by Jennifer Jones
The curb appeal of a home encompasses the exterior façade and finish, the landscaping of trees, grass and plants, as well as the hardscaping, which refers to the elements that are made of concrete, brick, stone, wood or any other item that is non-living. The driveway is the largest hardscape element of the exterior and also the most prominent part when you enter someone’s home or property. Whether you live in a country cottage or a luxury home, the driveway is what welcomes your guests.
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Not too long ago driveways were either asphalt or concrete – end of story. Today’s driveway designs are very important in the overall landscape layout and can be designed to be durable and functional as well as dramatic and unique.
Driveways are expensive to build and careful planning before hand will save you a lot of time, money and aggravation. When laying out your driveway there are some very important elements to take into consideration. A few are listed below;
- Location of the driveway - Driveways should work well for guests who come to your front door as well as family members that need access to the garage or parking area. It is important to create walkways from the driveway that are a minimum of four feet in width so that two people can walk side by side and family members with their hands full can easily walk past one another without bumping into one another.
- Shape of the driveway – The shape of the driveway will depend on your garage location and property easements. Straight, curved, angled or circular it is important to leave plenty of room.
- Straight driveways can lead right to the road or to a driveway apron on a side garage. From your driveway edge to your garage doors there should be a minimum of thirty feet. From a side entry garage make sure to include extra back up space so that you can pull out and then turn. This area should be at least eighteen feet in length.
- Entries from the road can also be curved with a radius of ten to fifteen feet but unless you have plenty of length these are sometimes hard to park on, especially with larger vehicles.
- The length of an angled driveway can vary but it is important to keep each section eighteen feet or greater.
- If you have the room a circular driveway will work whether your garage is in the front or on the side. It is basically a loop and then an area that leads to the garage or parking area. The length can vary but the turning radius should not be any tighter than fifteen feet.
- Extra parking, turn around and back up area – Before adding a driveway think about at any given time how many vehicles will need to be parked. Make sure there is enough space and always leave enough room to turn around and back up.
- Parking courts and the proper size – Parking courts or courtyards create a central area near the front door to accent with landscaping and fountains for an elegant entrance. They are usually square and a minimum of fifty-five feet in width and depth.
- Width of the driveway – Typically driveways are nine to twelve feet in width but if you have a front entry two car garage you may have to double the width for the two vehicles.
- Driveway landscaping – When landscaping your driveway make sure that it blends with the rest of your landscape surrounding your home. Make sure that trees aren’t planted too close so as they grow their roots won’t damage the driveway.
- Paving materials – Cost is usually the factor when deciding what surface to choose. Some options include loose stone that is available in various sizes, colors and textures, decomposed granite, tar and chip, asphalt, concrete, stamped concrete, concrete pavers, brick, travertine pavers and natural stone. Whatever option you choose, make sure it is properly installed so that water doesn’t pool up in places but is designed to create runoff.
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If you have an existing concrete driveway but want to spruce it up there are many options on the market. The concrete industry has introduced new techniques and products such as painting, stamping and other effects that will assist you with resurfacing your plain-gray driveway and create the style that is perfect for your home.
So whether you are starting a driveway from scratch or rejuvenating an existing one it is important to find a contractor that is experienced and does quality work. When finished your driveway should not require much maintenance or effort to keep it looking good. Take the time to create an entrance into your home that has lasting performance and timeless curb appeal. If you do it right - the first impression will be a lasting one.
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