Planting A Grass Driveway With Grow-Through Pavers

by Amanda

grass driveway, grass growing

Grow-through grass pavers can be driven over and parked upon, while still allowing for green space.

After Gretchen and Ethan built an addition to their home in Burlington, Vermont, they knew that they would be over the town’s required 'lot coverage', which factors in paved driveways. The easy solution was to rip out the pavement and replace it with an environmentally-friendly grass driveway, built with permeable, grow-through pavers.

“Both of us liked the look of the grow-through pavers better with more green space, and as far as runoff, it’s nice to have it feel a little more environmentally friendly than concrete,” says Gretchen.

Installing & Planting The Grass Driveway

After local stonemasons installed the permeable pavers and an excavator dropped a huge pile of dirt, Gretchen had the daunting task of evenly moving and spreading the dirt over the driveway and raking it in. For the best results, she explains that it's recommended to only fill the pavers halfway before planting, so cars won’t impact the grass when they drive over it.

grass driveway, closeup of pavers

After the dirt was raked in (and they gave the leftover topsoil to friends), Gretchen and Ethan planted our Low Work And Water grass mix in the sunny areas and our No Mow grass mix in the shadier spots.

When I stopped by they had only planted a few weeks ago so not everything had grown in yet – but the grass driveway still looked absolutely gorgeous. “I can’t tell you how many times someone has driven by, or walked by and stopped,” says Gretchen. “Everybody comments on how good it looks.”

grass driveway, truck and driveway

To protect the newly planted grass driveway for the winter, they will add straw on top of the entire driveway.

Getting Ready For Spring Planting

They added annual rye grass to the bank next to the driveway where they will eventually add shade plants in the spring. “We planted it to stabilize the soil and to avoid the area becoming a complete mud pit,” says Gretchen. “I was amazed at how fast the annual rye grass grew.” In the spring they’ll till the area and add a mix of columbine, trillium and groundcovers.

  1. Soil Boost & Pollinator Seed Mix

    Our Pollinator Cover Crop Seed Mix features a varied mix of easy-to-grow legumes, including Clover, Alfalfa, Vetch, and Sainfoin. Small white, pink, purple, and gold flowers attract ...

    Learn More
    Pollinator Cover Crop Seed Mix Balansa Clover, Berseem Clover, Yellow Sweet Clover, Sainfoin, Hairy Vetch & Alfalfa Trifolium michelianum Savi, Trifolium alexandrinum, Melilotus officinalis, Onobrychis vicifolia, Vicia villosa & Medicago sativa
    As low as $9.95
    Per 1 Pound
    Our Pollinator Cover Crop Seed Mix features a varied mix of easy-to-grow legumes, including Clover, Alfalfa, Vetch, and Sainfoin. Small white, pink, purple, and gold flowers attract and nourish pollinators. Hardworking legumes suppress weeds, fix nutrients into the soil, improve soil condition, and prevent erosion. This is an excellent choice for groundcover and covercrops, as well as lawn replacement, or adding to a wildflower meadow. All of the seed we carry at American Meadows is non-GMO, neonicotinoid-free and guaranteed to grow.
    Learn More
  2. White Dutch White Clover Seeds, Trifolium repens, Dutch White Clover Seeds

    Dutch White Clover is one of the most popular clovers used in lawns, but also has many other uses. Plant this perennial clover as a cover crop, groundcover, for erosion control or in...

    Learn More
    Dutch White Clover Seeds Dutch White Clover Seeds Trifolium repens
    As low as $38.95
    Per 5 Pounds
    Dutch White Clover is one of the most popular clovers used in lawns, but also has many other uses. Plant this perennial clover as a cover crop, groundcover, for erosion control or in your pasture mixture. The elegant, white flowers create a sweeping carpet of white. (Trifolium repens)
    Learn More
  3. Northeast Native Grass Seed Mix

    This mixture is made up of warm and cool-season grasses that are native to the Northeast and will be a hardy, long-lasting solution to any area....

    Learn More
    Northeast Native Grass Seed Mix Northeast Native Grass Mix
    As low as $10.95
    Per 1/4 Pound
    This mixture is made up of warm and cool-season grasses that are native to the Northeast and will be a hardy, long-lasting solution to any area.
    Learn More
  4. Southeast Native Grass Seed Mix

    Southeast Native Grass Seed Mix is an easy-to-grow combination of grasses that are native to the Southeastern part of the United States. Featuring Little Bluestem Grass, Virginia Wil...

    Learn More
    Southeast Native Grass Seed Mix Southeast Native Grass Mix
    As low as $18.95
    Per 1/4 Pound
    Southeast Native Grass Seed Mix is an easy-to-grow combination of grasses that are native to the Southeastern part of the United States. Featuring Little Bluestem Grass, Virginia Wildrye, Purpletop, and more, this mixture is perfect for planting in pastures and meadows. Turn your high-maintenance lawn into a low maintenance, ornamental native prairie.
    Learn More

In this sense, Gretchen and Ethan used the Rye Grass as a cover crop or 'green manure', taking advantage of its ability to prevent erosion and become a grow-in-place fertilizer, which will release important nutrients after it's been tilled back into the soil. Now the columbine, trillium, and groundcovers will have nutrient-rich soil to help get them started. You can learn more about using green manures here.

grass driveway, grass

The specialized design of the pavers allows for storm water to drain right through, instead of becoming part of the city's run-off problems. The design also allows for creative landscape design when colorful groundcovers are planted inside the paver holes.

So what’s next for the grass driveway? Gretchen says she is planning on adding a variety of colorful groundcovers this spring in between the paver strips, where cars won’t drive over. “We just love how it looks; it’s so nice to have green out there,” she adds.

Why Are Grass Driveways Environmentally Friendly?

Permeable paver driveways aren’t just for looks (although it is a nice bonus), but are also an environmentally-friendly alternative to paved or blacktop driveways.

As Gretchen mentioned above, one of the main reasons people install these types of driveways is the reduction of runoff water, especially in a city. Permeable pavers allow for rain water to pass directly through them and get absorbed into the ground, which helps keep pollutants that can be found in storm water (collected as the water races over paved roads) from entering the water system and contaminating streams, lakes, and other waterways.

grass driveway, grass

Gretchen says people frequently stop and ask her about their new driveway, commenting on how good it looks.

Gretchen and Ethan’s grow through paver driveway is also environmentally friendly because it creates habitat where it would otherwise be a wasteland. Even the small patches of grass and flowering groundcovers they plant in that area make a big difference to their local pollinators.

Permeable paver driveways help reduce runoff, create a habitat for wildlife and require little water.

The grass mixtures they chose are low water and low maintenance, meaning that only natural rainfall will be required for these grasses to grow and they'll only need to be mowed a few times each year. This helps reduce emissions from lawn mowers and conserves water.

grass driveway, closeup

The cost of a permeable paver driveway is comparable to pavement, says Gretchen.

The Cost Of An Environmentally Friendly Grass Driveway

Looking at Gretchen and Ethan’s driveway, I figured that it was an expensive project, but it turns out I was wrong. “Originally we were going to do cement strips and then when we started pricing it out we realized it wouldn’t be that much more expensive to do the grow-through pavers,” she says.

A driveway that has gorgeous curb appeal, that you can garden in, is environmentally friendly and fairly inexpensive – what more could you want?

Have you had any experience with permeable pavers or environmentally friendly driveways? Please share in the comments below.

  1. Lamium Orchid Frost, Lamium maculatum, Dead Nettle

    Orchid Frost makes a great groundcover for shade with variegated leaves and orchid-pink bloom. Only 8 inches tall. PP#11122 (Lamium maculatum)...

    Learn More
    Orchid Frost Lamium Orchid Frost Dead Nettle PP#11122 Lamium maculatum Orchid Frost PP#11122
    As low as $9.98 Sale $4.99
    Per Plant - 3" Pot
    Orchid Frost makes a great groundcover for shade with variegated leaves and orchid-pink bloom. Only 8 inches tall. PP#11122 (Lamium maculatum)
    Learn More
  2. Blue Virginia Bluebells, Mertensia virginica

    Virginia Bluebell’s gorgeous flowers start out as lovely, pastel pink buds and open up into vivid, true blue blooms. A perfect addition to part and full-shade woodland gardens, pla...

    Learn More
    Virginia Bluebells Virginia Bluebells Mertensia virginica
    As low as $18.98 Sale $9.49
    Per Bag of 3
    Virginia Bluebell’s gorgeous flowers start out as lovely, pastel pink buds and open up into vivid, true blue blooms. A perfect addition to part and full-shade woodland gardens, plant Virginia Bluebells to see early spring blooms and frequent visits from pollinators. This native plant increases in size each year and will form a beautiful colony over time with almost no care from the gardener. (Mertensia virginica)
    Learn More
  3. Carefree Creeping Phlox Collection

    Our Carefree Creeping Phlox Collection offers a beautiful quilt-like groundcover to dress up the early spring garden. Cushiony mats of fine-textured foliage burst into bloom, blanket...

    Learn More
    Carefree Creeping Phlox Collection Creeping Phlox Phlox subulata
    As low as $47.98 Sale $23.99
    Per Collection of 4
    Our Carefree Creeping Phlox Collection offers a beautiful quilt-like groundcover to dress up the early spring garden. Cushiony mats of fine-textured foliage burst into bloom, blanketing the garden in star-shaped flowers and attracting pollinators. Lovely planted along a walkway, tucked among the boulders of a rock garden, or cascading over a rock wall or the edge of a planter. Choose from a Collection of 4 or 12 plants.
    Learn More
  4. Hosta Patriot, Hosta, Plantain Lily

    'Patriot' Hosta is a long-time favorite, noted for the dramatic color contrast it lends to the landscape. Deep green leaves are flanked by broad, white margins throughout the season ...

    Learn More
    Patriot Hosta Plantain Lily Patriot Hosta Patriot
    $11.98 Sale $5.99
    Per Bag of 1
    'Patriot' Hosta is a long-time favorite, noted for the dramatic color contrast it lends to the landscape. Deep green leaves are flanked by broad, white margins throughout the season and lavender flowers shoot up from tall scapes in late summer. Incredibly easy to care for, this is a tough, forgiving plant that really brightens the shade garden. (Hosta)
    Learn More
© 2020 AmericanMeadows.com All rights reserved