Want to spruce up your front yard without splashing the cash? There are tons of budget driveway ideas that will instantly create a warmer welcome to your plot. And if you need a little inspiration, we're here to help.
Driveways are a must-have landscaping feature for most, providing a safe and secure place for vehicles right outside the home, as opposed to on the street. But as well as being practical, their aesthetic value should be taken into account too – after all, the best driveway design will boost your curb appeal and make a fabulous first impression on your guests.
But if yours is in need of a makeover, you don't necessarily have to splurge all your savings. With a bit of know-how, there are plenty of affordable ways to upgrade your front yard.
9 inexpensive driveway ideas for improving the front of your plot
'How your driveway works with the rest of your front yard is something you can consider,' says Teresa Conway, deputy gardens editor of Homes & Gardens.
'If your driveway is left neglected then it will bring down the kerb appeal of your space. Therefore a few nip and tucks, along with some well-chosen planting can help with the overall first impression,' she says.
Teresa has been creating and editing a variety of rich garden content for over six years, across many brands including Homes & Gardens, Country Homes & Interiors and Living Etc. She was Deputy Editor on Gardeningetc.com as well as a judge on the panel at the prestigious Society of Garden Designers awards.
1. Keep on top of maintenance for a welcoming first impression
No matter what driveway updates you go for, keeping them well-maintained is crucial to ensure they always look their best. Plus, it will help them last longer, saving you money in the long term.
Weeding, clearing away fallen leaves, and giving them a good wash with one a pressure washer or an outdoor broom is all it takes. Following up with a sealant can help protect it, too. You'll also want to repair cracks in driveways regularly.
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2. Opt for a low-cost ribbon driveway
Ribbon driveways are a perfect inexpensive driveway update. As there is less hard landscaping involved, they are more affordable to install than a fully paved or concreted space. And, it's easy to make them fit the shape of your plot – whether you need them curved or straight.
There is the added benefit that they are more permeable than solid surfaces, meaning they are good for garden drainage. And, we think they look fantastic too.
You don't have to stick to grass for the center, either. Some people prefer to opt for alternative low-growing hardy plants such as succulents, bugleweed, or pretty Vinca minor with its purple blooms – all of which are great for encouraging wildlife to your plot.
3. Paint your garage doors to complement your home
One of the easiest ways to make a front yard more inviting is to upgrade outdoor spaces and features is with exterior paint. And the door of your garage is no exception. It's a natural focal point for a driveway, so giving it a spruce can have a big impact and add plenty of character to an otherwise simple concrete or asphalt setting.
Paint it a hue that complements the exterior of your home and rest of your garden color scheme, whether that's a glossy black, a soft cream, or perhaps a chic blue-gray such as the gorgeous shade in this setup. Try Behr Premium gray cast eggshell direct to metal paint at The Home Depot.
4. Pep up a plain driveway with edging plants
The best edging plants can transform a drab driveway, offering color and form to the scene. Plus, they'll help to neatly define the space.
Clipped evergreens are one option. While they're a bit of an investment at first, with the right maintenance they'll last for years, so will be well worth it.
'I like to use plants to soften the edges of hard landscaping. Driveways are functional therefore can look a little bland. Lavender is a lovely option for giving your driveway a bit of harmony with your front yard,' says Teresa Conway.
Alternatively, create a wildflower bed alongside your driveway. All you'll need to do is scatter seeds each year for an explosion of color that bees and butterflies will adore – a super affordable approach that's perfect for a more naturalistic style.
5. Save on electricity with solar lights
Lights are crucial additions to front yards, not just for practicality when night falls but also for upping your plot's security levels.
If you're trying to keep costs down, opting for solar lights for your front yard lighting ideas can be a great option for reducing your electricity bills.
Motion-activated wall lights are ideal for positioning above garage doors, while stake lights can be pushed into the ground alongside your driveway and nearby paths to illuminate the boundaries of the zone.
6. Break up the space with a statement flowerbed
As well as lining your driveway with edging plants, you could also position a flower bed closer to the house to break up a span of concrete, gravel, or asphalt and soften the overall look.
Plant it up with a large, fast-growing, easy-care shrub, such as a hydrangea, or try ornamental grasses for a more modern look. Spring bulbs make a lovely and low-cost addition, too.
7. Get creative with curves
Introducing curves into your space can be a simple way to add visual appeal and create a more considered, unique look.
Perhaps not workable if you have a small front yard, but if you have a large one, a gently curved driveway may be more appropriate, and interesting, than a straight one – even if it's made of a very simple material. Line it with flowers or taller shrubs and it'll lend a sense of intrigue to your plot as you approach your home.
Alternatively, opt for a circular driveway with a flowerbed in the center – great for creating a sense of country-classic charm.
8. Sow a stretch of lawn from seed alongside your driveway
Speaking of grass, one of the easiest ways to give your driveway a boost is by contrasting the hard landscaping with a patch of lawn on one or both sides. If you are opting for something simple, such as concrete, the boost of greenery alongside will instantly elevate the view.
Buying and laying turf will give you fast results, but planting grass seed is much more affordable and won't take too long if you do it at the right time of year.
It's a great way to cover a large stretch of space quickly and cheaply. And for extra appeal, consider digging in a flowerbed or two to fill with vibrant blooms.
9. Lay budget-friendly gravel
Laying gravel for your driveway is one of the most affordable, easy, and practical approaches. Plus, it looks great, complementing all sorts of gardens. And, as demonstrated here, you can plant straight into it to bring more color to your driveway – there are many drought-tolerant picks that will thrive (and won't need much maintenance, either).
Gravel garden driveways are a great option if you are looking to remove the contractor part of the installation process. By opting to use this method, you can dramatically lower the cost of your driveway in comparison to alternative choices.
How can I make an inexpensive driveway?
- Install a natural earth driveway: Perhaps the cheapest of all the options is to install a simple and natural earth driveway. Often seen outside country properties or those that are tucked away from civilization, this option incorporates components of compacted earth, achieving a rustic and organic look.
- Consider other options for edging: As well as plants, there are plenty of other garden edging ideas that can be used to define your driveway. Secondhand red bricks, sleepers, large stones, and even glass bottles are all fairly simple to install yourself and won't cost too much.
- DIY where you can: It almost goes without saying that taking care of the bulk of a landscaping project yourself will automatically save on costs in comparison to hiring a pro. But, it is crucial to ensure you know what you're doing first, otherwise you could end up paying more to have it repaired or rebuilt. One of the most important things to consider when building a driveway is driveway drainage solutions – our guide is full of practical tips.
Once you've had a go at sorting out your driveway updates you might turn you eye to your garage. We've got some great advice on organizing a garage to maximise your storage.
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The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then; over the years, she's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator. Having worked for Gardeningetc.com for two years, Holly now regularly writes about plants and outdoor living for Homes & Gardens.
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