Few of us have the luxury, opportunity, or headache of designing a drive from scratch. My home was built in 1930, and had a gorgeous brick driveway; this became mine in 1994. Over the years the drive had heaved such I could only broom the snow-not a good option in Michigan. I took up the old brick, with the idea of replacing it with a concrete brick made by Unilock in a pattern called “Copthorne”- in exactly the same configuration and pattern. Unbelievably, there was a concrete foundation under that old brick-I still do not understand how it ever drained. The original garage is part of the basement of the house. I understand now why I have a huge steel trench drain inside the basement door, which is tied into the house drains. In order to insure good drainage to the street, I now have to take a step down into my garage. This I do not mind, as I love my old house from start to finish.
My driveway is a full 28 feet wide when it meets the street. In 1930, there was a fountain in the center of that approach. An owner in the 1940’s must have driven a giant Buick that he kept smashing into the fountain. I am sure in a fit of exasperation, he cemented over that “bollard in a fountain costume”. Whatever unknown great designer narrowed that drive to barely 10 feet halfway to the house, and then expanded it back out again near the garage, I salute you. I have an hourglass shaped driveway-why not? I am sorry I cannot say that I designed it myself. I have a lavishly over scaled welcome home feature at the street, and a narrow transition that requires careful driving to get through. I call that the “slow down, you are home now” checkpoint. This opens up again at the garage/basement entrance.
The expansion I call my driveway piazza. I plant a slew of pots in this area, and I police a big bed of butterburrs there. My driveway piazza is a gateway to my yard-so yes, I have gates. Though I have days when I do not go everywhere on my property, I am looking at my driveway landscape every day, twice a day. The first rule of dealing with a driveway that is staying: do what it takes to make you happy to be pulling in.