Driveways, Patios & Walkways

Reduce Salt Use in Winter

Salt may be an easy way to get rid of snow and ice, but it pollutes wetlands, streams, and groundwater. It also kills trees and grass as well as corroding auto bodies, metal bridges, and underground cables. Shovel your driveway and sidewalk before the snow gets packed down and icy. If the pavement is still slick, use sand or sand mixed with salt to provide some traction and melt the snow. After the snow melts, sweep up the sand to keep it out of storm drains and waterways.

Sweep Driveways, Patios, Walkways & Sidewalks

Sweeping paved areas ensure that sediment, debris, and the contaminants they carry are disposed of properly and are not washed into our streams and rivers. Rather than rinsing these areas down with a garden hose, simply sweep the area into a dustpan and empty it into your trash.

Use Permeable Technology for Driveways, Patios, Walkways & Sidewalks

Instead of using traditional pavement or concrete for our driveways, patios, and sidewalks, we can use permeable technology such as porous asphalt, pervious concrete, or permeable pavers, which come in many options and designs. These technologies help to reduce stormwater runoff and increase infiltration of water into the ground, ultimately improving water quality, replenishing groundwater, and decreasing flooding and erosion.

Read this great article on permeable surfaces.

Solid Pavers and Turf Pavers 

Pavers are interlocking blocks of stone, brick, or concrete that can be installed instead of conventional impervious paving. There are two main types of paver systems: impervious block systems that incorporate spaces between to allow infiltration, or systems with larger spaces within blocks filled with clean washed stone, or grass or other suitable vegetation.

Installation of pavers begins with a level base of existing or “native” soil. A washed gravel subbase (e.g., No. 57 stone) may be spread over the soil base to provide a reservoir for holding runoff prior to infiltration. Incorporating a gravel subbase increases the stormwater management benefits of using pavers, and is especially important on less well‐ drained or clay soils. A bedding course is then placed, leveled, and compacted. The bedding course accommodates minor differences in the pavers and allows the pavers to seat firmly so that they won’t rock and crack. The pavers are laid on the bedding course, and are filled with bedding course or sand/soil material according to the paver manufacturer’s specifications. Open space pavers can be either filled with stone or seeded.

CURB APPEAL: Many colors, styles, and patterns are avail‐ able and pavers have great aesthetic value. Pavers have much the same look as brick driveways, but offer greater water quality benefits. To minimize installation costs, con‐ sider using solid pavers and turf pavers together in a ribbon driveway layout (see companion sheet) if suitable for your site.

EROSION PREVENTION: Replacing gravel surfaces with pavers can reduce erosion and contaminant transport to storm drains, and can help reduce localized flooding and pooling during storm events.

WATER QUALITY: Paver systems filter water as it passes through, and help recharge local groundwater.

QUICKER SNOWMELT AND DRAINAGE: Increased drainage and air flow mean snow melts more quickly and drains away, instead of re‐freezing and creating slippery conditions. Less deicer is needed, lowering winter maintenance costs while keeping chlorides from leaching into ground and surface waters.

DURABILITY: Pavers are better able to move with the freeze‐thaw cycle, rather than cracking like typical pavement. Individual pavers can easily be replaced as needed. 

CONSIDERATIONS: Some site preparation, such as clearing and leveling, is necessary to ensure that the pavers are installed evenly and correctly and won’t “pop.” Care should be taken when applying deicers to vegetated pavers in the winter.

Ribbon Driveways 

Ribbon driveways became popular a century ago and consist of two parallel strips of concrete, mortar-set stone or brick, or solid or turf pavers with an open, unpaved space in between. The strips in a ribbon driveway should be at least two feet wide and located so they are separated five feet on center. The space between the ribbons may be planted with grass or another ground cover, or filled with landscaping rocks or gravel. Ribbon designs are best suited to shorter, straight driveways, and can become impractical where driveways are long or curved.

LOWER COST: Ribbon driveways require far less material and installation time than fully paved drivewribbon drivewayays. Ribbon driveways can be contoured and designed to fit most any space.

CURB APPEAL: Ribbon driveways provide great opportunities for landscaping, with many design and pattern options. Ribbon driveways can be combined with porous pavement, permeable pavers, bricks, or turf pavers. Ribbon driveways can be incorporated into historical restoration or used to add quaint charm and character to your home.

WATER QUALITY: Ribbon driveways typically contain 60-70% less impervious surface than a full width driveway, allowing more water to drain into the ground below and reducing runoff.

DURABILITY: Ribbon driveways are able to respond more dynamically to frost and thaw cycles than fully paved driveways and are less prone to cracking. If needed, replacement of ribbon driveways is easier, quicker, and less costly.

CONSIDERATIONS: Ensure that the ground doesn’t become compacted when tires miss the strips—consider placing small markers to avoid driving off the paved areas. The center open ribbon may need annual maintenance to top off gravel, or keep vegetation healthy after each winter snowplowing season. If ground cover or grass is selected for the open ribbon, parked vehicles must be moved periodically so that a single location is not continuously shaded. Snow-blowers work well with ribbon driveways.