If you want a smooth, clean, and aesthetically pleasing area to park your car every day, then an asphalt driveway is a good choice. The asphalt should be placed by a professional who knows how to dig in the earth, add the appropriate amount of gravel to the space, and build up the asphalt to a good height. This individual will also make sure that the asphalt is two to three inches high.
Along the edges, the aggregate material will be packed down at a 45 degree angle. This angling allows water to drain off of the driveway. Also, the thinned edge helps to keep damage from occurring if you place pressure on this part of the driveway. Unfortunately, the edges of the driveway will be quite weak, and cracking may occur even if you are careful. You can help to prevent these cracks from developing by making sure that weeds do not grow near the driveway edge.
Weeds and Asphalt Damage
The edge of your asphalt driveway will probably sit against your lawn, and this means that grass and weeds are likely to sit right against the asphalt material. Grass is likely to place very little pressure on the asphalt, because grass roots are thin, like pieces of thread that reach into the soil. Since most people mow their grass on a regular basis, these roots usually only force their way a few inches into the ground, so the sheaths and blades can be provided with enough water and other nutrients to remain strong. Not only are the roots relatively shallow, but they are too weak to disturb the asphalt driveway.
Aggressive Weed Roots
Weeds, on the other hand, have characteristic growth patterns that are aggressive. These plants release long and deep roots that compete with the grass roots and typically win. The roots suck up nutrients in the soil in abundance and leave grass and other plants with very little nitrogen and water. As the weeds grow, they also can force their roots underneath the edges of your asphalt driveway. This forces pressure on the asphalt from underneath it. Cracks may end up forming, and in extreme cases, upheaval may occur. Upheaval can be seen where the asphalt rises in a sort of hump. While this commonly occurs due to the growth of tree roots underneath the driveway, smaller weed roots can cause the same issue around edges, since they are fragile and unprotected from stress.
Weed Control Methods
The best way to protect the edges of your driveway is to make sure that weeds do not have the ability to grow. Weeds generally have no redeeming qualities, so there is no reason why you should not keep them away from your driveway. If you have not seen any weeds near the driveway area in the past, then think about leaving the soil completely undisturbed. Weed seeds will often sit in the soil dormant for some time before they grow, and, in fact, some seeds can remain viable for years and grow only when sunlight reaches them.
If you have seen weeds in the area, then there are probably some weed seeds close to the earth's surface. You can smother the seeds during the initial growing season in the spring by spreading mulch along the driveway edge. A thick layer that is two or three inches deep is best to keep sunlight and water from reaching the weed seeds. Not only will the mulch prevent weed growth, but it can be used as an attractive and sturdy edging material. Wood cedar mulch is your best option for long term use. This type of mulch doesn't break down as quickly as other types of mulch. Typically, it will take several years for the mulch to decompose.
If you do not want to place edging near the driveway, then think about using a weed killing spray in the early spring and fall. The spray you want is called a pre-emergent weed killer. This type of chemical will kill the weeds as soon as they germinate. This means they do not have an opportunity to grow roots, and the weeds will not return. To use the pre-emergent weed killer, spray a generous amount of the material along the edge of your driveway. If you want full protection, make sure the spray reaches one or two feet outward from the asphalt.
For more information on effective edging, contact a professional asphalt service, like those found at http://armourpavement.com.