I hate how the sand and fine dust blows around on our dairy farm's gravel driveway in the dry summer months.

It's not reasonable to talk about blacktop due to the long driveway and the fact that it would get pummeled and potholed year-round by a huge heavy milk truck constantly rolling in and out.


Is there any reasonably low cost DIY way to remove the sand and clay dust from a gravel driveway myself, that does not involve:

  • hire contractor to remove 6-18 inches of gravel top layer
  • they haul it away to an old quarry for burial
  • they bring in washed gravel to replace it


I've been looking for some way to do this myself, to buy or rent a very small sized "gravel wash plant", but I don't think there's anything affordable. I might have to build a one-off machine myself to do it.

(Most web searches for this topic are SEO'd heavily by idiot mining and gold prospector companies. Trying to find answers via a direct web search for a "DIY wash plant" is useless, as it all is steered in the direction of huge expensive mining and highway resurfacing equipment.)

In order to not create a ridiculously huge mess, I'd apparently need:

  • baby track excavator to pull up the gravel
  • baby trommel (rotating screened barrel sieve) with high pressure water spray wash heads
  • settling tank or centrifugal separator to separate the agitated/suspended sand and clay from the wash water
  • sealed dump truck bed for the liquified clay and wet sand.

The separated sand and clay gets dumped out in a pile in a back field or woods area somewhere, and goes back to nature.

Once all the clay is removed (consisting of possibly 50% or more of the volume of gravel removed for cleaning), I'd apparently still need to bring dump trucks full of fresh washed gravel to replace the large volume of clay removed.


Signs seem to point in the direction of just hiring a contractor as mentioned at the top, as full-DIY is probably going to be too ridiculously complex and expensive, requiring buying or building one-off gravel wash, and clay/sand settling equipment, that then is never used again.

Also, I am aware this is not a permanent solution, as the gravel will slowly fill with sand and clay dust as the years go by. But it may be a decade or more before it gets very dusty again.

8 Answers 8


I have a lovely white gravel walkway that's become fouled with dirt and dust over the years, and have thought a fair bit about how to clean it. I haven't found any really good answers but...

To keep dirt fines from working upward into the gravel from the bottom, there exist nonwoven geotextiles, including felts. These are commonly used in road building. This won't help with blown-in dust, obviously, but my walkway has very little of that.

As far as putting back material to replace the lost material, one option is to put the separated fines back down before you put the gravel back down, and under the geotextile if you use it.

To separate the gravel from the fines, that's the real trick. To start with, the sifter you'd want is "hardware cloth" since it comes in a variety of sizes to suit your gravel. But it can't carry the weight of gravel, so you'd need something underneath it holding it up. You'd also need a way to shake it. What's coming up for me is a small trailer towed behind a garden tractor or ATV. Steep tilt bed (for easy emptying), raised sides and braced hardware cloth bottom. Figure out the right-sized load so the gravel shakes itself out when you drive it around. This but with better tilting, since your goal is to gravity unload gravel, not drive on equipment.


The clay/sand/finds help bind the gravel and create a macadamized and tough surface. Removing the fines will loosen the gravel, and unless you have a vibrating tamper/grader, your road will be in far worse condition when you are done.

Traditionally, people simply watered the roads to keep the dust down, but you can also put some lime on it.

  • Lime will make the roads more dusty, and could cause a breathing hazard. Apr 21, 2016 at 22:25

You can spread oil on it to keep the dust down and bind the clay and small stones to the road.

Many kinds of oil can be used. Web search "oiled gravel road" for information and discussion. The oil will inevitably be tracked into your dairy barns, so you will be limited to nontoxic and biodegradable, but that still leaves a lot of choices.

  • The OP had better do their homework if they themselves are going to do it. If there are farms, then there are companies in their area that specialize in this.
    – Mazura
    Apr 22, 2016 at 5:38
  • Oil would be a very expensive, short term solution compared with asphalt or CaCl2. Actually, oil will be broken down by bacteria pretty quickly unless he used motor oil, which is not a good idea for a dairy farm or anywhere. Apr 22, 2016 at 12:13
  • OP had better have a really good mat outside their front door, which will need changing every half dozen visitors or so..! Or a shoe rack.
    – Tim
    Jan 22, 2023 at 11:24

Dust control for roads is commonly accomplished by either spraying water or by adding calcium (or magnesium) chloride (which absorbs water and makes the road moist). Polyvinyl alcohol is not as good. I would reconsider asphalt. The only serious solution is to use cement or asphalt, and asphalt is cheaper.

As for removing sand and clay, the only option is physical removal. A shaker-screener works for wheel barrow loads, but I suppose that's not helpful. Industrial level screening is an answer, but it's also absurd.

I recently saw another possible option... mulch: Can I use mulch as a driveway covering? which might be of interest. Perhaps you could try it in an area to see how it does (or doesn't) affect the dust. For the price, it would be worth testing.

And I came across a patent where a mix of 5-10% gypsum and 5-10% gluten in water can been used to control dusty roads too. I'm sure there are lots of other dust controlling concoctions but calcium chloride or just water will be the cheapest.


renting a bobcat or getting a front loader for the tractor would be smart. Just dig out the old stuff and lay down some new/good gravel.

Read about asphalt emulsion.


Just to point out an alternative to the binders mentioned above: some of the park paths in my area are paved in "polymer sand", which behaves very much like well-packed dirt but is more resistant to wear. I don't think I'd use it as my sole driveway material, but mixed with an aggregate it might work pretty well. (The park department does take trucks onto it occasionally, though, and it seems to tolerate them. And it's really nice as a walking or bicycle path.)


It's probably not a great idea to clean 6-18" of road material due to cost ($ & time). Frankly, I would tilling up ~6" at a time across the whole width of the road, sift out the loose/small materials, discard it along the side of the road, redeposit the sifted gravel, & then heavy-roll the redeposited gravel to pack it down. Let the rain wash down whatever dust is left over--or, if you're really disturbed by the dust, then spray it down asap.

Note: There is no permanently getting away from the dust. Nature will redeposit dust/dirt each day--so you'll eventually have to spray/rinse the gravel and sift it now & then.

You could also keep laying down new washed gravel on top of the old--but that would get very expensive quick.

One final thought. You could also remove the gravel, lay down a heavy barrier (tar or roll roofing asphalt or even heavy felt) as a base for your gravel. Doing that would prevent sand from below the barrier from coming up into the gravel. Once again--that's a much more expensive option--but it would help to reduce gravel from sinking into the sand &/or sand from migrating up into the gravel.

hth, best regards!


Searches recommend by Google, having asked: what do they spray on dirt roads to keep the dust down?

dust down; what do they put on dirt roads to keep the dust down; what to use to keep dust down on gravel road; gravel road dust control products; gravel driveway dust control; cheap road dust control; spray to keep dust down on gravel roads; gravel road dust control calcium chloride...

If I may be so bold, you google your problem, not what you think the solution is. IMO, the solution is oil, as user A. I. Breveleri suggested.

  • Oil is more expensive than asphalt. Apr 22, 2016 at 12:10

Welcome to my personal hell. I’ve been trying to clean this insane amount of muddy gravel from the original drainage area around my patio. I’m not even sure how I got here honestly.I noticed quite a bit in the dirt and then maybe I started digging and eventually hit the foundation footer gravel which I’m now having to keep from spilling out more than it has. It’s created a giant void and anyway I tried building a trommel that sits on casters but it spilled a bit too much out of the sides so now I found an old swing set on fb marketplace and hung my sieve from chains. enter image description here


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