There’s no steering around it — driveways play a big role in your home’s appearance. Small wonder: They’re sizeable features. A typical 20-foot-by-40-foot suburban driveway occupies about 800 square feet of front yard — almost half a tennis court. Yet we often regard these hardworking necessities simply as slabs of concrete. With a little imagination, however, you can cook up a great-looking driveway that’ll boost curb appeal and help preserve the value of your property. Here are some driveway design ideas:

 

A mix of hardy ground covers and paving bricks creates a tidy driveway that melts into the surrounding landscape. Solid brickwork forms tracks outlined with tough-as-nails ground covers that can take an occasional misplaced tire. Rugged ground covers include blue star creeper (Isotoma fluviatilis) and Corsican mint (Mentha requienii).

A few simple design elements, such as these concentric circles, add a nice helping of curb appeal. The construction of a brick or concrete paver driveway is similar to that of a patio, costing about $15 per sq. ft., including installation.

Image: Scott Miller/Flickr

 

Durable porous pavers are concrete or plastic blocks designed with holes that let you plant vegetation inside the blocks, creating a “living” driveway. Porous pavers are an environmentally friendly choice: They let rain pass through to the ground underneath, reducing runoff that makes your yard soggy and carries pollutants to waterways.

Image: Green Innovations

 

Why use low-cost asphalt when you can have brick? Hey, wait a minute — this IS asphalt! Stamped and colored to mimic good old red brick, this asphalt driveway costs about half what real brick will cost to install.

Image: Design Paving

 

It’s hard to beat the look and texture of real stone, such as this Arizona flagstone. Check local stone dealers for regional varieties that will withstand the weight of vehicles without chipping or cracking. Buying local stone avoids long-distance freight charges that boost the price of these heavy materials.

Image: Peter Conroy

 

Cool edgings and borders give your drive a touch of panache. Patterns for stamped concrete are nearly limitless. Expect to pay $8 to $12 per sq. ft. for basic stamped concrete in a single color; $12 and up for more elaborate patterns.

Image: Anne Canright/Jeffrey Concrete

 

Color your concrete driveway to your heart’s content—you’ll find dozens of hues available. Use one of several methods: Pigments (powders and liquids) are added to the concrete as it’s being mixed and permeate the material; dyes, stains, and colored hardeners are topical applications that result in vivid solid colors or variegated swirls for a cool look at modest cost.

Image: Eagle Concrete

 

Low-voltage paver lights feature tough resin lenses that withstand traffic. The lights are set flush with the surrounding pavers. A 14-light kit featuring 4-by-8-inch pavers, a transformer, cable, and connectors costs $200 to $300. It’s perfect for DIY jobs, such as decorative driveway borders.

Image: Kerr Lighting by SEK/Surebond

 

Elegance meets practicality when low-cost asphalt meets a decorative apron of stamped and stained concrete. Seek bids from concrete contractors who have demonstrated experience using decorative concrete techniques.

Image: King Architectural Concrete & Construction

 

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