Asphalt driveways may be common, but that does not mean they are the only option. Asphalt seals the earth without leaving any porous holes for rain water to flow through. This interruption of the typical flow of rainwater into the ground can have negative environmental consequences. Fortunately, there are several other materials available for driveways to suit a variety of tastes and budgets.
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Gravel driveways are porous, allowing rainwater to reach the soil beneath the driveway. The loose stone mixture also does not absorb and trap as much heat as asphalt, which can increase the surrounding area's temperature. Gravel is an inexpensive and readily available material that is also durable. Gravel driveways can last up to 60 years, compared to eight to 15 years for asphalt, according to Millennial Living. If the gravel is supported by a flexible porous paving system, it will be able to support daily vehicle use without creating large ruts, according to Millennial Living. Flexible porous pavers are made out of recycled plastic or concrete with holes for drainage but enough strength to support vehicles.
Porous pavers can also be used to create a literally green driveway with a grass surface. Porous pavers are laid down on the driveway area. The holes filled with sand, and the top surface is then seeded with grass seed. When the grass begins to grow, it holds the paver in place. You can care for it the same as you would your lawn. The porous structure allows rain water and snow to flow into the soil. The cost of using a porous paver system can vary significantly, depending on the amount of grading and drainage work required. However, if installed properly, these systems require little maintenance.
Give your home a unique look by combining different materials to create a hybrid driveway. Grass, gravel and wood chips can be mixed on a base of porous pavers. Loosely spaced cobblestones or bricks can be interspersed with grass or other vegetation to give a sturdy surface while allowing water to move through to the ground below.
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- The Chic Ecologist: Eco Friendly Green Driveways -- A Living Permeable Driveway, Porous and Alive
- Storm Water Center: Better Site Design Fact Sheet, Alternative Pavers
- Eco Sherpa: Green Options For Your Driveway
- Millennial Living: Gravel Driveways-viable alternative to Concrete and Asphalt driveways