If you make your own road on your property, or have someone else make it for you, how do you choose the right pavement to use for your road, or should you care of having one at all? In this post I will give you 7 samples of pavement for your private road.
A few years back, my wife and I had some friends visiting us, on our property. They asked the following question: “Are you putting asphalt on your road?”. My wife and I looked at each other for a second, then I replied: “We are not”.
- 1 Introduction
- 2 DIY Road
- 3 Pavement Options
- 4 Resources
Sometimes city people do not understand what it means to own your land, making your own road (like I did almost three miles of), etc. One of the core concepts of living “back to nature”, or “off grid”, is to not bring the city to your land. My personal opinion is that asphalt belongs in the city, and definitely not on our property.
But, a road is almost always a must to have on your property, unless you are planning on hiking in to your property, or your cabin. I guess, if you are rich, and own a helicopter…a road would not be an issue, but our case at least, owning a helicopter was never even a discussed option…
So, let me share some of my thoughts about our road with you.
Our road is definitely a DIY project, by yours truly. I made our road(s), like mentioned above, for more than three miles. I did this using our excavator – one bucket at the time. I do not believe a dozer would have been able to do it on the very rocky mountain sides, but maybe a combination of a dozer and an excavator would be nice.
Here are a few pictures from our road, that I made myself.
Rocks sticking up everywhere
Hmm…Actually…let’s be honest here now: It has rocks sticking up everywhere and drives me nuts when driving on it with our very stiff Ford F250…
But, this is all we can afford right now. I am going to do smoothen out the road a bit, a soon as I get my tractor fixed. But, the road was actually pretty nice looking when it was freshly made. Wear, and tear, from our vehicles, as well as the weather has made it’s toll. What tend to happen the first spring is that the outside of the road settles a bit.
Wet Road From Mountain Spring Water
To be honest, we have just not had time to fix this. There are just so many hours in one day, and there are higher priorities.
Besides, if the water is running down the road, it actually washes some of the sandy/dirty surface of the road, and leaves behind a more gravely layer.
Sandy Rocky Stuff
Just going up one of our hills, with a rough road with many loose rocks. What happens is that all the sandstone crumbles up, and ends up as almost fine sand. It gets very loose, and the rocks rolls in the sand. But also, just that the rocks keep on rolling, makes it loose itself.
Settled Road with Grass (or weeds)
But, I guess some of the older part of our road has settled well, and looks pretty well, actually, with greenery on the sides and in the middle. We deliberately leave the weeds and grass in the middle part of the road. I guess it helps the road to not be too visible on Google Earth as well… 😉
Here are some possible options for us.
Among the many options among these sample, I only cover the one that would even be interesting for us, as private road owners. Concrete and asphalt would definitely not be on the samples list.
[list margin_top=”0″ margin_bottom=”0″ icon_bg_color=”#” icon_bg_hover=”#” square_bg_radius=”0″ icon_size=”16″ icon=”fa-icon-arrow-right” icon_color=”#009a4e”]Leave it as it is – just smoothen the road with a tractor and and a rear scraper blade, Put a bunch of bark or wood chips on it, Put grass seed on it, Put what people normally think about as “road base” on it, Put a lime base solution on it – either directly or on top of road base, Put Oil based solution on it, Put recycled asphalt on it [/list]
Leave it as it is
The easiest (or is it?) solution is to just leave the road as it is. Not put any shape of pavement on it. But, this will at least require that you maintain it often, with i.e. a tractor. You will need to fill in dirt and remove loose rocks more often on this kind of road than any road with any kind of pavement. But, this will, of course, depend on what kind of soil you have where you made your road. For us, we have a mix between dark mountain soil, and a sandstone/sand/rock mix.
Use of bark and wood chips
Any time you put any sort of organic material on your road, it is a plus. Even leaves during fall will be good to settle the surface of your road. A good idea, as well, if you have a road with a lot of weeds in the middle, and on the sides, is to do what gardeners call “chop-and-drop”. It is when you just cut down the grass, or weeds, and just spread it over your road.
In addition to use of bark and wood chips, you can also use any kind of mulch. You should check with your city, or even some of the companies that cut down trees for people. Many times you would just be able to get a bunch of it for free. Even certain land fills would be a place to check for organic material for your road.
Use of grass seed
This kind of goes along with the previous option, since it is organic material. But, in this case you actually deliberately sprinkle grass seed all over your road. This is our favorite, and I chose to make the picture to the right a little bit bigger, since it is just so beautiful.
I believe this option would look and work best if your road is wide enough for you to have a couple of feet of bare dirt area (after wearing off the grass) for each tire on your vehicle.
Use of road base
Road base is normally put on in any thickness from 2″ – 10″, depending on if you have a “sealant” on top, or not, and is pretty easy to get hold of anywhere.
It could end up being a bit dusty in the sun…
Use of lime solution as sealant/stabilization
My understanding is that when using a lime solution, you stabilize the soil, since the lime solution makes some sort chemical reaction. It seems to bind and harden the surface of the road well. It seems to last for a long time, depending of how much traffic it is on the road. If it is on your private road, it should last “forever”.
Though, you should look into the chemical reactions in the nature around the road, using this kind of solution to stabilize the soil. Here are a couple of links I found on the Internet:
Use of oil based sealant/solution
My belief is that this might have been a thing they used to do in the “olden days”, spaying oil on the dirt road to seal it and keep the dust level down. But, this might have been the “bad” oil, and might be different today, where a lot of vegetable oil is available.
Just know that there might be some restrictions reg spraying oils on your road, even if it is private…
Here is a link I found on the Internet: Road Dust Control with Soapstock
Use of recycled asphalt
Ok, I know I said no asphalt, but this is a little bit different. In this case you pour ground up asphalt on your road, as if it were road base.
When they want to put new asphalt on a road, they either use all new asphalt, or recycle…and reheat old ground up asphalt. They use big machines and get stuff that looks like on the picture to the right.
But, to me it looks like they almost always have huge piles of the recycled asphalt left. It might be an idea to contact the city, DOT (Department of Transportation) in your area, etc. to ask if they have some for sale, cheap.
Here is a link I found on the Internet about recycling of asphalt: Increased use of recycled asphalt pavement
When I searched the Internet, I found a link to this PDF file. It might be worth to you taking a look: Building Rural Roads : Chapter 9-11 (Pavement)
You might also want to take a look at this: A Landowner’s Guide to Building Forest Access Roads
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