Yes, there’s something like a grass driveway. No, it doesn’t consist of just grass planted on the ground. A grass-only driveway wouldn’t hold up for long. A grass driveway typically consists of a rock or gravel base, just like other driveways, plus pavers with spaces for grass to grow through.
Grass driveways have lately gotten more popular, as homeowners look for greener driveway options. While a grass driveway is highly permeable and reduces erosion, it has some significant downsides.
Here are all the pros and cons you need to know before building a grass driveway.
What You'll Learn Today
- Pros of Grass Driveways
- Cons of Grass Driveways
- Tips for Building a Long Lasting Grass Driveway
- Final Thoughts: Is a Grass Driveway Worth It?
Pros of Grass Driveways
The main reason a lot of homeowners choose a grass driveway is that it’s greener. Concrete, asphalt and paver driveways have come under increasing scrutiny as climate change affects more people.
These low permeability driveways increase water runoff, which causes soil erosion, increases flooding and deprives underground aquifers of crucial water.
A grass driveway is a greener alternative. It absorbs water readily and reduces runoff. This helps reduce erosion and street flooding, improves overall drainage around your home and recharges underground aquifers.
Easy and Affordable to Install
A grass driveway is one of the easiest driveways to build. If you have the time and some basic tools, you can even build it yourself though you may need to rent some equipment.
This ease of installation also makes a grass driveway cheaper to lay. Materials are not that expensive (especially if you choose plastic grass pavers) and labour costs are relatively low. For a small to medium size grass driveway, it can be completed in a day or two.
Once it’s complete, you can drive on it right away since there’s nothing that needs to set or cure.
Regular concrete, gravel and asphalt driveways are beautiful, but not everyone is a fan of this kind of hard landscaping. A grass driveway can give your home a softer and greener appearance. Thanks to the grass growing between the pavers, the driveway blends seamlessly with the lawn and other greenery.
Cooler than Other Types of Driveways
Another advantage of grass driveways is that they are cooler. Concrete and asphalt absorb and retain a lot of heat, which can make your driveway (and surrounding area) hotter. If you and your neighbours all have a concrete or blacktop driveway, it makes the entire neighbourhood hotter.
A grass driveway has fewer heat-absorbing materials. It stays cool even during hot summers. Not only does it reduce the heat island effect, it’s also more comfortable to walk on when it’s hot.
Cons of Grass Driveways
Some Grass Pavers are Expensive
Most of the time, a grass driveway will cost you less compared to a concrete, paver or asphalt driveway. But that depends on what kind of grass pavers you get. Plastic pavers are the most affordable.
If you want a stronger and more durable driveway, however, concrete pavers are better. The problem is that they are not cheap. They can even cost more than some regular pavers. So if you plan to use concrete pavers, be ready to spend more.
Maintenance Can Be Tedious
One of the most common complaints when people hear about grass driveways is, “I gotta mow my driveway too?”
And they are right. Grass driveways are beautiful, but to keep them looking great you have to maintain them properly. Grass and weeds can quickly overgrow the pavers, making your driveway look rough and unkempt.
So you have to constantly get rid of the weeds and mow the grass to keep it level with the pavers. The grass on these driveways is also higher maintenance. That’s because short grass dies more easily, so you have to water and feed it more often.
Don’t forget you have to pick the right kind of grass, too. It has to withstand constant vehicle and foot traffic.
If you are looking for a low-maintenance driveway, a grass driveway is probably not the best choice.
Not as Long Lasting as other Driveways
Grass driveways generally don’t last as long as other types of driveways. While gravel, asphalt, concrete and paver driveways can last upwards of 25 years, grass driveways last between 10 and 15 years.
Part of the reason for their lower lifespan is that they have a lower load bearing capacity. So they get damaged more easily when heavy vehicles use the driveway.
Open cell concrete grass pavers also crack sooner compared to the solid pavers used on regular driveways.
The lifespan of a grass driveway also depends on how well the base is built. A thick base that’s at least 4” thick, filled with the right aggregate and properly compacted can significantly increase the lifespan and load bearing capacity of a grass driveway.
Some are Not Suitable for Heels, Crutches and Wheelchairs
Most grass driveways are not suitable for the disabled. The open cells and the bumpy surface can make it difficult for people with wheelchairs or crutches to move on the driveway.
Grass pavers can also be an issue for heel wearers. The heel can sink inside the open cells.
Tips for Building a Long Lasting Grass Driveway
- As we have just mentioned, the base is everything. If you compromise on it, your driveway won’t last long. At a minimum, the base should be 4” thick, but you can go up to 6” for a stronger and longer lasting driveway. Make sure the aggregate is compacted every couple of inches to get the best support.
- When choosing the right pavers, consider the following. Concrete pavers can withstand more weight but they are more expensive and need to be replaced after 10-15 years. Plastic grass pavers have a lower load bearing capacity but they are cheaper and can last longer since they are more resistant to cracking and weather damage. For most homes, plastic grass pavers are the best.
- Choose a hardy grass like Buffalo and Bermuda that can withstand traffic and doesn’t need frequent watering. Talk to a local turf supplier for advice on the best type of grass for your area.
- Planting grass between the pavers may seem like the most obvious way to go, but it’s tedious and it will take time for the grass to grow. Instead, lay sod on top of the pavers and it will take root in no time. The exception is if you have thick concrete pavers. For these, you can plant grass inside the open cells.
- You don’t always have to plant grass on a grass driveway. If it seems maintenance will be a headache or you can get the right kind of grass, you can fill the open spaces with gravel. You still get good drainage, though you miss out on the aesthetics of grass.
For more tips on how to build a grass driveway, here’s a helpful video.
Final Thoughts: Is a Grass Driveway Worth It?
If you don’t mind the maintenance work of pulling out weeds and trimming the grass, then a grass driveway is a great choice.
That said, we only recommend it for smaller driveways that have light vehicle traffic. This reduces maintenance and ensures the driveway lasts a long time.
For more driveway tips, check out this guide about ribbon driveways.