Slightly forgotten: green driveway

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you probably know that I'm typically not a "take some photos and compose a post immediately" kind of garden blogger. My style is more "take a bunch of photos over a day or two (usually a weekend) then compose posts about them during the next several days". Oh, sometimes I'll take photos and post immediately, but it's a rare thing. Depending on how busy the photo session was, I may let photos sit for a couple of weeks before I get around to posting about them. Well, I've got a new personal record now, thanks to some forgotten photos I took... in early July!

While visiting my family in suburban Chicago this past summer, I noticed my sister's neighbors doing some work in their yard. Not just the normal suburban gardening of pruning, or mowing, or planting some flowers either -- something substantial and quite interesting.


They were putting in some sort of drainage system, or so it seemed. I walked over for a closer look:

After introducing myself, we started talking about the project -- it's a driveable grass system (also called "green driveway")!

Although I'm not sure about the exact product they were using, there are several different systems on the market now and they all work the same way: they distribute the load of any cars so the soil doesn't compress, allowing the turf grasses to stay happy and healthy. This type of thing is also used in walkways, amphitheater lawn seating, and other places that receive foot traffic -- a big crowd can do just as much compacting as automobile tires can.

I learned that the city they live in has restrictions on the amount of non-permeable surfaces you can have on your property: concrete or asphalt driveways, patios, etc. (These restrictions are in place over concerns about rainwater runoff. This city also has restrictions on tree removal -- you need to get approval for cutting down a tree, and have to plant two after doing so!)

Since these homeowners wanted to install a patio in their backyard -- which counted toward the non-permeable total -- they had to reduce the amount of concrete that they already had.

I love this idea, and am seriously considering it for my own driveway, which will need to be replaced sometime in the next few years.

I asked why they didn't replace the whole driveway. "Budget" was the reply. Of course doing this is more expensive than just leaving the existing concrete (which costs nothing), but I wonder how it compares to the cost of new concrete or other paving materials? I need to research...

They had done the same thing with the parking area in front of their garage the previous year so the lawn was well-established, and it's pretty difficult to tell that this is anything besides normal turf -- except that cars park on it every day and it's in beautiful shape.

I'm glad I was visiting while this project was taking place, and I'm glad I finally remembered about these photos!


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Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (March 2, 2012 at 9:26 AM)  

I have never seen this before. What an awesome system! I'm thinking beyond driveway to backyard lawns that get a lot of foot traffic from kids and adults alike. I wonder how expensive it is?

Of course in our climate the issue is whether to have any lawn at all. Some cities out here reward homeowners for removing lawns. No surprise, considering we're currently at 40% of our normal rainfall for the season.

Alan  – (March 2, 2012 at 9:58 AM)  

Gerhard: I don't think you'd want your kids falling on this stuff, but then it might not be any worse than compacted soil...

I also see it advertised as great for use with gravel.

Christine @ The Gardening Blog  – (March 2, 2012 at 1:10 PM)  

Hmm, this looks very interesting. I like. I must see if they do that here.

Alistair  – (March 3, 2012 at 7:25 AM)  

I have to confess that my blog posts are generally prepared well in advance of posting which at times require a little explanation. What a great concept is the drivable grass. If the finances were in order I think Aberdeen council could make good use of this.

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