A Driveway is the Backbone of Your Landscape Design!

The driveway determines how the landscape design is going to develop and support the appearance of the front of your home. The all important “street appeal” is dependent on it.
Poor design of this approach to the house is one of the biggest flaws I see. This usually happens because it wasn’t even considered.
The homeowner didn’t realize how it can make or break one of their biggest investments, their home.

driveway design before picture


driveway design after picture


Isn’t this house beautiful!
The driveway is the design element that sets the stage to an overall gorgeous setting for this house.
The size of the circle is in proportion to the house.
Grading has been done to level the surface in the front making it so much more attractive and easier to use.
The color of the surface compliments the colors used in the house and is appropriate for the rural setting.
The horse fencing was set back from the driveway to allow for
an open view to the house.
The width of the main drive is narrow to resemble a country road.
The front circle widens up to accommodate guest parking.
It curves to the side which takes the family to their private parking.

Designing a beautiful approach to your home
that “works” takes time and effort, but it is so worth it!
I want to pass on to you some of the main things
I think about when putting together a landscape design.

  • The driveway directs how visitors
    are going to approach and view your house.

    Walk the property and determine at what
    place at the front property line is the best place to
    enter your property and view the front of your house.
    Direct guests away from bad views or private areas.
  • Bring the visitor to the front door.
    Even if you need to drive to a garage on the side
    bring your guest to the front door. Think of the
    garage as a personal area, not a place to
    receive people.
  • For a large property, think about
    driving through the property instead of a straight
    road to the house.
    This allows
    the visitor to see your property and catch glimpses
    of some other interesting areas. This is especially
    effective when peeks of water views through the
    trees are seen in advance. When I first start
    working for a client, they sometimes express
    concern about taking a road through a natural or
    wooded area thinking disrupting it takes away
    from its value. What I have seen is that these
    areas would never be visited unless a means of
    access is provided. Once the road is in it opens
    p a part of the property to enjoy that otherwise
    would have gone unnoticed.

  • For smaller properties, there are
    alternatives to bringing the driveway down the side
    to the garage.
    I have done U-shaped drives
    on a city parcel! I have found people think that this
    type of design removes too much green space. Yes,
    some lawn area is removed, but it looks no less
    lush than properties with only a lawn in front.
    U-shaped drives bring guests directly to the front
    door and provide an easy exit. Be sure to widen
    the driveway by the front door to a minimum of 18
    feet. This allows two cars to pass eliminating
    a bottleneck where your guests are made to move their
    car to allow another one to leave. What a pain!
    Let’s do it right!

  • Driveway U-shaped

    This house with a U-shaped drive
    looks lush and green, yet still
    takes you to the front door easily!
    It is in proportion to the site and house.
    This is what creates that wonderful first impression!

  • The width is important!
    It should never be narrower than 10 feet.
    It is just too tight. If it is a long
    driveway have places where cars can pull over
    and let someone pass. A 12 foot width is considered
    the norm. This is still a one car driveway. A 15 foot
    wide drive is the widest I’ve used. Some clients
    just want the extra room or want a more open view
    to the house. Where the drive meets the main road,
    gradually widen your drive to 25 feet. This width
    opening allows for plenty of room to make the turn.
    If this entrance point gets too wide, it gets out
    of proportion and starts looking like the entrance
    to a shopping center.

  • You must allow room for
    cars to park.
    Designate the area
    by a garage as private parking.
    The paved area outside of the garage doors must
    also provide adequate room to pull out of the garage
    and turn around. If possible, I like to see 40 feet
    of width here. You can then pull out of the garage
    and pretty easily pull straight into your driveway
    and take off. This wide area can also provide overflow
    parking, when needed. This is the perfect place to
    add some parking places for the kids. For the entrance
    of the house, I have made a circle drive wide enough to
    accommodate parking around it. Actual parking spaces
    off a circle drive are possible. Parking spaces are
    18 feet long and a minimum of 8 ½ feet wide. Don’t
    forget about the bumper overhang. Give the plants some
    room. Install plants 1-2 feet from the front edge of a
    parking space. Sometimes all space allows is to have a
    few parking spaces off the main drive. Keep guest parking
    easily accessible and oriented to the front door.

  • Driveway dilemma?
    I'd like to help!
    Ask a question and you will get a quick response.
    The answer will be posted as a web page on this
    site for you to share and for all the readers to enjoy!

    Please contact me for further information
    or to talk to me about my landscape design services.

    Nancy Dransfield
    Landesign of Virginia, Inc.
    P.O. Box 15582
    Richmond, Virginia 23227
    Office: 804-261-6773
    Fax: 804-264-7253

    E-mail: n.dransfield@verizon.net

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    Related pages: Driveway Surfaces, Circular Driveways, U-Shaped Driveways, Landscape Design Samples; Front Yards; and Landscape Pictures.

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