What to do with old gravel driveway?

aspiringtreenutJune 27, 2011

I have a part of our yard that I would like to landscape, the problem is that it is the old gravel driveway for the home. Currently the yard is about 18 feet wide and about 75 feet long. The top 4 inches is nice black dirt with grass growing in it. Then there is about 8 inches of hard packed gravel, after that it is just normal soil. Question is do I remove the gravel before trying to plant much there or do I leave it and hope for the best. I plan to use plants that are more native and more hardy, kind of a meadow-praire design. Would the roots eventually be able to penetrate thru the gravel? Just looking for advice before I get to far into it.

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I'd remove the gravel. I can't imagine a plant lasting long enough in 4" to even try to get roots through 8" of packed gravel.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 10:28PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada

Have you read Beth Chatto's Gravel Garden? Maybe there would be useful information in there for you. Her gravel garden (in a dry part of England) was established in a former parking lot.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2011 at 9:39AM
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A lot of things will grow well in those conditions. The gravel base makes for excellent drainage. If you were planning to add soil as well- as in a slightly raised bed area-- that adds further. It also depends on what you have time & energy to do- so you don't " hafta" remove it if it's easier to work with it. You can also do some of both , depending on your planting design --it's not a toxic material, it just has some impact on the soil and moisture conditions.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2011 at 11:54PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

I would think that if you're planting something from a deeper pot, it would make sense to remove some of the gravel in that area. The same would be true if you're planting bulbs which should be planted deeper than 4".

And if you're planting something you're especially concerned about, you might want to replace some of the gravel with soil. It would be one less thing to worry about.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 4:37PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Funny, I thought I posted after Woody... to say that I have a book called something like Gardening on Pavement and Other Hard Surfaces. It can definitely be done. If you wanted to plant something like a tree I might advise taking a pickaxe to the driveway, but for ordinary plants, probably the plants will be able to grow even if they do not penetrate the gravel.

I might keep a map of where the driveway is for future owners.


    Bookmark   June 30, 2011 at 6:46PM
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