We’re doing everything we can to conserve water here in the Bay Area, and we’ve done a darn good job. But as we strive to make our landscapes more sustainable, we begin to notice there is something glaringly out of place – our driveways.
We’re planting native and drought-tolerant trees, shrubs, and perennials, and we’re feeling pretty smug about that. Our yards are as pretty (or prettier) than ever, and we are now visited by even more wonderful birds, butterflies, and bees. We’ve traded in our water-guzzling lawns for artificial grass, and we’re feeling pretty smug about that as well. We’re conserving water, saving big bucks on our water bill, and saving endless amounts of time we used to spend slaving over our lawn.
But then there’s our driveway. No, it doesn’t use water, but it sure does waste it. That great, big, impervious slab of concrete causes evil runoff instead of allowing vital moisture to soak into the soil and replenish our parched aquifers. Runoff carries all manner of dirt and pollutants down the street and into our storm drains, streams, and the Bay itself.
Artificial grass driveways fight the evils of runoff!
Yes, happily, installing faux grass can rescue you from this lingering sustainability embarrassment. Maybe you’ve heard that you can install artificial grass on top of an existing concrete surface. Numerous sports facilities have done this to create a safer, “friendlier” play surface for their teams. Perhaps you’ve already considered this option (or implemented it) to cover your aging patio.
But might you be able to use this same technique to transform your hard, hot, boring driveway into a work of art? What could look classier than a green, grassy driveway – cooler than concrete, in more ways than one. Alas, the faux grass will be permeable, but your concrete still will not.
So here’s the plan
Create a surface that “interplant” artificial grass with hard surfaces. Use squares or rectangles of concrete surrounded by ribbons of fake grass. Make the concrete sections different sizes. Or make all the concrete and grass squares the same size, arranged as a checkboard. Or use permeable pavers instead – any natural or manmade hardscape tough enough to drive on will work. Artificial grass certainly meets that standard. Permeability is the key here.
And have some fun with your design, because who says it has to be perfectly geometric? It’s not like you’ll have to mow the grassy parts! What’s especially pretty about artificial grass driveways is that they blend seamlessly with the rest of your yard.
Good, but not good enough
The headline in Architectural Digest says, “This Beautiful Driveway Design Puts Plain Pavement to Shame.” Well, yes, it does. The property owner wanted “green space to give it that feeling of a front yard, yet he wanted to be able to drive in and out easily." The result? A driveway that incorporated basalt stone, concrete, permeable pavers, and grass in interesting patterns. (It’s stunning, check it out.)
Sadly, the grassy parts still generated mud and mess, so actual driving had to be confined to the hardscape part of the driveway. If only they had chosen artificial grass instead.
With faux grass, mud and mess are checked off your list of concerns. So let it rain (let’s hope it does!). Wash the car! And get out your cape and that special shirt with the big “S” on the front. Wear it proudly, because your yard is now Super-Sustainable, all thanks to your artificial grass driveway.