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Permeable Driveways with Design in Mind

Living “green” has become more than a recent fad- it’s a movement that’s here to stay (and, needs to). But sustainability has been around for a while. Way before the baby boomers generated the disposable world trashing mother earth, those who came before us lived sustainably. It wasn’t a fad- it simply was a way of life. Thankfully, America has raised its sleepy head making a return to its green roots.

Only 3 percent of the earth’s water is fresh, and of that 3 percent, only .02 percent is available for drinking. Scary- especially when you think about the world’s growing population. Throw in a severe drought, and yea, I’m waking up! Water conservation is one way to practice sustainability, and by that I don’t mean turning off the faucet while you brush your teeth (although every little bit helps). I’m talking about reducing the water runoff from driveways and parking lots by using permeable materials and designs.  According to the Sierra Club Green Home website and blog [1], “Just a 30-by-30 foot patch of concrete can shed over 550 gallons of water in a one-inch rain. Multiply that by thousands of homes, and you’re talking a tidal wave of potentially tainted H2O.” Yes, tainted by debris, oil, fertilizer, and garbage the water collects as it runs off impermeable surfaces racing toward the sewage system.

So, to get me off this soap box take a look below at some beautifully designed permeable driveways that compliment the overall look of a home. Sustainability doesn’t just have to be about function, it can be about form too. Form does follow function and here are some lovely ways to create a healthier living environment.

I took the below images in Charleston, S.C. while participating in a garden design workshop held by the Dargans of Dargan Landscape Architects [2].


[4]What a lovely mix of brick, rocks, and bluestone. Instead of a lozenge of grass, rocks were used to help the water seep back into the ground.

[5]A simple gravel drive bordered with ground cover plants and flowers.

[6]A lovely brick drive with no mortar. The water can return to the earth and moss can thrive, creating the timeless beauty of patina.

[7]And, one of my favorites- a mix of brick and bluestone with a lozenge of asiatic jasmine and a back drop of cherry trees. What a view!

Who would have thought driveways could have so much potential for beauty!

There are other attractive permeable materials to work with such as Belgard pavers [8]. This is just one of many companies who produce permeable concrete pavers.