How to Build a Green Driveway!
Go Green! Building an Environmental Driveway
When I think of old gravel driveways, I used to think of potholes, ruts and mud, but now there's an easy Green solution for driveways! Before EcoGrid was invented if you parked your car on grass it meant you would soon have a muddy mess. Now there's a simple way to fix up mud issues and park your car on a green lawn - without damaging the look.
Imagine a place where those big black parking lots were gone - and you park on grass. Green parking lots, green driveways! EcoGrid is a fantastic new product that allows grass to grow - and lets you park on it! Because it supports and spreads out the weight of your car - there are no more ruts and the water flows into the ground. This virtually eliminates mud... and it can be used with gravel too. There are many examples of this permeable paving grid that create green parking lots, gravel driveways, and even horse paddocks!
There are many new products available that can directly impact the environment - in a good way - and products like EcoGrid by TerraFirm Enterprises is one such an invention. In the world where parking lots and driveways are a standard feature - there are a lot of new innovations like the EcoGrid called permeable paving. Yes, there is an asphalt alternative! Cement will crack and heave....so why not look a some green, driveable product that will last for decades?
I'm an expert on green driveways - with gravel or grass - and have helped people build parking areas and green driveways around Toronto. I spend part of my day with architects and homeowners - figuring out ways to "Build Green"! Last year there were even some driveways built in Ottawa, Toronto and across the USA using Ecogrid with thyme, seedums and of course grass.
5 Great Reasons to build a Green Driveway!
Does it really help the Environment?
Permeable paving is the term frequently used for systems like ecogrid - which allow water to drain or permeate into your base. In the past, asphalt was the top choice for driveways because it was simple and cheap to install. Putting in a plastic grid system is slighlty more expensive but here are some of the benefits:
1. Recycled Plastic turns into an environmentally neutral product. EcoGrid is 100% recycled plastic - and will outlast any asphalt driveway. It won't crack and rarely needs repairs even after decades of use. The plastic used in ecogrid is environmentally neutral - so it won't deteriorate and leech into your soil. Its UV resistant, frost neutral and can withstand the heat.
2. Storm Water Control - when it rains or pours the water carries the pollutants from a car straight into most drains. These drains often feed directly into the lakes and streams. When water can flow into the soil it will become naturally filtered.
3. Mud Control! - when water is kept draining (thanks gravity!) it will seep into the sub-base and help control mud. Gravel driveways used to form muddy spots and potholes - but by using a grid system the water flows away from the surface. No more mud!
4. Cost Savings Grid systems originally cost more than asphalt and less than concrete or stone pavers. In the long term the savings are huge - not just for the environment but for the pocket book. Grid will keep the gravel from disappearing - and slow down the migration of gravel. They prevent washouts and stop pot holes. Grid systems installed across Europe typically last over 20-30 years, with little to no maintenance or repairs.
5. Creating Green Space These ecogrid systems are so easy to install that they frequently get used for extra parking. If you ever need an extra parking place - don't park on your lawn - install an area for your bikes, cars or trailers - in just a day. They can be used to help control mud and erosion, and give your family a space that is green instead of a slab of concrete!
Building a Green Grass Driveway
grass driveways, parking spots, reinforcing grass
There's 2 common options when using grid - planting grass and using gravel. This section is about using grass - which is what I've used around my father's house. Dad has a yard area that really has some wet drainage issues so we wanted to stop the mud from forming and keep the grass. Using grid was a fantastic option!
This EcoGrid has been used all over Europe for over 20 years, and it's a heavy industrial plastic that's been engineered to withstand huge loads - cars, motorhomes, trucks and even firetrucks! The concept behind it is brilliant - and so simple that it's amazing that it is only just starting to catch on in North America.
These squares of recycled plastic (100% recycled too!) - are from 1.5 inches to 2 inches thick. The e40 - which is what I personally have used around my father's house - is TerraFirm's midweight product for residential driveways. At 1.5 inches deep it really doesn't sound like much until you realize how simple and easy it works. The plastic won't shift, split or crack even when cars park on it. It really does work like a snowshoe - spreading out the weight of car tires - and distributing the load. Because it has so much empty space - the grass grows and the grid doesn't show any more.
Grass can be planted or seeded and the roots get protected by the grid. After rain, the ecogrids allow water to gradually absorb into the soil below. To me, this is really the perfect solution for someone who needs an extra parking space but doesn't want to put down more tar or cement. It's great for visitor parking too... and if we had a camper van or a motorhome - this would be perfect. My father has a home in Florida and will be using the Ecogrid to make a parking pad for golf carts!
For the grass area we had to do some excavation - basically to get rid of the old grass in the yard. TerraFirm Enterprises suggested a huge amount of sand get mixed in with the soil. The sand keeps the water draining away from the surface - and into the sub-base. What was interesting was the sub-base only needed to be about 4 inches deep - made of the sand and soil. We topped it off, and threw down a bit of seed, and waited for it to grow. Alas - it still has to be cut!
The Link List - Information is the best weapon
Articles on green driveways, important links on where to find Ecogrid, options with permeable paving.
- the best place to find out about EcoGrid at the best prices. email them for up-to-date info
EcoGrid e50 and EcoGrid e40 Permeable Parking, Pathways and Gravel Driveways
- Permeable Paving Article
an article on paving options - grid or cement pavers? Grass or stone?
- Solutions for Mud Control
- options for horse ranches, paddocks and turnouts. Mud is one of the biggest challenges for horse owners! Muddy paddocks seem to be a big problem.
- Alternative Pavement
- brief article with a great photo of the homeowner installing a driveway. This was taken in northern British Columbia where the average snowfall is over 5 feet. Choose gravel to help give you traction.
- TESTIMONIALS: Getting Rid of MUD!
looks like www.terrafirmenterprises.com rotates their testimonials - and this time their customers are talking about Mud!
- TerraFirm Enterprises
the company that provided the EcoGrid
Permeable Paving a Gravel Driveway
green driveways in gravel!
If you don't use a grid system when you use gravel - you end up with a gravel driveway that will compact. That means the water won't drain properly - and a lot of towns and communties won't allow them unless you use EcoGrid. The grid basically keeps the driveway looking neat and clean - and importantly (especially for the environment) - it keeps it permeable!
When I think of gravel driveways - I think of how messy my grandmother's got. Every 2 years we would get a load of gravel in and then some how - after two winters - the gravel vanished. It got a lot of pot holes, mud and ruts.
The ecogrid works so well - it spreads out the weight of the tires - and stops the gravel from compacting. This means the gravel stays in place - and it eliminates the potholes too. Although gravel isn't really a "renewable" resource - it is great for winter conditions. It gives you a lot of traction, so you won't slip.
SNOW SNOW SNOW!
The biggest concern in the north has to do with snowplowing. Well, the grid (like the e40 or e50) is fantastic - because it keeps the gravel level. And that makes it easier to snow-blow. For commercial plows - there are little rollers that lift up the blade - and stop the gravel from getting scraped off. Unlike asphalt - you don't have to worry if there is just an inch or two of snow. Most people with gravel driveways don't bother at all. The reason you have to shovel so much snow off asphalt is because it gets slippery. Plus, you don't need to put down as much salt - the surface keeps the traction.
DYI - Building a Green Driveway
its literally a snap!
It boggled my mind when I heard of people building their own driveways.... but to be honest using an ecogrid system is a snap. The best grids have a thick tab which will interlock with the next section. The stronger the tabs the better the grids will be when they lock together. It's a critical design element since it will prevent the grid from shifting under the car tires.
Products like EcoGrid are designed to snap together. This grid comes in little tiles and they are assembled into sheets. The grid tabs together - so really its only slightly more unweildy than Lego! The ecogrid e40 is fairly light weight - so its not so difficult to lay down. It can be cut, and it can be shaped around trees if needed. I've cut sections that I needed to shape - once with a handsaw and then later I borrowed a sawsall.
The biggest consideration for me is the sub-base. The sub-base will hold the water after the rain and let it drain into the soil. Because these grids are so very strong - you end up needing a lot less of a sub-base, which is a good cost savings.
For bigger jobs it's a good idea to get some help. You can either wheelbarrow in the fill that you use - gravel or a sandy soil - or if you know someone who can use a backhoe or some machinery then this can save hours of labor. You can hire anyone who can run the equipment. My favorite trick it to advertise on Craigs List for someone who does landscaping - or someone who works on gravel driveways.
The companies can usually provide you with a simple install guide. They give you an idea of what kinds of stones to use - usually an angular gravel is a good choice because it allows water to flow! Its always a good idea to consult with a soil expert if you aren't sure of what would work.
Build yourself a Green Library!
Parking Poll - Park your opinion and let me know....
Gravel / Grass / Paving Stone or... that black goop....
Got a question or is there some information you would like to see? Let me know and I'll try to help.