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Landscaping Around Driveways

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 24 Mar 2012 | comments*Discuss
Garden Driveway Edging Turf Lawn

Once your driveway is finished you'll want to attend to the landscaping around it. Even if you take great care there will inevitably be damage to the areas around the driveway from Excavation For Foundations, vehicles and workers manoeuvring around the area, and possibly spillage of raw materials outside the edges of the driveway.

Take Stock of the Area Before Starting

Of course, the work you will need to do varies wildly depending on the driveway construction and the garden you have around it. If you've paved over most of your front garden in a suburban environment, then there'll be little to do. On the other side of that coin, a Tarmac, Concrete or Paved Driveway that snakes through a large, flattish garden will need a lot of landscaping effort make the garden look good again.

Clean Up First

Clearing up is the first step. Get rid of any excess paving materials, rubble or gravel and either take them to the dump, sell them on or dispose of them in some other way. Assess any damage to the garden area and remove any shrubs or plants that have been damaged to the point of no return.

If you have laid a gravel drive and have managed to keep most of the lawn around it in reasonable condition, make sure you rake it thoroughly. If you don't, the next time you cut it, any escaped gravel will cause havoc with your lawnmower blades and, if you're really unlucky, your windows or stray passers-by, too.

Start From the Edging

Once all loose debris has been cleared, start from the driveway edge and work out. If you have put down an Edging Of Blocks, kerbs or something similar, level the soil on the far side of it ready to put in plants or lay turf. If there's no edging, consider putting one in, even if it's just some half-submerged timber batten (treated, of course).

Edging isn’t just about keeping a driveway looking good. With block paving it helps to prevent grass and weeds getting a foothold between the blocks. With gravel drives, and other loose materials, it is vital in making it harder for the gravel to escape into the surrounding garden. This makes lawnmower related disasters, like the ones we talked about earlier, less likely to happen. And with tarmac and concrete it prevents damage to the edges of the driveway.

If you're just at the planning stage and haven’t intended to lay edging then it should be seriously considered, for almost every type of driveway.

Landscape from the Driveway Edge Outward

Now work out from the edging into the garden. If the garden is laid mainly to lawn, then turf is the quick option for recovery. Seed is cheaper but takes longer and can grow very patchy. It is, as with so many DIY jobs, a case of weighing up the cost against the time it takes.

Shrubs and other plants can of course be incorporated close to the edge but make sure you know the height each plant will grow to and their root spread. There are two issues to consider, visibility and root damage.

Height and Root Spread

The taller a plant is the more likely it is to obscure your vision as you drive up and down the driveway. Depending on the layout this could cause a safety hazard; preventing you from seeing oncoming traffic, or perhaps children playing in the garden.

The root damage issue comes from planting large shrubs too close to the driveway. Although the root spread of individual plants differs widely, you can generally say that the root system spreads wider than the leaves and branches, but rarely lower than two-thirds of a meter. This means that a large plant or small tree that's a yard or more away from the driveway could eventually start working its way under the driveway and undermining the foundations.

Landscaping Should be Planned

Planning is key. Although in this article we've started the landscaping process after the end of the construction phase, the reality is that landscaping should be thought through at the beginning. Make landscape planning part of your overall planning and you'll be able to avoid nasty surprises at the end.

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