Demolishing & Installing a Driveway

Step, the First in Operation: Chaos into Beauty was, “The ugly driveway is disappearing.”

As a reminder, here’s the old, busted driveway:

Inkedhouse - old_LI
Broken concrete. Weeds. Barely wider than the sidewalk.


Not only was I seeking something that looked nicer, the driveway needed to be widened so I wasn’t driving and stepping into muddy ruts on either side. I also wanted to add an off-street parking area for guests.

Driveways: To DIY or Not to DIY

At the beginning of a project, if you’re me, you plan and scheme and really try to figure out if it’s at all possible to do it yourself. A driveway demolition and installation is slightly out of my skill and resource levels, particularly with squishy clay sediment that gobbles up good intentions and concrete. Reluctantly, I had to relinquish total control and (gasp) hire help.

People who grew up in this area have a friend of a brother-in-law who has an aunt married to a guy whose cousin owns a whatever business that person needs. When my house flooded, I reached out to my (now ex-) boyfriend’s sister-in-law’s father who connected me with his drywall guy. Although I’ve lived here for years, my network lacks a driveway guy. I took to the internet.

Let’s take a moment to talk about fate. I don’t wholeheartedly rely on it, yet I can’t help but notice when things work out a certain way. Fate’s like a tide; if it’s tugging me in a certain direction, I try to float along rather than fight.

“Guys? Hello? I think the rudder’s broken.     . . . guys?”

And boy howdy, did fate strike this time.

One of the contractors I found through a Saturday morning internet search practically grew up in my house. His grandma owned it for more than 60 years. They planted the oak tree in my backyard when his aunt was born about 70 years ago. Before he even visited to build the estimate, he described the inside of my house perfectly (well, other than the furnishings). In the early 2000s, they sold the house to a couple who then, a few years later, sold it to me. To be clear:  the contractor and I had never met before. I had no idea about his history; I just thought his company had a pretty website.

To be honest, I didn’t really consider anyone after we realized his connection to the property. Most of the folks on my street have lived here for decades. Social bonds run deep in this city, and only a fool would do poor work when word can easily get back to Mama and Daddy. And the contractor was so flipping excited to work on Grandma’s old house!

On a sunny Tuesday morning, a work crew of more than a dozen red-shirted men descended on my front yard with excavators and wheelbarrows. The operation was magnitudes larger than I expected; trucks blocked the parking strip and a lane of traffic.

As the end of my workday drew near, I had trouble sitting still at my desk and took a little peek through my video doorbell:

Work on the driveway is underway
Creepin’ on the work crew. Isn’t technology amazing?

A little after 5pm, the contractor called me to come inspect the work before he dismissed the crew. He said my old driveway (which his grandma had hated too) was so broken and weedy near the street because the original contractors had skimped on concrete. But this new driveway, oh, she’s a beauty:

a turfstone driveway
Okay. So you know how someone’s all swollen and bruised after they get plastic surgery? Imagine the driveway a month from now, all cleaned up and fetching.

As a wannabe hippy and anti-bland crusader, I didn’t want the same old poured concrete that plagues neighborhoods across the country.

My new driveway is turfstone, a honeycombed set of pavers with holes for sediment and plants. Turfstone allows rain water to drain back into the ground instead of funneling it into the sewer system.

Many people grow grass in the pockets of turfstone. If you remember, though, one of Operation: Chaos into Beauty’s steps was, “the grass is getting ripped up and/or smothered.” Therefore, I decided to sow a few pounds of dichondra seeds due to the perennial’s low-growing nature (it should only get two inches tall), drought tolerance, and love of full sun.

I don’t have a picture of a lush, green driveway yet, but I’m happy to report that teeny tiny green sprouts have started to pop up. Although dichondra can handle some foot traffic, I’ll try to ease the vehicle impact by varying where I park (when I don’t have guests). A recent rainstorm also washed some of the river sand out of the pockets. The contractor offered to refill them, but instead, I think I’ll lay down peat moss to help retain moisture while the seedlings are trying to establish themselves.

Guys. Things are happening. The Operation is in full swing.




< Step 0:  Operation: Chaos into Beauty

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