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Everything You Need to Know About Driveways

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Everything You Need to Know About Driveways

May 8, 2018

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

Grass block Lunix pavers from Godelmann are a permeable surface for a driveway.
Above: Grass block Lunix pavers from Godelmann are a permeable surface for a driveway.

See more in 10 Easy Pieces: Grass Block Pavers.

Suburban Driveways

A massive and magnificent camphor tree shades a poured concrete driveway in Sonoma, California. See more of this hardscape in Before & After: An Artful Gravel Garden in Sonoma, California.
Above: A massive and magnificent camphor tree shades a poured concrete driveway in Sonoma, California. See more of this hardscape in Before & After: An Artful Gravel Garden in Sonoma, California.

“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.

Illuminated Pavers

Cambridge SolaGlo Pavers are powered by LEDs (which consume less energy than conventional outdoor lighting) and can be recharged by solar power.
Above: Cambridge SolaGlo Pavers are powered by LEDs (which consume less energy than conventional outdoor lighting) and can be recharged by solar power.

See more in 10 Easy Pieces: Illuminated Pavers.

Driveway Gates

Photograph by Matthew Williams.
Above: Photograph by Matthew Williams.

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.

Ribbon Driveways

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Above: A 1,200-foot ribbon driveway paved with gravel curves gently as it approaches the entryway of a Bridgehampton estate on Long Island’s east end. See more in Landscape Designer Visit: A Sprawling Long Island Estate by Scott Mitchell. Photograph via Bespoke Real Estate.

Permeable Driveways

A ribbon driveway has grass block pavers and a planting bed of succulents and low-growing ground covers. See more at Required Reading: Private Gardens of the Bay Area. Photograph by Marion Brenner.
Above: A ribbon driveway has grass block pavers and a planting bed of succulents and low-growing ground covers. See more at Required Reading: Private Gardens of the Bay Area. Photograph by Marion Brenner.

See more in Hardscaping 101: Ribbon Driveways.

Desert Driveways

In an Arizona garden, a ribbon driveway of pavers set in dirt is designed to “disrupt the land as little as possible,” says landscape architect Steve Martino.
Above: In an Arizona garden, a ribbon driveway of pavers set in dirt is designed to “disrupt the land as little as possible,” says landscape architect Steve Martino.

See more in 10 Ideas to Steal from Desert Gardens.

Gravel Driveways

A gravel driveway and parking area connects the Gallica vineyard to a nearby road in California&#8
Above: A gravel driveway and parking area connects the Gallica vineyard to a nearby road in California’s Napa Valley. Photograph by Mimi Giboin.

See more in Garden Visit: At Home with Winemaker Rosemary Cakebread in St. Helena, CA.

Poured Concrete Driveways

A poured concrete driveway connects visually to the pavers on a front path in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of Los Angeles. See more of this project at Landscape Architect Visit: A Refined Family Garden with Flexible Play Zones. Photograph by Art Gray.
Above: A poured concrete driveway connects visually to the pavers on a front path in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of Los Angeles. See more of this project at Landscape Architect Visit: A Refined Family Garden with Flexible Play Zones. Photograph by Art Gray.

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.

Our new curated Driveways 101 guide also covers Crushed Shell Surfaces, Pea Gravel, and Gate Latches. And don’t miss:

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