If you’re looking into designing a driveway on your property but are worried because your property’s drainage capabilities aren’t exactly the best, a permeable driveway is probably the answer you’re looking for.
Permeable driveways are great options when your property doesn’t drain well because permeable materials absorb and diffuse moisture without allowing it to pool up on the surface until it evaporates.
There are many types to choose from and depending on your preference, degree of water run-off during inclement weather, and aesthetics, you’re likely to find something that satisfies all of the above.
With that being said, here are your options for permeable driveways in residential areas.
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Stones And Gravel Driveways
One of the least expensive driveway options is also one of the oldest. Historically, people have been using gravel and stones for millennia—not because they were too stupid to come up with something better, at least mostly not—but because it works.
If you decide to do it yourself, the first step is to clear the land, scrape it level, and compact the underlying soil before bringing in the crushed granite or stone. It’s the method primarily used for walkways, however, properly compacted, it makes an excellent driveway.
Crushed stone and gravel provide an easy and quick passage for water to pass through and into the soil below and, if properly graded, gravity will do the rest, carrying the water out and away from your driveway. You can also purchase gravel grids, which are handy.
The only drawbacks for gravel driveways are that it needs to be done right the first time, and they aren’t very resilient when it comes to impacts. Simple impacts will be enough to gouge out the gravel and it will have to be replaced.
Interlocking Concrete Pavers
This is the better way to construct a concrete driveway. Large and wide slabs of concrete are not permeable and are prone to cracking as both the concrete and the ground beneath it expand and contract through the winter and summer seasons.
This is essentially a series of interlocking concrete plates or small sections that are put together similar to how you would lay brick, only without the mortar. These frequent, small gaps between each plate are what make it permeable.
The water is allowed to sluice its way through those gaps and into the earth or away from the driveway, especially if it’s designed to be high in the middle and lower on the edges. The frequent gaps also avoid cracking over time, as it allows the concrete to shift and move without undergoing pressure.
The drawback to this system is a persistent and long-term “cutting out” of the soil material between the plates. It’s something you’ll have to keep an eye out for over the years as water and erosion attempt to do what they naturally do.
The brick pavers method is similar to the concrete plates except for the obvious fact that you would be using bricks. It makes for an incredible aesthetic, especially if you get the color of the brick right and it’s a perfect contrast to your home or garage.
It’s a definite old-timey feel and one that will last for a long time. Its permeability is a little better than concrete pavers as the gaps are more frequent and spread out. Unlike home construction, mortar isn’t placed between the bricks.
It’s very low maintenance and permeable construction with a natural, anti-slip surface. Combining the anti-slip surface with the permeability adds up to an excellent idea for your driveway, especially in low-lying and poor drainage areas.
It’s also a very eco-friendly method since bricks are made from natural materials such as clay. Another great benefit with brick is the design methodology is so diverse.
You can go with octagonal, circular, square, rectangle, triangle, or just about any other geometric shape you can imagine. You’re not stuck with the old, standard, rectangular brick structure.
The only drawback is that individual bricks aren’t as impact-resistant as the whole. All of your bricks put together can withstand a ton of weight and frequent traffic but individual bricks don’t fare so well.
This is an interesting and very permeable method for driveway construction. It’s mixed and poured out just like concrete and will have the same overall look (though more porous) and feel as well. However, the difference is in the mixture.
During the mixing process, a small aggregate is left out of the overall mix. The remaining aggregate is larger and more porous, giving you that permeable function without sacrificing much in the way of strength.
The reason the strength isn’t sacrificed is that fibers are introduced into the mix to take the place of the small aggregates. They’re not as strong as the small aggregate would have been, however, they make up a good portion of the difference.
During the mixing process, installers can also use a polymer-modified asphalt binder instead of the fiber. It produces the same level of strength throughout the finished mix, it’s just a different way of taking another path and reaching the same goal.
Most importantly, since these are permeable surfaces, the underlying, compacted soil is grooved out, so that the water that passes through the porous material has a streamlined route away from your property.
This works to quickly move water away without allowing it to pool on the surface or build up on the sides of the driveway.
All Things Considered
You have a great number of options to choose from when it comes to permeable driveways. All of them have exceptional value and very little in the way of drawbacks. They’re aesthetically pleasing and easier to work with than other driveway projects.
The best advantage that the offer, of course, is that they’re excellent options for low-lying areas or spots that receive a significant amount of water during inclement weather. If that describes your driveway, then you should strongly consider a permeable option.