How To Build Your Own Seashell Driveway
The driveway to your house or your garage is usually the first part of your property that people are going to see. If you are looking for something different to add to your property and you want a change from asphalt and concrete, then creating a seashell driveway is the way to go.
What To Expect
- Seashell driveways are pretty straightforward and not as intense as constructing your own concrete or asphalt driveway.
- We will get into the cost side of things a bit later on but compared to building a concrete or asphalt driveway, seashells are far cheaper.
- Maintenance is super simple and could not be easier
Photo credit: mycosupply.com
Pros and Cons…
When you are dealing with seashells, you are dealing with a really unique product that, besides decorating and being used in mortar, is not that common, especially with home renovation. As a result, the pros and cons for a seashell driveway are totally different from a typical concrete or asphalt drive. In saying that, the uniqueness, is what makes seashells that much better.
Photo Credit: mycosupply.com
- Cheap – Seashell driveways are super cheap to make and to maintain.
- Maintenance – The upkeep on a seashell driveway is almost nothing.
- Drainage – Due to the way in which the seashells are laid, seashell driveways are great at retaining water so as to prevent any pooling on the sides.
- Repairs – Seashell driveways require pretty much zero repairs unlike their concrete and asphalt counterparts, which can crack and crumble as time goes on.
- Heat – Due to the color of seashells, heat is reflected rather than retained.
- Installation – The installation process for a seashell driveway is probably the easiest compared to the construction of any other type of driveway.
- Transport Cost – Depending on where you live, the cost of transporting seashells to your location may be a bit pricey.
- Loose Shells – Every now and then, shells will be kicked up by cars a people. This will probably end up somewhere in the lawn or the garden.
- Snow – If you live somewhere where it snows, snow removal can be a bit tricky.
- Bare Feet – Depending on the type of shells you buy and who you buy them from, they can be relatively sharp and unpleasant for bare feet.
Let’s Get Into It…
First things first, you should figure out how much a seashell driveway is going cost you. The following things should be taken into consideration: Shells, Labour and Machinery.
You can purchase a wide range of seashells for your driveway but the cheapest kinds to buy are clamshells at roughly $40 per ton to $50 per ton. If you want to move up the price range, oyster shells are the next step. Keep in mind that shipping cost will vary according to where you live. You will most like be ordering a few tons of seashells at a time and this can cost a bit.
You are probably wondering, how many seashells will I need to use in my driveway? The only way you can figure this out is by measuring how large your driveway is going to be.
Measure the width by the length and multiply them together. Then, multiply this by five or six. This is because the driveway will need to be five to six inches deep. Multiplying these together will give the square inches of seashells you will need. Usually, suppliers will be able to tell you how much weight in seashells you will need in order fill your driveway.
If you are not too keen on doing all the hard work such as digging up the loose earth and laying the seashells, you will want to look into hiring a laborer for a day or two. However, you can remove this cost by doing it all yourself.
You will need to compact the seashells into your driveway and in order to do this properly, you will need to either hire a soil compactor or a Bobcat.
The first thing you will need to do is figure out the dimensions your driveway will need to be. Once you figure this out, place some wooden stakes into each point at which there will be a corner. Then tie a length of string from one stake to the next so as to create a box that outlines where your driveway will be.
With the strings and the stakes outlining the perimeter of your soon to be a seashell driveway, you now know the layout of the interior. This soil needs to be dug up and removed down to a depth of five to six inches. Yes, this type of work can suck so if you really want to steer clear of it, you can always hire a laborer for the day.
Next, up is lining the walls of your the excavated driveway with planks of two by four. These planks should measure two by four inches. The will act as a sort of retaining wall to prevent the sides from caving in. The wood should be placed firmly up against the edges leaving zero space between the wood and the sides of the earth.
Now for the final part, laying down the seashells. You will need to do this in two stages. Lay down the seashells so they reach up to about 2.5 or 3 inches of excavated driveway depending on how deep you have actually dug the original hole. Then, with a soil compactor or with a Bobcat, go over the seashells in order to compact them. This compacting will ensure that there is a firm base layer for your driveway. After you finish this, you will need to fill the remaining space with seashells so as to ensure the excavated area is completely filled. Go over it again with the compactor or the Bobcat to further strengthen the surface.
If there is still a bit of space between the top layer of shells and the soil’s surface, you can put a final thin layer of shells on top so as to conceal the excavated land and its edges.
This step is probably the best and most rewarding out of all of the other steps. All you need to do is a test and enjoy your new seashell driveway.
That’s right, your new driveway is all finished!
Like anything on your property, your driveway will need a bit of maintenance from time to time. Luckily, the maintenance on a seashell driveway is pretty simple and straightforward.
- Occasionally you will need to spray some weed killer on the surface of the driveway. We recommend once every three to six months. Also, make sure the spray you use will not stain the seashells after application. You can test this by spraying a bit of your weedkiller on one shell and seeing the result over time.
- You may also want to top up the surface layer with new seashells every now and then. This will give your driveway a nice new look when the top layer is replaced.
- The last little bit of maintenance you will need to consider is the issue of loose shells. It is inevitable that some shells will be thrown around from either foot traffic or cars. All you really need to do is get a rake or a broom and sweep the shells back onto the driveway.
That pretty much wraps up the process of making your seashell driveway. Seashell driveways are really straightforward to build and super easy to maintain. Compared to asphalt and concrete driveways, the construction process is a lot faster to finish, and usually a lot cheaper.
Gavin Hewitson is the owner of the blog www.DIYdriveway.com providing free information on how to improve, repair and build your own driveway. If you are looking for tips on how to improve your own driveway, a DIY driveway is a place with the answers.