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Old-Fashioned Ribbon Driveways

published Jun 18, 2010
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Driveways with a grass strip down the middle are something we don’t see a lot, but when we do they make us really happy. We just found out they have a name — they’re called Ribbon Driveways.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

We mostly see Ribbon Driveways on the cape, or in older homes that haven’t been renovated. It’s easy to see how their design evolved and we love how simple they are. Before driveways were paved, a car would have driven ruts into the dirt. Ribbon driveways paved those tracks with concrete, but left grass in the center.

Because of the grass, Ribbon driveways also help our waterways by preventing rainwater from immediately running off into the sewers. This helps keep them clear of things like motor oil that sit on an asphalt driveway. Grass-strip driveways are also cheaper than asphalt to install and cooler in the summer to walk or play on.

But… we also live in New England which gets a lot of snow in the winter. So at least in Boston, the obvious question is whether you can shovel this type of drive. We did some online research and found that one of the newest ways to create a Ribbon Driveway is by laying a sturdy plastic honeycomb-like base under the grass. Visually you wouldn’t even know it was there, but the reinforced structure makes it a lot stronger and you can easily shovel over it. There is a company in New Hampshire which sells these sublayers (theirs is called PermaTurf), and here is an example of a homeowner from Toronto that installed and loves theirs.

Apartment Therapy readers and landscape designers — what about it? Do any of you have Ribbon driveways or other green driveways? Can you tell us more about how you like them?