April 11, 2007

Green car parking

My mind is bubbling with excited thoughts and plans. I want to build a green driveway from old bits of dry ski slope! It's such sturdy stuff and looks great once the grass begins to grow through and disguise it.

I often see piles discarded locally, but now they've started using it to stabilise the hill paths and prevent erosion near the ski slope itself, it works really well. That's the kind of re-use I like, where the new use it even better than the original one. The slope is 20 minutes walk from my house, on the Pentland Hills overlooking Edinburgh. Here's where I sit to catch my breath and make my cunning reclamation plans...

People think I'm lucky to have a drive already in my garden, but to me it's lifeless space that could be inhabited by plants and herbs for the insects to enjoy. Scented ones too, since it's good to treat your nose as well as your eyes.

I'm also concerned by water run-off which creates flood problems as more and more people pave their gardens to park their cars. Such a sad loss of habitat. I'm really into green carparks, paving, roofs etc. as a way to lessen our impact in built environments.

The first green carpark I saw in the late 80's was the concrete type which looked similar to this. I was VERY excited to discover it. Modern ones mostly use grid systems made from recycled polyethylene, like this Australian kind. Our local Ikea has a small section for about 20 cars. I'd like to see entire car parks look that way - where suitable*.

I'll be using ski slope if I can, but for those of you who don't have that option but are interested in the idea, have a look at Paving Expert. They explain different types plus preparation needed to install them so they'll stay put. They also advise on grasses for each use - walking, heavy traffic etc. It's a UK site so grasses & suppliers will differ elsewhere but it gives a good overview of things to consider before doing a further search in your own area. They have UK supplier links and this one has pricing for green paths to give you an idea of costs. It seemed no worse than the cost of decent quality paving in the UK.

For many, grass is not an eco option on account of water use but many of these systems also hold dry materials so I'm guessing you could plant low growing drought tolerant succulents etc. such as those used for green roofs (more on that later). Anyone tried that? It also stops dry material being lost onto the road.

Others hold gravel or stones, but having seen a beautiful Scottish river scraped for it's stones and left lifeless, and coutryside quarried for gravel and left scarred and barren - I would not advocate their use unless they were reclaimed. Plus they are incredibly energy intensive and often have huge mileage to get to you.

I'd love to hear from any of you have tried any of these options, and especially from anyone who has successfully improvised. I will keep you posted on my own attempts.

*this tends not to work on slopes and boggy areas.

ps. I forgot to say that they help prevent 'urban heat islands'. Read more about that here.


tracy said...

great stuff cally! we had looked into something similar (grasscrete they call it here) when we redid our drive 2 summers ago. but we didn't want to have to water it and couldn't find a plant that would have taken the traffic. though in hindsight perhaps wooly sage, or as you suggested something else - perhaps decomposed granite? - would have been the way to go...

gracia said...

A great post, Cally. Here's to green car parks... such a good and logical idea. Anything that lets water into the ground is good by me... there's too, too much paving going on.
see you, g

Greet said...

We used leftover brick laid with the holes up for our driveway. 'Twas free, and kept all that material out of landfills. Mostly clover grows in it, despite my efforts with creeping thyme and oregano. Probably just as well - I'm not sure about eating veg that has been hovered over by a combustion engine.

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