How will hemp and solar power improve your driveway? Asphalt is the main road paving material in most of North America, but a new alternative has recently been introduced. This green option could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, support local economies and keep up with high-demand materials like asphalt.

Hemp, shells, and solar tiles are all alternatives to asphalt. These “greener” options may be less expensive than traditional asphalt and are more environmentally friendly because they can be reused over and over again.

Many people undoubtedly take driveways for granted since they aren’t the most glitzy aspect of a house, at least not until they break or otherwise need a costly renovation.

Otherwise, one may not think of switching to a new drive. However, there are many intriguing choices, some of which are far more sustainable than what is undoubtedly now available.

A new type of driveway surfacing uses materials like grass, seashells, hemp-based bricks, and solar panels to create a more environmentally friendly version of a standard home amenity. The craziest plan calls for planting mushrooms there, but that grow-your-own version is still in the future. The intention is for those mushrooms to develop into a hard surface rather than a supper side dish.

KangeStudio/iStock is credit for the image.

Concrete and asphalt are dated bad guys.


The seemingly innocuous concrete or asphalt strip that motorists utilize every day may be a danger to the environment. Why? Any solid, impermeable barrier prevents rainfall from soaking into the ground and instead directs it into sewers.

As a result, the stress on water systems is increased, which worsens so-called nonpoint source pollution. Rainwater takes up residues of petroleum, grease, and pesticides when it flows down gutters and downspouts and onto a driveway covered in an impermeable material. These contaminants are then carried away in the storm drain and ultimately end up in nearby rivers, lakes, or the ocean.

Before water reaches an underground aquifer or another water source, it is filtered by the soil. Small creatures in the soil consume and digest the toxins, and it may help stop runoff from eroding downstream streams.

There are two levels of badness: not good and worse. Concrete is one of the least ecologically friendly materials for a driveway, according to a Washington Post story.

Asphalt is significantly worse than concrete when it comes to hazardous carbon emissions and other pollutants. A stew of oil and other petroleum byproducts is what it is first (with eco-unfriendly drilling and processing before it is delivered). Similar to concrete, it prevents rainfall from being filtered as it travels to the subsurface water table.

It’s understandable why these kinds of driveways continue to be popular given their affordability (about $5 per square foot for concrete and $3 for asphalt) and ease of maintenance.

Bricks are heated in high-energy kilns, despite the fact that they seem to be a less harmful choice. They are as impenetrable as the other kinds of surfaces since they are often built using mortar. (Laying them with mud or sand is better since it allows some water to get through.)

However, a number of substitute, environmentally friendly driveway materials are now under development.

Photo courtesy of FotoDuets/iStock.

The driveway’s environmental sensitivity


In terms of greener driveways, there are several options. Because they let water to infiltrate, most come under the catchy term SuDS (sustainable drainage systems). Some are intricate and exquisite, while others are simpler and seem to be “greener.”

According to Joe Raboine, director of Residential Hardscapes at Belgard, an Atlanta-based manufacturer of permeable pavers and other products, “by allowing the rainwater to flow naturally back into the ground, they reduce pressure on stormwater systems and prevent water and pollutants from flowing back into our rivers and streams.”

These seven unusual solutions for a green driveway are some of the most well-liked ones.

Photo courtesy of PC Photography/iStock.

1. Gravel


Gravel is a low-cost and very environmentally conscientious material. It is particularly cost-effective for longer walks since it may cost as low as $1 per square foot (but it can cost almost double that in other locations).

The gravel itself is quite porous and may often be found nearby (green points!) Some locations even sell recycled gravel, which is sometimes manufactured from crushed concrete, for a type of environmental trifecta.

One warning: Gravel shouldn’t be used in areas with a lot of ice and snow since it might mix with them and make plow work more challenging. Additionally, a significant portion of the gravel mixture may be taken away during the shoveling or plow operations, necessitating the need for new stone in the spring.

Additionally loud, gravel lets neighbors know when someone is arriving and departing.

Photo courtesy of RachelDewis through iStock.

2. Shellfish


Another great competitor will help you keep that beachy feeling all year long. Without harming the beach, shells may be collected and processed into a strong, porous mixture.

The treatment will determine whether the shells initially keep their form and color or if they are pulverized into smaller bits. The shells decompose over time and provide nutrients to the nearby plant life.

Another excellent choice for huge expanses, this kind of driveway may be installed for less than $1 per square foot. It might be uncomfortable to go barefoot and is not always easily accessible.

Image by Kazuhiro Tsukamoto through iStock.

3. porous pavement


The title is a little misleading, but the approach is lovely and possibly more conventional than some others. Although the pavers are sturdy in and of themselves, the structure is rather porous.

“Permeable pavers are intended to enable water to pass through the gap between pavers instead of running off the surface of the pavement into a catch basin or drain,” says Raboine of Belgard. To allow the water to flow easily through these joints, transparent crushed stone has been used as filler.

Before water reaches the water table again, the procedure ensures that it has been filtered.

According on the application and soil conditions, “behind the pavers lies another layer of clean stone (no tiny particles), ranging from 8 inches to over 1-foot deep.” “From here, the water may gently and gradually sink back into the earth.”

On average, it costs $15 to $30 per square foot. To learn more, go to

Image courtesy of iStock and slowcentury.

4. Grass


A standard grass driveway would rapidly turn into a muddy mess. However, that grass can hold tons per square meter and continue to be quite lush thanks to a system of curved plastic supports embedded in the soil.

Rainwater may run through the systems in a manner similar to how it would through a typical grass. In order to avoid pooling, certain grids feature holes that enable water to also move laterally.

The webpage for the GD Grass system is filled with thorough information.

Source of the image: krblokhin/istockphoto.

5. Solar


Solar panels are becoming used in more places than only roofs; they are now more common on home siding, pathways, roads, and other surfaces. In the future, solar panels might be integrated onto many roads, parking lots, and other big surfaces to provide electricity for nearby communities. A solar driveway may provide clean energy for the individual customer and reduce reliance on other (potentially less sustainable) sources.

While this technique is now more costly than other ways, its price should decrease when it is used more often and in larger numbers. The price of a system varies depending on two factors: 1) how much energy is required or desired for this installation, and 2) how much ground space is available.

Location also affects the long-term expenses and advantages. A driveway in Arizona gets more light than one in Minnesota, so it will create more energy and pay for itself faster. Additionally, if there aren’t four vehicles parked in the drive for the most of the day, one of these solutions makes more sense.

One example of a solar supplier meeting the demands of its clientele is Solar Roadways. The Idaho-based business manufactures solar road panels with heating components to reduce snow and ice buildup.

There is yet more. “LED lights may be utilized for entertainment and holiday decoration. Due to the LED lights’ ability to be configured to provide different sport court possibilities, driveways may also serve as sports courts, according to Julie Brusaw, co-founder of Solar Roadways.

Photograph courtesy of Thinnapob/IstockPhoto.

6. Hemp


Hempcrete bricks are one of the most recent and cutting-edge items in this sector. They have a lime-based binder and resilient inner hemp fibers, which helps them to maintain their form even after years of exposure to the elements.

Since they are often lighter than ordinary bricks, transporting them is less costly and more ecologically friendly. They act as additional trees for a property since they also collect carbon from the atmosphere.

Though not all states have made a decision about hemp’s legality, the future seems bright.

Image courtesy of iStock and Oksana Akhtanina.

7. Mushroom


Develop your own. One of the strangest (and least established) concepts, it is still one that is gaining ground. The fundamental concept is to inoculate mycelium, a web of fungal threads, onto an organic substrate. These then consume and digest the substrate, forming a solid mass as a result.

This mycelium mass, according to the website Critical Concrete, offers a number of benefits: The benefits of employing fungal mycelium include its outstanding material characteristics and the fact that it is completely biodegradable. More precisely, mycelium tissue is stronger pound for pound than concrete, fireproof, nontoxic, partially mold and water resistant, and may trap more heat than fiberglass insulation.

Construction firms are developing methods to convert the bulk into bricks and other consistent materials in an effort to make the process more efficient.

Almost any form may be produced by manipulating the mushroom-growing process. An article published in Critical Concrete in 2018 discusses the potential of “mycelium technology” and how it may be used to address a variety of construction-related issues.

One supporter who recognizes the potential of fungus is Phil Ross, a San Francisco-based artist who serves as the chief technology officer and cofounder of MycoWorks. His business cultivates mycelium into durable textiles, including a leather replacement, and furniture. (It is hardly unexpected that he goes by the moniker “Mushroom Man.”)

Although the technology (if it can even be called that now) is still under development, mushroom-surfaced driveways could soon become commonplace.

This item was syndicated by from its original publication on

Source: stu99 through iStock.

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Living driveways are a greener alternative to asphalt. They can be made out of hemp, shells or solar tiles. Reference: living driveways.

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