Debb Dodges Raindrops - Exploring Clark County Washington

News and Views of Clark County-The Road Less Traveled Might Be Gravel

Environmentally Sound Practices Can Extend The Life of Your Access Road   


Nature Not Neighbors - Road Less Traveled

Most homes in the country or on acreage are accessed over a gravel road. Usually it’s a private road or driveway that leads back from the main road, and gravel is an affordable alternative to paving, which can be three times as expensive. The county typically does not maintain these roads, so it's the responsibility of the homeowners.


Obviously, getting in and out is an important issue - especially during winter months when weather can be hard on a road. Keeping a minimum amount of gravel on the surface can help, but it won’t do any good unless you observe the common adage about proper road maintenance: “drainage, drainage, drainage.” Water and gravity are natural forces that must be addressed in road design and maintenance. Even paved roads need to follow basic design rules - unless water is drained off properly, it will erode the surface. Plus, it’s a serious environmental issue -  road erosion can create sediment and pollution issues for local streams and rivers.


The Center for Dirt and Gravel Road Studies (yes, there really is such a thing at Pennsylvania State University!) states that most roads should have a “crown” - a center that is higher than the sides.  This ensures the water will drain to either side - then properly dispersed either into a ditch or broad shoulder.  Crowns should be at least 1/2 inch high for every foot of width. E.g., a 20-foot wide road, (10 feet on either side) should have a 5 inch crown from side to center.  The exception might be roads on a slope - they often drain better if allowed to flow to one side. The key is to observe the natural draining patterns of the landscape and work with nature to accommodate water flow.

Here is a visual comparison - first an improperly maintained road. It’s easy to see where the water will sit and eventually erode through the surface:

Nature Not Neighbors - Improper Road Slope 

Compared to a properly crowned road: 

Nature Not Neighbors - Proper Crown

If you're want more on this, check out the EPA’s “Environmentally Sensitive Maintenance For Dirt and Gravel Roads” for comprehensive guidelines. 


So, when you are evaluating that beautiful view home in the country, here are some (literally) down to earth tips on the access road:

  1. Pay attention to the current condition of the road - is it relatively smooth and without potholes and standing water? 
  2. Does it appear to be regularly maintained? Are side ditches and culverts cleared and not overgrown or clogged? 
  3. Who is responsible for maintenance? Is road access shared with others, and is there a road maintenance agreement? Is so, make sure you get a copy and read through it to understand your shared responsibilities. 

 If you want to learn more about ViewHomes in Clark County and Nature Not Neighbors, contact us a Harcourts USA -The Carl Group.  You can begin your search here


ViewHomes™ grew out of our passion for nature, beautiful surroundings, and peaceful environments. Starting together in an urban environment, over the years we've gravitated towards areas with smaller populations and less density. We now enjoy our lifestyle in a rural environment, but with close proximity to metropolitan areas where we appreciate all the amenities of fine restaurants, shopping, and an easy drive to an international airport.
Living in ViewHomes™ is like having “elbowroom for the soul”.





Comment balloon 16 commentsDebb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD • November 24 2015 07:17AM


Well Debb, you are a wealth of knowledge, this is very well explain for some people.  Have a great day!

Posted by Will Hamm, "Where There's a Will, There's a Way!" (Hamm Homes) almost 5 years ago

Hi Debb -- what an interesting and informative post for this city guy --- there are many considerations when your lifestyle choice is living in the country.  

Posted by Michael Jacobs, Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393 almost 5 years ago

Debb Janes A gravel drive just doesn't do it for me. It needs to be paved so that the "elements" don't degrade the road. How do you remove snow from a gravel road?

Bill Roberts

Posted by Bill Roberts, "Baby Boomer" Retirement Planner (Brooks and Dunphy Real Estate) almost 5 years ago

Debb Janes I am impressed with this post. I have the paint chips to prove how many gravel driveways I cross SLOWLY  

Posted by Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®, CRS, South Puget Sound Washington Agent/Broker! (Fathom Realty Washington LLC) almost 5 years ago

Good morning Debb,

This must be why I keep my pick up truck as there are more of the first than the second here and that includes the long paved drives.

Make yourself a great day.

Posted by Raymond E. Camp, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson Greater Rochester (Howard Hanna Real Estate Services) almost 5 years ago

My parents have had a gravel access road to their home in rural Michigan for 30 years and my dad maintains excellent care of it. They've never had a problem after all these years. 

Posted by Nicole Doty - Gilbert Real Estate Expert, Broker/Owner of Zion Realty (Zion Realty) almost 5 years ago

Such an important post for all of us "country dwellers"!   Thank you.

Posted by Li Read, Caring expertise...knowledge for you! (Sea to Sky Premier Properties (Salt Spring)) almost 5 years ago

Will - lots to learn and know.

HI Michael - it's a different lifestyle. 

Bill, these gravel roads last for years, if folks take care of them. Set the tractor blade to the right level and you push away snow, not gravel. :)

Yes, slowly indeed for chips and to keep dust down in the warmer months.

Raymond, trucks are good. 

Hi Nicole Doty - Gilbert Real Estate Expert - thank you for your comment - and you raise a great point.  Just like septice systems and wells, if a gravel road is properly designed and maintained, they can be environmentally sound and last for years! We're all learning so much about living with nature!

Li Read always happy to see you Li. We are country dwellers. :)


Posted by Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD, REALTORS® in Clark County, WA (ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors) almost 5 years ago


What an excellent and informative post on the subject.  Santa Barbara County has some of those roads, as do the ranches in town.  I love that you even had an answer for Bill Roberts for snow removal solutions.  This definitely defines your expertise on the subject.  A

Posted by Ron and Alexandra Seigel, Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy (Napa Consultants) almost 5 years ago

This is very timely information to share with home owners. 

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Posted by Roy Kelley (Realty Group Referrals) almost 5 years ago

Hi Debb - Great information! I've lived on gravel roads several times, and you're right that proper maintenance is critical. Have a great Thanksgiving!

Posted by Dick Greenberg, Northern Colorado Residential Real Estate (New Paradigm Partners LLC) almost 5 years ago

I love this.  The road less traveled might be gravel.  Very cute and it pretty much says it all.  

Posted by Belinda Spillman, Colorado Living! (Aspen Lane Real Estate Colorful Colorado) almost 5 years ago

Thank you Alexandra, if I don't know the answer, best not to write about me. ;) 
Thanks Roy, you too.

Dick, it is key. Happy Thanksgiving to you too.

Yes it does, Belinda. 

Posted by Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD, REALTORS® in Clark County, WA (ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors) almost 5 years ago

Nice post about a subject many of us don't know a thing about. This year I've bounced along a 10-mile stretch of dirt road leading to my brother's house in the hills outside of Elko NV, and very recently cobbled riverbeds that counted as roads north of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico -- I appreciate well maintained gravel roads!!

Posted by Lottie Kendall, Helping make your real estate dreams a reality (Compass) almost 5 years ago

Good evening Debb Janes ,  That is a great explaination on road design, for those new property owners, wanting to be secluded from the main road, with a long driveway.

Posted by Larry Johnston, Broker,Friends & Neighbors Real Estate, Elkhart,IN (Broker, Friends & Neighbors Real Estate and Elkhart County Subdivisions, LLC) almost 5 years ago

Hi Deb,  I have never seen a post on this subject before.  Bravo!  Great info and so relevant to your market, and many others.  Thanks for the post.

Posted by Carol Williams, Retired Agent / Broker / Property Manager (Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals.) almost 5 years ago

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