1. Plant It
After the solid driveway of this Palo Alto property was replaced with twin ribbons of concrete, landscape architect Jeni Webber planted the new median strip with low-growing echeverias, dwarf daffodils, sedums, and creeping thyme that cars can still drive over (a garage lies at the rear).
Then she created a pretty fringe on both sides, filling a bed beside the house with ceanothus, coffeeberry, daylilies, and other perennials, and planting alpine strawberries and espaliered apples and pears along the fence. “Instead of a boring, bland space, [the driveway] now has life,” Webber says.
Design:Jeni Webber and Associates, Berkeley (510/841-3311) — Julie Chai
2. Patio It
A place for get-togethers is what Susan and Ken Maruyama really needed—not the driveway and patch of lawn that was pinched between their house and garage in Culver City, California. Designer Suzanne McKevitt agreed: “Since you’re not using the garage for cars anyway,” she told the couple, “why not turn the driveway into a terrace?”
Replacing the lawn with more of the pavers used for the driveway was the first step. Then McKevitt created a screen of clumping bamboos, and set large planters filled with billowy acacia and grevillea midway down the driveway to block out the street and define the space.
Where they park now: “There’s still 12 feet left between the street and a new gate to park both cars in tandem.”
Design: Suzanne McKevitt, McKevitt Landscape Group, Venice, CA (310/613-4256) — Sharon Cohoon
3. Path It
A house remodel crowded Marianne Lynde and Joe Lyons’ concrete driveway into uselessness—especially after they converted the 1927 garage at its far end into a garden shed and cabana. “The garage was built when cars were smaller,” explains Lynde. “We couldn’t get our cars into it.” So the Portland couple, working with landscape designer Mary Baum, removed the rear half of their driveway and put in a curving path of concrete pavers.
Then they added lush beds of astilbe, bear’s breech, helle-bore, and hosta. (Some of the perennials that spill over the left side of the walkway were planted—with permission—on the neighbor’s property.)
A low cedar fence and extra-wide gate across the path have a welcoming look, but still keep stray children from wandering toward the koi pond out back.
Where they park now: “We’re down to one car in the driveway and one on the street. We’re really good friends with our neighbors, and if I need the space, I put my car in their driveway until they need it.”
Design: Mary Baum, Creative Landscape Designs, Portland (503/533-9532) — Jim McCausland
Related:More ways to garden anywhere