Driveway Ideas to Maximize Curb Appeal

Cultivate curb appeal with your driveway.

If you’re selling a home, you’re thinking about curb appeal, including sizing up the paint job and sprucing up the yard. But you should also be looking at your driveway.

“Though they may seem trivial, driveways are a big part of your home’s curb appeal,” says Joe Raboine, director of residential hardscapes, Belgard at Oldcastle APG Inc., a building material company in Atlanta. “They aren’t just functional but can add to the overall aesthetic. The materials and processes that go into creating an attractive, functional driveway deserve more attention than they are often given.”

To make the best first impression on potential homebuyers, here are some driveway ideas from the experts.

Driveway gate ideas

There are numerous types of driveway gates to greet visitors to your home, including wrought-iron lattice, metal security or rustic country wood.

Whatever you ultimately pick, “it’s an asset when you have a gated driveway,” says Eugene Colberg, principal at Colberg Architecture, an architecture firm in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.

Colberg says that by the very nature of the gate — and a fence around your home — you claim your outdoor space as part of the house. “A gated driveway and front yard create a distinction between your private outdoor space versus public outdoor space where you can mingle with neighbors,” he says.

Driveway landscaping ideas

There are many approaches a homeowner can take when it comes to driveway landscaping, from flower beds to hedges to stonework — or just a simple, well-maintained lawn.

“Landscaping around driveways certainly enhances the look of a home,” says Lee Calisti, strategic construction advisor at Real Estate Bees, a platform that provides technology and other tools for real estate industry professionals.

But he cautions homeowners about snow-melting salts and chemicals, which can do a number on the plants near your driveway. “Don’t burn out your favorite perennials,” he says.

Gravel driveway ideas

Gravel driveways are generally cheaper than concrete, and some homeowners say they’re easier to maintain. But keep in mind that gravel driveway maintenance can often be a do-it-yourself project; with concrete driveways, you’ll likely call in a professional for repairs.

“Gravel appeals to homeowners that are looking for a more traditional, authentic-style driveway,” Raboine says. “While there are a variety of stones available in different colors, shapes and textures, gravel may need to be replaced frequently based on various environmental factors. Gravel is usually affordable, but pricing will vary based on the type of stone selected.”

Gravel for a driveway may cost anywhere from $2 per square foot to $5 per square foot.

Concrete driveway ideas

If you’re going with a concrete driveway, there are different options here, too. But Calisti suggests opting for tried-and-true concrete.

“It’s not fancy, but it looks clean, holds up and serves our budget,” he says. According to HomeAdvisor, standard concrete for a driveway costs $4 to $7 per square foot.

Calisti and his spouse tried pervious concrete, which is more environmentally friendly and allows rainwater to percolate through spaces in the concrete and into the soil. But they wound up replacing the driveway a couple of times.

For something fancier, stamped concrete “is quite the rage,” Calisti says. With stamped concrete, the driveway looks like it’s made of individual stones or brick. It’s beautiful but costly — generally about twice the cost of poured concrete.

Calisti isn’t a fan, however. “The sealers often cause it to be quite slippery, even with the added sand mixture. The added cost to make it compete with one’s neighbors is not worth it,” he says.

Driveway paving ideas

Many homeowners love the look of driveway pavers, which are generally made from brick, concrete or cobblestone.

“Unlike cement driveways, which are limited in color options, driveway pavers are available in a variety of hues that can be customized to complement your home’s existing color scheme,” says Doug Lueck, founder and chief innovation officer at System Pavers, an outdoor living design center with stores primarily in along the West Coast, Colorado and Texas.

“Homeowners can select a complementing color for a unifying effect or use a driveway border stone to echo the garage or trim color on the home,” Lueck adds.

Raboine says one advantage of pavers is durability. “They can last between 60 to 80 years, since they are developed in a controlled environment, as opposed to outdoors,” Raboine says.

Driveway entrance ideas

Greenery at the driveway entrance is a popular choice. If your gate is at the end of your driveway, opt for “low-maintenance plantings,” Calisti says. Trimming around a gate can get tricky.

“Privacy and safety are other concerns to manage. High plants certainly give the privacy most desire, but it also allows unwanted visitors to hide in some instances,” Calisti says.

If you’re looking for privacy, however, Calisti suggests evergreens.

Whether you have a gate or not, you’ll probably want plants around your driveway that are fairly easy to maintain and probably perennials, so you don’t have to recreate a new driveway entrance garden every year. Popular perennials that can work well for driveways include ornamental grass, daylilies and hostas.

Driveway edging ideas

Driveway edging is the edge or border of your driveway. You can have a driveway without driveway edging, but edging can make your driveway look more attractive. It can also be practical, since driveway edging can protect a driveway from chipping and cracking.

The look of your driveway edging depends on your tastes. You may want to edge your driveway with brick or stone pavers, for example, or opt for concrete, gravel or stones.

Driveway border ideas

Driveway edging, once it’s added, becomes part of the driveway. Meanwhile, a driveway border is next to the driveway and its driveway edging.

Some homes have driveways with a true border, like a small stone wall. Other borders consist of flower beds or some type of landscaping. As you can imagine, with landscaping, you have all sorts of options, from shrubbery to flowering and grass-like ornamental perennials.

Make sure to consider maintenance if you go with a driveway border of flowers or trees. As trees grow, roots could upset the driveway or untrimmed branches could scratch cars. Flower beds need weeding. If you’re a set-it-and-forget-it type of homeowner, you may prefer a stone wall — or simply grass.

Driveway lighting ideas

Lighting a driveway can make your home look even more attractive at night — and it can also improve safety.

There are many options, from flood lights to solar lights, LED lights and spotlights.

Whatever you choose, “you want to be respectful to neighbors and want to follow guidelines any homeowners associations or local code requirements,” Colberg says.

“Driveway lighting will depend on the layout and size of the driveway, but generally we would want to keep the lighting source low,” he says. “It also depends on how you’re going to use the space next to the driveway. If you have any other lighting requirements other than passive recreation, you probably want to consider overhead lighting. Other than that, lighting should generally be low to the ground.”

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