Like a supporting actor in a play, drive entrance landscaping should be attractive without stealing the limelight from the stars in your front yard design -- the front door and elements leading to it. Showy flowers do their best work away from the driveway where they would lead the eye to the garage instead of the front door. Lesser but important roles are filled near the driveway. To avoid becoming a regular performer in the show yourself, hardscape or plant low-maintenance plants. These driveway bordering plants should also be able to cope with car exhaust and the changing moisture levels caused by runoff from the driveway during heavy rain.
Hardscaping next to the driveway can provide an attractive, durable surface for walking to and from your driveway and for greeting visitors. If your driveway like most is concrete, choose a contrasting material. This could be brick, stone, wood or gravel, as long as it harmonizes with your home. Bricks give a warm feel to driveway landscaping and suit formal or informal styles. Locally-quarried stone and wood have a natural effect, and gravel provides an interesting texture, though it must be contained within an edging. Slope hardscaping by at least 1.5 percent, or 4 1/2 inches every 25 feet, toward the street or another water outlet.
A rain garden next to your driveway absorbs runoff during rain storms, preventing flooding in your front yard. Rain gardens are low areas of ground planted with water-tolerant plants. They hold excess water for 12 to 24 hours, allowing it to drain safely away. Remove the topsoil next to your driveway and place it to one side, then dig down up to 6 inches and break up the subsoil, to make it easy for water to penetrate. Dig roughly, creating shallow areas and hollows, so that the water gradually filters through the garden. Plant water-tolerant plants after replacing the topsoil. A hardwood mulch resists rotting and provides an attractive, even surface.
Pollution-tolerant ground cover plants are decorative, weed-suppressing alternatives to lawn near a driveway. Caucasian stonecrop "Album Superbum" (Sedum spurium "Album Superbum") grows 3 to 6 inches tall and 6 to 18 inches wide with fleshy green leaves and tiny, white, summer flowers. Winter-hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 9, "Album Superbum" forms dense mats. Another ground cover plant for landscaping at a drive entrance is moss phlox (Phlox subulata). Growing to the same dimensions as "Angelina", moss phlox bears red, purple, pink or white, fragrant, tubular spring flowers. It is suitable for USDA zones 3 through 9.
Plants taller than a driver's eye level block views of the street, so plant tough, low-growing shrubs next your driveway for a low-maintenance landscaping solution. Japanese holly "Golden Gem" (Ilex crenata "Golden Gem") tolerates exhaust fumes and a range of growing conditions. Bearing golden yellow leaves, this evergreen grows 18 to 24 inches tall and wide, and it is hardy in USDA zones 5 through 8. Shrubby cinquefoil "Hallman Dwarf" (Potentilla fruticosa "Hallman Dwarf") is a pollution-and drought- tolerant deciduous shrub that bears bright yellow flowers from late spring through fall. Suitable for USDA zones 3 through 7, "Hallman Dwarf" grows 18 to 24 inches tall and 12 to 18 inches wide.
- University of Missouri Extension: Landscaping Your Front Yard
- Penn State University Extension: Rain Gardens -- the Basics
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Sedum Spurium "Album Superbum"
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Phlox Subulata
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Ilex Crenata "Golden Gem"
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Potentilla Fruticosa "Hallman Dwarf"
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