When people talk about green remodeling, they often think of solar panels, reclaimed wood, tankless water heaters and LED lighting. What 99% of them are missing are the other opportunities around the house where they can also go green and make a difference for their homes and the environments. One of the most neglected spots? The driveway.
You might think that a concrete patch can’t be green – it’s just is how it is. Well, you’re totally wrong. There are plenty of green options for your driveway, alternatives that help stormwater to seep into the ground, preventing erosion caused by runoff. Besides, they look incredibly amazing! So, if you’re considering going truly green throughout your home, you can’t ignore your driveway no more.
The key to a driveway ‘ecofriendliness’ is its permeability. If the driveway surface is permeable enough, then the water will find its way in the ground. So, your first step towards a greener driveway is start considering those permeable materials. And given the many choices you have, you’ll want to consider their design to see which one fits you the most. Here are some of them:
Green driveway materials
Gravel is the easiest materials to install but also one of the hardest to maintain (especially if you live in a snowy area). Gravel is put on top of a plastic honeycomb-like mat that provides the necessary support for the material while also giving the space to let the water seep into the soil. This combination maximizes the surface’s permeability. Gravel isn’t as visually appealing as some of the other options but is one of the best alternatives for covering large surfaces.
You could also go with open-cell pavers, which basically are concrete pavers with holes filled with a permeable material or vegetation. Many people that choose this option let grass grow through these holes to get a more green look, though this requires a little bit more of maintenance. Open-cell pavers also rest on a base that provides it with stability and prevents it from cracking, so there’s extra steps to install this on your home.
Finally, there are pervious pavers that have joints that allow the water to go into the ground. The best thing about them is that you can ‘play’ with the blocks to make all sorts of patterns, so this is one of the best options, design-wise. Of course, this is the alternative that needs the most work, especially if you get too playful with the patterns. As with the open-cell pavers, you’ll also need a base here and you’ll need to fill the joints with aggregate every once in a while.
Before launching yourself into your new green driveway, there are a couple of things you need to know. First, hire a concrete professional to make all the changes. Building a new driveway calls for an excavator and an experienced crew to perfectly design the waterflow and prevent it from getting into your home’s foundations and ruin the whole thing.
Second, you’ll have to think about the type of soil you have. If have a sandy ground, your soil’s permeability is already high but if it’s more like clay, you’ll have to think of ways to help water make into a soil that has a really long drainage time. Finally, you should know that this is a somewhat quick remodel that can take up to 2 weeks, max, so you still have some time to make it before the colder climate hits us.
There you go. A couple of minutes ago you didn’t know a driveway could be green and now you have a couple of ideas on how to build yours, boosting your home’s curb appeal and helping the environment in the process.
Posted September 22, 2016
by Gabriel Posternak.