Searching for a cheap flat surface
April 7, 2009 7:08 PM   Subscribe

What do I need to know about cement, asphalt or crushed gravel and which would be best to create a parking area next to my garage?

I have an area 25 feet wide and 15 to 20 feet deep that I would like to convert from a weed filled part of my yard to income producing parking spaces. I live in an area where parking is premium, so I know that I can rent the spaces, accessible from the alley. I got a quote last year for $3500 to have the area dug out, levelled and cement poured.

I have also heard that I would do much better using crushed gravel, from both the expense factor and potential resale value of my house (easier to convert back to lawn/garden). Anyone have any ideas? This is not a DIY project, I would have to hire someone to do it.
posted by readery to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: From my husband, your cheapest route would be the crushed gravel. If you should choose asphalt, you would first have to lay crushed gravel any way.

If you would like to memail me for excruciatingly exact details on exactly what you might want to do if you are only having passenger vehicles parked there, my materials-tester husband would be happy to tell you more than you would ever want to know about a project such as this.

Also to consider is insurance to protect you from any claims should a vehicle or person sustain injury on your property.
posted by thebrokedown at 8:15 PM on April 7, 2009

Best answer: One thing to consider are trees. If the concrete/asphalt will cover the root zone of trees they will probably be adversely affected. Shouldn't be a problem with gravel unless they dig down too far. Also, concrete looks really nice, but it takes a while (weeks) to cure and when damaged is expensive to repair.

Given all the above, I paved with concrete.
posted by cosmac at 9:03 PM on April 7, 2009

Crushed gravel is a couple of guys with a truck, and a couple of hundred dollars. And it's reversible, as you note. I can't see how that can be the wrong choice, even if you later "upgrade" to asphalt or concrete later.
posted by rokusan at 1:04 AM on April 8, 2009

You appear to be in a snow area. If you were to be responsible for having the area cleared of snow, loose gravel might be a pain.

That being said, as mentioned above, you can go stepwise. Gravel first, then pavement of some sort if the gravel proves unsatisfying.
posted by css28 at 4:03 AM on April 8, 2009

Best answer: Crush gravel gets messy with it migrating into the alley or grass. It needs to be re-graded every few years or gets to be filled with weeds or water pockets. Winter maintenance is hard and helps the migration of stone. Concrete is more expensive but is a lasting solution.

A good medium cost solution which is regaining favor is cellular paving blocks which is a way to keep the look of grass with something solid like concrete. Chicago has been pushing a green alley initiative which has been repaving alleys with a porous pavement. Cellular paving blocks would fit into that scheme very well. Cost-wise, it would be much cheaper than concrete and probably about the same cost as asphalt.
posted by JJ86 at 6:14 AM on April 8, 2009

i will second the poster who said that shovelling snow away from a gravelly area is a serious PITA.

what about bricks?
posted by fancyoats at 6:20 AM on April 8, 2009

Here's a nice option too: open pavers.
posted by amanda at 7:13 AM on April 8, 2009

Here's a good UK / Ireland biased website:

Really helpful and full of good information.

We've done a big gravel driveway recently. Dug out 200mm and filled with crushed concrete
Here we call it "40mm to dust" which is old construction concrete crushed and screened so that the biggest bits are 40mm and there is lots of dust. "Dust" is crucial to getting it compacted well. The dust fills in between the bigger bits and gives a nice firm surface.

We used a plate compactor to hammer it all down. We laid shingle on top, I guess you could just leave the sub-grade exposed. Don't skimp on the sub-grade !

Oh and grab trucks are fun :)
posted by Sturdy at 7:22 AM on April 8, 2009

Best answer: When I did crushed gravel for a parking area I got the 42-d (42mm to dust) and found that I would have been better off avoiding the dust part. There was enough soft ground there for the gravel to sink in on its own, and having the dust basically created a lot of mud. So depending on what the ground is like under the gravel, consider whether you need the filler (like Sturdy did) or not.

But I do remember that it was cheap.
posted by thejanna at 10:54 AM on April 8, 2009

note that if you live in an urban area, you may be prohibited from having a crushed gravel driveway or parking area. check with your zoning/building department.
posted by lester at 2:36 PM on April 8, 2009

Response by poster: This is a lot of very useful information. I need to look into pavers as an option.

Thanks everyone and Mr thebrokedown for all the excellent suggestions. If anyone needs a place to park, you know who to call.
posted by readery at 5:34 PM on April 8, 2009

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