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Cellular Paving Systems for Your Driveway

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 7 Oct 2020 | comments*Discuss
Cellular Paving Systems For Your Driveway

If you want to pave a drive but still allow grass to be grown, to help to reduce flooding problems and the loss of microclimates for insects and other invertebrates, cellular paving systems such as grasscrete are a great solution. They are also relatively easy to lay and prices are getting keener, as eco-awareness raises these problems in the public consciousness and creates more demand.

One problem with many other hard driveway systems is that rain water runs straight off them into the sewers or drains, which puts pressure on those systems, making it harder for them to cope with flood waters. There are also rumblings of disquiet that the paving over of front gardens is contributing to the declining number of birds in urban areas, as the insects that are their main food source have nowhere to live. A third problem is that drive surfaces will heat up in the summer then release that heat in the night-time, which contributes to the warning of the atmosphere, whereas lawns and gardens do not.

Cellular Paving Systems

This article concentrates on cellular paving systems, which are gaining in popularity as a solution to these problems. There are other methods and systems and they are covered in a separate article in this section (see Choosing Grass Paving For Your Driveway and Tactile Driveway Surfaces). Most of the cellular paving systems involve a cellular mesh, usually either concrete (as is the case with grasscrete) or a high density plastic.

The cells of the mesh are nearly always hexagonal, although a few are square. Once the mesh is laid, the open cells can be filled with soil or compost and sown with grass seed, or other hardy small-leaved plants. Increasingly they are being filled with gravel or other aggregates too, which Helps The Drainage Problem but doesn't do much for wildlife.

Foundations for Cellular Paving

As most of these products are provided by manufacturers as complete systems, the construction methods and materials will vary, but they all broadly follow the pattern below. Vegetation and topsoil needs to be removed to the prescribed depth and made reasonably level. Some products will then require a composite membrane to be laid down, which aids drainage but also prevents roots going too far down into the foundation layers.

The sub-base needs to be of a porous material, perhaps 10-20cm of gravel; again look to the manufacturers for specific advice. Then the laying course, which will support the cellular structure, is likely to be grit sand, or in some cases, a mix of sand and topsoil.

Edging and Laying the Driveway

Whether or not there needs to be an edging course depends largely on the site layout. If your driveway has a number of corners, or if there will be heavy traffic, edging may help prevent the cellular structure from creeping sideways under load. If the loads diminish away from the centre of the vehicular area, if perhaps there are pedestrian areas beside the drive, for example, then edging may not be required.

Some concrete cellular paving systems are cast on the site using moulds (grasscrete is an example of this) and others are pre-cast in slabs, which can be laid down just like any other concrete slab. The plastic systems are delivered in mats of a certain size and usually lock together, previously using pins but these days nearly all with integrated locking systems built into the cell walls.

Consider the Cellular Density

With all the systems you need to decide how open the cells should be. If they are very open, with thin walls and little in the way of a base, then you'll be able to get lots of soil in and good grass coverage. However, the thin walls of the mesh may begin to dig in and sink into the bedding layer if there is a lot of vehicular traffic.

A very closed mesh, on the other hand, will give excellent support to vehicles but there won't be so much grass growing through it, and drainage won’t be so good. For the domestic market, most manufacturers specify a mesh of something between 45 to 65% open at the base.

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I need to be able to position an outdoor 17m lift cherry picker on a lawn for 2-3 days and then remove it with minimum damage to the lawn. Can you suggest a solution?
CD - 7-Oct-20 @ 8:01 AM
Hi, how do you stop the gravel from spilling out onto the road over time - particularly with a drive that slopes down towards the road?
Beth - 22-Mar-19 @ 11:52 AM
I am looking to but a cellular or grid system for a long sloped driveway at 11% and would like to apply gravel to driving surface and grass centre. Domestic traffic mostly occasional truck with oil and other supplies Can anyone recommend a supplier please
BONDY - 11-Jun-18 @ 8:38 AM
How durable are Cellular Parking systems?
Bugs - 29-May-16 @ 7:15 AM
Hi all we supply a fantastic grid system which takes up to 320 tonnes per sq mtr if laid correctly. Grid has many uses and can be loose filled with stone, soil and also used as a sub base for resin bound aggregates
resinator - 5-Feb-16 @ 10:05 PM
We are renovating a barn and need to choose materials for the driveway/parking area.Although this will normally be used only by domestic vehicles, it is also used for access to a field and so has to be strong enough to withstand periodic farm traffic.The cheapest option, other than concrete or asphalt which would look horrible, seems to be a cellular system with gravel.But we are uncertain about the effect of muddy tractor tyres.Will these pick up all the gravel and remove it over time?
Jonathan - 23-Sep-15 @ 10:51 PM
@Pc we don't have all the details so cannot really comment easily, but any "grippy" surface will help a little. You might want to consider the ease with which you can clear ice and snow off the surface too though.
DrivewayExpert - 17-Jul-15 @ 10:23 AM
Hi, I have quite a steep drive (approx 1 in 10) that gets lethally icy in winter - would a cellular system filled with gravel be the best option please ?
pc - 13-Jul-15 @ 1:42 PM
Is the Cellular Paving System for Driveways a good option for North Shore, LA?If yes, can you give me the name of a contractor who could give me a quote?
Kathy - 10-Mar-13 @ 10:24 PM
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