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,
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
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
- 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!
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.
I'd like to help!
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.
Landesign of Virginia, Inc.
P.O. Box 15582
Richmond, Virginia 23227
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