DIY Network

How To Transform a Driveway

Transform a worn-out driveway into a gorgeous entrance, using high-tech pavers, gravel and sod.

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turn worn out driveway into gorgeous entrance
  • Time

    Several Weekends

  • Price Range

    $1,000 - $2,500

  • Difficulty

    Moderate to Hard


Step 1: Remove the Driveway

If a driveway has become an eyesore, one option is to make it more of a garden area and less of a driveway. You can do this and still provide additional parking for the occasional get-together. The solution is to make the space a plantable area using permeable pavers. The pavers not only allow the area to have a lush green lawn year round, but, when installed in the ground and planted with grass, they will protect the roots of the grass when cars are driven over the area. First, remove any concrete, asphalt or ground cover. You may want to have concrete or asphalt removed by professionals. Not only is it a time-consuming and difficult job to do, but the materials must be properly disposed of. If you do it yourself, prepare to go low tech and high sweat, using heavy-duty hand tools. Wear protective eyewear and check with your city's waste-management facilities for proper disposal. When the driveway materials have been removed and properly disposed of, it's time to begin transforming the area.

Step 2: Add Gravel and Sand

Add several inches of gravel to the driveway (Image 1). Gravel will ensure that water soaks into the ground rather than running into the street. Add a layer of sand 1-1/2" deep to the gravel to bring the driveway up to surface level (Image 2). Laying a base of sand helps provide a level base for the pavers.

Step 3: Use Permeable Pavers

Hard surfaces, such as driveways are a major source of runoff, which can be harmful to the environment. Runoff from driveways can be loaded with glutens which end up in our streams and rivers. Permeable pavers help to greatly reduce this type of runoff. One option for pavers is interlocking plastic with a honeycomb design (Image 1). They are placed on the ground, filled with soil and covered with sod. The sod roots then grows through the back of the paver (Image 2) and into the ground. The pavers are made of recycled plastic and are incredibly strong. They can support over 97,000 pounds per square foot, so can easily be driven over without destroying the grass root system. Pavers are also available in clay and concrete, which are heavier and do not interlock. However, the concrete pavers are very effective when stabilizing embankments and inland shorelines.

Step 4: Stagger the Rows of Pavers

If interlocking pavers are installed close to a solid surface place them about an inch from the surface to allow for expansion or contraction when driven over. They lock in place quite easily (Image 1). Stagger the rows of pavers so the seams will not all line up together (Image 2), otherwise they might buckle when driven over. Cut the pavers with either a hacksaw or a skill saw to break the edge pattern.

Step 5: Cover the Pavers with Soil

Once in place, cover the pavers with an amended, top-quality soil. The sod will need a rich, fertile soil if it is to thrive and maintain a lush look. Top-quality soil helps it develop the root system it will need to look its best.

cover pavers with amended, top quality soil

Step 6: Lay Out the Sod

The cells can be seeded, but it takes time to get the desired look, so it is best to use sod. Make sure the cells are at least half full of soil, then lay out the sod in rows. The sod is laid out lengthwise (Image 1), following the direction of the paver rows and butting the sod edges tightly together. This helps minimize the number of cuts needed to fit the sod in place. Cut with a sharp serrated knife as needed and stagger the joints (Image 2) like the paver joints were staggered.

Step 7: Create a Seamless Look

Pinch the sod edges together (Image 1). This helps create a seamless look and will help to prevent browning edges as the sod acclimates to its new environment. Rent a sod roller (Image 2) and go over the sod so it makes firm contact with the soil surface. Rolling the sod also helps remove air pockets. Follow maintenance instructions from the turf supplier and make sure that the sod is kept consistently moist as it begins to root. This process can take several weeks depending on the climate and the sod.