No place for a vegetable garden in your yard? One place you might consider planting a few vegetables is in your driveway. While many of my neighbors garden out of portable wooden planters that flank their concrete driveway, we actually removed our driveway to create a 125 ft x 10 ft patch of garden space.
After rotating our carriage house several years ago so that it could be accessed through the alley instead of the street, we ended up with a long narrow patch of driveway that could be turned into something else. Since we were interested in expanding our existing garden space, we decided that turning this strip into a linear garden was the highest and best use of the land. If you are interested in converting your driveway into a veggie garden like ours, here’s how it was done:
Removed the surface. Our original driveway was made of 6″ of packed gravel. While this was definitely easier to get rid of than concrete, the porousness of the material meant that the ground beneath could be contaminated with 100 years of leaking oil and antifreeze. The top 18″ of gravel and soil were removed from the driveway (by an excavation company) which cost us about $300. I collected soil samples from the excavated area where were sent to a local lab for testing. Luckily for us, the samples came up negative for contaminants.
Brought in top soil. To replenish the soil that was removed, top soil was brought in and leveled out over the old driveway. Since the new top soil did not have the dark, loamy consistency of quality garden soil, our old driveway became the place to dump clean leaves, untreated grass clippings, and other organic yard waste and pet bedding. In the spring when the organic waste had compressed down to a height of 6″, my husband and I would run the roto tiller through the drive to turn the composted material into the soil. It took three years for the soil to improve enough that food crops could be planted.
Plot the garden. Since my driveway was bordered by a blackberry patch on the south and a south facing cedar fence on the north, I had a several challenges to work around. One problem was the grading which due to city drainage codes had to slope towards my neighbors yard to the north. Another issue was the intense heat which reflected off the fence. Both of these problems were solved by planting summer loving veggies such as corn, beans, cucumbers, peppers, and summer squash. The corn and beans were planted in furrows running parallel to the fence line for easy irrigation. Squashes and cucumbers were planted in mounds and watered with soaker hoses.
While turning our driveway into a vegetable garden cost us about $500 in all, we felt that the trade off in creating more garden space was definitely worth the cost. Not only did we double our existing garden space, we were able to finally grow large quantities of veggies that normally weren’t worth the cost for the amount of space they took. For families needing extra garden space, it may be worth the cost to you by converting an unused driveway way into a summer vegetable garden.
More by this contributor:
Why are my vegetable seeds not sprouting?
How to create more growing space in your vegetable garden.
How my backyard saves me money.