A house looks much better if the grass grows right up to the edge of the driveway.

My Grass Won't Grow Along My Driveway

by Brian Barth

A few common scenarios can result in bare patches in your lawn; the sprinkler system doesn't quite reach the spot or the kids cut across a particular path from the back door, for example. Another common no-grow zone for grass is along the edge of the driveway. The problem can either be approached by removing the cause or working to find a viable solution.

Possible Causes

If you have a narrow driveway and you're in the habit of pulling up to the same parking spot each day and stepping out onto the grass, it will probably die out eventually. This is due to the soil compaction that results and the stress of all that foot traffic on the turf. You could park more carefully and try to avoid walking on the grass in that one spot, but there are probably reasons for this and it may be hard to change. Of course, you could install a wider driveway, but there are other simpler and less expensive solutions that could even accentuate the landscape you have without installing more concrete. Another possibility is that all the water from the driveway is draining to one area of lawn and turning it into a mud pit that is inhospitable to grass. In this case, a drain is in order in that particular location.

Re-Establishing the Grass

Sometimes all you need to do is remove the cause and rejuvenate the grass. First, loosen the soil to a depth of about 6 inches -- a rototiller is the least laborious way to do this unless the area is very small, in which case a digging fork will do. At the same time, spread 2 or 3 inches of compost over the area and use the tiller or digging fork to mix it in with the soil that's there. Smooth out the soil with a rake, and it's ready for grass. You could spread seed, but laying sod may be a wiser choice because it has immediate durability for an area where it probably needs it. If you use seed, follow the instructions on the packet label for the application rate and cover with a light layer of straw.

Adding a Paver Border

If you know the grass is going to continue to suffer along the edge of the driveway, consider adding a strip of pavers to make a wider parking surface. You can also use it as a decorative border to enhance the appearance of the driveway and surrounding landscape. Many different sizes, colors and textures of pavers are available; however, not all are suitable for driving on, so check with the supplier to ensure they are engineered for this application. Some styles, known as "permeable pavers," even have holes in them to allow grass to be grown while the structure of the paver prevents the soil from being compacted and killing the grass.

Gravel Border and Drainage Feature

Using gravel as a border is an alternative to using pavers and is a suitable choice if excess water draining off the driveway is part of the problem. The gravel will intercept the water rushing off your driveway in a storm and allow it to percolate into the ground, rather than flood the lawn. The deeper you can make the bed of gravel, the better for this purpose. Excavate a band of soil along the length of the driveway to a depth of at least 3 inches. Wood, plastic or metal edging will need to be installed between the area where the gravel will go and the adjacent sod. Line the soil with weed fabric before putting in the gravel. Many decorative forms of gravel would work well for this purpose.

About the Author

Brian Barth works in the fields of landscape architecture and urban planning and is co-founder of Urban Agriculture, Inc., an Atlanta-based design firm where he is head environmental consultant. He holds a Master's Degree in Environmental Planning and Design from the University of Georgia. His blog, Food for Thought, explores the themes of land use, urban agriculture, and environmental literacy.

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