Parking pads keep your car safely off the street and off your unprotected lawn. They ensure you'll always have a convenient place for your car. Despite their largely utilitarian function, there's no reason for parking pads to be eyesores. Consider various materials and designs for parking pads to increase curb appeal and to balance form and function.
While the traditional concrete parking pad may work perfectly well for some homeowners, it's not the only option. Take advantage of the affordable, durable nature of concrete minus the cold, gray finish by upgrading your concrete mix. Try tinted or stained concrete pads to complement the colors of your home. Use etching or stamping techniques to make a concrete parking pad resemble stone, brick, cobbles or other materials. For an eco-friendly twist on classic concrete, consider a pervious concrete mixture, which looks like traditional concrete but features a pebbled surface with voids to allow water to pass through. Pervious concrete helps to reduce storm water runoff and protect local waterways from pollution and sedimentation.
Pavers come in a wide variety of materials, shapes and colors. They give plenty of flexibility for designing a parking pad. Interlock pavers to resemble surrounding hardscapes, or space them apart to allow grass to grow in between. Use flagstone for a rustic look or create patterns out of square or rectangular pavers. For a more affordable option, the Natural Resources Defense Council suggests lining up pavers only where your tires will travel or rest. The pavers will support the weight of your car while leaving all remaining space filled with grass.
Gravel serves as an economical and easy-to-install option for a residential parking pad. Frame your parking pad with brick edging or a paver border, and fill with matching colored gravel to maximize aesthetics. Using gravel provides an effective solution for subsequently adding an extra parking space next to the driveway. For easier installation, choose a grid framework designed for this application. Install the plastic grid in the soil, and fill the compartments with an inch or two of decorative gravel for an easy and attractive alternative to traditional paved parking surfaces.
Grass Parking Pads
Thanks to new technology and materials, there's no reason your parking pad has to look any different from the rest of your lawn or yard. Green parking areas, also known as paving grid, rely on a plastic or concrete lattice framework for structural support. You install this lattice just below the surface of the soil, where it supports the weight or your car while still allowing grass to grow. Eventually, the entire parking area fills with grass and serves as an attractive green space as well as a spot to park your vehicle.
Emily Beach works in the commercial construction industry in Maryland. She received her LEED accreditation from the U.S. Green Building Council in 2008 and is in the process of working towards an Architectural Hardware Consultant certification from the Door and Hardware Institute. She received a bachelor's degree in economics and management from Goucher College in Towson, Maryland.