Driveways are the very first thing that you or visitors experience (besides maybe the mailbox!) when arriving at your property. There is no doubt that the entrance to your property sets the tone. If you’re ready to design & install a driveway and want to make sure you’re getting something that you will love, that’s useful for you and lasts- you’re in the right spot.
Since we do design and install a lot of driveways, we have no choice but to get them right for our clients. And in our experience building them, we’ve seen what things you especially want to pay attention to before the work begins. So, to help you to get your driveway and surrounding landscape right- we’ve compiled the key things that you need to consider. Read on to see How To Get A Driveway Design (And Landscape) You Will Love.
Above: This driveway by PLANT Design Group uses a combination of Belgium block and asphalt.
Use 4 Factors To Choose The Best Driveway Material
Once you know what your budget is, you can start looking at materials for the driveway itself.
Select the best material for your use and it will make your life easier and your experience better.
If you are on a steep hill, don’t use gravel- it will wash out every time it rains. Inversely, if you are installing, for instance- gravel could be the best option for a quarter mile driveway through a field if asphalt for that length would not work for your budget.
If you are a neat freak like me and like to constantly wash your cars, concrete is nice because it’s very durable and holds up well to soap and pressure washers.
Consider Longevity & Durability & Customizability & Cost To Choose The Best Driveway Material For You.
If you will be having heavy traffic whether it’s due to trucks or vehicles traveling fast, you will want to keep that in mind when choosing the thickness, shape and construction specifications of your driveway material.
For instance, if you have large trucks frequenting your property, make sure you make curves wide, keep tree limbs high and make the driveway base thick enough to accommodate the heavy traffic.
A common misconception is that in the Northeastern United States, it is inevitable that driveways crack over time. Though it is true to some degree, a properly built driveway should never crack and then seperate. If it does, it is evidence of an underlying condition that wasn’t properly dealt with.
Concrete driveways should be poured 6” deep with rebar every 18” in two perpandicular directions. Asphalt driveways should have two courses, a binder course, and then a topcoat, with the thickness varying- depending on the application and soil type. Gravel driveways should start with 4-6” stabilizing rip-rap, then 6” of crushed modified stone, then the surface dressing stone.
Consider the geography where you live when choosing a material.
If you live in an area with heavy rainfall and steep terrain, choose asphalt over gravel.
If you live in an area with intense sun and high temperatures, choose concrete over asphalt.
If you live in an area with heavy freeze and thaw, avoid concrete and pavers since they tend to age and “spall” prematurely.
The two things that will most determine what material is used to create your driveway is your budget.
The driveway materials (and their cost ranges for 2021) that we at PLANT design and install include:
Pavers: $15 – $40 per S.F.
Concrete: $10 – 32 per S.F.
Asphalt: Call for pricing
Dimensional Stone Pavers over Concrete: $40 – $100 Per S.F.
Gravel: Call for pricing
Hiring The Best Type of ‘Builder’ For Your Driveway
People sometimes forget that landscape designers ‘do’ blacktop. But you could also go to a paving company. So, why does it matter where you get your driveway from? What’s the advantage of getting a driveway from a landscape designer? What other choices might be better in someone’s situation?
Who Should You Contact When You Need A New Driveway?
A general contractor? Or a landscape designer? A paving contractor? As a landscape designer and installer, yes- we do install asphalt, paver, concrete and stone driveways. The difference is our focus on the driveway design aspects especially, as well as the capability to complete the surrounding landscape.
We frequently design and install driveways, when the case is that the client’s current driveway isn’t meeting their needs. This is typically because of poor driveway design. People come to us for new driveways after having issues like:
- Drainage and water issues
- Lack of usability due to puddling
- Driveways not wide enough to navigate turns
- Family vehicle expansions or vehicle quantity changes
- Permitting issues due to impervious surface or zoning setback issues
- Quality concerns
- Design or aesthetic priorities
- Usability for sports, etc
These are all scenarios we get involved in when we’re designing and installing the right driveway. We love helping our customers get the driveway solution that’s best for them.
Driveway Zoning and Permits Approval
As a landscape design and build company, we take care of this part of the process on behalf of our clients who are looking to modify an existing driveway. This typically involves a visit to your township or municipality’s zoning department website to evaluate their requirements, and then a study of your plot plan to look at setbacks, easements and impervious surface limits.
If at first, your application is denied for a “new” driveway permit- (also known as a “highway occupancy permit”) know that you can appeal that decision. A traffic study can be requested by the state agency in charge of the roads.
Choosing A Design (Shape & Function) For Your Driveway
The most common calls we get for driveway modifications are clients looking to add a circle into their driveway, to turn around without backing up, a parking area separate from the garage for additional vehicles, or re-grading dreways to prevent dirt from washing onto the drive, or water from icing up on the driveway.
Above: A circular element makes navigating this driveway a breeze at this property in Bucks County, PA.
Walkways: Getting From The Driveway To The House
A good walkway will be solid, considerable width and a smooth transition from the driveway itself. Picture it. You arrive with a car packed full with groceries and gifts. You pull up… and there it is. Pavers to your door. An easy trek from your space in the driveway. Demand that the transition from driveway to walkway is smooth, level and safe.
Above: Getting inside after a shopping trip is a breeze when it’s a straight and easy path.
We do see a lot of interesting driveway situations, but perhaps the most interesting so far: “No we cannot build a driveway through your neighbors woods in the middle of the night because they won’t sell you their land,” ; )
My favorite driveway we have installed so far? A Belgium block driveway with a custom gate, supported by plum flagstone and cast stone piers. One of the reasons it is my favorite is that the construction methods we used should make this an entranceway to be traveled and enjoyed for many generations!