Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A driveway makeover

While I showed you the piles of dirt that accumulated during driveway construction last year in my last post, I haven't actually done a report about the construction itself. So to correct that omission, here it is.

Our house was built in 1942, in an era before automobiles were the possessions around which we wrapped our lives. Because of this, the driveway that was installed was a simple one that consisted of two strips of concrete and a median strip of grass. It has stayed that way for over half a century, and I wanted to honor the period of the house by keeping it. Unfortunately, the design was not without its drawbacks, namely that the "grassy" strip was usually made up more of dirt and weeds. If I were more interested in keeping it watered, mowed, and chemicalized, this wouldn't really be a problem. But since I have slowly been converting the front lawn into a front xeric garden landscape, the grassy (read: "weedy") strip no longer pulled its own weight.    

So I hired some muscle, in the person of friend Matt McEwen, who gamely dug out the center strip for me:
Matt, in turn, hired his friend Jonathan to help him replace some sections of the concrete that had cracked and crumbled:

Then I filled it in with decomposed granite so it would be more or less like a seamless extension of the bicycle path arroyo:

The "weeds" along the edge of the median strip are actually evening primrose, which has spread from the patch in the arroyo on the left. I haven't decided yet whether I'll let them stay. The current overall scruffiness is owing to the many pecan tassels on the ground, which have just begun to fall. It will look a little neater when I've raked them up--which I won't do until they are all off the trees, because I can recognize an endless project when I see one...

Anyway, I like how the driveway makeover turned out. It has been in place well through the first flush of spring weeds, with remarkably few of them showing up, so I'm hopeful that this will work as a practical design. As for the aesthetics, I do like how it looks like a part of the overall "hardscrabble prairie/desert oasis/Texas cottage/woman homesteader/grubby child wandering through an arroyo on a Saturday morning" look I'm going for. I think it looks more wild and sprawly--like the high plains itself--than if we'd replaced the drive with a large slab of concrete.


  1. I really like it! I love old 40's houses and being new to your blog this is the first big view I've seen of your landscaping. It's just awesome that you kept the split concrete lines instead of paving it all - I'm super envious! And the arroyo is sweet.

  2. I like it too! And I like the primroses!

  3. I think the drive turned out fantastic!

  4. I think it looks quite nice and goes very much with the rest of the front. I would be a little up in the air about the primroses too. They're always pretty but can get rather weedy. But really, it all looks great.

  5. I like that the gravel is the same as what is in the rest of the yard. It makes it look less like a driveway. My favorite treatment of this space was as a raised vegetable garden. A neighbor boxed the center in, filled it with soil and was able to grow veggies without getting his feet dirty, which was important to him.

  6. I like that very much. It works well with the rest of your garden.

  7. Susan - you are my inspiration :-D

    Your driveway looks terrific. Just think, had you poured a solid slab of concrete there would be that much less open ground for rainwater to percolate through.

    Your backyard looks like a dream oasis on a spring afternoon. Delightful!

    Lindy (AZ - where the snakes have come out to play)

  8. At some point, I'm going to have to rip out my driveway. And I want it as unpaved as possible. Yours looks great.


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