While textured finish or exposed aggregate driveways in Melbourne offer up a variety of patterns and designs, many people like to add a little more natural softness and colour to their drive through the use of plants. There are a number of different shrubs, annuals and trees that can be used to brighten up a driveway, but before you go out to the nursery to pick up a selection, there are a number of things that you will need to consider first.
✔ Growing habits
If you have a long, narrow drive, or the property is subject to sunshine all day long, you need to think about getting plants that won’t make the driveway seem even thinner when they grow very tall, and also plants that can withstand heat. If you have a light coloured concrete driveway and you want to soften the edges, bear in mind that the lighter surface of the concrete will reflect heat, so don’t choose delicate plants that scorch easily. Similarly, if you live in a temperate climate, consider plants that won’t wilt at the first sign of colder weather. Test your soil to see if it is acidic or alkaline – neutral is best – with a soil sample kit, as this will also determine which plants will grow and flourish next to your driveway.
If you have a modern geometric home with a textured finish driveway, then consider choosing bold, modern plants and shrubs to complement your overall look. Box hedging or eucalypts such as Dwarf Leucoxylons, under planted with rosemary, give a clean, modern look. If you have more of a tropical design in mind, then cannas are very hardy plants. They can be very striking when interplanted with a variety of bold bulbs such as dwarf tulips, particularly if you also invest in one or two palms or yucca plants. The softer, cooler colours of the tobacco plant, rosemary and lavender give more of a country garden feel, and the fragrances of these plants will also cancel out any diesel or fumes from passing cars.
If you are considering planting trees or larger shrubs, then they will certainly offer up shade for both people and vehicles. However, the aim is to not block your driveway or hinder access to the property, and once your car is parked, you will need to be able to open the doors without branches or flowers getting in the way. Avoid planting large shrubs such as buddleia, which has long, arching sprays of flowers, but instead, choose more compact plants such as dwarf hebes. Ornamental grasses are very popular at the moment and come in a range of different types – these will give you movement and colour as the wind rustles through without blocking the path or restricting access.
Finally, when planting next to a driveway, think about putting in plants that are low growing and relatively hardy, and that don’t have a spreading habit. Plants that have a compact, bushy habit will not sprawl across the drive and become damaged by pedestrian traffic and tyres. Avoid vines, weeping shrubs or the fast growing periwinkles; rather, ornamental heathers can be a good option. If you are going to plant trees, ensure you get a variety that doesn’t drop a lot of leaf litter, and plant it far enough away from the edge of the driveway that the roots cannot disturb the concrete surface.
Keep in mind these important guidelines when choosing plants for your driveway, and whatever your preference, as long as you ensure that the plants enhance your concrete driveway, your driveway (and property) will look better than ever.