The Asphalt Driveway


As the interior renovation of our triplex in Charlottetown progresses, we’re struggling trying to address all the exterior landscaping requirements on a fairly restrictive budget. So far we’ve got the plantings purchased for the ‘Black Garden’ which spans the front yard, and the lilac bushes for a hedge that will run down the south side of the property along the driveway. In the rear garden we’re planning to install several hundred square feet of cedar decking while retaining half of the existing lawn until some date in the future when we can make it more lush. However, when it comes to addressing our huge weathered and buckled asphalt private drive that encompasses almost all of the side yard, we’re stuck. Having a dimension of around 20 x 50 feet, the drive currently fits four cars, of which two cars are located in tandem behind the front two. So far we are clueless on how much this will cost, outside of it being a significant expense (we’re cringing at the realistic estimate of $15,000 to $25,000) to modify the current offending drive way.

Being a legal triplex, part of us wants to ensure we can keep at least three car parking on the site. However, with our next door neighbour having a surplus of onsite parking, we’re also thinking maybe we should just reduce the parking on our property to two spaces located as close to the street edge as possible, and turn the rest of the side yard (which gets the most sun, and is the location of the new Side Porch of which two suites have their front doors), into a lawn of grass and wildflowers.

Our brilliant landscape designer Dan Nuttall, who did my garden at The Button Factory and my terrace at The Movie House (click HERE for to see them), presented us with several solutions. Our two favourites take into account the need for cost-effectiveness, the use of interesting materials, and our request to be as ‘green’ as possible, including addressing water run off from what has proven to be a fairly soggy lot.

In the plan below, Dan has created a visually-arresting driveway using black concrete curbs similar to those you find located at the foot of a parking space in a shopping mall. Embedded in gravel to create a series of bands, they provide a hard surface for vehicles while allowing water to be absorbed into the gravel beds. There are also poured slabs of black concrete in areas cars are most likely to park, which would accommodate cars as required, while leaving the opportunity for plants to grow within the spacing so it has a more casual garden feel. We LOVED this solution, but our trades in Charlottetown found it bizarre and, given the risks of buckling and corroding, made them resistant to install it lest we complain about its longevity. You can see Dan’s solution and ideas for our entire property, including the driveway, in the plan below:




Given we’re trying to get this completed this Summer, we decided to switch tack and see if there’s an easy short term solution which might offer us an immediate fix for the lowest cost possible. In the illustration below, you can see how Dan has suggested we cut out portions of the existing asphalt drive and install plants and grass, along with some of the concrete curbs to create a visual interest. Dan has suggested we inset the cut asphalt pieces with strips of stainless steel, and we’re discussing perhaps putting some new tar and stone over the portions we keep to create a cleaner look and a few years more longevity.

Our third alternative is to have the entire driveway removed, and in its place install gravel across the front where two cars would park, a gravel path to the side porch and back yard, and install soil and grass in front of the garage (which is used for storage and garbage bins) to create some more lawn. The quote to do this begins at $12,000 and rises.

We’re in the midst of obtaining quotes for the remaining two. Along with weighing out the cost is the ability of completing this scope of work this Summer and before the onset of winter (where we have to acknowledge any gravel is at risk of being picked up by the snow blower and catapulted into a neighbour’s window). What to do?

You can read the whole journey of our renovation in our blog The Tales Of Upper Hillsborough.

Stay tuned!

~ Steven

Tales Of Upper Hillsborough

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