Big City, Little Homestead

Living rural in the city.

Category: Green design

How cracks in my asphalt driveway revolutionized my life

If you’ve been to this blog or my Facebook page at least once before, you’ve probably seen photos of my green driveway. They’re all over the place, like in the video here. And yet every year, just like several years before I put it in, some contractor dude who’s thinking “that ain’t right!” drops by with a card to “fix” it. (I can’t blame him for pounding the pavement looking for clients, but still…).

Sometimes he even jots a quote on the back as to how much it would cost me to rip out my green driveway and put down some blacktop asphalt driveway. You know, my green driveway cost a little more than what he’s quoting, because it was kinda fancy underneath, but I won’t have to “repair” the crack every five years like he wants me to. No, thank you.

I used to have an asphalt driveway. About the only thing you can do on an asphalt or concrete driveway that you can’t do on mine is play basketball. And maybe make chalk drawings, but you know, the city sidewalk’s right there, so that’s no biggie.

See, for a long time I had cracks in the driveway where plants would grow. That’s why they’d wanna “repair” it. But why would I let that bother me? Water percolating into the soil and being taken up by plants actually cools the air through transpiration.

“But frost heaves!” – it’s a driveway, not a highway; a little bump from a crack is not a problem.

“But bigger cracks!” More plants!

Why would I want black top + hot sun make my driveway and home hotter, rather than something cooling it down? Besides, when the plants were growing in the cracks in my driveway, guess what the bunnies’ favourite outdoor snacks were?

That’s right – Continue reading

How the green driveway conversion is holding up

In 2015, I posted about converting a standard residential parking spot into a green driveway. It’s a pictorial, part of our Project portfolio. Three months after completing the job (from mid-May to August), I’d gotten used to the results and I was quite happy!

A year and half later – that is, last fall –  I was still pleased, having seen the results over seven seasons (spring through winter, then spring through fall). It was like an extra yard with cobblestone wheel paths, and an Adirondack chair in place after I got rid of my car.

There were only two problems I can complain about. If one parked on the green driveway for too long, without sun, the plants under the car would die back, but as soon as you parked elsewhere and watered them a day or two, the green would come back. So, if you drive to work most days: no problem! The other issue I had was when someone else parked in my driveway and they had an oil leak. It killed the plants, but as oil does biodegrade, the vegetation came back only a little worse for wear (creeping thyme is hard to grow) in about two weeks. It still beats seeing an oil stain on your driveway!

Now the driveway is under a foot and a half of snow. With no car, I have no need to shovel it out. The effort of shovelling a green driveway is different than that of a standard one. For example, you cannot use salt, but neither do you have to go right down to the pavement. You shovel out the wheel tracks and path to the car doors and keep them even, but otherwise, if the snow packs and turns to ice, you put down sand or sawdust instead.

If you have a driveway that could stand converting over from hot and ugly old asphalt to something a little more cool and welcoming, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re looking for people to serve!

If you enjoyed this post, the mailing list will contain questions and answers and I will be most curious and happy to answer yours, especially if it will spread the word about how viable this project is.