Since I live in a rural area, our neighborhood is mostly dirt roads. Most houses in the area also have dirt driveways. One of the things that led us to purchase the house we bought was that it had an asphalt driveway.

I neglected to consider that asphalt driveways need to be maintained and repaired.

There is one spot on our driveway that is basically a super slow motion sinkhole. It’s about the size of our Yaris, actually, and I’ve basically ignored it for a decade as it has slowly settled down to the point that I am now worried about scraping the bottom of the car if I am not careful. So this weekend I decided to start repairing it.

A few weeks ago I called a couple of driveway repair places to see what they would charge to repair our driveway. The lowest estimate came in just under $8,000. Apparently it isn’t cheap to repair driveways. Now, they wanted to repair more than just the sinkhole, there are other parts of the driveway that need attention too, but the sinkhole is the big deal.

So I decided to do it myself. Of course I have no experience in driveway repair and the sum total of my tools and resources are a credit card, Home Depot, a rake, a shovel and a garden hoe. So I got to work.

First I purchased some gravel in sacks (gravel is basically $5 for 50 pounds, seems like a deal to me). Then I purchased some sand in sacks (sand is dirt cheap, about half the price of the gravel). And then I purchased three sacks full of asphalt driveway patch material. I know I’m going to need a lot more than three sacks, but my plan is to do it gradually so that all of the asphalt dries and sets properly, so I figure three or four sacks per week for three weeks and I’ll be done. Asphalt patch material costs just about $10 for 50 pounds.

Now, a couple years ago I patched several driveway holes and reinforced the part of the driveway that meets the road (because the snow plows have a tendency to take chunks of our driveway with them each year). Those patches turned out to be pretty dang solid, and have worked out just fine.

Anyway, after pouring, raking, smoothing the gravel, then pouring, raking and smoothing the sand, I started putting the asphalt patch material on top. That’s when the real fun started.

When I was patching small holes a couple years ago, I didn’t care that much about getting every bit of asphalt out of the bags. This time I did, especially since I figure I’m gonna need about ten bags of the stuff to fill in the hole completely. And it wouldn’t come out. I ripped the bag apart a dozen ways, and it still wouldn’t all come out, I figured there was still about five pounds of the stuff in the bag when it was “empty.” So I finally just reached inside and scooped as much out as I could by hand. After three bags of this, I had tar and asphalt completely covering my right arm up to my elbow.

You know, that stuff doesn’t come off easy.

After pounding on the asphalt patch with a board for thirty minutes or so, I decided to wash off. Wow. I tried hand soap, dish soap, apricot soap… window cleaner, all purpose cleaner… Nothing.

I was just about to try gasoline when I saw the old can of WD-40 on the shelf. What the heck, I thought, it can’t be more toxic than what was coating my arm already…. So I sprayed my arm with it and wiped it with a paper towel.

IT WAS LIKE MAGIC!!!! So now, other than some pesky spots around my fingernails and knuckles, I’m tar-free.

Since that stuff takes 24 hours to dry, I have now decided that I’m gonna do three more bags on Wednesday and finish it up on July 4th. If all goes well, I’ll have that sinkhole filled up with nice new asphalt by next week. I may even patch some of the other small holes in the driveway at the same time… If it all works out, I’ll have my driveway repaired for about $150. Which isn’t bad when compared to $8,000.

Next will be the roof and gutters….