4 Ways To Extend The Life Of A Landscaped Asphalt Parking Lot

An asphalt parking lot can last for years if maintained properly. If your parking lot is surrounded by landscaped green areas or contains island planters, careful planning and maintenance can insure your paved lot lasts as long as possible while still having beautiful green areas.

Get To The Root Of The Problem

Green areas and island planters help beautify a parking lot by providing color interest, cool shade, and turning carbon monoxide into oxygen in the middle of an otherwise asphalt jungle. Unfortunately, poor planning during planting time can result in tree roots breaking through concrete and asphalt, causing cracks in its surface. To prevent this, choose trees and other foliage that do not create invasive roots. Here are some slow-growing trees that work well for planting around parking lots:

  • Ginkgo biloba "Autumn Gold" is a popular urban tree that grows slowly and turns a vibrant gold each fall. Because it is slow-growing, the roots are less likely to invade your paved lot and crack the asphalt. Be sure to plant only the male Ginkgo. The female variety creates stinky fruits that make a mess on the ground.
  • Scarlet Oak is another slow-growing tree that does not have an invasive root system. It turns a vivid red in the autumn.

Avoid planting trees that grow quickly and have an aggressive, spreading root system like ash, cottonwoods, sycamores, and locusts.

Watch Out Above And Below             

While it's important to keep trees and bushes trimmed to accommodate vehicles and pedestrians in a parking lot, sit is also important to stay on top of what drops from the branches. Each autumn sends a shower of dead leaves from trees onto your pristine asphalt. Keep them swept up regularly to preserve the look of the asphalt and to extend its life. Debris like leaves, dirt, and garbage left on pavement surfaces end up altering the natural run-off pattern of water, leading to pools of water.

In addition to autumn leaves, some trees are notorious for producing and dropping flowers, pollen, fruit, seeds, twigs, sap, bark and other debris. Other than all fruit and nut trees, here are the worst offenders for dropping debris:

  • Sweet gum
  • Catalpa
  • Willow
  • Cottonwood

Soak It Up

Proper drainage on your parking lot is vital for avoiding the damaging effects of water on asphalt. Water will soak into the pavement, infiltrate every tiny crack, and soften it – a common and expensive reason for asphalt failure. If you notice standing water in your parking lot, it may be because of poor grading. Consider installing a more appropriately placed drain to take care of standing water.

Another way to avoid standing water is by making sure your irrigation system for the landscaping is designed right. Sprinklers that are over-spraying the landscaping onto the asphalt not only wastes water but also deprives plants of crucial water and threaten your asphalt with runoff. Simple adjustments like re-aligning sprinkler heads and changing the flow amount from each head will make sure plants and pavement are all happy. Better yet, change over to a drip system which releases water at exact spots rather than emitting a general spray.

Get Rid Of Weeds

Ridding landscape beds of weeds keeps them looking tidy and saves nutrients for shrubs and flowers instead. Similar to your trees growing in and near a parking lot, weeds produce roots capable of causing problems for your asphalt too. The weeds that need to go are the ones growing out of small cracks in your asphalt. If allowed to stay, their roots spread beneath the pavement and can eventually create new cracks or enlarge existing ones. This leaves the potential for water to enter those cracks and do what water does to asphalt – ruin it.

If you run into any of these problems with your asphalt, make sure to repair it or invest in parking lot repaving, and then implement these tips to prevent problems from happening again in the future.