SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

October 6, 2013

Great driveways, pretty too

Home projects

Driveway can be given lift, too

                                                  BUSK & ASSOCIATES

A “living driveway” features grass interspersed among the pavers, which reduces heat and glare and provides drainage.


The driveway that came with the 1921 Craftsman house that David Ulick bought five years ago was the original concrete. It was marred by cracks, and tree roots were breaking through.   “I didn’t like the driveway,” said Ulick, of Pasadena, Calif. “I wanted something a little bit nicer.”

He looked through books and drove through the Craftsman-rich neighborhoods of Pasadena to get ideas before deciding on a concrete drive with an antique finish, accented with reclaimed red bricks from the 1920s.   “I wanted this to look like the original driveway — an original, nice driveway — and using used bricks gives it a nice old-fashioned look,” Ulick said.

“It really makes it a grand entrance for the house,” he added. “I figured I’d treat the Craftsman the way it deserves to be treated and maintain its design style and heritage.”

MICHAEL KEENAN    Cast concrete pavers are available in a variety of sizes and colors.

Although the driveway might still be an afterthought for many homeowners, others such as Ulick are adding curb appeal to their homes by moving beyond basic options such as grass or gravel, asphalt or concrete.

“The driveway is commonly overlooked,” conceded Michael Keenan, an adjunct assistant professor of landscape architecture at the University of Minnesota. “Driveways are not cheap necessarily, but they are completely functional and necessary if you have a car and a garage.”

Doing up the driveway, Keenan said, is a chance to “celebrate the function because it is a piece of the property you do use every day.”

The design options have grown in the past decade or so, he said, as pavers — made from cast concrete, clay and natural stone such as granite — are being turned out in a range of colors and sizes. Some have rounded edges for an older look; others are mottled to add color variation to the driveway.

Installing a customized driveway is a way to set your house apart from the rest. Depending on the neighborhood, the materials and the quality of the craftsmanship, Keenan said, a driveway could also increase a home’s resale value.

“It does become a point of distinction,” he said. “It is something people notice. It is elegant.”

The least expensive paved driveways are made of asphalt, costing about $12 to $15 a square foot, and concrete, about $14 to $18 a square foot, Keenan said. Although concrete is more resilient and lasts longer, both materials will crack over time, he said.

Pavers, which start at about $20 to $25 a square foot, should last a lifetime, Keenan said.         

                                                                                                                            DAVID ULICK

This concrete driveway with an antique finish is accented with red bricks from the 1920s.

“The key is the fact that the pavement acts as flexible fabric, and it can move with the earth and isn’t a rigid system and isn’t prone to cracking,” he said.

Pavers can be used to make traditional patterns such as basket weave or herringbone or fashioned into a custom look.

For a less traditional look, use a paver that comes in three or four sizes and lay out the pavers at random, Keenan said. Or get a custom design without breaking the bank by using concrete pavers accented with more expensive natural stone pavers.

Keenan, the co-founder and design director of reGEN Land Design in Minneapolis, said people are most concerned with the color.

“I don’t think you can make a value judgment on which one is the best,” Keenan said of driveway designs. “It’s got to fit the building that you’re paving next to.”

NELCO LANDSCAPING    A permeable driveway such as this allows water to absorb back into the earth under the pavers.

He might recommend a traditional red-brick driveway for a light blue Colonial home. For a contemporary, environmentally “green” home, he might choose light-colored permeable pavers — which let water back through to the earth rather than forcing it to run off.

In Naples, Fla., landscape architect W. Christian Busk installs “living driveways” that feature real grass interspersed among pavers.

“We blur the lines between where driveway ends and where landscape begins,” said Busk, president of Busk & Associates. “It always looks beautiful.”

Back in Pasadena, the concrete and brick option that Ulick chose is popular among owners of the Craftsman and other historical homes in the area, said Mark Peters, the chief estimator for Boston Brick & Stone, which helped create Ulick’s driveway.

Since he got his driveway in 2009, Ulick said, he has received many compliments, and people sometimes stop to ask whether his driveway is the original.

“That’s a bigger compliment,” he said, “that it looks like it’s been done years and years and years ago.”

(My Comment:

These Home Projects along with the change of seasons often gets to me.

These photos are so inspiring and beautiful, can’t help myself.    If you like them, copy or print them out, my pictures have a way of disappearing from my site (dunno why)  So many of these are not only beautiful, but green as well for they add value and function beyond the obvious.  Runoff can be a problem to many.  This solves that problem as the water is able to seep trough to the soil.  Ah well,  .   .   enjoy   Jan)


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