Benefits of Pervious Paving and Permeable Driveways

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In your efforts to make your home greener and more eco-friendly, you may want to consider installing permeable paving and/or a pervious driveway. Pervious paving not only offers environmental benefits, it is also attractive, durable, requires very little maintenance, and doesn’t cost too much to install. These characteristics alone make pervious driveways an investment worth considering; yet it has even more benefits to offer.

Surface Water & Storm Water Management

A key feature of pervious driveways is that they are constructed from permeable materials that allow rainwater to seep into the ground rather than wash away as surface runoff. This natural irrigation benefits the soil by reducing erosion and increasing soil moisture content, and replenishes groundwater systems which would otherwise not benefit fully from the rainfall.

Since pervious paving is porous, water runoff is captured and absorbed into the ground, preventing storm-water runoff from overloading storm-water drains and sewer systems, thus reducing the risk of flooding.

Surface runoff can potentially wash toxic contaminants, such as fertilizers, pesticides, oil and industrial chemicals off paved surfaces into streams, rivers and lakes, where it can endanger wildlife and contaminate drinking water resources. Because soil acts as a natural filter that removes contaminants from the water as it seeps through, by allowing water to soak into soil rather than washing into storm-water drains, you can help keep our groundwater resources free from pollutants.

Natural & impervious cover

Relationship between impervious surfaces and surface runoff (Source: EPA)

Save Water by Reducing the Need for Irrigation

By facilitating absorption or rainwater and snowmelt into the soil you will minimize the need to irrigate your garden, lawn and surrounding landscape. This not only saves water, but will save you money on your monthly water bills too.

Reducing the Heat Island Effect

A common problem associated with hard surfaces, such as concrete and asphalt, is that they absorb heat from the sun, which is trapped by buildings and accumulates, resulting in high ambient temperatures in urban environments – a phenomenon known as the ‘heat island effect’.

Pervious paving allows water to filter through the soil into the ground, helping it to stay damp and cool. This provides a natural cooling effect to the surrounding area, which is enhanced if light colored materials are used that reflect heat away. Both surface and surrounding air temperatures are cooler compared to when hard impervious materials are used on driveway surfaces. These cool, damp conditions also stimulate growth and promote vigor of local plants.

Benefits in Cold Climates

In areas that have colder climates pervious paving provides extremely good traction when walking on the surface, which may prevent injuries from slips and falls associated with slippery surfaces. When ice begins to melt the meltwater seeps into the ground, preventing it from refreezing to create potentially hazardous conditions.

Enhanced Appearance

Pervious paving typically has more aesthetic appeal than standard concrete or asphalt, which tends to be rather monotonous. There are many options to choose from, including:

  • Pervious concrete – a porous type of concrete that consists of stone aggregate and cement but very little sand, resulting in a porous cement that contains many drainage holes within the surface to allow water to drain away.
  • Open-cell concrete blocks or permeable pavers – these paving blocks are specially designed to take the weight of vehicles, yet allow water to drain away into the soil below. Spaces in the blocks can be filled with sand or gravel; alternatively, grass or other ground cover can be grown in the spaces between blocks to eliminate heat buildup.

So, if you are looking for simple ideas to green your home, a pervious driveway or paving system offers a fantastic solution to save water, minimize costs, and at the same time improve the aesthetics and value of your property.