cost?

We ordered 11 yards of 3/4″ minus and the cost was around $160 which included delivery. This did a large portion of the flat spot of our property around the trailer. It was more than enough to give us a place to park all of our vehicles and to give us a walking path to our trailer. We didn’t order enough to do the entire driveway to the road so we’ll probably do that at some point in the future.

Here it is... all 11 yards!
Here it is… all 11 yards!
Paving the parking area.
Paving the parking area.

We also had to rent an excavator to push the rock around. We like to take the “kill two birds with one stone” approach whenever possible. The excavator was $300 to rent for the weekend and we were also able to dig an 8’ hole for our percolation test as well as dig the footings for our timber frame barn. Even though we were hoping to get more done with our excavator time, all said in done, we did the best we could do and it was money well spent.

What alternatives were considered (or weren’t considered)?

An obvious solution may be to pave the driveway with either asphalt or cement. To pave the equivalent amount of space with cement or asphalt, it would have cost thousands of dollars. While we may do this in the future, it wouldn’t be until our home is built. However, we are quite happy with the rock for the time being, if we don’t have this forever!

How difficult was it?

Moving the rock around was a piece of cake (coming from the girl who was NOT operating the excavator!). Jesse has experience running an excavator but it wasn’t bad. The worst part of it all is that our property is built on a foundation of rocks and boulders, so we had to spend some amount of time just getting the land somewhat level by using the scraper. Jesse spent maybe 1 hour doing this step before moving the rock around.

After Jesse was done, I went around with a landscaping rake to push the rock up closer to the trailer, to level the rock a bit by hand, and to push the edges of the rock out to cover as much ground as possible. It was a bit of a workout, and I recommend using a sturdy pair of gloves.

Taking the landscape rake to the driveway to even the surface out.
Taking the landscape rake to the driveway to even the surface out.

Other Ways to Keep Clean

The other thing we have been using non-stop to keep our home dust-free is by using these microfiber dusting towels, or dry rags as we call them. Jesse has a lot of these leftover from when he owned his cleaning business. These aren’t really a hot commodity in many homes even though they should be. As a general rule of thumb, it is easier to clean dry than it is wet. These rags are great at picking up every little speck of dust. We frequently run these over the surfaces in our trailer, over our laptop screens, and even my leather boots when I go somewhere so I don’t look like a complete filth ball.

And that’s it! You don’t realize the little things you take for granted in life until you don’t have them, like a clean place to park. We couldn’t be happier with our new parking spot!

Get Involved

Have you done any type of paving lately? What do you do to keep your property clean? Would love to hear your thoughts as always!

how to pave a driveway with 3/4" rock

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I am an aspiring homesteader on a journey to become self-sustainable and free. In my past, I've worked corporate jobs to make ends meet and get ahead a little; it didn't make me happy or confident in my future. Since taking the leap to self-employment and living a more simple life, my happiness levels have increased greatly and I've never felt more alive. I finally understand what I want in life and how to get there, and that is what this blog is all about.

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Comments

  1. says

    I totally understand your issues with dust! Being that we live in the desert on natural (mostly untouched) desert land a good 80% of it is DUST! And it is very loose! So we frequently have actual dust storms or haboobs (which is a large wall of dust due to a storm rolling through pushing dust upward and onward in front of the storm front). So we have microfiber towels for inside the house and on an average week have to dust every 5-7 days if I don’t want to see a layer of dust on everything. As for outside, thankfully I driveway was paved with gravel a LONG time ago and although probably half of it is gone or washed off to the sides to the side yard it is enough now that it isn’t too bad! Adding new gravel in a goal of mine as well, in the distant future. =) Good job on your project, you definitely make it look easier than it is!

    • says

      Awesome, Elizabeth! I’ve never heard of the term “haboob”. That sounds terrible. It seems that the dirt is somewhat kept at bay until it is messed with, driven over, tilled, etc. that’s awesome your driveway is paved! I’m sure what’s left is still better than nothing. And I see you share our love for microfiber towels LOL!

  2. Constance says

    Hello,

    I am also starting a homestead. I currently have my house for sale in the city. Over the Summer (weekends) I cleaned and organized a cabin to get it ready to start my hobby farm. I just adopted my grandson (2 years old) and I am 52 years old. I want a better life for him. He is very active and enjoys being outside. He loves animals. We gather wood together to have campfires. Currently I’m building my chicken coop.

    • says

      That is so awesome Constance! I’m sure that will be very rewarding raising your grandson out in the country. I think kids are meant to spend their childhood outdoors… not always the easiest option in the city. Best of luck on your chicken coop! We can’t wait to build ours.

    • Jesse says

      This is pure awesomeness Constance. Doubt you’ll have many, if any, regrets. We’ve noticed a major behavioral shift from major anxiety to almost “at home” in our bengal cats since arriving. Something we didn’t expect. I have a hunch your grandson will find major joy in having room to run and animals to keep him busy around the homestead! Keep in touch on how things are coming!

  3. Mark Schlegel says

    I have been battling dust as long as I can remember. Our driveway is over a 1/4 mile long with the front of our house and barn area ending in a circle. From May through September/October dust is a constant battle. Every spring we run a blade down the road and through the circle in front of the house and barn. This evens and smooths the weathered road and the blade drags excess rock from one area into the pot holes that developed over the last seasons. Getting good rock like you have done is so important. Over the years I have used rock that didn’t pack well and never served well for my road . I ended up scraping it all up and using it for drainage areas.

    I am enjoying following your experiences and wish you the best in your journey.

    • says

      Wow, 1/4 mile driveway! That is a lot of dust potential. I assume you have tried similar rock then? How does it hold up for you over the years? Who knew the type of rock you pick could be so important?! I think the dust has been worse this year everywhere due to nationwide dryness.

      • Mark says

        You are right about the dust potential. The most important area is near to the house and barn. You will never get away from dust completely. I have tried several types of rock over the years mostly by what is available. I think you are on the right track with the rock you purchased. The 3/4 and smaller is about right and I believe that the “unwashed” provides a a binding agent for good packing of the base. The right rock holds up quite well over time. Remember you just put your first load down. Driving over the rock packing it down. Once you start getting rain and snow the rock will pack into the ground. A new load needs to go on top of it until you have a good base. I do not get more rock all the time. Once a good base was down it packed almost as hard as concrete and only requires an occasional blade and filling any pot holes. Stay on the pot holes though they will grow if not filled and packed. I hope this helps some good luck to you guys.

        • Jesse says

          Fantastic tips Mark! That’s been my experience with 3/4″ also. Glad to hear you’ve got the art of gravel driveways refined. We’ll have to see how our rock does once the rain hits. It may get sucked into the ground. Hoping one more load before winter will get us a solid foundation. Already thinking we need to do a coating of oil to give the dust some coagulation and bind it all together. This property get so much sun and it’s such a dry year that I have a hunch this is as bad as it gets. Hoping for a good hard rain soon to lock things in. We can all join in the pot-hole dance next spring when it’s time to repair our driveways! Haha!

  4. Patty says

    We are just in the beginning stages of a homestead. We won’t move on to it for about a year or so. We have some debt to get paid but you have given us some great ideas. We had planned on getting a small barn/shed then getting the inside ready was going to take some time and a lot of cash!! So we took a page from your blog and decided to go the trailer route. This will get us on our property a lot faster and a lot cheaper as it will livable right away. So right now we are looking at buying something. It may have to be on payments but for about 3 years. So for the first year we are going to put it on a rental lot so that we can live in our trailer and be putting the normal $700 rent to the payments. Plus we will probably be able to pay it off faster than the 36 months we are looking to start with. Thanks to you we now have a real plan. We already have the land and there is a well and we have electric at our disposal but it is pretty far out and until we can both stop working 40-80 hours to pay all the bills we have to stay towards the beach for now. But like I said we have plan now and it is looking like about a year maybe 16 months we should be able to live on the land full time. We will have to put some gravel down ourselves for the driveway. We are in Florida and sand is the enemy to having a smooth surface to park or drive on. I found your rock ideas a big help. We weren’t really sure of what to use but I think we will see if what you used is something like you said.
    I wanted you guys to know You are like our gurus to show us what we need to do next. I’m so glad I found your blog and I am on here daily looking through every post to see if there’s something we didn’t think of. Even when we found a trailer we may get, it has roof leaks and we didn’t know if we should keep looking but seeing you guys had the same problem and how you overcame the issue has given the hope it might just be worth grabbing.
    Keep up the post so I will know what’s next for us to look forward to. Lol!! Thanks so much for showing everything. The good the bad and the ugly dust lol. Keep warm guys. You look so cozy in the makeshift cabin. You make me so jealous that we have to wait a year but I can hardly wait. As soon as I get the blog started I will send you the link to keep up with our little starter homestead. Thanks again and keep up the great work. You guys are our heros!! lol
    Patty and Hurtis from NW. Florida

  5. Chris says

    Hi, congratulations on your find. The property looks beautiful! I appreciate the information you are presenting. We embarked on a similar journey in July 2015. We are now working on the property.

    Currently, we are putting in a small gravel pad for our fifth wheel, carport, and our future home site. I was not familiar with using gravel and did not know how much to get. On the Net, I was looking for a ballpark figure, so I could get an idea of what we need just to start. I found your post and video that was helpful. However, I have a question regarding the coverage of your gravel lot.

    Did you use 11 yards to cover an area of 75’ x 75’ x 2+”?

    By my math, you need about 35 yards to cover that area. For example, we just received 10 yards and can barely cover a 50’ x 25’ x 2-3” area.

    What am I missing?

    Thanks for taking the time to publish your work. I get the feeling a lot of people are interested in this lifestyle, but don’t take the risk. I wish you the best on your journey!

  6. Braylen Johnson says

    I am currently using pavage asphalte/ asphalt on my driveway for almost 2 years now and it is filled with cracks. Since I stumbled here in your article, I may consider using gravel. Which is more expensive pavage asphalte/ asphalt or gravel?

  7. Elliott says

    Back in the 1970’s & 80’s when I was building my 1/3 mile drive way by HAND at first. Would have a ten yard load of “Pit Run” delivered and spread by the truck. Could get maybe a hundred feet spread at a time with little hand raking. Did this one truck load at a time as I could afford it. Took several years to complete drive way and off grid homestead.

  8. Larry Kunkler says

    Have you thought about using “crushed rock” (crushed gravel ~3/4-)? With its highly angular, multi-faceted, edges it will lock up and form a stable layer that is close to concrete in support and strength. I’m not sure of the cost differential but its functionality should be better than that of round gravel and it may provide better dust control.

    Any chance you could just plant “a hardy grass” in the lower traffic areas?

    Good job you guys. I think you made good choices…kunk (Portland, OR area)

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