Need A New Driveway? Find Out Which Type Is Best For You & Planet Earth!
Whether you are building a new home or just adding some curb appeal to an existing one, choosing the right driveway is an important decision. Not only will this be the way you enter the property each day, it will also influence the appearance of your home, as well as the market value, should you decide to sell. In addition, certain types of driveways allow for better absorption of storm water, making them less apt to create erosion problems. If you are undecided about what type of driveway you should install, keep reading for a helpful guide.
Concrete driveways are popular because they are both strong and able to be shaped into specific designs, such as elegant circle drives. However, these must be properly formed, cured and reinforced to prevent cracking, breaking and settling once they are installed.
Maintenance for a concrete driveway consists of keeping it clean and keeping excessive weight or oversize vehicles from causing damage. If cracks or breaks form, have them patched or repaired immediately to prevent further damage.
Ecological Benefit: In areas where storm water runoff is problematic for homeowners and the community, consider choosing a pervious concrete, instead of the traditional, smooth version, to allow rainwater to seep through and disburse more readily.
Like concrete, asphalt driveways are elegant and relatively easy to shape. These mixtures of asphalt, gravel and sealants can be installed quickly and usually do not require the wire and steel rebar reinforcement that concrete driveways need to keep them from breaking. Make sure that the surface where the asphalt will be laid has been packed down sufficiently to ensure that no sunken areas or potholes develop during usage.
Asphalt driveways should be resealed periodically to help them maintain their sheen and appearance, as well as helping prolong their lifespan.
Ecological Benefit: If erosion is a problem in your area, consider installing strips of asphalt where the tire treads will be and leave a large center strip of grass to improve absorption.
Driveways constructed of paving stones offer an old world charm that can last for generations, if properly installed and maintained. Installation requires excavating the area to the proper depth and adding both a layer of concrete and a layer of sand to cushion the pavers and prevent cracking and breaking.
Maintaining a paver driveway usually consists of removing an occasional tuft of grass or weeds from the spaces. Should a paver crack or break, the homeowner can simply pry the damaged one out, and carefully tamp a replacement paver in its place.
Ecological Tip: Even the small spaces left between pavers offer a reasonable amount of water absorption, but for even more ecological benefits, consider using pavers that have been salvaged from other projects.
With excellent capabilities for water absorption, crushed-shell driveways are usually made of oyster, clam or scallop shells and can range in color from light gray to brown. Before spreading the shells, preparing the surface by leveling the soil and adding a layer of coarse sand can help keep weeds and grass from sprouting through the shells and help keep the surface looking level and uniform.
Maintaining a shell driveway consists of raking the shells periodically to keep the surface level. Because they will become crushed and more compact with usage, homeowners may want to replenish the shells occasionally.
Ecological Tip: Before ordering shells for your driveway project, make sure that the shells you are getting were responsibly harvested.
One of the best choices for appearance, cost and ecological benefit, a natural gravel driveway installs easily and lasts for years. The actual appearance can range from the variegated smoothness of pea gravel to the more substantial look of larger limestone aggregate.
Gravel driveways are easy to install and maintain. In fact, the enterprising homeowner can opt to purchase an inexpensive gravel screen from an aggregate equipment auction and use it to screen locally obtained gravel to create the exact mix of colors and sizes desired.
Ecological Tip: Using locally available gravel cuts down on the amount of fuel required to ship gravel in from other areas, and helps utilize leftover aggregate that might otherwise be wasted.
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