• Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Removing driveway then adding garden

 
Angela Baker
Posts: 14
Location: Portland, OR
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We are seriously considering removing half or all of our driveway (two cars wide x two cars deep) and expanding our front yard garden. The area was a flower garden five years ago when the previous owners changed it into a driveway. We would like to restore all or part of it to cultivation.

Does anyone have experience in - and advice for - the removal process? The process of restoring the area before planting?

Can anyone share experiences in cultivation of an area that was previously driveway? Dealing with compaction? What has grown well, what hasn't?

Thanks in advance.
 
Adrien Lapointe
steward
Pie
Posts: 3182
Location: Kingston, Canada (USDA zone 5a)
141
chicken dog food preservation forest garden fungi tiny house toxin-ectomy trees woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
As a disclaimer, I must say I never did replace a driveway for a garden. However, I read a few accounts of people just laying soil on top of the asphalt and planting in there. Personally, I would be concerned having fresh-ish bitumen under my veggies. So the method I would use is more labour intensive: to remove the asphalt and then add soil. The subsoil under the driveway will most likely be really compacted, so you might want to fluff it up a bit.
 
David Goodman
gardener
Posts: 496
Location: Zone 9a/8b
21
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Good for you for cutting down on paved surface!

If I were to remove a driveway area, I'd simply double-dig the ground beneath to loosen it up, then add some good compost to bring it back to life. It's been done many times in urban areas.

If you're really worried, you can have the soil tested for toxins... but I would generally think the asphalt wouldn't have leached into the soil all that much. Of course - that's assuming it's asphalt instead of concrete. Concrete could just be pulled without worry.
 
Rich Pasto
Posts: 100
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
is it asphalt or concrete? both will have compacted road base under it. base is supposed to be 90% compaction which is a tough medium for roots to get through.
 
Angela Baker
Posts: 14
Location: Portland, OR
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Rich, it is concrete, and definitely has a gravel base. We will remove the gravel, too, but I was thinking of initially just planting it with artichokes and comfrey and oriental poppies and what-not to help break up the compacted soil. Have had good luck several times in the past with growing an artichoke in an area of compacted soil for two years, removing it, and planting a fruit tree in its place. It does a fantastic job of loosening the soil.
 
Rod Endacott
Posts: 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Angela, After hiring a bobcat (skid steer) to remove the asphalt, you may need to remove some dirt too. Some paving companies spread salt before paving. Maybe wait a bit a see what, if anything naturally grows and go from there. Rod
 
Chris Gilliam
Posts: 26
Location: Foley, Alabama
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Saw cutting the concrete will be the hardest part. You can cut it into pieces small enough for two guys to lift without strain (about 18" x 36") and not need a bobcat, but you will have a lot of concrete to get rid of - which you have to do anyway.
 
Paul Cereghino
gardener
Posts: 855
Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
15
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'd consider getting a piece of equipment (small backhoe) to decompact the sub-soil. If you are interested in good soil development in a short time period, I would mechanically decompact, rather than relying on biological activity, particularly since the site will be lower then surrounding land, attracting water, excacerbating the poor gas exchange in the crushed soil. Ditto that the concrete cutting will be the worst, maybe think about cutting in strips that you can use elsewhere for terrace or wall to avoid hauling and minimize moving.
 
Dawn Yurkas
Posts: 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Angela Baker wrote:We are seriously considering removing half or all of our driveway (two cars wide x two cars deep) and expanding our front yard garden. The area was a flower garden five years ago when the previous owners changed it into a driveway. We would like to restore all or part of it to cultivation.

Does anyone have experience in - and advice for - the removal process? The process of restoring the area before planting?

Can anyone share experiences in cultivation of an area that was previously driveway? Dealing with compaction? What has grown well, what hasn't?

Thanks in advance.


I would say removing a driveway to make a garden is bad move. You state you are in Portland, you could be in a suburban rural area of Portland that has high growth. The removal of the driveway is going to significantly decrease your property assessment. The cost to put it back in very expensive. Even if you are in the house you are going to live in forever, I would not remove such an expensive fixture on your property.
 
Ken Peavey
steward
Posts: 2523
Location: FL
88
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Concrete driveway technology is fairly simple: roughly level the area, fill big gaps with riprap, add a compaction layer of lime/sand/gravel/and or rocks, optionally add rebar or wire mesh, form with lumber, pour.

You say you have a gravel base, so it was probably a decent installation rather than a weekend warrior slap it together cob job. Chances are you will encounter wire mesh. Simply breaking up the concrete will be difficult. A concrete saw will give you a leg up on the demolition. They are heavy and slow, but will make easy work out of the concrete and the wire mesh.

If there is wire mesh, the cut blocks may not be desirable for repurposing. The metal ends will be razor sharp. If there is no wire mesh, or if you grind the ends down, the cut concrete can become a resource saving you the cost of disposal.

The ground under the concrete will be a challenge. If it was not packed down before the concrete was poured, the weight of the concrete over the years will have packed down the ground. If riprap was added as a filler, you can expect rocks, broken bricks, scrap metal, masonry, and god knows what else. All you can do is scratch and dig. What you will end up with is anthropomorphic soil. Hard to say what is going to grow in it, but with some effort as you described, it can be remediated.

Down here, a concrete driveway is considered a property improvement and is subsequently taxed. You may want to check with the property appraiser to have your property tax adjusted once the concrete is removed.

 
Aimee Levens
Posts: 1
Location: Portland, OR
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Angela - I highly encourage taking half of it out We just removed the back half of our long driveway that led up to a shed-sized garage (no modern car would fit in it, as the house was built 90 years ago), so we could replace that side of our property with more garden space (including semi-dwarf fruit trees as it's the south side of our home). Rather than do the backbreaking work over a long period, we paid a local contractor $600 and he and his big guys smashed it up and hauled it away in less than a day. Since it's almost the start of winter, we then got free arborists woodchips via ChipDrop website to cover up the dirt (and prevent a mudpit during the winter rains!) until we're ready to landscape it in the spring. We LOVE it and highly recommend it!!! Plus we still have the front half the driveway for visitors to park in if needed (we don't own a car). We used to do potted veggies in the driveway (see a picture on my blog at: http://ecogrrl.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/drivewaygarden3.jpg but this is going to allow WAY more and look SO much better! Photos will be up on my blog ecogrrl.net this week if you want to see what it looks like now! This way we retain the property value of having a driveway while INCREASING it by having a much bigger backyard!!!
 
Bill Bradbury
pollinator
Posts: 684
Location: Richmond, Utah
32
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
First, I must admit that I have a natural disdain for impermeable surfaces. In my work restoring old houses, we permaculture the yard as well. This always includes ripping out the driveway. We use a mini excavator, just get under an edge and lift until it breaks, then grab that piece with the thumb and set it off to the side. I like to use the broken concrete for patios, steps, greenhouse/shed floors or even putting the driveway back together by setting the pieces in a deep gravel matrix. I've included a picture of our most recent project, trying to show the concrete driveway has been removed so water running off the house will infiltrate at the driveway and provide a source of water for the grape vines that we planted all down the other side of the drive. The large concrete blocks are under the gravel, so they hold the gravel from spreading or sinking into the soil. I've done this with patios and walkways as well. Sorry for the poor photo, it's all I have.
RichmondHous0043.JPG
[Thumbnail for RichmondHous0043.JPG]
 
  • Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic