Permeable Grass Pavers for Driveways and Parking Lots
What Driveways are Permeable?
There are a few different types of permeable driveway options. The most popular options for residential driveways are:
- Gravel pavers
- Grass pavers
- Brick/hardscape block with drainage
Brick and hardscape blocks can be permeable depending on the drainage system that is placed below the driveway and how the drainage system is piped. These can be a great driveway option; however, they tend to require the use of a project engineer and may be out of reach for the average homeowner. We will stick to the grass and gravel paver systems as they are by far the most popular and accessible permeable option for residential and commercial construction.
A permeable driveway is one that drains water and doesn’t allow for flooding or pooling. Having a permeable paving driveway is great to help mitigate heavy rains.
Grass or gravel pavers are constructed from plastic grids that lock together and are intended to be filled with earth dirt and grass seed for a natural grass look.
What are Grass Pavers?
Many homeowners we speak with are curious about being able to drive on a grass parking area or replacing part of their driveway for a more natural grass look. The issue is that standard grass isn’t strong enough to support the weight of a car, truck, or service vehicle without making ruts or dents in the ground. Having Permeable Grass Pavers for a driveway enables the ability to drive on grassy areas without concern of damaging the rutting the grass.
Grass Pavers are interlocking durable plastic grids that provide structural support for drivable grass driveways, grass service access areas, parking lots, and roads. Paver grids are laid on the ground and then filled with dirt and seed to enable grass to grow through while still maintaining a strong drivable surface.
Grass pavers have grown in their applications and can now be found in more than just residential driveways. Though driveways are very popular in urban areas where parking is scarce and the desire for grass is high. Over the years we’ve assisted a variety of customers from commercial businesses, hotels, attraction parks, and universities to increase parking areas and do away with the traditionally unsightly concrete parking areas that are common in every city.
The grass paver system works like other grid pavers however, there is no fabric backing below the interlocking grids, the reason for an open grid system is to allow grass and vegetation to take root and grow through the honeycomb structure. This root system helps to reduce erosion and the vegetation is desirable for its aesthetic appeal.
The power of grass pavers comes from their ability to transfer the vehicle weight directly down through to the supportive base course soil and prevent ruts and compaction of surface soil. This is the reason why divots and ruts develop in highly trafficked driveways.
The EZ Roll grass pavers come pre-assembled in rolls reducing the time for installation and increasing project efficiency.
Recommended uses for NDS Permeable Grass Pavers
Light Load Applications:
- Golf Cart Paths
- Jogging Tracks
- Bike Paths
- ATV Paths
- Trail Reinforcement
- Runoff Areas
Medium Load Application (occasional traffic):
- Roadway Shoulders
- Overflow Parking Areas
- Truck and Cart Washdown Areas
- RV and Boat Access
Heavy Loads/ Service Vehicles (occasional traffic):
- Emergency Vehicle Access Roads
- Service Vehicle Utility Roads
- Fire Truck Parking/Access
- Erosion control for Slopes (staking recommended)
- Swales and washout areas (staking recommended)
- Semi-truck with trailer areas
Please note that Grass Pavers may not be suitable for areas that have a 10% or greater grade, additionally with frequent use grass will have a hard time recovering or make take longer to recover.
Grass pavers have a compressive strength of 53,000 lbs. when empty and
over 400,000 lbs. when filled with native topsoil
Benefits of Permeable Pavers:
- Reduce water runoff from heavy rains, reducing tax on stormwater systems
- Super strong support enables large service vehicles property access in times of emergency such as firetrucks
- They look great and bring a more natural green grass look to an otherwise concrete or asphalted landscape
- Easy installation. The NDS EZ Roll paver system is easy enough that any handy homeowner could lay them out and install the system out of the box
- Made sustainable from recycled plastic materials that support applicable LEED credits for green building
The general idea of the these units is that water can freely flow through the rock or soil and can be handled through typical soil drainage. You don’t need to worry about ruts or erosion from heavy rains as the plastic grids
How to install Permeable Pavers?
Installation for both gravel and grass pavers couldn’t be easier.
1. Lay out the Grids
Lay out the grid system or roll out the EZ Roll system over the prepared site area. Make sure the ground has been cleared and the soil base has been graded
2. Clip the Ends Together
Each hexagonal paver grid can be interlocked by snapping the ends together. They typically will just snap into place when pushing down or with a gentle tap of a rubber mallet
3. Add infill Soil or Sod
After the grids are in the correct place you will need to fill grass pavers will soil and then either seed them or place grass sod on top. The grass will eventually grow down through the grids to provide additional support
After the grass and sod have grown in you will need to fertilize, mow, and water the grass as normal for your area depending on where you live
The gravel pavers are a similar grid system to the grass pavers except they tend to have a fabric geotextile backing underneath to prevent the rock fill aggregate from falling through the grids and mixing with the subsoil below. By having a fabric layer that separates the aggregate from the soil you reduce costs and the need to reapply more rock as it won’t have the chance to fall through and mix with the soil beneath.
One of the most popular gravel pavers on the market is manufactured by NDS and it’s called the EZ Roll Gravel paver system. This product is made of a strong plastic grid material that rolls out onto the ground and can be installed by one person in a short timeframe. The hexagonal grids interlock and can be joined together to make larger continuously connected driveway areas. This product can be installed by any qualified general or road contractor. The product is so simple that many homeowners can even install it themselves rather than hire it out.
Grass Parking lot:
Environmentally Friendly grass parking lots offer the best of both a lush landscape and the structural stability of a commercial parking area
These composite grid system grids provide the strength necessary to take a high level of traffic and last for decades of use and abuse.
Many homeowners are looking for parking solutions that look great planted with grass, but typical grass lawns, side yards, and fields will get muddy, rut, and even leave large, deformed tire dents in the ground during wet weather or with larger vehicles.
A permeable grass parking lot provides both structural stability and support for the weight of vehicles and has the curb appeal of a natural grassy area.
The following are a collection of customer case studies where permeable grass pavers have been installed to fortify.
When the Tulsa Independent School District prepared to open a new school at 6636 South Mingo Rd, the Dewberry Design Group was faced with the decision of how to provide emergency vehicle access roads leading up to the building and athletic facilities. Due to its high compressive strength of 98,700 psf and the flexibility to either sod or seed the area immediately following the installation, Tufftrack Grass road Paver was selected. Independent contractors Cherokee Builders had never before installed a grass paver project, but after installing 8000 square feet of Tufftrack at Union High School they reported that it was straightforward and simple to install. Cherokee Builders plans to utilize this product on future installations.
Sod was laid down on the Tufftrack Grass Paver to complete the installation. The image above shows the finished fire land on the far side of the school.
Emergency Access Lane
Central Park is a new municipal headquarters facility for the City of Grand Prairie, TX. Housed at this location are the offices for various city departments, including Police, Fire, and Emergency Services, along with a Senior Activities Center.
The complex also functions as a venue for a variety of city-sponsored events. In the design creation of the facility, the philosophy was to create a pedestrian-friendly area where office workers and the general public could use the green space for relaxing, jogging, or other outdoor activities. At the same time, the facility had to allow for a utility service lane and access for emergency vehicles.
The solution proposed by Mesa Design Group was to develop the 14-foot-wide concrete service and pedestrian pathway behind the building into an approved 26-foot-wide emergency access lane. To support the turf along the sides of the concrete road, NDS Tufftrack Grass road Pavers would be installed in 6 foot wide strips, then backfilled with soil and covered in sod. The pavers were installed in March 2010.
The result: an environmentally friendly, multi-use surface that exceeds the requirements of the FMO while offering additional green space for everyone to enjoy.
Hilton Garden Inn Emergency Access Lane
This project covered a large area and was roughly 7,000 square feet. By reinforcing this area with permeable NDS grass pavers this area became a beautiful looking grass field that has the capacity of supporting service vehicles and fire access.
The owners of the Hilton Garden Inn in Elk Grove, CA hired a contracting company to install an Emergency Access Lane extending along the side of the property. Due to the large width of the lane and its proximity to the hotel, the owners explored paving options that would be not only functional but aesthetically pleasing to guests of the hotel.
Tufftrack Grass road Pavers were selected for the job and installed. Twelve years later, the site was revisited so a visual assessment of the area could be conducted.
As shown in the pictures, the area with the Tufftrack base is virtually indistinguishable from the rest of the landscape. The grass is thick and green. They not only have a highly functional fire lane, but the area remains a space that can be enjoyed by their guests when not in use.
Fire Lane at Dell Customer Care Center - Oklahoma City
Dell, the world’s largest computer maker, opened a Customer Care Center in Oklahoma City. While initial plans for the project were for a 250-person customer care center, the scope of the project changed quite drastically when Dell officials decided instead to build a high-profile campus with a workforce of over 1,000 persons. A facility of this size would require dual fire access roads, and EZ Roll Grass Paver was selected for its durability and ease of installation—with cross-links connecting the flexible rows of nested cells, the product ships in 600 sq ft rolls and can be rolled out on the jobsite.
On a job of this size, such a product feature was key and saved significant time during installation. EZ Roll Grass Pavers are also manufactured from 100% recycled material, making them a fitting choice for Dell. Since the initial installation, Dell has committed to becoming the “greenest” technology company on the planet. Today, Dell powers the Oklahoma City Campus with 100% wind energy, and the grass on the fire lane access roads is green and thriving
Walden Avenue Right of Way Shoulder
EZ Roll Permeable Pavers were used to contain soil contaminated with high levels of metals in Depew, New York. The affected area was located adjacent to a busy street in a utility right of way. Removing the contaminated soil and replacing it with clean soil was the ideal solution.
However, this solution was prohibitively expensive and would have interfered with the installed utilities and traffic in the area. The involved agencies represented by Advanced GeoServices chose instead to design a containment scheme that featured EZ Roll Permeable Pavers. Only the top two inches of soil were disturbed during the installation, saving both time and money.
The advantages of using EZ Roll Permeable Pavers for this application are:
• Provides a visible, physical barrier to the contaminated soil
• Allows stormwater to percolate into the soil, filtering contaminants from the water
• Reduces or eliminates contaminated water from entering the storm drain system
• Promotes vegetation growth while holding topsoil in place and stabilizing the subgrade
The completed project improved the appearance of the area while still allowing access to the utilities without blocking traffic.
LeMay – America’s Car Museum Overflow Parking – Tacoma WA
Situated on nine acres in Tacoma, Washington, LeMay – America’s Car Museum (ACM) is one of the world’s largest auto museums and attractions, housing up to 350 cars, trucks, and motorcycles. To expand the facility, LeMay used EZ Roll Permeable Paver to create a lush green outdoor venue to display automobiles from all eras. Construction took place in 2011.
To protect the turf and avoid the possibility of rutting caused by the weight of the cars, EZ Roll Permeable Pavers were installed to stabilize the soil and reduce root zone compaction. EZ Roll’s design features nested hexagonal cells that distribute weight over a broader area than independent round cells. This design ensures long-term durability with minimal maintenance. As a bonus, the installation of EZ Roll Permeable Pavers increased LeMay’s revenue stream by extending its operational season. The museum is now able to open its outside demo area earlier in spring and close later in the fall.
This is possible because EZ Roll Permeable Pavers provide a dryer surface by quickly moving stormwater into the void space in the sub-base. This acts as storage while the runoff percolates into the soil. Jeff Gordner, the facilities manager for LeMay-America’s Car Museum noted, “The product is holding up to all types of vehicular traffic including motor homes and delivery trucks.
We have had several major car shows and music events this summer. There has been no rutting or product displacement even under the heaviest of traffic loads. The product is performing as expected.” The groundskeeper for LeMay was similarly complimentary of EZ Roll Permeable Pavers: “I am trying to grow grass and avoid a muddy mess… The EZ Roll product is holding up very well with very little maintenance.”
Keller High School, Tulsa, OK
The Opportunity The small, tight-knit community of White Settlement, TX, has a rich history dating back to the 1840s. Today, as this city near the Dallas suburbs continues to grow, development efforts focus on preserving the past while preparing for the future. Keller High School, a newer school to the community, owns a piece of land across the street that is situated on a former cow pasture. Recently, when looking for a way to expand the popular high school football program’s parking area using this available vacant land, the city turned to local landscape architect Brian Adams, L.A., to help with the design.
Solution & Installation A key land management solution to the school’s landscaping needs was identified as the EZ Roll Grass Road Paver product from NDS Inc. Offering a weight-bearing capacity capable of handling light to heavy vehicular traffic, the product also touted the benefit of growing a healthy bed of grass beneath it. Due to the paver’s flexible grid design created from a series of hexagonal rings, weight load transfers to the road base, preventing soil compaction. As a result, the soil is properly stabilized, and water, oxygen, and carbon dioxide can feed and promote healthy root growth where grass can thrive.
Concrete paving was initially considered during the conceptual phases of the project. However, because concrete compromised the aesthetics of the landscape and would not significantly reduce hazardous stormwater runoff, it was quickly ruled out as a green solution.
Additionally, the cost was a key factor to the school system, and the healthy turf finish offered by the paver was more cost-efficient. “Cost is important to my clients— EZ Roll Grass Paver was a smart solution that I would use again as a concrete alternative,” said Adams. “I like the fact that the grass looks good and meets my client’s need for a flat and functional surface.”
The multipurpose area consisted of 150,000 sq ft, and the contractor was able to layout the project within 10 days. The construction manager indicated that he liked the fact that the paver was simple to install.
Available in pre-assembled rolls of panels, the installation consisted of rolling the product out and clipping the mats together. The construction manager was able to cut around existing sprinkler heads and used a simple piece of PVC to assist his crew in rolling it out.
“EZ Roll Grass Paver offers creative solutions in stormwater applications. A useful feature is flexibility; you can create different shapes that can match the natural lay of the land,” Adams said. “The product is malleable enough to lay flat or bend with small angles. If you need to cut it, just trim it to shape.”
Environmental Benefits White Settlement made a point of requesting a green design for Keller High School. It was important to the community to demonstrate an ongoing commitment to supporting environmental factors for expansion in the city.
Environmental regulations and green standards set by municipalities have increased the demand for permeable pavers, as more realize the important role landscaping plays within the larger scope of constructing a green building.
Many grass road and gravel pavers are made from recycled material and can also be used to achieve U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design credits. By creating a more permeable surface, runoff is significantly reduced. Therefore, the amount of runoff going into storm drains is not only decreased but so is the number of pollutants filtering back into the ground. Permeable pavers are also effective in reducing the heat-island effect because turf provides less heat radiation than concrete.