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Product for permeable lawn/grass instead of concrete paving

user-5946022 | Posted in Green Products and Materials on

Seeking your advice on which is the best among that permeable products that allow you to have a lawn in an area that receives residential vehicular traffic and would normally be paved with concrete.

Location is southeast US where the subgrade is typical red clay. The specific area where it will probably receive some shade, so zoysia seems like the turf (if it works with the product). The area is the front exterior entrance to a garage, and includes some turning area for the vehicle, so it is fairly large. The area abuts the back yard, so not having a huge swath of concrete is not only an environmental concern, it will also help aesthetics.

Products available seem to run from concrete blocks with voids (GrassCrete, etc.), to plastic trays, to plastic matting. What are the pros and cons of each? Which one is most cost effective for a small residential installation after considering all related work (undercut, subbase prep, etc.), and lifecycle costs? What amount maintenance – I’d prefer maintenance to be limited to mowing…

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  1. user-2310254 | | #1

    There is a "This Old House" article that might be helpful. (

    If you are looking for a cheaper alternative to more traditional surfaces, I don't think permeable is necessarily the solution. If you are prioritizing aesthetics or the environment, it probably makes more sense.

  2. user-5946022 | | #2

    Thanks for the link - that article shows the solid pavers. I'm seeking the type that are made to integrate with turf/lawn, so it looks like there is some lawn there...

    I'm willing to pay a premium to prioritize aesthetics AND the environment but budget requires me to keep that premium as low as possible...but I can consider lifecycle costs - ie I can pay a slight premium for lower maintenance costs.

  3. user-2310254 | | #3

    You might have more luck with input if you check out a landscaping discussion or possibly Houzz. There are lots of systems, so you can narrow your search by seeing what is available in your area. With geotechnical projects (and that is basically what this is), correct site work is critical--especially if you are dealing with clay soils and/or tough drainage issues.

  4. drewintoledo | | #4

    C L, grab yourself a copy of Alexander's "A pattern language". I recall reading something about creating a drive with grass and pavers but I cannot recall how much detail was provided.

  5. Expert Member


    I'm sorry I don't have any good answers to your question as to how the various products differ.

    My anecdotal experience has been that while they initially work quite well, the areas of grass in-between build-up over time creating an uneven surface that threatens to cover the surrounding pavers. There are probably ways to remediate this, but it doesn't sound like a low maintenance solution for a driveway. I don't want to dissuade you, but when they first came out I saw them used on quite a few projects, but since then hardly at all - and it's probably worth finding out why that is.

  6. Chaubenee | | #6

    First' use the Google and type in "driveway over lawn" then look

  7. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #7

    There are lots of challenges here -- poor drainage (red clay soil), shade, and vehicle traffic. Solutions are possible but expensive.

    The required layers, from the bottom up, are probably:

    1. Crushed stone (for drainage) with perforated drain pipe leading to daylight or a drywell;

    2. Landscape fabric;

    3. A layer of good topsoil;

    4. Whatever substrate is recommended by the manufacturer of the pervious pavers you install;

    5. One of the products you are mentioning (pervious pavers with large holes to allow the grass to poke through);

    5. A shade-tolerant type of grass.

    And, of course, this area will require regular watering and mowing.

  8. Chaubenee | | #8

    I would amend Martin's plan to ADD a layer of landscape fabric FIRST under the crushed stone, AFTER excavating the top soil off to 18" deep. Then a foot of crushed stone, either all number two or a half layer of number three with number two on top (6" each layer) then the rest of Martin's plan to the top starting at the second layer of landscape fabric. Good luck. Better you than me to install this and live with the chancy results.

  9. user-5946022 | | #9

    Thanks for all the replies.
    Joe - I'm curious why you believe this to have "chancy results?"

    Most of the materials mfgs have a recommended subgrade to work best with their material. I'm really trying to understand the pros and cons of the concrete blocks, the rolled out plastic mat, the 2x2 mats and other systems.

  10. Chaubenee | | #10

    Because you have clay underneath. As to my specs above, eighteen inches is what I think minimal for a total thickness and I also suggest that you be raised and well drained away. I think there will be settlage early on with the clay under foot. Even with the design I propose. Perhaps an angineer can help you determine the best design. I like my roadways with fabric, run of the bank, crushed gravel, and raised over surrounding grade. Most people don't go to such extreme, that's is true. But I hate the idea of a constantly collapsing driveway and repairs to the surface.

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