Driveway — published on October 17, 2008

Roadside Attraction

When people approach your house, your driveway is one of the first things they see. Here in Canada, where winters are severe, asphalt driveways tend to be popular because of the ease of snow removal and flexibility of the material when experiencing cracks from frost heaves. If you have an asphalt driveway that needs repairing and refreshing from time to time, follow the steps below to bring your driveway back to its original, smooth, black condition. 

Before you begin, check the weather forecast; you’ll need a few warm, dry days to complete the project. 

Sweep, power-wash or shop-vacuum to clean the driveway of debris. Check for oil stains, and clean them up using a specially formulated asphalt-cleaning solution — household detergent might even do the trick for smaller spots. 

Next, address holes. Dig out the bad asphalt, leaving a hole with fi rm edges, and remove the debris. Use a trowel to apply cold-patch, a compound available at most homeimprovement retailers. 

Apply the cold-patch in successive layers, compacting (“tamping”) each layer and letting it dry before adding the next, until the hole is filled. Once the hole is filled, you can compress the area by driving over it after covering it with a piece of plywood. 

Likewise, clean any cracks to make sure they’re free of debris. It’s a good idea to try to widen the base of cracks, a process known as undercutting — this way, the filler will be well anchored at the bottom and thus stronger at the top. Apply driveway crack filler, overfilling the crack and then smoothing over the surface with your trowel. 

Finally, seal your driveway’s surface, following the sealant manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Then step back to admire your “brand new” driveway! 

Driveway — published on April 7, 2008

Driveway Entrance Appeal

While some homeowners still choose giant, wrought-iron gates and huge statues of lions to mark the entrance of their driveways, the secret to an aesthetically pleasing driveway is to create one that is open and inviting to your visitors. Attractive, yet durable, landscaping touches are key to creating the perfect driveway entrance for your home.

Step 1:

Decide whether you are going to use any type of wall or fencing when you landscape the entrance to your driveway. The use of “hardscape,” which involves any type of construction material, will dictate the “softscape” or the use of trees, shrubs and flowers. Your approach to landscaping will depend upon whether you want to create a grand, impressive driveway entrance or soften the walls and gates with the use of brightly colored plants.

Step 2:

Landscape your driveway entrance by drawing your visitors’ eyes toward a particular feature or object. For instance, if you plant flowers along the edges of the driveway, your visitors’ eyes will be drawn toward the house or the rest of the property. Just make sure that the ultimate focal point is aesthetically rewarding and not a beat-up old garage or storage shed.

Step 3:

Pick the right type of landscaping to enhance the lines of the driveway or the property. If your driveway is curved, for example, you may want to plant shrubs that enhance the shape and make it more noticeable. Then again, if your property is nothing but right angles and straight lines, you may want to vary the landscaping to break up the monotony.

Step 4:

Choose durable materials and plants when you landscape the entrance to your driveway. Think about the damage that may be caused over the long term due to cars parked along the street, road hazards and conditions, traffic and even vandalism. Avoid placing expensive hardscape and softscape in areas where it could be damaged or abused.

Step 5:

Pick hardscape and softscape that suits the style of your home and reflects your tastes, as well. For instance, rose bushes work very well with traditional forms of architecture, such as Tudor and Victorian homes, while a Japanese maple may be a stunning touch for a more modern-looking house. Remember that your driveway entrance is often the first impression you will make on visitors, so choose landscaping that says something about who you are.

The use of annual flowers and plants is an excellent idea when you landscape your driveway entrance. When you replant every spring, you won’t have to be concerned about damage caused by road salt and bad winter weather.