Landscaping Driveways, Walkways
and Traffic Areas

By Steve Boulden

High traffic areas of your landscape, such as driveways, car yard, paths, and walkways must, first and foremost, be functional. Depending on how your house is positioned on your lot, you may have a front door and pathway to the street with a side door to your driveway and garage, vice versa, or only one main point of entry for both. Whichever the case, walks, driveways, and parking must be situated to provide easy access from points of entry to your house, garage (if applicable), and of course, the entrance to your home. Depending on your yard, the architectural style of your house, and your family's lifestyle and habits, plan these areas with access in mind.

Walkways and driveway surfaces should be easy to maintain and durable enough to withstand the level of traffic they receive. High traffic areas are best suited to paving or some other hard surfacing. In the long run, the initial expense of doing so is more than compensated in the reduction of maintenance and amendments required by gravel, dirt, bark, brick work, or sand. Walkways and paths that are less traveled or used are fine with those less costly ground covers.

Driveways must also be wide enough at the street to accommodate vehicles that need to merge easily into the flow of traffic. Common sense dictates that the higher the speed of traffic on your street, the greater the view and the width of the start of your driveway. You need to be well-able to view oncoming traffic from your driveway. Tree and shrub buffers are good for increasing privacy and reducing noise from street traffic, but become hazardous additions when they obstruct your view of the street at your driveway entrance. You need to be able to view traffic coming from both directions, too - both on your street and, if yours is extensive, in your driveway. If surrounding trees or shrubs impede your view, place a mirror or reflecting device on an appropriate telephone pole or tree so you can see oncoming traffic.

Some typically functional dimensions for walkways and driveways? Walkways for more than one person need to be designed are best designed at a width of at least four feet; walkways and paths for the single stroller are most comfortable at 2 1/2 feet wide. A driveway for one vehicle is usually at least 8 feet wide; a two-car drive needs at least 14 feet. Once you have planned for your permanent, hardscape features, such as driveways, paths, and walkways, you can design for your plantings and implement them to suit your site and your preferences.

Article from Steve Boulden of The Landscape Design which offers landscape design plans, pictures, advice, and front yard landscaping ideas. For more design ideas and information, visit

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