Choosing the right material for a driveway can be very time-consuming if you don’t know what you are looking for. The easiest way is to go for standard concrete or asphalt driveways, although several alternatives are considered better and more durable.
Mulch is deemed good for a driveway. However, you need to reapply some constantly. Because it is degradable, it is very environmentally friendly and combines well with different styles. However, it is not recommended in areas with lots of snow or driveways with a higher slope.
Besides mulch, you could go for alternatives such as brick, gravel, or permeable pavers. They all have their pros and cons, which are detailed in this article. But first, let’s see if wood chips are good materials for a driveway.
Do Wood Chips Make Good Driveways?
If you want to pick the most environmentally friendly option, wood chips are your go-to solution. Because wood chips are biodegradable materials, they cannot harm the environment in any way.
Wood chips can be a very good, fast, and easy solution for your driveway since some cities actually offer free wood chips to their residents. Besides, they are aesthetically pleasing and you can combine them with all types of architectural styles.
However, three issues have to be addressed regarding wood chip driveways. The first one is obvious: it is degradable. Thus, constant exposure to the sun and water will damage the driveway in the long run if you don’t add new wood chips from time to time.
Since it is normal for wood chips to wear out, you will have to replace them with new ones every now and then. Another issue is that wood chip driveways are extremely hard to maintain during winter. It is indeed very hard to remove snow from this type of driveway without shoveling the wood chips alongside it. That’s why it’s more recommended in sunnier areas.
The third issue regards the slope of your driveway. Whenever you combine loose material with a high slope, there are very high chances that your car will not have a good grip and encounter issues while parking.
On flat surfaces, this issue disappears. So, make sure to check your slope before installing a certain type of driveway. Later on, I will explain how gravel faces the same issue as wood chips regarding this matter.
Do you find it challenging to keep your mulch in place until the following season? It is often a very frustrating situation, especially when you anticipate heavy rains soon. If you want your mulch to stay where it is, read our step-by-step guide to preventing mulch from washing away.
Can Mulch Pop a Tire?
To pop a tire, you need a very sharp object that exerts a great force on the tire itself. Thus, a flat tire can result from damages caused by nails, spikes, broken glass, or similar objects.
Although they sound rough, wood chips actually don’t have the potential to pop a tire since they are very soft compared to the objects mentioned above.
The only way a tire can be punctured is if there is an odd object in the middle of the wood chips. Some stayed pieces could potentially be dangerous if not noticed on time.
On the other hand, you may notice that some debris will stick to the tire furrow. Don’t panic as it is not dangerous, and most of it will fall off once you drive away from your driveway and onto a clear road.
What Is the Cheapest Way to Make a Driveway?
Sometimes, the best solution for a driveway is an alternative, artificial one. Although a standard concrete driveway or wood chips may sound like a good idea, it may sometimes be more complicated to maintain such a driveway.
The most common alternative to the standard asphalt and concrete driveways is bricks. They are very convenient and popular among people who would like to bring a twist to their front yard.
The issue with concrete driveways is that they have to be perfectly installed because if not, you could face several issues with rainwater. The biggest one is that with such, you don’t have a natural flow of water, so ponds are being created after every heavier rain shower.
Bricks solve this issue because of the natural gap left between them when layered on a driveway. The water will be able to naturally flow between the bricks without congregating into one space.
Bricks are also a good option if you are aiming for a more environmentally friendly driveway since, instead of common bricks, you could use natural stones to create a unique pattern and design.
Natural stones can also be used to complete a driveway. You can place them on the edges to emphasize the border of the driveway.
Also, brick driveways are way less expensive compared to asphalt or concrete ones. So if you are on a tight budget, this is the solution for you.
The best alternative to asphalt driveways is gravel. It is one of the cheapest solutions you could choose from. In general, gravel is less expensive than bricks due to the installation process, which is simpler and less time-consuming.
When placed, gravel offers a solid surface, but there might be some loose parts sticking out here and there. This mostly happens as part of the normal use of the driveway. Thus, if you notice this on your driveway, don’t worry. The job wasn’t done poorly; it is normal.
Now and then, use a shovel and place the loose pieces back on track. They will have no issues finding their spots in between the gaps.
The gaps on the driveway are considerably smaller and less noticeable with gravel compared to those made with bricks, although they are still there. These small gaps will still let some rain through, although not at the same rate as a brick driveway.
One catch with gravel is that if your driveway has a slope over 7%, you might face some problems. Indeed, this material would not sit in place properly and you would not have a solid and safe surface for your vehicles.
If you have a flat driveway, however, gravel would be ideal. That is why you need to ensure the properties of the land where you want to build a driveway, so you can estimate if a specific material is right for you.
The solution for the gravel normal tear comes in the form of permeable pavers. Those are usually formed into bricks made from plastic that are fused to form a net.
The plastic they are made of is not usual plastic, but rather a special type of plastic that can withhold pressure and evenly distribute it across the grid. This is what minimizes the net damage and prevents breakage.
Permeable pavers are placed on top of already layered and prepared gravel to lock it in place and secure its position. Although, they can be used on top of any loose surface, and not only the gravel.
The main reason why people choose an expensive concrete driveway is that they believe it will last longer than its alternatives. However, it is a misconception since concrete and asphalt tend to break much faster when exposed to the UV lights that come from the sun.
Permeable pavers can last from 25 to 60 years, depending on the underlying material and frequency of use. Also, the plastic they are made of is modified, so it contains UV inhibitors, which preserve the driveway from the sun.
Mulching provides a lot of benefits to your yard and garden, such as enriching the soil if you are using organic mulches and preventing the growth of weeds. Mulching is typically done over soil, but can you mulch over rocks? Read our article to find out.
How to Choose the Right Driveway?
Before you make a final decision, you must consider a few factors. Once you have a clear picture of what you want and a definite answer to the questions below, you can make the call.
The first and most important question is: What is your budget? Based on your answer, you can set the minimum and maximum you may spend on a driveway, and then, choose the material accordingly.
Once you have set a budget, you also need to look at the aesthetics. Ask yourself whether or not the chosen material will be a good fit for your front yard. Keep in mind that poorly chosen material can ruin the overall look of the property.
Here, I have to make one important remark: check the local regulations. Sometimes, certain materials or colors are banned from specific areas to maintain the original spirit of the neighborhood or because of historical significance.
Lastly, you need to look at the maintenance. A driveway is not a one-time investment; it needs to be properly maintained to last for years. Gravel is much more affordable in terms of maintenance than concrete, for example.
Concrete requires to be properly addressed every couple of years, which many tend to omit. To avoid this kind of miscalculation, set the expected lifespan of your driveway and calculate the initial investment and all the maintenance fees that will arise in the upcoming years to get a clear picture of what is the best for your budget.