The Green Driveway Articles

by Franke James

building green permeable driveway=

Spring 2007 to Summer 2008

Anti-green recommendations & Mayor Miller (May 2007)

CityTV brings ‘Anti-environmental’ North York bylaws to Mayor’s attention (May 2007)

How my Eco-friendly Driveway got the Green Light from City Hall (May 2007)

Destroy to Create (June 2007)

Green Driveway: Playing with Perception and Reality (July 2007)

How to Build a Green Driveway in a Long Weekend (August 2007)

Part I: Planting and Seeding our Green Driveway (September 2007)

Part II: Views of the New Landscape (September 2007)

Our Green Driveway is growing! (October 2007)

Green Driveway as a Sign of Hope (February 2008)

All Season Eco-friendly Driveway (February 2008)

Secrets of a green driveway (May 2008)

Paradise Unpaved (July 2008)

Are Grass Driveways the New Trend? (August 2008)


August 7/08 National Post (Archived):
Kicking a keen sense of green to the curb

Sept. 26/07 Toronto Star: Driveway dispute has Green ending

May 8, 2007 Don’t Rip Up Your Driveway in North York

May 5, 2007 CityTV North York Driveway By-Law Infuriates Resident

May 5, 2007 Toronto Star: Eco-friendly driveway is rejected by the City

Who helped us build our Green Driveway?

36 Responses: 20 Comments and 16 Tweets

  • […] scoop and to see the final ‘reveal’ read Franke’s step-by-step articles on her My Green Conscience […]

  • Mike Aston says:

    I would like a green driveway and I am interested in how you think the costs compare with say a concrete one.
    Do you have any knowledge of how the grass survives the winter? The grass must be cleared of snow and so it will be more exposed the grass on the front lawn.
    How do you plan stopping people parking across your drive because they do not recognize it as a driveway?
    I shall be following your blog with great interest.

  • Franke James says:


    Good questions. I think our green driveway was cheaper than a concrete one because we were able to do it ourselves. The cost of the materials was about $1,500 but would vary depending on the size of your driveway. Also this amount does not include excavation or gravel, soil etc. Our driveway is built on top of the area where our interlock used to be — so we did not have to excavate in that area. (Everywhere we planted trees, shrubs etc. we did need to dig down and replace with triple mix.)

    The grass will NOT be damaged by shoveling because the roots are protected by the PermaTURF. We could park on it in the winter and it would not damage the grass — but we don’t have a car so we won’t be clearing it of snow (unless for a special occasion).

    People do park across our drive right now because they don’t think it’s a driveway…We don’t mind that.

    One other thought — if the snow is cleared in front of the drive, and on the drive itself, most people will not park in front of it.

    Please send me news of your green driveway. I’d love to feature it.



  • […] Turner cites our Green Driveway as a parallel and successful example to the main subject of the story, which is a Calgary art […]

  • Andy says:

    Hi Franke,
    After reading your articles relating to the green driveway, I am very interested in this topic. I imagine that if every Aussie’s garden would use this product, it would look much more beautiful and green compared with the old concrete stone. I just puzzle why this product is not available in Australia at the moment. What’s the problem?

  • Carole says:

    Hi Franke,

    My husband and I are planning on installing a green driveway in Burlington, Vt. Since it will be the first green driveway in the area, there is no one here to get advice from. I have several questions for you if you would be so kind as to email me. Thank you for writing about this!

  • […] The Green Driveway Articles details the building of the green driveway step-by-step. Eco-friendly driveway is rejected by the city Paul Moloney, Toronto Star, May 5, 2007 News articles referenced: CITY TV, Interview by Melissa Grelo, May 6, 2007 Don’t Rip Up Your Driveway in North York, Lloyd Alter, […]

  • […] York. (You can read about how we secured a permit and built the grass driveway in this series of step-by-step articles.) I thought what we were doing was so unique that only devoted environmentalists would go this […]

  • […] Franke James » The Green Driveway Articles“Small idea that I enjoy greatly.” […]

  • There is a great tutorial of a DIY green driveway on where the homeowner actually did all the work themselves.

  • Crystal says:

    Hello Franke,
    I’m interested in establishing a green driveway. It looks like you’ve done a lot of research and i was wondering if there were any companies like PermaTurf in Canada, as we are located in Ontario, not far from the GTA. Thanks

  • Franke James says:

    There are competitive products to PermaTurf, but I hesitate to recommend any product I have not researched and/or used. We built our green driveway as a DIY project. I suggest you Google and call local landscapers to find an Ontario made product. PermaTurf may have distributors here in Ontario — it’s worth a phone call.

    If you are happy with your green driveway product please let me know.


  • […] So how relevant to the audience was all this information about building a green driveway? Well, just in case someone wanted to build their own as a long weekend do-it-yourself project, I did point them to my step-by-step articles. […]

  • Lisa Hall says:

    Hello Franke,

    It’s about 3:15 am in Chicago, I was surfing the web for permeable driveway materials for a LEED Silver commercial building that my husband and I are currently constructing. The parking lot for the building, accommodates approx 14 vehicles. Would permaTURF be suitable for commercial use? If not, do you have a recommendation for an alternative permeable material.

    We would like to do the install ourselves, to reduce costs, my husband is a GC.


  • Franke James says:


    Well, if you’re already doing a LEED project this should fit right in!

    PermaTurf — and products like it — have been used in commercial parking lots, parks and emergency access laneways in North America and Europe for over two decades. I suggest you call them and also Google to find out more examples.

    Building our green driveway was fun a DIY project. It may be something that you and your husband can do if you are well-organized and fit. Please send me an email and photos if you do it!



  • Allison says:

    Hello Franke,

    I recently came across your story when I was googling some information on my own driveway predicament. What an absolutely wonderful accomplishment! You are definitely an inspiration for greening our city.

    I recently purchased a home and the previous owners decided to landscape the backyard parking spot into a garden (as they had no vehicle). I am in love with this concept, and in love with new backyard; however, we are now having issues with City Hall in regards to getting a street parking permit. The house is registered as having 1 parking spot, so they do not deem us as “in need of parking”. I would be absolutely crushed if we had to tear up the garden to re-make the driveway. Unfortunately my husband requires the car for work, so selling the car is not an option either.

    Do you have any advice as to what we should do, or perhaps someone I could contact to help our situation. I’m at quite a loss and, as I’m sure you know, City Hall is not helpful.

  • Franke James says:


    Reading your email it sounds like you have two options:

    1. Create a parking area in the back — either paved, Turfstone (concrete pavers with grass in between), gravel, or one like ours using PermaTurf
    2. Convince the City to grant you a street permit

    Councillor Gord Perks is big on allowing people to park on the street. In a phone conversation with me in 2007 (which he may not remember…) he said we should get rid of all driveways and only let people park on the street… maybe you can start by calling his office for advice?

    Here is the email for the senior person we dealt with on our grass driveway. I suggest you email him AFTER calling Gord Perks and when you’re clear on what your request is.

    Eric Jensen

    Good luck! Let me know what happens.


    Franke James, MFA
    Author, Bothered by My Green Conscience
    Winner, 2010 Green Book Festival Award: Graphic Novel
    2010 Gopher Illustrated: Franke James is Drawing a Greener Conscience

  • michelle says:

    Hello, feedback please. I live in Roanoke city in VA the house I just bought used to have a driveway no permits are needed to reinstall the driveway. The previous owners grew grass seed and created a small yard. I don’t want to tear up install gravel, stones, pavers, etc. Can I just drive on and then create flower borders for the edging and a pathway from the driveway to the front door? I have research and research with no anwers. Thanks!

  • Franke James says:


    Sorry for the delay in answering your question. You’ll have to check your local bylaws. In North York we were required to have a driveway — a grass lawn is not good enough because it’s not a drive-able surface. It gets tire ruts in it if you park a car on it, and so (from the city’s point of view and maybe your neighbours too) looks unsightly.

    The underlying structure we used for our green driveway creates a strong drive-able surface that can support the weight of a fire engine. We chose Permaturf, and we are happy with it, but there are lots of similar products.

    My index page (which you’ve discovered here!) has all the posts on how we built our driveway:

    Good luck!


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