FRANKE JAMES

Green Driveway: Playing with Perception and Reality

by Franke James

19 Responses: 18 Comments and One Tweet

  • Martin Edic says:

    I think this is a very useful and pragmatic assessment of this technology including the high heels aspect which I would not have considered- not all green solutions work for everyone and there are tradeoffs. Our drive (which received new asphalt last year) is steep and I think a grass drive would be slippery in winter. The snow issue is real. In Rochester you become an expert in shoveling snow and shoveling grass is a real pain. It might plow however but you’d risk stripping off the grass.
    Permeability is the real story here- in an urban environment I’d seriously consider this solution. I look forward to seeing some before and after pix when the grass grows in- probably in the fall with the dry summer we’re experiencing here in Lake Ontario Land.

  • Franke James says:

    Thanks Martin! Good points.

    To anyone who is reading these comments, Martin writes a terrific climate change blog called Burner Trouble.

  • Anthony says:

    After reading your post, I was curious why you didn’t decide to go with Turfstone?

  • Franke James says:

    Good question — We considered Turfstone, but we prefer the look of PermaTURF. It creates the illusion of a green lawn. Turfstone is very obviously concrete with grass growing in the middle.

  • Mother Earth says:

    Franke,

    I feel like an ostrich with my head in the grass. I have never heard of such a thing as Permaturf… Perhaps not being a home owner keeps such things away from my radar. I am completely intrigued. Will have to do some sharing, I know a few folks that this would really rock their green sensibilities. What an example you are!!

    Mother Earth

  • Tara Johnson says:

    What a great idea! I’d love to see more photos as progress is made and the grass grows in. I’ll have to spread the word to friends here in Bellingham, WA. Keep up the good, GREEN work!

    Tara

    —>Hey Karen–this is a great blog :)…I will have to stop in more!

  • Mike says:

    This product is exactly what I have been looking for as my son’s car constantly tears up the lawn. is it available in Australia?

  • Mother Earth says:

    Franke,

    I like the idea of you spreading the word and like you I am very excited see as this great project unfolds

    Mother Earth ( aka – > Karen!)
    http://www.bestwellnessconsultant.com/

  • Tim Ervin says:

    I’ve actually been studying this a bit lately. Permaturf and Turfstone both came up in my studies. For those with concerns about walking on a permeable surface in high heels (or, in my case, missing the ability to play basketball in the driveway), there are yet a few avaiable options in permeable pavements. These are most certainly not as aesthetically pleasing, however.

    Both asphalt and concrete can be made permeable now. It has to do with the size of aggregate in the mix, mostly. These newer methods allow water to drain through to the earth below, and also help the pavements resist from cracking in winter freeze/thaw periods. Any ashpalt or concrete contractor can lay our pour permeable pavement, it’s just a bit of a pain in the ass (as it doesn’t lay flat or pour as easily).

  • Franke James says:

    Thanks Tim! Appreciate you sharing your knowledge. See the next article in the Green Driveway series: How to Build a Green Driveway in a Long Weekend. ~ Franke

  • Richard Warren says:

    Read the Toronto Star article today. It mentions the City will ‘monitor the performance’ of your ‘pilot project’. What are they worried about?

    I’m on the usual small Beaches lot and your solution certainly seems attractive at first blush. It’d be great if you could comment on whether, if the system became widespread, it’d look like we’re parked on our front lawns.

  • Franke James says:

    Yes I kind of wondered at that comment too… Are they worried the PermaTURF will break? It won’t. It is strong enough to drive trucks on and has been used for a decade in the US. Go to their site for more info.

    To answer your next question about the aesthetic appearance of parking on what appears to be grass… well it will look like grass. Ideally you’d have a garage to park your car in, so it wouldn’t be visible. But most people use garages (if they have them) for everything except cars! You may want to look into Turfstone (Google it for the info). It is a concrete product that allows the grass to grow up between it. It can look quite nice if you take care of the grass. I will be posting my 7th article in the next few days about the Green Driveway project and the grass we’ll be using. It’s called Eco-Lawn and it puts down deep roots — about 10 to 13 inches. This article that you posted to is the 5th in the series.

    Let me know if you decide to build a Green Driveway!

  • Karolyn says:

    We currently have an asphalt driveway that is in an advanced stage of disrepair. I would really like to tear it up and my goal is also to make the front of my home green from side to side (although we are trying to eliminate grass in front and stick to gardens, in the back we have planted eco lawn and perrenial rye).
    My concern, however, is that we are in an older section of town and have no sidewalks, so my daughter has no safe place to skip, ride her bike, scooter, hopscotch etc.
    A nearby school has what I suspect would be turfstone, appears to be honeycomb pavers with grass growing up the centres, would it really be inconducive to play… it seems to me that it would be the equivalent to hard packed earth.
    I am hoping that this system can work for us, if not, do you have any suggestions.
    Kara

  • Kristine says:

    What a brilliant idea. My husband and I are looking at having to expand our driveway, as I am no longer a road warrior and have found work closer to home. Which ultimately means that there will be 2 vehicles using the driveway. This meant we would were considering ripping up some more lawn and putting in cement. But this is a great concept. This would mean we would still visually have one standard concrete driveway with the second parking spot being a visual continuation of the lawn. so we would not lose the curb appeal of our old Victorian house.

    I do have one question about the shoveling and removal of snow. Did you use a shovel or a snow blower last year to move the snow? We live in the snow belt in Ontario and get dumped with lots of snow.

    I was also wondering would you recommend putting in a central walkway (pavers) down the centre of the lawn, to that you could catch and contain any oil or AC leaks that a vehicle may have. One thing I hate to say is that I find the cement driveway is a great way to find out you have a leak that needs to get fixed. So I wasn’t sure if you recommended putting in a line of pavers down where the engine would be?.

    Thanks

    Kristine

  • Franke James says:

    Kristine,

    Thanks for your comment and questions. Please check out two more recent posts in 2008:

    Are Grass Driveways the new trend?
    http://www.frankejames.com/debate/?p=108

    In it I talk about snow and snowblowers. (Note that we don’t have a car though cars have parked on our grass driveway without doing any harm.)

    In the comments following the post, I talked about concrete — and why it’s better to have the pollution from the car go into the grass, than concrete.

    excerpt:

    Stormwater runoff and Grass driveways
    A reporter passed a question on to me about a fellow who had an old-fashioned concrete driveway with a strip of grass up the middle. The grass was always dying, or looking awful, because of cars parking on it and leaking fluids on to it. The fellow’s conclusion was that grass driveways were not practical for that reason.

    My response to the reporter confirmed that the fellow was partly correct. The fluids from parked cars will damage the grass but ironically that’s exactly why you want a permeable surface. If he had an asphalt or concrete driveway the fluids from his car (oil, A/C, etc.) would be invisibly carried into the sewers by stormwater. http://www.Riversides.org reports that stormwater is the leading cause of water pollution in urban areas. With his grass strip the fluids ‘only’ damage his grass, not pollute the nearby lake in this case, Lake Ontario.”

    You can read the whole comment here:
    http://www.frankejames.com/debate/?p=108#comment-38358

    My visual essay Paradise Unpaved tells the whole story of our grass driveway in words and pictures: http://www.frankejames.com/debate/?p=98

    If you build a grass driveway please send me a photo and tell me about it. Your name and location does not have to be disclosed.

    Cheers,

    Franke

  • OBC says:

    Driveway made out of grass, but load-bearing. Say goodbye to runoff and sewer issues.

  • Bryan says:

    Check out this new process and product from Arvis Eco. It is called dRain Joint.

  • Steven says:

    Hi Franke

    Just discovered your website… a real treasure trove of information.

    Our home in the Beaches has an interlocking brick parking pad that is in need of replacement. I am seriously considering an eco-friendly solution along the lines of the grass driveway that you have installed. How are you finding the driveway four years after the fact?

    Also, it seems that such a driveway might actually be more economical to install than interlocking brick. Is this the case, or are the prices similar?

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