Driveway erosion is every homeowner’s worst enemy.
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to prevent 100%. It’s also common – especially for concrete and asphalt driveways.
Don’t worry, though – there are things you can do to prevent erosion – even if you live in a rainy or humid environment!
Here at Betz Works, we’ve been helping clients throughout Northern California maintain their driveways and prevent erosion for over 30 years.
In this blog, we’ll discuss steps you can take to stop erosion and how to keep your driveway stable, beautiful, and in good condition for years to come.
What Causes Erosion?
Water is the primary cause of driveway erosion. While we don’t usually think of flowing water occurring around our homes, it’s a constant – especially in areas with lots of wet weather, like here in Santa Cruz, CA.
During storms, rainwater flows off the roof and down gutters and downspouts, spilling onto your driveway. Snow melts and makes its way off your roof and toward your driveway, and sprinklers and irrigation hoses create moisture that runs down your hard, paved surfaces.
Because driveways are made of materials like asphalt, concrete, or even gravel, water travels across and along the sides of them, eventually stopping and forming pools. When those pools of standing water form, they allow water to seep under your driveway.
This is how erosion starts.
Once water starts pooling next to your driveway, it pushes sand and sediments out from the base of your driveway, compromising its structure and wearing away the foundation.
Over time, holes form. If they’re left unrepaired, they eventually cause the driveway’s surface to cave in, creating sinkholes and potholes that can damage your cars and present a safety risk.
Why are Sinkholes Dangerous?
Besides being annoying and ugly, sinkholes can be dangerous.
While it may not seem like a sinkhole or two is a significant problem, these signs of erosion can cause thousands of dollars of damage to your driveway and destroy your car’s suspension if they’re allowed to get big enough.
Additionally, sinkholes create a trip and fall hazard for you and your family and can be responsible for sprained ankles and broken bones.
During winter, sinkholes collect water, which freezes, creating slippery, dangerous ice spots.
Because sinkholes get worse quickly, addressing and repairing them as soon as you notice them in your driveway is essential.
How to Prevent Driveway Erosion
When it comes to driveway erosion, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Follow these tips to prevent driveway erosion and keep your gravel, asphalt, or concrete surface in good shape for years to come:
1. Control runoff
Since moisture is the leading cause of erosion, the first step to preventing erosion is to control the level and flow of moisture.
If you have a concrete or asphalt driveway, direct all gutters and downspouts away from the driveway. This will help prevent the formation of puddles and slow the process of erosion.
If you have a gravel driveway, follow the same tip about downspouts and give yourself an added layer of protection by creating a crown in the center of the driveway (meaning the driveway is higher in the middle).
This helps divert water off the driveway’s surface, reducing erosion.
2. Repair existing sinkholes
If you’ve already noticed some potholes or sinkholes in your driveway, repair them as quickly as possible.
3. Divert water
Once you’ve redirected your downspouts, you’ll need to give all that water somewhere to go once it runs off your driveway.
For best results, consider digging trenches along the side of your driveway and lining them with gravel or rain garden plants.
These trenches will catch the water that runs off the driveway and prevent erosion from occurring.
If you have a gravel driveway, you can also install water bars along the driveway. Water bars are cross-sections of treated lumber or rebar set in the driveway at 30-degree angles to the road.
These water bars divert water to the side of the driveway and help prevent erosion.
4. Keep up on routine maintenance
A well-maintained driveway is best equipped to resist erosion.
Simple things, like removing debris that could catch water and cause it to pool and having your driveway professionally sealed every few years, can help resist erosion and make it easier for your driveway to stand up to the elements.
Additionally, proper driveway maintenance makes it easier to spot cracks and drainage issues that could lead to erosion over time.
5. Stabilize gravel driveways
If you have a gravel driveway, it will erode over time, especially in areas prone to water pooling or in environments with heavy rainfall.
In addition to mounding the gravel surface and adding water bars (as discussed in tips 1 and 3), installing a ground stabilization system that reinforces the foundation of your driveway and disperses water can help.
Struggling With Driveway Erosion in Santa Cruz County? We can Help!
Driveway erosion starts subtly, but it can quickly become a significant issue.
Over time, a few small pools of water can undermine the entire structure of your driveway, causing problems like sinkholes, potholes, buckling, heaving, and more.
Fortunately, you don’t have to battle driveway erosion alone.
At Betz Works, we help customers in Santa Cruz County maintain their driveways and repair driveway damage. Our comprehensive driveway repair, seal coating, and maintenance services allow you to protect the investment you’ve made in your paved surface and avoid safety issues.
For your convenience, we also serve Monterey County and Santa Clara County, including San Jose, CA.
Ready to learn more?