Ribbon driveways are becoming increasingly popular among homeowners due to their attractive appearance and practical advantages. Unlike traditional driveways, ribbon driveways are more durable, lasting longer thanks to their specific layout and materials, making them less vulnerable to damage from the environment and frequent use.

If you are planning to upgrade your driveway this year, it’s worth considering the numerous benefits of a ribbon driveway. Read on to find out exactly what ribbon driveways are and how they compare to other types of driveways.

What Is a Ribbon Driveway?

A ribbon driveway resembles the streams of a ribbon, with two perfectly parallel tracks paved with a type of material that can uphold the duties of your typical driveway. The space between the paved area typically has grass (or permeable aggregate if grass doesn’t grow well in the area).

You also might refer to this as a Hollywood driveway. This design is more durable than a regular driveway despite the lower pavement-to-tire ratio. The empty space between the paved tracks is the key to its genius design, adding strength and longevity.

Key Differences Between Ribbon and Regular Driveways

There are a few key differences between ribbon driveways and regular asphalt or gravel driveways that contribute to the enhanced durability and performance of ribbon driveways:

The open space in the middle of a ribbon driveway allows the driveway materials room to expand and contract with temperature changes without cracking. Regular driveways have no room for expansion.

Since tires only drive on the two paved tracks, there is less overall tire wear and tear eroding the driveway surface over time. The soil/grass middle section absorbs some of this damage.

Water can drain to the middle section of ribbon driveways rather than pooling on the surface of regular driveways. This prevents flood damage and deterioration.

The unique parallel track design and middle filler options create visual appeal and design flexibility that isn’t always possible with ordinary driveways.

How to Choose the Best Material for Your Needs

Material suitability depends on factors like budget, climate, and driveway usage. Top options include:

  • Asphalt: Asphalt driveways are budget-friendly but less durable than concrete — they work best in temperate areas. See asphalt driveway costs for pricing context.
  • Concrete: The longest lasting but the most expensive. It can crack from freeze-thaws.
  • Permeable Pavers: Superior drainage and eco-friendly, but expensive.
  • Gravel: Cheap but require frequent maintenance.
  • Turf: Only works with extremely light vehicle traffic.
Today’s Homeowner Tips

I highly recommend permeable paver ribbon driveways for optimal performance if your budget allows. Weigh the pros and cons of each material against your needs before making a decision.

So, Is a Ribbon Driveway Right for You?

Ribbon driveways provide advantages like durability, drainage, and aesthetics over regular driveways by minimizing pavement. However, they cost more up-front, and the middle section requires occasional maintenance. 

If you want a durable, eco-friendly upgrade, permeable paver ribbon driveways are often the best solution, albeit at a premium price point. For other budgets, cheaper materials like asphalt or concrete may suffice. 

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FAQs About Ribbon Driveways

What are the main pros and cons of a ribbon driveway?

The advantages of ribbon driveways include better drainage, increased longevity, enhanced appeal, and ample space for expansion. These types of driveways also minimize track damage caused by tires.

On the other hand, the middle section requires more yard space, maintenance, and up-front costs.

How long do ribbon driveways typically last?

When properly built, they last 50+ years or 80+ years for permeable versions with good maintenance. Their durability often exceeds regular driveways.

What maintenance do ribbon driveways require?

You’ll occasionally have to groom the middle vegetation for tidiness and power wash the tracks one to two times annually. You’ll also need to re-sand the permeable pavers every few years.

What is the best middle groundcover option?

Grass and native plants are easiest to maintain where climates permit, while gravel, mulch, and stone pebbles work in other areas.

Should I install a DIY ribbon driveway or hire a professional?

DIY ribbon driveway installation is possible but tricky. Unless you’re highly experienced, hire a landscaping professional so your driveway will have proper drainage and longevity.

Editorial Contributors
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Abbie Clark


Abbie Clark is a writer and blogger. She is the founder of "Hey She Thrives", where she writes about all things motherhood, coupled with expert cleaning tips that echo the warmth and order of a loving home. She is also the co founder of "RideRambler." There, you can find all of the info you'll ever need on DIY car fixes and Auto news.When not writing, you can find Abbie chasing her toddler, trying a new cookie recipe, or fishing with her husband.

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Lori Zaino

Lori Zaino is a freelance writer and editor based in Madrid, Spain. With nearly two decades of editorial experience, she’s written and edited for publications like Forbes, CNN, Insider, NBC, Newsweek, The Points Guy, The Infatuation, and many others. Having just completed her first home renovation, she’s more interested in home improvements than ever, dedicated to bringing you fresh and accurate content to help you update your living spaces.

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