Ribbon driveways have so many benefits, it’s a bit of a surprise that we don’t see them more often here in the Pacific Northwest.

What is a ribbon driveway?

When you pull into your driveway, only a small part of your vehicle — its tires — comes into contact with the driveway. It’s important to have a solid surface under your tires, to prevent erosion, but that’s not critical for the rest of the driveway.

Ribbon driveways solve that by placing two rows, or ribbons, of concrete or a similar hard surface in the tire tracks, leaving space between those lines for a pervious surface, such as grass, gravel or pervious concrete.

Ribbon driveway with grass

What are the benefits of a ribbon driveway?

Primarily, ribbon driveways reduce impervious surfaces, which create runoff and keep rainwater from returning to the ground, where it can nourish plants and replenish underground water supplies. This makes them an excellent option for boosting stormwater management.

A driveway that is 10 feet wide and 30 feet long has a total surface area of 300 square feet. The typical ribbon driveway has two tracks of concrete that are 2 feet wide, so a 30-foot ribbon driveway has just 120 square feet of impervious surface — a savings of 60%.

Durability is another benefit for areas like the Pacific Northwest, where freeze–thaw cycles are common throughout the winter. According to the Burlington, Vermont, Public Works Department, ribbon driveways “are able to respond more dynamically to frost and thaw cycles than fully paved driveways and are less prone to cracking.”

What are some ribbon driveway options?

The ribbons themselves are typically made of poured concrete, but concrete pavers also are a good option. Between the ribbons, grass is common, though it can be difficult to maintain these sections and keep them from getting mucky during the winter. Gravel also is an option. Many Custom Concrete Contracting customers in Whatcom and Skagit counties prefer pervious concrete for these sections — it doesn’t get muddy, doesn’t need to be mowed and allows for excellent groundwater infiltration.

Pervious concrete driveway with decorative stamped concrete bands

Your entire driveway could be pervious concrete — our expert crews just paved an entire Bellingham parking lot with pervious concrete, after all. Or, to flip things around, you could opt for pervious concrete ribbons and decorative concrete edges, like on this Bellingham pervious concrete driveway project.

Curious about the benefits of a ribbon driveway on your property? Reach out to Custom Concrete Contracting today for an estimate. We serve Whatcom and Skagit counties, including the cities of Bellingham, Lynden, Ferndale, Mount Vernon and Burlington.