Issues to Consider When Designing and Building Driveways for Homes

Importance of Base Preparation

Regardless of the surface material chosen for a project, base preparation and drainage issues are often the most important part of a residential driveway project. The primary structural integrity of the driveway comes from the base stone; the surface (although structural) is only as good as the base.


For the longevity of the driveway and for the integrity of adjacent structures, it is important to design a driveway with good drainage. Customers sometimes forget that water runs downhill and will request driveways that may express their aesthetic desires but will not adequately direct rain water away from their house or garage or favorite flower bed.


Shoulders are another often neglected area that play an important role in driveway construction. Shoulders provide lateral support to the surface of the driveway and separate the drive from a ditch. All too often, ditches are built too close to the edge of the roadway where the water flow can undermine even the most well constructed road.

Surface Options

Once the base is constructed, the road or driveway can be finished with either plant mix (blacktop) or surface treatment (tar and gravel):

A plant mix driveway will last approximately 2-3 times as long as a surface treated one; therefore the long-term cost benefit is clearly in favor of the plant mix.

Sample Projects

Morven Farm

Brown stone surface treatments.

Private Residence

Surface treatment with brown stone.