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Pretty paving - driveways - Building  January 10, 2006

Your driveway can be more than just a way to get to the garage; it can also be your home's welcome mat. If the first impression your driveway creates is a featureless, static expense: asphalt or concrete, you may want to consider warming up your home's curb appeal with one of these eye catching approaches.

Just switching to a different paving material may be enough to work a magical transformation. Pretty as a patio, the combined driveway/entry walk at this Coronado, California, home features bricks hid in a diagonal herringbone pattern and set on a sand base. Mortared bricks around the edges lock everything in place. "When our landscape design firm came up with the idea of bricks in sand, we were skeptical, thinking it wouldn't hold up," the owners told us. "But it's not only held up beautifully, it offers a more informal look than a brick-in-mortar design would have." Other fringe benefits: you can shave costs by laying most of the driveway yourself, and there are no unseemly cracks or expansion joints.

Grow your driveway? Yes, even grass can make a durable paving material when you "pave" your driveway with a concrete grid. The lawnlike driveway shown above and top right was created with precast grid units that are about 3 feet square and 4 inches thick. You lay the grid over a compacted soil base, sweep soil into holes in the concrete, water, and plant lawn seed or plug sod into the holes. The paving easily supports a loaded truck. This tactic is especially effective if your driveway allows only a postage-stamp lawn.

Adding a pebbly face and some graceful curves can give an off-putting driveway the friendly feel of a streambed. This textured, gently meandering drive (below and lower right) was constructed with an aggregate concrete mix and then washed to expose the aggregate. Brick accents visually tie the paving to the home's brick exterior.

Bold bands and squares can energize even the flattest, plainest stretch of driveway. At this recently remodeled trace home in Southern California, the old driveway and walk were a sea of uninspired concrete. Plantings between the walk and drive and along the edges required high maintenance and heavy watering

During the remodel, the front of the house got an architectural face-life and an extensive driveway/front yard redesign. The architect's solution: turn over nearly half of the front yard to a modular, low-maintenance pattern of concrete and plantings, and create a unified scheme by repeating some of the home's architectural motifs in the landscape design. A combination of poured concrete and concrete pavers divides the drive into a giant grid, broken here and there by grouped planting areas. The scale of the grid gives the drive visual impact while its beefy bands slice the concrete down to friendlier swaths. Concrete tiles forming the bands mimic squares that the architect incorporated into the railings, garage door panels, window muntins, and sconce lighting on the house. Tiles also form a grid of stepping-stones in the planting bed.

COPYRIGHT 1997 Meredith Corporation

Better Homes & Gardens, July, 1997 by William L. Nolan

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