Creating an attractive border around your driveway can make your driveway a part of your landscape design, instead of a jarring break in the yard. There are certain things to keep in mind when it comes to these borders. Driveways are more exposed to the elements than paths or walkways, so you will need to take more care with the landscape design in these areas. The following tips can help.
Tip #1: Create a Buffer Zone
Snow and ice removal is a simple fact of life in many cold, wet northern climates. This means you need to plan your landscaping around the driveway so that it can look good in summer yet survive winter intact. The simplest way to do this is to create a mulched buffer zone on either side of the driveway. The mulch is resistant to chemical damage from de-icing products, plus it provides an area to shovel snow so it can melt without damage. A 1- to 3-foot wide buffer area is usually sufficient. You can keep it formal with straight edges, or create a playful curved pattern on the lawn side of the zone. Fill the buffer zone with decorative landscape rocks or wood chip mulch.
Tip #2: Edge It In
You want the buffer zone to have a finished look so it flows naturally into the surrounding landscape. This is where the edging choice between the buffer area and the lawn comes into play. You can use bricks, stones, or wood edging for a decorative divider between the mulch and lawn. Whichever option you choose, repeat the element elsewhere in the landscape. For example, if you use red bricks to edge in the buffer zone, use these same bricks to edge in garden beds in front of the house or to create a brick patio area. This helps tie everything together so the landscaping has consistency.
Tip #3: Opt for Annuals
Mulch alone can be boring in the border zone, so you will probably want some plants to jazz it up. Annuals are the better choice if you use de-icing chemicals in winter. These chemicals can kill plant roots, but this isn't a problem since annuals are replaced each year. Pretty pansies, large petunias, or brightly colored geraniums are just a few options. You can even plant the flowers in colorful pots that line the border zone, which will add depth and further interest to the area.
Tip #4: Be Smart About Perennials
Perennials are a good option if you rarely use chemicals and instead depend on your shovel or snow blower for clearing the drive. Choose low-growing shrubs, such as privet or lavender, that you can keep pruned to a 2 or 3 foot height. Lower growing plants are preferred near the driveway because you don't want to block visibility. Just make sure enough of the buffer zone is clear so you have an area to drop winter snow. Another option is to choose perennial flowers, such as peonies, that die back completely to the ground each year. This ensures the buffer zone is bare in winter for snow removal.