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Driveway Basics

A big fat driveway can ruin the look of a carefully landscaped yard. Here's how to make it blend in better.

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Bright flowers along the house move the eye away from the drive.
  • Disguise the stalls. Pavers hidden in the grass can mask a parking spot as lawn, or you can plant special-made concrete forms or screens that allow grass to grow through them. This allows you to drive on the grass without killing it or compacting the soil.
  • Change the materials. Shop for interesting paving options. You can stain concrete or asphalt almost any hue. You can choose pavers in various colors and in rectangles, hexagons, scallops, and even freeform shapes. You can place a ribbon of bricks through the asphalt, as shown here, or edge the driveway with a contrasting element.
  • Screen cars. Build low fencing or place plants so they cloak areas where cars will be parked. For security, keep an unobstructed path from parking spot to house, and don't shield cars entirely.
  • Add plants. Create undulating flowerbeds along the driveway to soften the rigid lines. Pack some annuals for base color and use small shrubs or trees to vary the height.
  • Change direction. A subtle curve adds powerful interest.
  • Add an apron. If you can't afford a more expensive material for the entire driveway, use a different material for the first several feet of the driveway, or use it where the cars park and guests alight.
  • Thin it. A driveway could be a single lane if you allow guest parking farther up so visitors don't trap other cars.
  • Repeat elements. Carry the driveway elements into a sidewalk or patio to create a relationship rather than strand the driveway as an outsider.
  • Drape the drive. The driveway can be a highlight rather than an eyesore if it brings you under a web of trees. Choose varieties that don't drop twigs, limbs, or sap.
  • Announce it. If you can't hide the drive, introduce it with an entry arch or pillars. This keeps the driveway from looking like an afterthought and also breaks the curbside monotony.
  • Plan early. If you plan your driveway and landscaping together, you may discover an option beyond a wide, divisive driveway that plunges straight from street to house. Consider side-entry garages, a curving driveway, or a turnaround lane that circles a flower filled island.
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Size your driveway right.

These are the minimum space requirements for a driveway. Adding 2 feet to the dimensions would allow ideal use. For a visual aid to the dimensions below, download our free diagram. (Downloading requires Adobe Acrobat software.)

Download Driveway diagram

Download Adobe Acrobat

  • Single driveway width: 10 feet
  • Double-drive width: 20 feet
  • Parking length: 18 feet
  • Guest parking width (such as to the side of the garage): 12 feet
  • Length of approach apron for guest parking: 15 feet
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