Among the biggest aspects of most yards—and some of the first things seen—are the driveway and walkways. These hardscape features can either frame your yard to its benefit or to its detriment.
How can you ensure that both driveways and pathways are a positive in your yard? Here are five ways to add to their curb appeal on any budget.
Large swaths of hardscaping can sometimes wreak havoc with runoff from rain and snow. In addition to possibly causing pooling water in unsightly areas, this may also add to debris messing up your style.
If you suffer from any puddling problems, try adding a strip of greenery to "filter" the water and help it soak back into the ground. Add a filtering strip of grass or ground cover plants to solve minor water runoff issues. For larger problems, you may want to replace impermeable materials (such as some concrete) with more permeable hardscaping (like pavers, bricks, or permeable concrete products).
Spice Up Concrete
A concrete driveway or large pathway doesn't have to be gray and boring. Modern concrete mixes can incorporate a variety of different colors and textures. In addition, stamped concrete simulates designs ranging from geometric shapes to faux stone materials.
If you decide to replace older concrete with a modern version, be sure to update all the hardscaping that can be seen from the curb. Making the driveway look more expensive but leaving it next to a dated front pathway may serve to simply draw attention to the aging materials instead.
A decorative edging can spruce up older driveways without breaking the budget. It could be something as simple as adding a row or two of decorative brick that blends in with the house's architecture. Or, you may want to install a border of stamped concrete instead of replacing the entire driveway.
Want a statement look? Add a driveway border made from a low retaining wall or short berm. Colorful ground covers, succulents, or trailing vines make such a wall into a natural focal point.
Change the Shape
While most homes come with a standard straight driveway, this isn't the only way to build yours. If you have a larger lot, consider creating a more dramatic look with a curved driveway entrance or even a horseshoe shape. You could also make a simple straight drive appear more interesting by making it wider at one end with a gentle curve inward.
Similarly, pathways don't have to go from Point A to Point B in the most efficient manner possible. Why not add a wavy look to a previously-straight walkway? Or, replace it entirely with a path that starts in a different place—such as one that runs diagonally across the yard or branches out to lead to two different destinations. Think about the walkway's role as a focal point rather than simply a way to move people through the space.
Instead of drawing attention to the hardscape features as people arrive, you could go the opposite route: making them disappear. Replace a large concrete driveway, for example, with eco-friendly pavers or brick that allows greenery to grow around it. The visual impact of the driveway will be much smaller, and people will be able to focus more on the rest of your landscaping.
No matter what your budget or schedule is, you can find a way to improve the look of the entire front yard by updating the two biggest features in it. Then, instead of spending your weekends trying to change all the smaller parts of the yard, you can enjoy more free time with one big and simple makeover.