There are many ways to create a grassy “green” driveway. Options range from high-tech plastic or concrete pavers completely hidden by vegetation to simple geometric designs incorporating standard pavers and tiny sections of turf. Using regular pavers available in a wide variety of colors, shapes and styles, allows you more freedom to design a permeable driveway that complements your home and landscaping.
Benefits of Permeable Paving
Making a driveway from both pavers and turf grass offers effective paving and also a useful solution to several environmental problems. Permeable paving allows water to percolate into the underlying soil, preventing water contaminated with motor oil and other chemicals from flowing into streams and waterways.
Water that would otherwise fill storm drains is instead filtered through gravel and soil, and purified before recharging underground aquifers. The extra lawn area also helps reduce the heat accumulated by driveway pavement.
Plan It Out
Get a clear idea about what might be possible before you even start pricing pavers. Measure the length and width of the driveway area. Contact local utilities to make sure you can safely excavate and build in the area chosen. Draw the section with paper and pencil, noting the dimensions. Sketch out possible designs that would fit the available space, experimenting with different paver sizes and shapes.
Paved surface should dominate, so most of your vehicle’s weight will be on well-supported pavement. Pavers need to be at least 2 3/8-inches thick to carry vehicle weight. The ideal space between pavers -- in all directions -- is 3 or 4 inches, so there is enough room for healthy turf to grow.
Excavate and Prepare
Measure and stake out the area you need to excavate. Make sure corners are square or true 90-degree angles. Excavate the staked area with a spade and trenching hoe to a depth of 12 inches. Allow for a gradual slope away from the house, about 1/4-inch drop for every foot. Compact the excavated ground with a plate compactor.
Place 8 inches of processed gravel -- 2 inches at a time -- as the driveway base, compacting each layer until walking on the packed gravel makes no indentation. Add 1 1/2 inches of bedding sand over the packed gravel, spreading it as smoothly as you can with a leaf rake. Drag a 2-by-4 across the surface to level and smooth it further. Stand back to look for low spots. Fill these with sand and smooth it again with the 2-by-4.
Plant Your Driveway
Begin to lay down your pavers. Establish the driveway design starting in one corner. Make sure the pattern stays straight by staking out string lines in both directions. Fill the space between pavers with topsoil instead of sand, like typical paver joints. Gently tamp it down with the end of the 2-by-4.
Walk on the driveway for several days to encourage the soil to settle. Sprinkle loose topsoil into any low spots. Seed the turf areas between the pavers by hand. Cover the grass seed with a fine layer of compost.
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