Balancing Urban Development and Water Conservation

Greening up your driveway

Posted May 1, 2014 @ 3:08pm | by Earth Wizards

Greening up your driveway

Driveways are conduits for runoff.  Not only do our impervious driveways shed stormwater but often portions of our home, garage and even lawns direct runoff onto the driveway. Hence, why the driveway becomes an ideal design feature to rethink how it's constructed.

Generally there are three methods of thought in making a driveway more "green."  

  1. Decrease the extent of pavement,
  2. Reroute stormwater from the driveway to available green space for a rain garden or native-planted filter strip (one of my favorite methods as it provides habitat), and
  3. Make the pavement permeable, pervious, porous - somewhat interchangeable terms depending upon the surface type used.

Starting with decreasing pavement surface, think about where your car tires actually go. Oftentimes we think the driveway needs to extend all the way along the house to the back of the garage or for it to be three cars wide the full length of the driveway. Consideration of the vehicle's path will help determine what really needs to be a solid hard surface, what can be a secondary pavement type (both turfstone, a grid structure or concrete runners can work well) and then green space of course.

Rerouting can entail contouring the surface if slopes are relatively slight or installing a diverter structure, such as a trench drain.  In Minnesota, contouring can be tricky as winter conditions need to also be considered.  When we're snowbankless that's one thing but take 2014 winter's deluge and that means overflows need to be working well to prevent major ice dams.  Here are two examples of driveways showing a contour versus a steeper slope necessitating a trench drain (also see the main photo of this blog).

Lastly, most expensive but sometimes the most appropriate, are permeable pavements.  In order of the photos are; porous asphalt, porous concrete, permeable pavers, permeable stonework (not generally recommended for driveways but great for patios).

Keep in mind the entire surface doesn't need to be permeable.  Setting a design goal, such as a 2" rain event capture, helps to determine how much of your driveway surface needs to be permeable (that means less cost, less maintenance and less of a carbon footprint with material export/import). I hope this helps in considering what approach may work best for you and feel free to give us a call or email if you'd like us to visit and provide some options for you. Thanks for rethinking your driveway.

Filed Under: Paving | Permalink

I have already recommended you! Our consultant, Shelly, was extremely knowledgeable. She explained (the process) in technical detail. She is the reason I chose Earth Wizards over the other 5 bidders. Installation crew was terrific and exceeded my expectations.

- Don P.
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