Trying To Reason With Mud Season?
Once again we are watching the seasons swing from winter to spring, err, MUD season. If you live on a gravel road or driveway this means potholes, ruts, and soupy mud where your gravel should be. While there is no stopping the effects of the spring thaw, proper maintenance will minimize the effects of mud season.
The largest problem for many roads is a lack of drainage. A gravel road needs to be crowned and ditched to get the water off the road. A gravel road needs a minimum of a 1” of crown for every 2’ of width (ditch to center line). This will cause the water to run towards the ditches. If there is a downward slope on one side of the road the whole road may be sloped towards that side rather than crowned. A properly graded road will also develop a berm along the ditch from plowing, sanding and compaction from passing vehicles. This berm will impede the flow of water into the ditch.
In our experience, a landscape rake is the best choice to grade a road and now is the time to do it. During the spring the gravel is soft and easily graded to the desired shape and it is easy to pull the berm along the edge back into the road when it is soft. Raking a muddy road will also aerate it and allow the road to dry more quickly. It is very easy to hop on a tractor after work and rake the road every couple of days until it dries and is graded to your liking.
Rakes are available to tow behind an ATV or garden tractor; mount on the front or rear of a pickup truck or attach to the three point hitch of a tractor. We have customers who purchased a rake and avoided buying any additional gravel for many years and the rake paid for itself in a year or two.
For more information on gravel roads the Maine Department of Environmental Protection Bureau of Land and Water Quality has a Gravel Road Maintenance Manual available online.