How to: Sprucing up your customer’s driveway

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Updated May 10, 2024
Photo: Jill Odom/Total Landscape CarePhoto: Jill Odom/Total Landscape Care

What’s one of the first things you see when you go to a customer’s house? Depending on their location and proximity to the road, it’s typically the driveway.

But how often do you stop to think, man I really should make that driveway look better?

This thought may not have occurred to your customers either because they are so enamored with the work you’ve done to make the areas around the house look fantastic, but why not show the driveway some love too? After all, it is one of the first things people will see when arriving at a house, so why not make it a focal point rather than something easy to glance over?

Not only will sprucing up the driveway help increase your customer’s home’s curb appeal, but it will also help tie in that paved area to the rest of the landscape. Take a look at the length of your customer’s driveway, whether it’s short or long, see what all it has to offer, and think of the possibilities in store.

The clean and green look

While your customer may be on board with bringing a bit of life to their driveway, they may not exactly want you to go all out with it. Therefore, offering them a clean and green look will give them the lively and fresh look they crave, while not pushing them out of their comfort zone.

Layering all green foliage plants will give the driveway an inviting and lush feel that will also require less maintenance than one that features perennials that flower. Adding a bald cypress or an evergreen hedge of arborvitae will provide great coverage and an eye-catching focal point. While there may be a few needles that need to be swept up along the way, the final look will be well worth it in the end.

A pop of color 

For customers who don’t mind a bit of color, well everywhere, look into different plants and flowers that will bloom well and mix well together. Adding a bit of grass in between the flowers will help break up some of the color and add balance to the look. Consider using Japanese forest grass for a wispy look, and add cool-toned blooms like globe allium and catmint to bring in more color.

If the driveway takes up a considerable amount of space, consider putting into play some paving material that blends in well with the surrounding landscape, such as gravel driveways. Gravel gives the customer the look and feel of taking a stroll in a courtyard but keeps the driveway functional as well as fashionable. It will also give the driveway more of a garden look and will help blend the landscape into one entity.

Short and long driveways

Customers with short driveways may not think they are missing out on much since they don’t really have much to work with in the first place, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Even with a driveway that is only a few feet long, or even in residential areas where houses and driveways are close together, there are still options.

Short driveways offer the chance to either go minimalistic or to try and spice it up, but that choice, naturally, falls to your customer. For a more minimalistic look, try keeping it simple by adding in one variety of plants instead of trying to pack a few in. Pick out some good ornamental grasses, a unique cactus, or just an evergreen shrub or two. Sticking with one plant variety will keep a good look of clean lines and won’t distract too much from your customer’s home.

The longer the driveway, the longer you stay on it. The longer you stay on it, the more time you have to take in the scenery around you. Therefore, talk to your customers about taking advantage of their longer driveways to showcase a few unique plants.

Much like we talked about how pathways in secret gardens create intrigue and build anticipation, driveways are meant to do the same. Driveways ultimately lead to something exciting, so why not use them to hype up guests? Try creating the look and feel of a park when designing longer driveways. Add in some stonework, such as a small fixture or a wall here and there, some canopy trees that offer shade to leisurely walkers, and top it off with a variety of plants.

Formal and informal

Along with having customers split on whether they want their driveways ornate or serene, you’ll also face some who prefer formal over informal. There’s no right or wrong answer, of course, so it’s important to keep ideas for both up your sleeves.

For a more informal look, go for a meadow-like look when arranging plants. Don’t be afraid to let it look more open and free, since it is supposed to be informal, and use a healthy mix of ornamental grasses and pollinator-attracting flowers to form a more natural-looking entrance.

Billowing grasses and a variety of perennials like black-eyed Susans mix well together and are aesthetically pleasing. Also, don’t be afraid to color outside the lines a little bit. Not everything has to remain in the confines of the flower bed, so let a few of the grasses spill over onto the driveway.

For a more formal look, consider sticking with clean lines and classic plant combinations, such as evergreens mixed with white roses. Unlike an informal driveway, sticking inside the lines is important for a customer who wants a formal look. If the driveway isn’t already lined, talk to them about adding a small line of bricks to run the length of the driveway. Not only will it keep plants contained, it will also help keep a clear and clean distinction between the driveway and the flower bed.

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