When you think about landscaping for your property, driveway landscaping is probably not high on the list of things you consider. But just like your front entrance welcomes visitors into your home, the driveway to your garage welcomes them onto your property. And if your house stands back from the street or is screened by trees and vegetation, it is the first thing people will see when coming to your home.
So if you’re planning on installing a brand new driveway, need to replace your existing one, or just want to improve the curb appeal of your home – here are some driveway landscaping tips that will help make your neighbors jealous of the stunning entrance to your property.
Factors to consider when planning your driveway
What do you need from your driveway?
Obviously, you need to get your car from the street to your garage or parking area. But what other purposes would you like your driveway to serve?
- Do you need room for two cars to pass each other?
- Do you need space to turn around?
- How much parking would you like?
- Do you need a safe play area for your kids (such as a basketball net)?
- Would you like to use your driveway as part of a casual seating/entertainment area?
Where is your garage/parking area?
As a driveway can be a dominating feature of your landscape, many designers will have them off to one side of your property. Most of the time, your driveway provides easy access to three different points: your garage, your front door, and extra parking. A walkway can take care of access to your front door. This makes access to your garage the primary consideration of a driveway, so ask yourself the following:
- Does it face the street?
- Is it off to one side of your home?
- Is it a detached garage behind your house?
- How much square footage will my driveway cover in total?
What type of terrain will your driveway cover?
If you have an incredibly short, straight driveway, the only thing you really need to worry about is proper drainage. However, no matter how long your driveway is going to be, some questions you should ask yourself include:
- Will my driveway slope down from the street to my garage?
- Does my driveway need to navigate a steep slope?
- Is there anything such as mature trees, large boulders or hardscape features I need to work around?
What style driveway would you like?
Once you have considered and accounted for all of these factors, it’s on to the next step. It is time to decide on the layout of your driveway, as well as choose which paving material best suits your budget, along with your needs and wants.
Different types of driveways
There are dozens of different paving materials to choose from when it comes to driveway landscaping, and it is easy to get lost in the various options. But there are only three different basic types or shapes of driveways to consider. These are straight, curved and circular.
There are two situations when a straight driveway is the best option. The first is when there is a very short distance between the street and your garage, meaning your driveway should focus on functionality. The second is when there is a long distance between the road and your home.
There are many reasons why someone might choose to have a curved driveway. The first is if the best access point from the street doesn’t line up with your garage, so your entranceway has to curve or angle to get to it. Another is if you have existing trees, boulders or other features that you want your driveway to be designed around.
Whatever your reasons for opting for a curved driveway, make sure that all types of vehicles can navigate it easily. Whether a compact car or large delivery vehicle, broad sweeping curves look the best and allow for the best maneuverability.
One of the most popular driveway layouts is a circular one, sometimes referred to as a horseshoe driveway. These driveways have a separate entrance and exit that curves past your house. A popular variation of a circular driveway is the teardrop layout.
Instead of two entrances, you have just one. This path opens up into a loop that cars can easily drive around. Whichever variation of a circular driveway you opt for, they require a fair amount of space, meaning that they aren’t suitable if you have a smaller front yard.
Beautifying your driveway
Once you’ve decided on the layout of your driveway, it is time to start thinking about how to make it look pretty.
The first, and probably easiest driveway landscaping technique is to get creative with the actual paving. Obviously, your options here will depend on the material with which you choose to pave your driveway. But some options to consider include:
- Creating an interesting design with different colored pavers
- Cobblestones laid in a simple pattern
- Staining or acid etching poured concrete
- Using different shades of gravel in simple patterns
- Adding “ribbons” of different paving material to create almost any design or pattern you like
Usually used to help with drainage and direct the flow of water in a specific direction, a berm can be installed across your driveway or alongside it. When it forms part of your driveway, it acts as a kind of speedbump and can block water flowing from the street down towards your house.
When it runs alongside your driveway, it usually takes the form of a hill. This hill can be turned into a flowerbed or covered with grass.
Flower or garden beds
When it comes to using flower or garden beds as borders for your driveway, the options are endless. You can opt for tall, stately trees, or neat hedges. You can have a variety of tall flowers and a trellis with climbing vines. Or you can choose smaller plants of the groundcover variety. You can use seasonal plants or ones that grow year round.
The only thing to consider is how much maintenance you want to do over time, your budget and the final look you want to achieve.
One of the simplest ways to dress up your driveway is with simple edging. You can be edge your driveway with just about any other paving material you like, or you could plan a narrow border of sod. The edging can be plain and simple, or you can get creative with them.
Another simple way to dress up a driveway is with simple lighting. From lanterns strung in trees to small colored floodlights scattered along the drive. Solar lights will help save electricity, but as long as they are outdoor and weatherproof – you are limited only by your budget and creativity.
Keeping your driveway beautiful
Once your driveway landscaping project is complete, the only thing left to do is maintain it. Spray it down with a pressure washer or sweep it on a fairly regular basis. Remove any oil stains with a strong eco-friendly detergent and tough scrubbing brush at least once a year. And get rid of any weeds that may pop up alongside or in between any cracks as soon as you see them.
A driveway is an essential feature of your home. But the fact that it has to be functional doesn’t mean it can’t also be beautiful. And once your driveway is gorgeous, it may be time to start thinking about beautifying your garage. Which is something that the experts at Coastal Garage Doors are always happy to help with!