As we become more and more aware of how our homes affect the environment surrounding us, it may be time to take a look outside. Your driveway has a bigger impact than you think. Rainwater that falls onto paved driveways, sidewalks, and roads has no place to go except straight into drainage systems or the nearest pond, river or stream. Soap from washing the car, pet waste and fertilizer can all contaminate the runoff when it does not go through the ground’s natural filter.
When you are evaluating material for your driveway, consider a permeable one, which will have a reduced need for drainage systems to redirect water and will have fewer contaminants washing into the streams and rivers. No longer are driveways being automatically coated with a slab of concrete or asphalt. You can use materials that allow water and dust to sink into the ground rather than wash off into rivers and lakes. Materials used in driveway paving that allow for drainage are called “permeable paving”, and they come in the form of prefabricated blocks, stone, gravel or even sand, decomposed granite or recycled crushed glass. You can use all one type of permeable paving or mix materials. You can create designs and patterns or pave it all the same.
The important part of using permeable paving in a driveway is to make sure it is constructed properly. The ground needs to be dug deeply enough to allow a stable layer of base or rock to be laid so the surface can handle the weight of cars and trucks without shifting. Once a strong foundation is laid, the top three to five inches can be covered with the more attractive medium. All materials used in the installation of permeable paving for a driveway allow for air space which will allow water to penetrate into the ground below. The top layer can be decorative with designs and patterns if you use precast cement blocks or stones. Chose colors that blend with your house and any garden structures like fencing or walls. Try to echo colors and textures that already exist. If you have a brick walkway or brick facing on your house, you might want to carry through the idea by using bricks as permeable paving in your driveway. When it comes to designs or patterns, keep it simple. A large area like a driveway can offset the look of the house nicely but you don’t want it to be the focal point of your landscape. Also, small details will get lost so don’t make things too complicated.