Maintain your driveway

In order to prevent damaging erosion each year, Vermonters with unpaved driveways and trails must consider preventative measures to hold soil, shed water, and trap sediment. Two popular methods of addressing driveway erosion are water bars and turnouts.

These Best Management Practices (BMPs) are effective because they create a way for water to immediately shed off the surface of a road and flow towards stable vegetated ground. This prevents sediment from getting carried off with the stormwater and into waterways. What is good for your driveway is also good for water quality!

Prevent erosion of your driveway and the area adjacent to it by implementing water bars, open-top culverts or driveway turnouts.

Water Bars
& Open-top Culverts

Water bars and open-top culverts are intentionally placed channels across driveways, paths and walkways in order to redirect stormwater runoff towards vegetated areas for absorption. A benefit of these practices is to take concentrated flow from an impervious surface and spread it out.  By incorporating one or more of these practices along your driveway, you can significantly reduce the amount of runoff from your driveway and lower the potential for erosion on your property and downstream.

Water bars are geared more towards unpaved surfaces and typically constructed with lumber and gravel. Open-top culverts can be installed in either unpaved or paved surfaces utilizing wood, metal or concrete materials; these practices can also incorporate a decorative cover that can be easily removed for cleaning. Water exiting these practices would either run over a rock apron to diffuse the water or can be connected to a piped underdrain and directed to a nearby vegetated area.  While open-top culverts can be integrated into all elevation grades, water bars work best on moderately steep roads that experience a steady flow of stormwater during rain or snow melt events.

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Here is how you can get started:

  • Assess your driveway condition during a rain event. How much erosion are you currently experiencing?  What is the current path of the rain?

  • Choose a location to install the practice. Consider factors like slope and whether your road is paved or unpaved.

  • Review our Deeper Dive resources below.

Deeper dive