Time was when most houses were approached on foot up the garden path and entered through the front door; the horse or carriage presumably was left by the front gate. The advent of automobiles and busier roads has left the front doors of many older houses high and dry, blindly facing a busy highway on which it is no longer safe for horse or automobile to tarry. Many of these older houses are now entered by what was once the back or side door, and a new approach has been necessarily created, often involving some form of driveway and parking space. Modern houses are designed with their main entrance oriented to the automobile’s requirements, usually up a private driveway. In the suburbs, it may be a short suburban tarred strip; in the country, a longer shaled driveway leading to the house.
Whether you have a short or a long driveway, it will need certain maintenance from time to time. Make your inspection after you are sure the last snow has come and gone. If yours is a gravel driveway, clean up and rake back any gravel that may have been snowplowed off (usually onto the adjoining lawn).
If you have a blacktop driveway, check for cracks and holes. If these are minor, they can easily be repaired with special tars available from hardware stores and lumberyards. Occasionally, the whole driveway can benefit from a coat of blacktop sealer that creates a new wearing surface.
Similarly, minor repairs to concrete driveways are easily made at this stage using a concrete mix that can be bought in small sacks from building suppliers, lumberyards, and many hardware stores. (See pages 21-24 for more information on concrete repair.)
If yours is a longer driveway made of shale, crushed stone, split rock, or gravel, it will probably require more regular maintenance than either blacktop or concrete. Snowplowing, if necessary in your area, can exact a heavy toll by removing surface material along with the snow.
Any hole or rut-even a small one-will be enlarged by the action of rain and runoff and eventually become a major hazard. No matter how carefully a graded driveway is originally graded, sooner or later it will develop ridges and depressions that begin to collect water. The holes seem to grow of their own accord; in attempting to skirt them, drivers gradually change a smooth, straight run into a winding obstacle course.
This process, however, can be slowed greatly by a little rake-work now and then. When all the frost is out of the ground and any heaved sections have subsided-and the ground is reasonably dry-fill in holes and depressions with material raked from the high spots. If permanent ruts across the driveway persist from heavy rains and runoff, consider installing new or additional culverts to carry off the excess water.
Even though it is important not to begin to level your driveway or parking area until you are certain that cold weather has subsided and all the frost is gone, early spring is the best time of year to do this kind of work, especially if you are undertaking more extensive repairs like major reshaling or adding additional parking space. Spring repairs allow the driveway to be compacted firmly (by use) during the summer, minimizing the amount of loose surface material that snowplows may later scrape away.
Much of what has been said about driveways is pertinent to paths. Paths and walkways that are not well drained or that are constructed over bases unsuited to their climate can suffer considerable e-raised paving material, loosened bricks, and misplaced flagstones. Before attempting any repair, wait for the effects of winter the rainy season to subside.