Driveways are a great improvement over the rutted dirt paths that in centuries past connected houses to public roads. Modern-day suburbia has landscape architects to thank for the invention of the smooth, graded “approaches” that began to appear in the United States in the 19th century.
In the early 1840s, Hudson Valley landscape designer Andrew Jackson Downing described how to design a comfortable driveway. “The best, and indeed the only way to decide the matter, is to go over the whole ground covered by the Approach route carefully, and select a spot or spots sufficiently near to give the most favourable and striking view of the house itself,” Downing wrote in A Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening Adapted to North America; With a View to the Improvement of Country Residences.
This remains sound advice today. Are you designing a new driveway (or upgrading an existing one)? Use our brand-new design guide to Driveways 101 for inspiration and tips on everything from driveway paving materials—from poured-in-place concrete to decomposed granite—to designs for ribbon driveways, lighting, permeable surfaces, driveway gates, and landscape edging.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll find in our new Driveways 101 guide.
Grass Block Pavers
See more in 10 Easy Pieces: Grass Block Pavers.
“While a driveway may seem like an unglamorous aspect of the overall design (on a par with say, drainage), a driveway actually is one of the most important elements in a landscape. Why? Not only is it used every day but also a driveway is integral to creating curb appeal,” writes contributor Kier Holmes, a garden designer. Read more in Hardscaping 101: Driveway Paving.
See more in 10 Easy Pieces: Illuminated Pavers.
Driveway gates should swing into your property, not outward into public space, unless your walkway or driveway is on a steep slope. See more in Garden Gate Design: 10 Iron Entryways with Curb Appeal.
See more in Hardscaping 101: Ribbon Driveways.
See more in 10 Ideas to Steal from Desert Gardens.
Poured Concrete Driveways
In a Los Angeles garden designed by landscape architect Mark Tessier, simple elements connect the front garden to the driveway and garage. A board and batten fence echoes the clean lines of the garage door, and a stripe of concrete pavers in the driveway points visitors toward the entry path.