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The cheapest and most basic setup, dirt driveways are simple but effective, though, like all driveways, they require careful planning to function efficiently. While many people might pause at the idea of using this type of material for their driveway, they can be both beautiful and functional, provided the foundation has been adequately laid, and that they are well maintained.

Dirt driveways are most suitable for more rustic or country locations, and are, in fact, not permitted by zoning laws in many residential neighborhoods. It would be wise to check your local legislation before committing to installing a dirt driveway. Furthermore, they are ineffective on steep inclines, where hard rain and harsh winds can wash away the dirt and distort the surface more easily than on flat ground.

The most important aspect of a dirt driveway is the foundation. Much like a grass surface, it is so porous, rainwater can pool underneath, distorting the dirt and causing holes to form in the surface unless proper precautions are taken to create an effective system of irrigation. It is also wise to create a “crown,” or inclined path along the center of the driveway at least one inch high that serves to force rainwater off the driveway.

Rain and wind present the greatest obstacles to the longevity of dirt driveways, but these can be managed through artful construction. Small stones can be placed along the side of the driveway to shelter it from heavy winds and break up water flow that might otherwise sweep across the surface of the driveway, stripping it to its foundation.

Like gravel, dirt driveways are relatively cheap to maintain, though they benefit from vigilance: stray dirt should be swept into place and holes should be patched up with extra dirt on a regular basis. Dirt driveways are ultimately best suited for country houses, as they make elegant, understated roads that do not clash with a rural atmosphere.
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