Driveways are among the most challenging green home projects. You've got to balance the desire to have a car with the need to eliminate stormwater runoff, reduce the heat island effect, and minimize the use of carbon intensive materials. Concrete and asphalt are the most popular driveways not because they are the most beautiful, but because they are the cheapest. They're also the worst as far as environmental impact. They increase flooding hazards, increase heat around your home, and use a lot of energy and fossil fuels to produce. Except for low cost, these conventional driveways are just bad all around.
What materials besides concrete can driveways be made of?
Porous driveways that allow rain to go back into the soil are becoming very popular. Grass pavers, permeable pavers and permeable concrete are all growing in market share. My new favorite is wood pavers. Yup. Wood.
Black Locust wood is now being used to make durable, ADA compliant, wood brick pavers for driveways and patios.
With a zero-waste philosophy, Black Locust Lumber is using black locust to create a unique permeable paver system that comes from a renewable resource. It combines the best of permeability with the best of renewable materials. The base of the driveway uses permeable gravel and sand. The black locust blocks are secured to a grating system that is laid down like a traditional paver.
What makes wood pavers more eco-friendly for driveways?
Water easily percolates through the pavers and replenishes groundwater. Unlike concrete pavers, wood pavers dramatically reduce heat-island effect. It's color reflects sunlight rather than absorbing it and keeps the surrounding area cool. Adding moss between the pavers reduces heat even further. And what about longevity? According the the Black Locust Lumber company, "Black Locust is rot-resistant due to its natural genetic makeup. Natural rot-resistance, water-resistance, and anti-fungal properties give Black Locust a lifetime of 50+ years. Its durability and strength make it an excellent and long-lasting landscape surface."
Black Locust is a native to the Southeast United States with a range from Pennsylvania to Georgia, but has been naturalized or become invasive in other parts of the county. The tree is very fast growing, but has not been commercially viable as lumber for many years. When properly managed, it's becoming one of the most sustainable hardwoods in North America.
The wood of the Black Locust is very dense, resistant to pest and rot, and is highly durable. These qualities make is an ideal replacement for endangered hardwoods like teak and toxic chemically treated lumber. Locust has exceptional weathering characteristics and is commonly used for outdoor use for its longevity. It's even used for making small boats.
How does Black Locust rank against other woods?
The test for wood strength is called the Janka Hardness Test. With a Janka score of 1700 it outscores oak, bamboo, maple, Caribbean walnut, and even zebra wood.
And for sustainability, Black Locust is hard to beat. Many mills are offering well-managed, sustainably harvested locust lumber from Forest Stewardship Council certified forests.
Another thing to love about wood pavers? They're gorgeous. It's hard to beat the beauty of wood. So…durable, rainwater friendly, eco-friendly, renewable, sustainably harvested, ADA compliant, and beautiful. What more can you ask for in a driveway?