Help! Reclaiming asphalt driveway.

SwaymakAugust 14, 2012


I'm a new member looking for urgently needed help in my attempts to reclaim some of my long asphalt driveway to make more space for gardens!

You'll see in this photo what I've done so far: reclaimed an old car-port as a gazebo and built raised cedar beds (including one with lattice that will double as a privacy screen).

My issue is how to cover the asphalt between the raised beds and beside the house with some kind of path. Considerations are:

- Needs to look good and be foot-friendly. Also needs to accommodate the occasional trip by a wheelbarrow or composte bin, since this is my only way from front to back yards

- Needs some kind of divider b/w the flagstone and the asphalt at one end and the asphalt and the asphalt at the other end if I'm going to use any kind of loose material. This is my biggest issue, since right now the surfaces are all flush.

- Needs to make a nice "entrance" to the garden area from the driveway - will be very visible from the approach to the house.

- Needs to go on easily over top of cracked and uneven asphalt

- Needs to be easy and (very) affordable.

I am leaning towards mulch of some kind since I love the look and I think it will really make this area feel more like a garden...but I have no idea what kind of edging or border I could get that would look good, that I could get over with a wheelbarrow, and that would hold the mulch in place.

Please help!!! All suggestions most welcome...

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Hello, Swaymak.

deviant_designer offered a very creative suggestion for making a path in an existing asphalt area. See the Aug. 13 curb appeal post.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 12:48PM
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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

Nice looking raised beds.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but there is little that you top off the asphalt with that is inexpensive and have it wear well and look great.

The least expensive material would be mulch and that would just wear too messy .
Then you step up to crushed gravel and it would have to be retained to keep from spreading out , so it too would wear messy and there would need to be some construction accommodations made for the elevation levels.

Personally I find asphalt a benign product that is inexpensive to install and maintain.
But if you do not like it you might think about removing it or parts of it .
It usually is very easy to remove. The amount shown in the photo would come out in a matter of minutes after the edges and borders were cold cut.

If it were my property I might cut out a ribbon and lay in a mosaic band or matching brick or tile band at the entry to the raised bed courtyard and leave the field of the asphalt.
Next to the house I would probably have 2 or 3 raised narrow boxes built so to soften the field of the asphalt where it meet the side of the house.

I'll attach a photo of a project that we did a few years ago where we removed the asphalt and installed an exposed aggregate concrete and stone mosaic band. It might pique your imagination to some ways that you could work with your own asphalt challenge.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 3:21PM
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Swaymak- a bit of clarification, please. Do you intend to extend your gardening efforts further back along the driveway or is what your picture shows the end? Also, I have an inexpensive thought which might work if you would share your growing zone, north or south? Snow perhaps?

Quick note to Mitch who posted today a teasing section of what I consider to be one of her best designs, problem solving a difficult site. It was featured on one of the TV gardening shows and hopefully she will provide the link.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 3:14PM
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Thanks so much for the responses! I was away over the weekend and am delighted to come back to some ideas.

@Nandina: I am in the snowy part of Canada, so this will all be buried 4 months of every year (CAD zone 5; US zone 4). And this will be the end of the driveway gardening for now, although I can steal an extra bit of space to build an "entry way" to the box area if needed. Would love to hear your thoughts!

@deviant-deziner: Thanks for the nice photo, but I don't have the cash to get a professional in on this project at the moment, so am looking for DIY solutions (and removal of asphalt is definitely beyond me). I'll keep the ribbon idea in mind for later though, since I think that would look really nice. The old asphalt is painful on the feet which is one of the reasons I'd like to cover it with something. I wondered about some kind of edging (wooden? brick? asphalt?) that would keep mulch or stone from spreading. Or maybe some kind of recycled rubber runners? Any ideas? And yes, I am also planning on putting plants along the house to narrow the slice of thinking maybe a bunch of pots rather than more planters.

Hope to hear from you again!

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 11:05AM
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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

For those on a tight budget I have used the interlocking colorful rubber mats that you can purchase from most big box stores .

If the client has a decent budget and or is conscience about aesthetics I have used - Love their product color range.

Photo of ecosurfaces on a deck :

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 12:23PM
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Swaymak, viewing your picture leads me to believe that you have a good sense of design, texture, color and enjoy the process of interior design. Why not continue this concept in your asphalt garden using inexpensive, colorful outdoor rugs purchased at box stores. Easily cleaned, easily rolled and stored during the winter months. Would solve your immediate visual need in a fairly small space until the piggy bank is replenished allowing a permanent solution.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 12:46PM
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Thanks! I love both the rubber mat and the outdoor rugs idea, and eco-surfaces looks really great - the photo of your work is beautiful, deviant-deziner!

Do you think I can place rugs or rubber or ecosurface directly onto the asphalt? Any suggestions for a suitable adhesive for such an uneven surface and a way to anchor the outer edge?

And I'm not totally sure what kind of cheaper inter-locking rubber mats might work...I've been looking for something for a while and the best I can see are the kids play-mats...I'm sure I'm missing something - any links?

Your comments so far have been very encouraging...thanks to you both! I'm excited to get this section finished up!

    Bookmark   August 23, 2012 at 11:07AM
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karin_mt(4 MT)

Ooh, I really like the ecosurfaces material. Reminds me of Flor, which I have always admired.

A few other options:
A rubber walkway,default,pd.html?start=3&cgid=EdgingMulches_Mulches

Rubber "brick" pavers,default,pd.html?start=19&q=path

Either of these have the potential to look cheesy because they are one material posing as another. But the idea is on the right track.

Interlocking wooden deck tiles

Just some ideas!

    Bookmark   August 23, 2012 at 12:16PM
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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

Here is a link to some very nice looking outdoor carpets :

I have a nice looking bamboo carpet in the outdoor dining area and it has held up nicely for 3 summers ( I store it inside in the rainy winter season and apply a light tung oil to it in the spring ) Found it at Target.

The rubber mats that I have used from Home Depot are brightly colored.
We've used Liquid Nails to adhere them to concrete pavers that were set under a swing set , where the playground fiber was being worn away .

    Bookmark   August 23, 2012 at 12:24PM
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