The driveway is one of the first elements of a home that people see. Common driveway materials include asphalt, brick, pavers or concrete. Driveway designs can be purely functional or to create a certain look. A well-thought-out design will add visual appeal to an otherwise ordinary driveway. Incorporate lighting, stone accents, flowers or shrubs into the design to spruce up the driveway.
Install exterior lighting along both sides of the driveway. The lighting will give a nice ambience to the home as well as additional lighting at night for safety. Solar lights are easy to install, very affordable and eco-friendly. Some solar lighting systems consist of simple posts that you push into the ground at intervals. The sun provides energy that is stored in the fixture during the day and provides illumination at night. Solar lighting also comes in tall posts; install one on either side of your driveway entrance. Hard-wired lighting systems are generally more expensive and complicated, and should be professionally installed. The lights can be set on timers making them more energy-efficient. Space border lights at 2- or 3-foot intervals to maintain a pleasant visual balance. For a shorter driveway, one or two lantern fixtures may be a sufficient light source.
Arrange large rocks or stones on each side of the driveway to give it a more appealing look and to define the space. Home remodelling stores offer a selection of stone colours and types to use in yards. The website Concrete Ideas suggests removing 1 to 3 feet of grass and applying a weedkiller to both sides of the grass, prior to placing the stones. The rocks will also keep weeds from growing where they are placed. This will help the driveway to look well maintained.
Choose flowers and plants, specific to your climate, which will grow well near the driveway. Plant flowers beside the driveway to add colour and life to it. Perennials are a good choice, as they will bloom year after year without having to be replanted. A plant design will work best for a wide driveway which provides ample space for driving and parking. Plants such as lily of the valley or ajuga are low-growing flowering plants that will spread out on their own. According to Colorado State University, groundcover plants are generally less than 24 inches tall. These plants will allow maximum visibility in areas around the driveway. However, plants will be at risk of being run over as people travel on the driveway unless they planted a foot or more away from traffic areas.
Plant a few shrubs or trees along both sides of the driveway for visual interest of varying heights. Consider planting flowering shrubs such as rhododendron, hydrangea and bottlebrush buckeyes. The plants will be focal points for the driveway while adding curb appeal to the home. They can also serve as borders for the driveway. Cranesbill geranium, hosta, candytuff and bleeding heart are other good perennial choices. Arrange them in groupings of three or five for more visual interest.
Plant evergreens in various shapes and sizes for year-round interest. Dwarf hinoki cypress and globosa nana are two types of low-growing evergreen shrubs. Dwarf hinoki cypress, with its pyramid-shaped branches, will grow about 3 to 4 feet high and 2 to 3 feet wide. It can serve as a lovely accent plant, especially when planted next to a taller shrub. Globosa nana is suitable in the sun or partial shade. It has shiny, bright blue hue and grows to approximately 3 feet tall by 2 to 4 feet wide. Cleyera, robin holly and parson juniper shrubs all grow upwards of 8 feet or higher. These tall-growing shrubs should only be planted in driveway areas that do not require full visibility, such as on the side of a driveway near the woods. Trim the shrubs to get the desired look.
Asphalt or concrete are the most common choices for driveway paving due to their affordability. Concrete can be stamped or tinted to look like other paving materials. Stones such as brick pavers, cobblestones or slate are more expensive but elegant. Loose stone such as decomposed granite or shell can be applied for a more casual look and feel. Decomposed granite comes in various colours like tan, brown and charcoal grey. Choose a colour and style of driveway material to complement your house colours and landscaping.
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- Landscaping Network; Driveway Lighting Ideas
- This Old House; Light Where You Need It: Driveway & Walkway
- Better Homes and Gardens; Need Help on My Driveway Entry
- Concrete Ideas; 10 Driveway Design Ideas
- Colorado State Education Extension; Ground Cover Plants; J.E. Klett and R.A. Cox; 2009
- Landscape Solutions for You; Evergreens: A Green Landscape Area for a Circular Driveway