Please help with ideas- design inside semi-circle driveway

cminscMay 7, 2010

We moved into our circa late 50's, painted brick ranch home about a year ago. We are in Charleston SC, in zone 8b with brutal summer humidity.

We have been gradually working on the landscaping. It was almost non-existent prior to our move in, except for grass and some basic foundation shrubbery. We have a functional concrete driveway to the far left end of the home leading to a side entry garage.

In addition, we have a semi-circular, graveled driveway in the very front of the house that was an add-on by the previous owners. This is where we need help with design layout and landscaping. The area has a southern exposure and gets hot sun - about 7 hours per day.

Right now, I need help with what to plant inside the driveway circle. Currently, there is almost nothing in it, except for grass, a preexisting concrete path down the middle leading to the front door, and a couple of small sago palms I planted (but can move). There is a drainage ditch that bisects the circle horizontally. The 2 halves of the circle lawn area slope inward, toward the ditch. It is almost like there are 4 quadrants to deal with, the way its currently cut up.

Can you suggest some plantings and/or planting placements? Both ends of the outside edge of the semi-circular driveway are flanked by palmetto trees. I really like flowering perennials, as well as lush tropical like plants. One goal would be to afford some privacy screening from the street - this area is completely open right now to everyone driving by, from way down the road. I am not thinking of a solid hedge type of screening  just something, maybe with some height, to help partially filter or screen. I believe there needs to be some height in some of the plantings, but there are limitations  the power lines run along the street just beyond the property edge, and the county voraciously butchers all tree limbs that even try to grow near them.

My ideas - I have thought about ripping out the sidewalk that runs down the middle of the semi-circle, covering up the ditch by adding pipes, building up the area into a mound, and then landscaping. However, I think that would be expensive. There might be some creative minds out there that can figure out how to make the existing hardscape work just as well, without the added expense. I have also considered using a smaller variety crape myrtle with interesting bark, some variety of palms, and/ or one or two brugmansias ((Angel Trumpets) in the circle, but I am really stumped.

I would also like to pave or coat the driveway with something, but I am not sure with what. Right now, the grey gravel is messy and ugly. Any ideas?

I am an avid gardener. No kid or pet issues. I do have built-in sprinklers, but they already need to be reconfigured also.

All suggestions would be appreciated! Thanks!

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Rip out the sidewalk, leave the ditch, kill the lawn ... think stream-bed landscape.

Go wander around the botanical gardens and parks and see what is growing in similar exposures. A selection of low and medium shrubs with a small tree or two - dwarf crepe myrtle varieties? Magnolias (the small ones)? Will Lousiana Iris or other swamp iris stand the sun?

    Bookmark   May 8, 2010 at 1:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
karinl(BC Z8)

I don't know the first thing about growing in your climate, but here's what strikes me about your post: you sound totally confident about how you would landscape this if you could rip out the sidewalk and cover the ditch. So why not pretend that's all done, draft a plan, and then see if it can be amended to accommodate the sidewalk and the ditch?

If it can't, then perhaps take out the sidewalk first, then ditch if you have to. It seems to me you can do this is phases either on paper or in real life. If it's still early enough to plant this year, for instance, you could get your plants in this year, and remove the sidewalk next year or in the fall. You can also grow succulents and actually a remarkable variety of plants directly on concrete - I think the book is by George Schenk, too rushed to go look at the moment. Or you could put a dry stream bed on that - border it with a curved line of big rocks and you might forget the straight line is there.

If I were to landscape this, my style would probably drive me to a totally different plant selection than you say you like, but I think the first choice I would make is irrespective of plant selection, namely, do I emphasize the circle and go kind of formal/symmetrical, or do I work to overcome the idea of the circle and use it as a frame for a more free-form installation? The latter would include some big rocks to really challenge the circle shape.


    Bookmark   May 9, 2010 at 1:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Dear carolina8bn

I live in Myrtle Beach and understand what you mean about the brutal heat! Your home is adorable and Charleston is a lovely place to live. I like the circle drive and to me, the center sidewalk is inviting. You could install pipes as youâd mentioned and build up the ground area but you can get plenty of privacy from plants and trees too. Here are plants that Iâve had success with in Myrtle Beach.

You could add a dogwood tree and a dwarf magnolia. Both flowers are very pretty. Fill in the other areas with a few large rocks and add a couple gardenias and some hibiscus both of which will spread out a little and grow to be over 3ft tall. My hibiscuses are huge and seem to like the sun, the gardenia prefers a little afternoon shading but they smell so good.

Add a couple Crape Myrtles, and an azalea too. The azalea is really popular here as they mark the arrival of springtime but after they bloom, their flowers turn brown and are ugly, pluck the dead blooms and the shrub will stay green. You could also add a Camellia which grows well here in the south and their flowers bloom in the colder months, this shrub is slow growing but beautiful, especially after a frost.

All of these should be small enough to grow under your power lines. To save money, you could try I was able to buy something like 12 to 16 trees and shrubs for under $90. I planted them in pots until I had my area prepared. They were small but grew very well and this worked for me because I like to watch things grow. Also, the crape myrtle is super easy to root. If you take some clippings and place them in water, they will almost always grow. Ask a neighbor if you can clip some, we southerners love to share our plant clippings.

You had mentioned the color of the gray driveway not being desirable and I see that you have retaining edgerâs near the ditch. I would add edging around your entire driveway on both sides to really define your drive. It looks like your driveway is gravel, if it is, then you can refresh the drive with a gravel that has natural colors. To me, defining your drive will add great curb appeal.

The sidewalk through your new lush flowers will be nice and inviting to walk through once everything starts to grow. I donât know about your HOA but perhaps adding a small arbor on the sidewalk near the house and then adding some clematis vines to grow over would be nice.

Happy planting!

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 6:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Have you checked with your city or county to see if you can put pipe in the bar ditch? I have that in my front yard too and we're not allowed to cover it.

I like Yaardvark's suggestion of taking out the sidewalk and building up the native stream look.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2013 at 1:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Being this thread is slightly over 3 years old and the OP never came back after the initial posting, the dilemma could have been solved by now.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2013 at 2:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oh good grief. I hate it when old threads pop up like that. You're right, it's probably done by now.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2013 at 4:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I would tear up the whole half circle. plant ornamental grasses along the edges. Put rocks around the grasses. Either tear up the concrete walk or concrete flat rock on the walk. Put an arbor over the walk way and into the flower beds on each side. Have a large climbing plant of Purple, Blue or Red grow over the arbor. Add hostas or Salvia along the walk. But Salvia is beautiful with bees. Add color Knock Out Roses on each side. add a garden feature like a bird house or a tall metal feature that wind makes go around. Fill the remaining area with beautiful flowers. Put ornamental grasses or hostas in front of the circle by the house. Put rock around the circle, too. or you could put day lilies along the circle in front of your house. Add large flower beds along the walk and around your house all curved edged by rocks. Window boxes under all the windows. Rail flower boxes on your rails. With hanging flowers of every color. Make your entry more inviting with a larger fan shape step area with no hand rail. but with potted plants on the edges blooming. with a little seating area.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 3:43PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Need landscaping ideas for new home please
Hello everyone. We moved into our new build in November....
scary house help
Trying to help someone with this- yipes. I'm thinking...
Front yard design help
Looking to finally put some plants in the front yard....
Matt Johnston
Issue with Retainer Wall, fixable or redo?
Hi, first time posting here. I'm looking for advice...
John Turner
On Site Calculations - Area
If you do construction as well as design, sooner or...
Sponsored Products
Free Standing Cabinets Racks & Shelves: Edsal Garage Cabinets Silvervein
Home Depot
Jofran 1030-3 End Table w/ One Drawer - One Shelf & Oval Brushed Nickel Hardware
Beyond Stores
Iannone Design | Green Mod: Midcentury Inlay Tall Dresser
Cobblestone Rug 2' x 3' - TANGERINE
$99.00 | Horchow
Grommet Top Thermal Insulated 72-inch Blackout Curtain Panel Pair
Stamina AeroPilates Premier XP 299 Pilates Reformer - Refurbished Multicolor - 5
$160.01 | Hayneedle
LBL Lighting | Modular Tubular Small Outdoor Wall Light
$788.00 | YLighting
Eccotemp Forced Vent Indoor Tankless Water Heater
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™