Circle Driveway vs. Traditional--how do I know which is best

by Emmy
(Dallas, TX, US)

Facade before remodel

Facade before remodel

We are considering a circle driveway for our small cape cod.


Our front yard measures approx 60' from street to front door, and 50' across (including the current driveway). The house itself is very small... however we are remodeling and planning to add 500-600 square feet.

No other house on our block has a circular drive, so we're wondering if we would be adding curb appeal and value, or hurting our curb appeal/value.

Our current situation is that our driveway is gravel, and our garage is detached to the rear of the home, on the right side of the house (if you're looking at the front), and facing the street. We plan to re-build the garage, concrete the driveway from the street to the garage, and move the garage further back, to the left of the house, and facing right.

I hope that made sense, I will add pics to help.

Also, our street for the most part does not have sidewalks. Some do, most don't. We would like to add a sidewalk when we do the driveway. Good idea or bad?

Thanks!
------------------------------------------

ANSWER

Hi Emmy,

I always find driveways, particularly circular driveways, interesting to design. However, the first thing I do is make sure it will fit correctly. The next thing is to make sure it looks right and as if it belongs.

By the way, thank you for all of the helpful info you provided...picture, measurements, etc.

I did a very quick sketch based on your dimensions. Although it seems to fit, I would not recommend this type of driveway design for your property.

Assuming the driveway is 9 or 10 feet wide, that would only leave you with about 30 feet in between the two drive sections. It looks rather elongated and not balanced well with your property. It's also a lot of paving for your front yard. Circular driveways typically look better with wider spaces of land to work with. And this has nothing to do with the rest of your neighborhood, which I don't think it matters...it is what looks best on your own property.

There are other things you can do to make a driveway more appealing. For example, consider creating a driveway apron. This would be an area at the beginning of your driveway about 15 to 20 feet long. It creates an importance to the entry. This could be made out of pavers or you could even change the color of the concrete here. If you chose pavers, you could edge the driveway with the same pavers. This is just one example of a driveway concept which would be a little different.

As far as the sidewalk goes, sidewalks are usually provided by the town or city and that land is owned by them. See where your property line goes to and if the area you want to add the sidewalk to is actually your property. If not, you might have to run this by your town to get an approval. As far as how it would look, if there are sidewalks in other areas of your neighborhood, it would probably look fine.

That being said, you might consider putting that money towards replacing your front walk with something more welcoming, such as pavers, brick or a natural stone.

I hope this was helpful. I like receiving questions that are a little different and enjoyed responding to you. If you have any further questions, just let me know.

Susan

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Courtyard Driveways

We have a modest house (2600 sq. ft.) that is on a long narrow lot. The only solution seems to be a courtyard drive. What would you suggest as a focal point for the middle of the courtyard? If it is the traditional fountain, what size?

ANSWER

A beautiful sculpture or fountain could be used in the center. It should be quite large. Otherwise it will just get lost. The exact size is really a judgment call. It depends on the height and width of your house....and also the setting.

A sculpture is the easier way to go. If you decide on a fountain, it either must have a pool built around it to collect the water...this is also where the water re-circulates from. If you can find a large, free standing fountain with it's own pump, this can be used alone without the pool. Perhaps design an impressive planting around it. (The same goes for a sculpture.)

You might also consider nothing in the center. This is often how old European courtyards were designed. It functions easily for vehicles. If the courtyard is square, you could place large planters in each corner.

Remember, a square courtyard should be at least fifty feet in length and width.

Susan

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Parking on Concrete Pavers

I was told that concrete pavers can "sink" if you park on them every day - and that you still get weeds (one of the things I am trying to get away from) is this true?

ANSWER

Concrete Pavers | Driveway Parking
by: Susan

Pavers should not sink if they are laid properly. The base at the bottom should be undisturbed soil. If it is disturbed, it must be tamped down in 8" lifts to make it very firm. As an alternative, a base of disturbed soil can be replaced with stone/gravel. On top of this should be a minimum (more is better, particularly for a driveway) of 4 inches of crushed stone. Then a layer of sand or stone dust is added. The pavers are then placed on top of this and sand swept. A level should be used when laying the pavers.

As far as weeds go, there is a product being used in paver joints now that hardens. That normally prevents any weeds from being a problem. You should be fine parking on a paver area. One more thing...the good thing about pavers is that if you ever have a problem, they can be easily picked up and re-laid.

Susan

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Circular Driveway Planting Design

by Teresa Evans
(Ripley, WV)

We are going to have a teardrop area in a "circular" driveway and need design ideas. We have a very large 2-story house that is behind the driveway, so would need something sort of tall maybe in parts of it? I love the Pampas Grass, but they look terrible in the winter. The area is about 12 feet wide at the widest and 20 feet long, in a teardrop shape. Thanks!

ANSWER


Hi Teresa,

Consider placing a mass of staggered shrubs along the 20 foot length. China Girl Blue Holly, Inkberry Holly or a lower growing Rhododendron are possibilities depending on how much sun the area gets. You can do masses of perennials in front or behind the shrubs. If the more important view is looking out from the house, put the perennials closer to the house and the shrubs closer to the street.

If you would rather the view be from the street, do the opposite. You might also places the shrubs towards the middle of the bed where you can place perennials on both sides.

In the winter, you will still have the evergreen shrubs so the less than desirable looking perennials will be less important. I like this concept.....it is a trade-off to get beautiful flowers and color throughout the season.

However, if this goes against you, place groups of lower shrubs in place of perennial flowers. Some to consider are Juniper, Cotoneaster, Azalea, and Japanese Plum Yew. Once again, choose according to your sun conditions.

You also might consider adding a taller shrub for some height, such as a Lilac. Place it towards one of the ends. And perhaps add a sculpture or bird bath somewhere?

Susan

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Driveway Plantings

by Janet

We have a narrow and deep circular driveway in the front of the house. In the center of the driveway, we have about a 30 foot long narrow patch for landscaping. We had tried different things for various years and last year, we settled on Boxwood. But the major problem is that people who visited us would drive into the landscaping and kill the plants.

What kind of landscaping or stones or paver bricks in what design can I protect the plants and still have it look pretty?

ANSWER
You might try using pavers or granite cobblestones set on edge. However, for them to be stable and not subject to being knocked down by cars, they would have to be set in concrete.

If this is not an option, as it can be expensive, and the Boxwood just don't make it, why don't you consider paving the area with pavers (although this can run into some money too)? If the area is not too steep, you could add some beautiful urns with plants on the pavers to soften them and add interest.

You could also use a tough groundcover, such as Ajuga, in place of the Boxwood. It sounds like your area is very narrow, so I would try to work with it rather than fighting it.


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"Susan,  what a pleasure it was to work with you.  You made me feel like I was your only client - responding late at night and always so quickly!  Your design is amazing and we only hope we can do justice to it when we plant.  You have such fantastic ideas and you are so open to suggestions and changes.  Loved working with you - now if you could only come to Canada and plant it!!!"
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