When the topic of driveway materials comes up, most people tend to think of asphalt, cement and gravel. These materials are all very popular and widely used throughout the nation, and they each have their pros and cons. However, there is another type of driveway material that deserves greater attention: seashells. Natural, beautiful and very functional, crushed seashell driveways provide a host of benefits for you and our environment.
What Is a Shell Driveway?
Shells are a popular paving material throughout the world. In America, seashell paths were used in the colonial times as part of early American efforts to recycle. At the time, shellfish such as oysters were a main source of food, and settlers found that their discarded shells worked well as a paving material. The practice then became common in New England as a means of recycling the waste of the seafood industry. These days, seashells are used not only for practical purposes but for their aesthetic appeal as well.
Here are eight reasons you should consider a seashell driveway.
The Surface Is Stable and Not Prone to Ruts or Holes
One desirable aspect of shells is the fact that they break into smaller pieces as they are walked or driven upon. These pieces disperse evenly and create a very stable surface that is not susceptible to holes and ruts, unlike many other driveway materials.
They Are Environmentally Friendly
As long as the shells in your seashell driveway are sourced from a sustainable harvesting operation, they are environmentally friendly. In fact, this material is far more environmentally friendly than cement, which is the second biggest emitter of greenhouse gases and makes up 5% of annual anthropogenic global carbon dioxide production.
They Provide Excellent Drainage Capabilities
Crushed shells have excellent drainage properties, which means that rainwater runs through them and percolates into the ground. If you live in an area with frequent rain, these driveways would be ideal because they are not prone to puddles or flooding.
They Benefit the Ground as They Decompose
Another benefit of crushed seashells is that they actually feed the soil. As these shells naturally break down with use, they add calcium to the soil, along with chitins. Chitins are included in many fertilizers on account of their ability to stimulate plant growth and raise resistance to some types of fungi.
They Are Very Affordable
Seashells are considered one of the most affordable driveway materials on the market. Their price is comparable to that of crushed gravel, and they cost considerably less than stone, asphalt and concrete. The specific price depends on the type of shells being used, with clam shells being the least expensive at around $50 per ton. Crushed oyster shell may cost around $385 per ton.
Most of the shells used in seashell driveways come from the Atlantic Coast, so homeowners in states situated on the East Coast will find it particularly affordable-while those who live in other parts of the country may find that shipping costs more than the materials themselves.
They Don’t Require Maintenance
Another great benefit of seashell driveways is the fact that they do not need much in the way of maintenance. Seashell driveways are extremely durable and can withstand many years of intense use while still looking great. Because shell driveways cannot crack, there will be no need to make repairs. Additionally, they are not vulnerable to damage from cold and heat, and they can last a very long time as long as they are laid in a generous layer. Seashells do compact over time, so the driveway will eventually need to be replenished, but this is usually only needed every couple of years.
They Are Not Susceptible to Weeds and Pests
One of the biggest criticisms of gravel driveways is the fact that they are vulnerable to weeds. Crushed shell driveways, however, rarely encounter problems with weeds or pests as the sharp edges of the shells serve as a natural deterrent. However, the edges are not sharp enough to pose a problem to shoes or tires. These same properties mean that crushed shells are also good for surrounding plants in the garden as slugs and other pests are usually hesitant to crawl across them.
They Are Visually Appealing
Of all the compelling reasons to choose a seashell driveway, many people opt for shells because they are so aesthetically pleasing. Their light color can brighten up a space and allows the surface to stay cool during the warmer months. Many people like the way the moonlight reflects off the shells in the evening as well. Various grades are available that enable you to get the precise look you want.
While some homeowners might like crushed shells that have bigger pieces in the mix for more of a seashore vibe, others prefer more finely crushed shells that provide a flat and compact surface. Many people like the dramatic visual contrast of white seashell driveways offsetting a lush, green lawn.
The Drawbacks of Seashell Driveways
There are very few drawbacks when it comes to crushed shell driveways. The only real caveat about them is the fact that there may be sharp pieces, so walking on these driveways with bare feet is not recommended. They are also not suitable for riding bicycles.
Some homeowners avoid crushed shell driveways because they believe that they will have an unpleasant odor. However, it is important to note that seashell driveways do not smell like shellfish. High-quality shells are pre-washed to eliminate any smells and will only have a negligible amount of organic matter, if any, remaining inside of them when they are sold. Any organic matter remnants will decompose quickly once the seashells have been spread, and the odor will disappear entirely within a few days. Many homeowners report that the initial aroma is more akin to that of the beach than a seafood smell.
Contact the Northern Virginia Driveway Team
Dirt Connections‘ team of experienced driveway contractors can help with all manner of residential driveway projects, whether you wish to have crushed shell delivered to your property or you prefer to have it paved. Reach out today to discuss your project and find out how we can help you get the best driveway for your needs.
Dirt Connections was started with one goal in mind: providing quality residential and commercial construction services to clients on time and on budget. Reach out for more information on how we can support your next project.
For your convenience our estimates are free and by appointment. Call 703-940-9949 for a free estimate today!