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I've got a long grass side-yard which doubles as a driveway for both my residence and the ally behind my house. After a few heavy rainstorms here in Southeastern North Carolina (read: business as usual), the end of the driveway has lost all of its grass due to standing water and vehicle traffic.

Fast forward a year and the driveway has turned into a sand pit, with no hope of improving on its own. Currently I shovel the sand back into the pit from the street about every other month. Driveway Pit As far as improving it, I do not have any easy place to run a pipe to drain it. I've considered adding gravel to the end of the driveway, but I'm not sure how to make that look "classy". I've seen various gravel/grass retaining systems, but I'm not sure how effective it would be if I can't solve the excess. drainage.

I can't see how I could incorporate a drain either, as everything slopes to the end of the drive. Here are some illustrations of the slopes I have to deal with. The X's mark low points.

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Another consideration is extending the mulch bed to the rear of the house, with bushes and flowers, to provide some natural absorption capacity for runoff coming from the house-side. I've also considered adding some kind of "lip" to the end of the driveway in order to encourage the sand to stay in the pit, but I don't think that would do anything in the long run.

Given this layout, what sort of drainage options are available? Keep in mind I likely would not be allowed to pave anything (Historic District).

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I would just plant more grass. Find a variety that is hardy, loves sand, and will grow fast with your sun/shade, and has a large root system. The grass is not what really prevents the sand from washing away, but the roots. Maybe some other type of hardy ground cover would look nice and work. –  Gunner Jul 8 '12 at 17:27
    
Yeah, the grass planted as-is is of the heartier varieties available and didn't previous extend into the ally behind my house. It now has taken that over. However, something to do with the drainage at the end of the driveway has kept if from taking hold. –  user7116 Jul 8 '12 at 19:38
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up vote 3 down vote accepted

If it's heavily driven on, it's likely extremely compacted, which only increases the water run-off and retention (since it can't properly drain anywhere).

can you use gravel? A gravel driveway would likely be the easiest solution.

Barring that, you could look at using a grid 'pavement' system:

enter image description here

It lets you plant grass without the turf having to take the brunt of the vehicle weight, so it remains porous.

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$28/m^2 isn't terrible. I loathe how deep I'd likely have to dig to do this right. Their design guides would figure sandy soil to require 10-12" of base material alone! –  user7116 Jul 8 '12 at 20:05
    
It wouldn't be that much labor with a skid-steer. Not sure if budget allows, but a crew should make quick work of scraping off the compacted turf and putting down the gravel based. I question a full foot of base material, though. There are lots of competing products out there and I have to imagine more than a few can be installed with a much smaller base. –  DA01 Jul 8 '12 at 20:15
    
I found a few that can work with 6" of space ($2/sqft too, so ~$1000 for the area). I'm going to call around to some landscaping companies and see what they would charge to scrape/backfill/install/(seed|sod). Back of the envelope for materials alone is ~$1500. –  user7116 Jul 8 '12 at 23:42
    
The catch with just putting seed/sod back down is you'll still be driving directly on turf and, therefore, will eventually become compacted again causing the grass to die and the water problems again. –  DA01 Jul 9 '12 at 0:25
    
I figure a long base of angular gravel will have better drainage capacity than the sand it would replace. Additionally, if I can get it such that it is a hair taller than the driveway itself, it'll drain out into the road. Actually, considering I'm looking into this for my landlord it probably won't be my problem when it fails. –  user7116 Jul 9 '12 at 0:34
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