How to Make a Stone or Shell Driveway

Samantha Volz

A driveway has to support literally tons of weight from vehicles and everyday use, so it's no wonder that many installers turn to traditionally tough materials like concrete and asphalt to support these areas.

Gravel, stones or shells in a driveway make a decorative support.

However, for a more decorative look, crushed shell and stone can also support the needs of a driveway, as long as the material is properly supported and installed.

  1. Mark out the location of your driveway with marking paint. Mark both sides of the driveway from start to finish, including any curves.

  2. Dig out the entire length of the driveway to a depth of 4 inches. Use a square-edged spade to make sure the walls of the trench are completely straight and flat.

  3. Run a steel rake over the bottom of the trench to flatten the area, and remove any large rocks and other debris such as sticks or twigs.

  4. Flatten the trench with a hand tamper to create a fully level and compact support surface for your driveway.

  5. Line the bottom 2 ½ inches of the trench with crushed stone, generally of a relatively large size such as 3/8 inch or larger. Use the steel rake to spread an even layer of the material over the entire trench.

  6. Wet down the crushed stone with a garden hose to limit dust that can spread from the surface. Then tamp the stone down with the hand tamper to compact the surface for a stable, flat installation.

  7. Cover the crushed stone with a layer of landscape fabric. If necessary, cut the fabric to fit, or to turn around curves, with a sharp utility knife. The fabric will facilitate drainage and prevent the soil from shifting the stone or shell material above.

  8. Drive the edges of the landscape fabric into the soil around the trench with stakes or pins to hold it in place. This will ensure it will not bunch up under the stones or shells, creating unwanted bumps and hills.

  9. Line the driveway area with edging material. Hardware and home improvement stores sell metal and plastic edging material; you can also use treated wood for a more rustic look. Hold the edging material in place with spikes or pins driven into the solid ground around the driveway.

  10. Fill in the trench with enough shell or stone to fill all but the top ½ inch of the trench. Use the steel rake to ensure that the material is even across the surface. Leaving the top ½ inch empty allows for the material to shift slightly as needed without overflowing the edging.