Driveway crack garden

My concrete driveway is about 40 years old. Since my yard slopes down from the front to the back, the driveway does too, except for the area behind the house that is level. What happens when you put large slabs of concrete onto a hill and expect them to stay flat and in one place? Gravity laughs at you and starts moving those slabs ever so slowly. Eventually you end up with gaps between the squares -- on my driveway they are about 2 inches (5 cm) wide.

Every year these catch all sorts of seeds not only from the birdfeeders, but also from the plants in my yard in general. Every spring I start out keeping these cracks free of greenery, but by the middle of summer I've got a grid of plants that I need to deal with.


This year it's been a little worse than normal since there are so many potted plants "temporarily" on the driveway, making it more difficult to see many of the crack plants. Since I'm planning on pulling them all out today, I thought I'd survey them first.

Surprisingly and disappointingly, there are no sunflowers growing this year. I guess the squirrels and chipmunks were more diligent than in previous years.

There is crabgrass and other grassy weeds:

There's pokeweed, which usually gets 6-7 feet (2m) tall, but in the confined area of the crack is less than a foot tall:

This is an attractive plant that I believe is a Datura:

I won't know until it flowers, but I had a potted Datura back here last summer and I know some of the seeds were scattered. (If you're wondering about the mulch in that photo, this is the spot that I unload mulch and compost from my truck, and I haven't swept it all up yet. Mulch is essential for most of the plants in my garden, but I don't purposefully mulch the plants in the driveway cracks. I'm not that mulch crazy!)

There are a few tiny Rudbeckia (Black-eyed Susan) around:

That's the nice thing about the plants growing in the cracks: they stay much smaller than normal. It's like bonsai for the lazy gardener!

The "winner" this year is what I'm pretty sure is millet. It's the stuff that looks a lot like corn stalks:

There are ornamental millet varieties around, but I've never grown them -- I don't particularly like them. Good thing I have a whole row of them growing now, right?

Some plants that I do like are growing here too, like this Salvia coccinea (scarlet sage):

I've got a few different varieties of this species growing in the yard, and this one with the dark calyxes is my favorite:

Beautiful! I love these.

Here's one of the "regular" ones with green calyxes nestled in with the millet:

There's some mint struggling but surviving in a crack too:

And some plants I can't identify but start out looking like something I may want to keep around, but then turn out to be unattractive or just another weed species:

This is actually quite attractive for a weed.

Mainly though there's millet:

As I said already I'll be pulling these out today -- if I keep saying it I will make it happen, right?

I should clarify: I'll be pulling most of these out, but will probably leave a few of them in place. The Rudbeckia and Salvia will probably stay. The possibly-Datura will stay too, as I want to see it bloom.

Although I don't have photos, I've also seen growing in the cracks this year: Agastache, tomatoes, hyacinth bean and cypress vines. These are all great plants that are welcome in my garden.

So you see, you don't even need a large yard or planting beds with well-prepared soil to grow an interesting garden. All you need is a few cracks in the pavement that contain an inch or two of soil, and the plants will grow!


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Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (July 17, 2011 at 10:34 AM)  

LOL. You actually have a quite a lot of variety there. I'm surprised there's no oxalis; it's the bane of my existence here and grows everywhere.

Alan  – (July 17, 2011 at 12:31 PM)  

The oxalis is there, I just didn't list it. There are several other common weeds there too, but it's too depressing to list every one.

Gardener on Sherlock Street  – (July 17, 2011 at 3:37 PM)  

Funny and so true. Last year, I had sidewalk sunflowers. They got so huge I finally had to take them down to get through.

Rock rose  – (July 17, 2011 at 7:21 PM)  

Amazing variety, but two that I would get out of there right now. Pokeweed. I'll bet you can never get rid of that. I have one or two that show up from the root every year. Try as I may I can never get enough root out. Then that little poinsettia looking one (next to last)- It's a euphorbia of some kind and a real pain. I really thought it was the wild poinsettia when I first saw it growing but it' a wild something else.

Alan  – (July 17, 2011 at 10:17 PM)  

Lancashire: tell me about it. Pokeweed is trouble in my yard. That root is huge! One plant that produces berries and they show up everywhere next year thanks to the birds!

I've always thought that was a euphorbia of some sort -- thanks for confirming that!

Steve Lau  – (July 18, 2011 at 12:35 AM)  

With that much greenery, it doesn't look like the drought is hitting St louis eh. You might be able to harvest some corn off of your driveway garden.

Sylvanna  – (July 18, 2011 at 10:28 AM)  

Love this. Glorifying driveway cracks! Mine are mostly full of grass.

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