Driveway takes up all of my backyard
March 22, 2013
I have a fairly large and flat backyard, however my driveway takes up almost the entire yard. As you can see in the pic, I have a 2 car garage. I have 2 kids and do not like the idea of pulling into the backyard while they may be playing. Seems pretty unsafe. There may be an opportunity to pull into the garage from behind the yard as there is an old unused road that runs behind the garage. Has anyone every encountered this problem.
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Ironwood Builders
Obtaining the right to use the old road may be more of an issue than actually doing it. Of course, the question of how you get into the garage from the back remains....Sort of a high cost for a temporary measure...driveway costs, structural and remodeling costs on the garage, demolition of the existing drive and curb cut at the front of the house, tree removal and landscaping. By the time it is paid off the kids are out of college...
2 Likes    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 2:02PM
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As from your pic it does not appear that you park cars in the garage. So, dig up the drive and install a built in pool for the kids. Turn the garage into a poolhouse with a bar and outdoor kitchen for you and he misses. Park the car out front and everyone will be happy. Just kidding but it does sound nice. Ironwood is correct in that it could be quite costly to change the garage to a rear entrance even if you could gain access from the old road. After all that expense can you be sure how long you will have that access. I would really suggest that you remove the rear drive install a lawn for the kids and use the garage for storage.
7 Likes    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 3:52PM
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I have a couple of ideas for you. Here is one. A giant chess board!
Outdoor Chess set on Paver Driveway

The other is a labyrinth.
Leathers Residence
3 Likes    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 4:48PM
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Thanks for the thoughts. I think we will pull up the asphalt and put grass in...Small issue, I do put the car in the garage every now and then during bad weather. Will driving on the grass occasionally damage it? Would love a pool house and pool..maybe in a year or two!!
1 Like    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 5:14PM
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Loving the outdoor chess set!
    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 5:17PM
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Robin W
Can you just put a covered car port beside the house?
    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 6:26PM
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To make a lawn that you can drive a truck on, sink concrete pavers just below grade and plant grass all around them. The grass will virtually obscure the pavers. You can have your cake and eat it too. It is what many highway departments once did to create attractive emergency pull-offs along scenic parkways.
8 Likes    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 7:37PM
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Lyle Lawrence
I would defiantly reconsider pulling up the asphalt if it is in decent condition. If your children are small they will quickly outgrow use for a "backyard" and you will be left with a large lawn to mow and ruts and difficulty accessing the garage in on climate weather. The asphalt could be costly to dispose of and will be very costly to replace should you regret removing it. Add some features to soften up the area and add some basket ball hoops and hockey nets, you will have the coolest backyard on the block in your children's teen years
2 Likes    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 7:49PM
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Kitasei, great tip! Are u saying to sink the pavers underground or lay them on top so the grass grows around? Is this costly? Any pics of this concept?
1 Like    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 6:30AM
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Interiors International, Inc.
Use the back entrance it will look so much better.
    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 6:32AM
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Large 24X24 pavers with an inch or two of grass in-between can look really sharp (pic 1). Or concrete formed with space for grass (pic 2). There is also a concrete product designed for driving cars on grass (pic 3) with a more industrial look sometimes called turf pavers. I don't think it would be nice for kids to play on though. If you mixed spaced pavers with areas of grass and some plant beds it could look great.

4 Likes    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 9:18AM
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Jabelones last picture is what I had in mind. Depending on how you space them and how tall you let the grass grow, you will not even see the pavers. I know NYC used Belgian blocks installed vertically in the 1930s.
1 Like    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 9:38AM
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Thanks for all the tips! I think we are going with the pavers concept. I will post pics when complete!
    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 4:32PM
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Living Space Landscapes
Pavers can make a driveway look like a patio. Add a rounded bump out to the shape for even more interest. (Driveway shaped like the letter P.)
    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 6:26AM
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Alice Walker
You could put in gravel instead and add some raised flower beds around the outside to tie it in, curving into it from the grass around the edges. Gravel is easier maintenance than grass and you can still drive on it.
    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 6:39AM
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Have you considered only ripping out one "lane " of the driveway and then as someone else suggested, make a "p" shape at the end to use as a patio area? Done in pavers, this would look nice.
2 Likes    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 6:43AM
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Dullea and Associates Inc.
I have encountered a similar problem with a client in the past which leads me to have to ask one question. Based on the photograph it appears your garage is from an old time period when cars were not as long and wide as many of those built today. It is hard to see in the photo but based on the hip roof the garage appears to be almost if not square. Possibly 18'x18'. My question is have you checked to make sure your vehicles will fit comfortably into the garage and allow you to close the garage door? As Ironwood Builders mentions, modifying the structure can be costly.
1 Like    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 6:54AM
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Without seeing all the details, i suggest you install a fence where the back of the house meets the driveway. You could have a gate if you really want to use the garages. meanwhile keep the yard safe for the children.
    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 4:33PM
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Keep the drive but turn it into a more organic product. Have two narrow concrete paths for tiers and the rest grass, make it narrower w/ Crushed limestone, or do a limestone pattern w/ grass in between the pieces. Be creative so you can incorporate all that you would like to use the yard for.
1 Like    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 4:48PM
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i would convert the garage into a guest house, rental, studio, or something then add a lovely walkway from the back of the house and simply park on the street.
1 Like    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 6:05PM
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Thanks for all the tips! I think we will try to price out the pavers option for one of the lanes. Will stagger the pavers wider at the end so it will have a chic modern stair pattern. Hope this will not be a fortune $$!!
1 Like    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 8:34PM
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Here's another example of grass with pavers - the difference is this is EasyTurf - looks and feels like the real thing, but not the hassle of maintenance, watering and weeding ... check us out at let me know if you have any questions.

3 Likes    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 9:31PM
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i love the easy turf pics. no weeding watering or trimming.
1 Like    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 9:39PM
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I've made cement pavers with cement and pizza boxes. You can tint them, too, if you buy color for your cement. You can also buy molds that give you a different shape. If you do decide to go the DIY route, you may want to Google the project. There were some instructions. Most of our pavers have lasted over 15 years and through very long, cold winters. The ones that didn't were pretty clearly the result of a poor cement mix.
2 Likes    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 8:44AM
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It sounds like you've come up with a good solution. Your paver plan will be much prettier and softer than asphalt. But if your primary motivation is to have a play space for kids, then do really consider what your kids will want to do back there. Pavement is great for bikes, skates, scooters, basketball, jump rope, chalk drawing, hopscotch, etc. Perhaps you have other locations for these kinds of activities, so tearing it out will be well worth it. If not, then consider keeping at least some of the driveway. Perhaps keep the drive that is to the right of the middle of the garage. Spend the leftover cash on some pretty landscaping to soften the edges. Add some lightweight patio furniture and the space becomes a patio, playzone, and occasional drive.
    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 12:46PM
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sigrid - youve given me some ideas about the pizza boxes, i have to build a parking place and didnt really want to go the gravel route. could they support the weight of a car?
    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 9:41PM
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I presume so, if you have the right cement and the right stuff underneath (do you call it a foundation). You may be advised to put some rebar in the pavers. I made a path with mine and we had left over cement. I got the idea out of a magazine (Fine Gardening, perhaps?) years ago.

I'd bet somewhere on the internet someone has more information than me.
    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 11:22PM
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Check google for "Golpla" or different plastic pavers. This is made from hard durable plastic instead of concrete. They use it for parking lots in Belgium, just not for driving a truck on it (you can, but then it would damage the plastic if it happens really often). It is another option because then you have the look of a complete gras lawn instead of pavers and gras.
    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 4:44AM
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I have seen people use large galvanized livestock watering tubs (oval shaped) as planters to separate a driveway from a living area. Put casters on the bottom for ease of movement. Plant the tubs with tall shrubs (arborvite?) and then use them to block off the driveway and add some privacy. You can easily move them when you need car/truck access to the backyard.
    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 6:08AM
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Vicki D
This isn't necessarily high end design but an inexpensive, kid friendly solution to occasional car use is mulch. Remove the asphalt and dig out two rows compatible with your tire widths. Mulch the "paths". Maintenance is easy; inbed weed inhibing plastic or edging along all sides. A slight valley on each side of the path will help contain the mulch. As I said, not fancy but certainly inexpensive and a quick fix to make it functional for cars and kids.
    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 6:42AM
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like the driveway. a lot of people with kids would love to have the concrete. a perfect place for kids to ride their toys and skate. draw with chalk, jump rope and later on you have the perfect place for basketball. you don't have all the mud and grass tracked in the house. looks like you have plenty of room for beautiful flowers. i would just use the garage for storage and put a refrigerator in there for getting drinks. mabey a toilet. you can
have a nice place for a covered and screened in patio to lounge and eat in. if you don't have a covered porch
then build a roof over an area to be in out of the rain for outdoor furniture. it looks like you still have half or more of a yard with grass. there is so much you can do to make it work. love the big shade tree. love the driveway. less grass to cut. lol. best place for the kids to play. lol. a carport would be great.
    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 10:30AM
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Monarch Stone International
Agree with ddrc, however there are a lot of great ideas shared here! You could add nice borders in stone around the perimeter or as walkway to/from. Stone in pre-sawn squares/rectangles or irregular shapes can be as cost-effective as concrete.
    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 11:02AM
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I agree the kids are going to grow and want the slab... what a great basketball / tennis / biking / skating / raquet ball area (with a little creativity).
    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 12:03PM
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Monica Martin
funny. we are looking to do the opposite. we have a short driveway in the front of the house. we'd like to relocate the garage door to the rear and have a large wrap around driveway...the primary reason is to create a great play area for the kids. Boys 6 & 5.We have plenty of yard with grass, but they need the area to ride bikes, scooters, play hockey and basketball. I don't know how old your kids are, but you might want to reconsider their play needs for the future.
1 Like    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 6:55PM
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Having you cake and eating it too X two.....use your pavers and grass idea and THEN use moveable privacy fencing and potted plants and furniture to create a courtyard for relaxing or play in that area.
3 Likes    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 8:26PM
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Frank H. Minier
Planting grass over the whole are will be fine to drive on occasionally. Keep it watered.
    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 8:53PM
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Curb Appeal Renovations
Love your idea to do the pavers in a stair pattern! Can't wait to see pics when it's complete!
    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 9:06PM
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If you want to save money and have an attractive backyard, buy a cordless blower and keep the drive very clean; use the garage for your cars- not for storage; add a few structural evergreen plants and a bed of seasonal flowers to the right. You already have attractive garage doors. Espalier roses on the side or corners of the building. A soft line of nandina on the left that you prune in thirds each Feb. They will soften the straight lines of the drive and have beautiful berries in the fall and winter. ( someone just told me about yellow nandina berries)Replacing a drive can be costly and yours appears to be in good condition. Be sure that the front of your home is always attractive, and with a little care and attention, your backyard will be attractive too. One day you will be glad that you did not destroy your driveway.As someone mentioned, children do a lot of playing on solid surfaces.
    Bookmark   March 31, 2013 at 8:04PM
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Love all of these tips! My gardener read these too and first came up with the suggestion of ripping out the whole thing and putting down gravel for tire lanes. However, spring just hit and I'm watching my son spend hours on end on the driveway with a scooter. Now I'm thinking to rip up only half. Any tips on how to border the outside of driveway with plants? A nice, chic border?..? Sorry for the late response..I was in China for work.
1 Like    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 2:11AM
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How about adding raised beds and pots to the left of the driveway? That way you have something that allows for options if you decide to take out the driveway in the future, but gives you some greenery.
    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 3:20AM
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Arlene Warda, Architect
I definately agree with ideas above. The driveway as 'patio' and dual purpose. Here are a couple more designs.

1. square pavers with pots to one side.

[houzz=Wesling Construction]

2. staggard pavers, different sizes.

[houzz=Grounded - Modern Landscape Architecture]

3. I like the idea of Grass, from Easy Turf.

Also try .. it costs are affordable, only about 10.00 sf installed, and the grass can have padding, underneath. to feel soft for stepping. If you want a grassed area to the side of pavers for a play yard, (in an area next driveway, next to your real grass).. this would stand up to playing and require virtually no maintenance.

There are many more pictures, see the ideabook called Landscape ideas on my page.
    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 7:21AM
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