Gravel Driveways-viable alternative to Concrete and Asphalt driveways

Gravel driveways are being considered more by home owners now that porous pavers provide the support for cars and are good for the environment.

Rustic gravel driveway

The curb appeal of some landscaped homes is often enhanced by a gravel driveway. In Washington DC, we are starting to see more gravel driveways, especially in higher priced homes.

Aside from the rustic appearances of gravel driveways, there are several advantages:

  1. Cost is much lower than concrete, asphalt or driveways that used pavers,
  2. Life of a gravel driveway is about 60 years compared to 8-15 years for asphalt and 2-25 years for concrete,
  3. Allows rain and snow runoff to permeate and recharge ground water instead of just running into sewers and streams, and
  4. Can be built to support cars and SUVs without making deep ruts in the gravel.

Myth - Gravel Driveways are a mess once you drive on them
Many of you may be thinking that gravel driveways will look terribleonce you drive your car over them. In the past this was very true. The weight of your car would just make giant ruts in the gravel and really detract from the above benefits.

Closeup of flexible porous pavers installed on driveway

Flexible Porous Pavers for gravel have changed all of this. A flexible porous paving system does double duty by providing good drainage and support for automobiles and light trucks. The flexible porous pavers achieve this by transferring the weight of your car underneath the gravel to the base layer underneath. The porous pavers are relatively inexpensive and are made of recycled plastic and are rigid enough to hold the gravel in place.

Gravel porous pavers come in rolls and are easy to install and connect together. You must prepare the soil below the porous pavers by compacting it first. After that, you install the porous pavers and then add the gravel or aggregate by filling up the holes and adding a couple of inches above that. Porous pavers should be installed after all major earth moving activity is completed. You don't want runoff and eroded soil clogging the porous pavers since that would not allow it to drain properly.

You can use a porous paving system on driveway with slopes not greater than 5-7 percent. Also, plan on replenishing some of the gravel every 8 years and filling in low spots.

Other uses for Porous Pavers
Aside from driveways of homes and small businesses, gravel walks may be also ideal for garden walkways, trails and other areas where carts or light equipment must travel. The same benefits accrue and gravel can be an inexpensive substitute for more expensive flagstone and concrete walkways.

Grass Porous Pavers
In addition to the gravel porous pavers, there are grass porous pavers. They work the same way and allow water to permeate into the soil. Grass grows through it. With grass porous pavers, there is no need to nail them to the base. You then fill the holes with sand and put sod above that layers. The root system of the grass will keep it in place.

Once the grass comes up you wont be able to tell the difference between it and other areas of your lawn. Just water the grass and fertilize it as you normally would. Forget about aerating the grass though. The porous pavers really do that for you.

Finished gravel driveway laid over porous pavers

Resources
Many builders are not familiar with porous pavers. You will find that landscapers are though.