So your driveway's boring. Maybe it's asphalt, maybe it's concrete. Perhaps it's cracking and ugly and it has weeds growing through it. Maybe it's none of these, but it is still a flat hard surface that brings down your home's curb appeal and you've had enough! Well, that's good because a new trend in landscaping has got plenty of ideas for you. With emphasis in landscaping shifting more toward sustainable and low-maintenance design, more and more homeowners are disovering the many fantastic side effects of switching from a solid-surface driveway to a combined soft/hard surface. Not only is this option more aesthetically pleasing, mitigate the sheets of ice that sometimes form on solid-surface driveways, and purify ground water. In a large-scale context, it also helps prevent flooding and erosion, and contributes to a higher water table.
The most popular forms of these kinds of driveways lately have been made out of concrete pavers with cut-outs or holes, sometimes known as turfstone. These allow for grass or other plants to grow while still providing a stable base for cars. Other options include installing two lines of concrete, brick, or other hard material, per set of car wheels. The negative space between these lines is planted with low-growing plants, which offer beauty as well as a natural filtration system, should a small amount of oil leak from the car. This is preferable to washing motor oil off the conventional driveway and into a storm drain.
Before you go nuts with incredible plantings and design ideas, there are a few things to consider. The first is, of course, whether you have a community association and, if so, whether or not they'll allow you to change your driveway in such an extreme way. The second consideration is whether or not there are city utilities in your driveway. Access to some utilities can be built into this part of the property, so it is very important that you check with the correct municipal body that you're not violating codes or by-laws by "renovating" your driveway. When you've got the go-ahead from all the right people, let your mind run wild and enjoy a beautiful low-maintenance driveway that will catch the eye of anyone lucky enough to see your home before it's sold!