Driveway designs are an important part of the landscape and can be both welcoming and dramatic. But what does it take to create a driveway that is both great looking and functional?
I love creating driveways! You might think that's odd. However, the reason I enjoy it is that it is so important. After all, it's the first landscape element that someone uses; it allows them (or your) to enjoy the first glimpses of your landscape.
The immediate thoughts of most people are the actual design. However, there are many other things that go into a design to make it great. Some things to consider are the following:
Certain features of your landscape and home will help determine possible driveway designs and ideas. There is the location of the driveway entry, and there is the layout leading to the destination....the garage or driveway parking area. Ahh, but it's the in between that's the puzzle!
Is the distance long or short? If it's short, you often must follow a direct route. A long driveway offers more choices.
Another aspect to plan for is directing surface water correctly. To learn more about this, please visit my page on Driveway Drainage.
See my page on driveway dimensions for a complete list.
A driveway can lead straight from the road entry, where you might have a decorative driveway apron, to a side garage. In this case, the turning radius into the garage is one of the elements of the design, and it must function well. I use a 10 - 15' radius on the turn. In addition, the amount of space needed to back up out of the garage should be a minimum of 30 feet, but a little longer is better. You might have to do a K turn if you want to drive out forward.
When you do the design, if there is room, a good idea is to include an extra back up area so that you can back the car up and drive out forward. This space can also double for extra parking.
It can extend into the rear yard or it can be angled past the rear driveway corner. It should be a minimum of 10' wide and 18' long. Double the width if you would like parking for two additional vehicles. And the same turning radius applies.
Here is a drawing I did for a client that shows how extra parking can be created in an interesting way. The densely paved area is a terrace/sitting area adjacent to the front entry porch.
For designs where the driveway is far from the front door (or even if it is not!), you can insert parking where the walk would begin. What does this do?
To see how I designed one of my projects and also see a video of it, please visit my page on Driveway Ideas.
Circular driveway designs are also popular and might be a good choice as long as you have the space. A circular driveway design typically begins at the street, travels across the area close to the front door, and continues out to the street again. It is basically a loop. In addition, it has an area which leads to the garage.
Go back and quickly take a look at the first picture on this page. The drawing below is the AutoCad drawing and design for that project.
Below is also the finished project for the above drawing. It shows the driveway area near the front door. What drama! the fountain is a focal point, but so is the house. You can see in the drawing that the design is a complete circle.
I know this sounds huge, but actually it is what is needed to maneuver a vehicle comfortably.
See what driveway courtyards cost in different paving materials.
Here is a video of the above project.
This design of mine won two awards. One was for the fountain design and installation and the other was for the lighting design!
1. The main entrance drive is tar and chip.
2. Belgian block curbing was used.
3. The circular courtyard area was done in granite (matching the curbing).
Please visit cobblestone driveway designs.
Perhaps you might like to include an impressive garden fountain in the center of the courtyard. In my opinion, it's difficult to find a fountain that does not look tacky. You want one that is well made and elegant. I found two fountains recently that I think are very special and elegant. Take a look at my page on limestone fountains, where I show pictures of them. One is from Haddonstone and the other is from Longshadow.
This is an interesting type of design that can be beautiful! With this type of driveway design, the entry begins at one side of the front of the property, crosses over along the front and exits on the other side.
Here are some things to note about it.
A nice design feature is to emphasize the driveway area just along the front of the house. This can be done by creating a different paving here or even just edging the area.
As an aside, typical turning radii for driveway entries are 10 to 15 feet.
Driveway designs should be a minimum of 9 feet wide. This provides a narrow look which I like. Why create more hard surface in a landscape than is necessary?
However, there might be reasons for to have a wider one.
The driveway landscape and how to create a planting design is also very important for a finished look. You might address the entry, the driveway sides and where the driveway design ends. Driveway landscape designs are important to the overall look. I have also written a page with lots of information on driveway lighting.
Due to the large square footage of driveways, cost is normally a factor when it comes to selecting driveway paving materials. The main driveway paving choices are:
One of the nicest natural stones that you can use for driveway designs is granite, usually known as cobblestones. True cobblestones are made from granite which is one of the strongest paving materials.
New or old cobblestones make an elegant driveway design. However, the reclaimed stones have a look unto their own!
With all the various driveway materials that are available, it's sometimes difficult to choose the right one. Select one that fits your budget and remember it is only part of the landscape.
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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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