Road Maintenance Tips
Road maintenance dos and don'ts from the experts.
- Do keep your neighbors in mind when making road decisions. Will runoff from your road affect their property?
- Do think about the impact of your road on the environment. Are your decisions contributing to water or air pollution, or soil erosion?
- Do consider vegetation as a cheap problem-solver; seeding a roadside cutbank could prevent its erosion into your road.
- Do invest in quality road materials. Even if they look good, cheap solutions can sometimes end up costing more in the long run.
- Do reshape a road after the last snowmelt, returning gravel that has been plowed aside to its rightful place and making sure to restore the crown.
- Don’t grade a dry road. It raises dust, separating fines from aggregate. Grade after a light rain, when the surface is soft but not muddy.
- Don’t remove vegetation from ditches unless it blocks the water flow. Vegetation helps filter the water and decreases soil erosion.
- Don’t cut down trees at the roadside if you can avoid it. Shade helps protect the road from drying out in times of low precipitation; roots stabilize the roadbed.
- Don’t fix the road if it ain’t broke. Resist the temptation to regrade unless it’s really needed; you want the gravel to stay packed down tightly.
- Don’t drive fast. Make sure your shock absorbers are properly functioning. Fast vehicles and bad shocks cause washboarding and dust.
Dirt Don’t Hurt
Russ Lanoie, of Conway, New Hampshire, has written a book full of practical advice on dirt and gravel road construction and maintenance, A Ditch in Time, downloadable free at his Web site, www.RuralHomeTech.com. Lanoie, inventor of a front-operated landscape rake attachment for tractors, called the Front Runner, also will answer questions by e-mail: russ@RuralHomeTech.com.