Q: I have a short driveway that makes a “straight shot” to my garage from the street, overshadowing my house. Is there any way I can make the driveway and garage door less of a focal point, and my home more inviting?
A: There are many ways to fight the overwhelming prominence of the garage door. We asked our paint, landscape and hardscape experts what they had to say, and they all had their own ideas on what to do to mitigate an overbearing garage and driveway while creating new focal points.
To shift the focus to the house, start with some changes designed to draw attention away from the garage and put the focus where you want it – on the front door and entry. Architectural structures, such as a vine-covered trellis under the eaves, can soften the boxy lines of the garage and make it fade into the background. You can also dramatically improve the look of the garage by upgrading the doors. Paint is another way to camouflage a garage. A dark color on the house and garage door will make them recede and appear less prominent. Add lighter house trim and an accent color on the front door to create a brighter entry to catch the eye. If you have a plain front door, consider replacing it with one that reinforces the house’s style.
Most driveways are made of bland concrete or asphalt; a change in material can give the driveway some character and add visual appeal. For a quick fix, add an inexpensive edge with a band of bricks, concrete pavers or stamped concrete. You can also use these materials on walkways to tie hardscaping elements together. For a more dramatic change, upgrade the entire driveway. Concrete pavers come in a multitude of sizes, shapes and colors and can be used to create all kinds of interesting patterns, adding beauty to your home. You may also want to consider changing the shape of the driveway to combat a cookie-cutter look. If there is room to add a curve or a turnaround area in front of the entry, the driveway then becomes part of the house’s architecture and can double as a courtyard, adding charm to your home. Even when there isn’t enough room to adjust the shape, offsetting the approach just a bit to one side will put planting areas in the line of sight to the garage, reducing its dominance from the street.
Carefully placed plants go a long way towards fixing any unadorned driveway and garage. Small to medium-size trees along the edge will eventually overhang the driveway and partially screen the garage. Beware of planting too close to buried utilities, and choose trees without overly aggressive roots. You also want to stay clear of trees that drip sap to avoid a mess on your cars and driveway. Garden elements in the front yard will also divert the focus. Consider a trellis, water feature, or frame your walkway with flowering shrubs and perennials of different heights to create interest and add color all year long. To finish it up, add container plantings right around the front door to brighten and create a dramatic focal point.
In the end, while you are doing all this to make the garage disappear, you will find you have created an engaging landscape and hardscape design. The emphasis will certainly not be on your garage, but instead on the beautiful curb appeal you have created. W