Use these tips and best practices to keep your rural road in good shape.
Most roads are maintained by city or county entities, but the maintenance of many farm or ranch roads is the responsibility of one or more individuals living or owning land around the road. Typically made of dirt or gravel, these rural roads can turn impassable quickly without regular attention and maintenance.
The main danger to the fitness of dirt or gravel farm and ranch roads is water. Adequate drainage is a must or your road can suffer ruts and potholes, gullies and erosion, cave-ins, and water-filled ditches. At Tucker Paving, we do cement or asphalt paving for residential, commercial, or municipal needs. So we have some great tips for maintaining your farm and ranch roads.
Tips for Maintaining Dirt or Gravel Roads
Controlling water runoff through drainage is the most important factor to keeping dirt and gravel roads well-maintained and passable. The following solutions are low-tech and relatively inexpensive, though the best option for your dirt or gravel road will depend on factors like how it was constructed, the soil, your climate, how much traffic the road gets, and more.
- Work with the natural drainage patterns of the land around the road, making it easier for water to flow off of the road.
- Build a crown, or higher center, in the road, which will allow water to run off the road. In general, a crown should be higher in the center than at the road’s edge at a rate of ½ to ¾ of an inch for each foot from the center of the road to its edge. A blade on a truck or tractor should be sufficient to create such a crown.
- Slope the road to one side, keeping an eye to the natural drainage patterns of the land. There will need to be an inside ditch or land that can accommodate water runoff.
- Make sure roadside ditches have a U or flat bottom, not a V-shaped bottom. Prevent erosion by utilizing a rock or vegetation lining.
- Call in experts to install culverts unless you have expertise yourself.
- Make sure to use energy dissipation, such as some large rocks placed downstream of the culvert’s exit, and a debris barrier, such as steel pipes or fence posts, upstream of the culvert’s mouth.
- Use “rolling dips” for cross drainage: wide, shallow depressions carved across a road’s width to channel water off the road.