Is this driveway oval too large for the house......

threeapplesJuly 6, 2012

It appears too large to me, but if we narrow it it will apparently be hard for my husband to drive it with his truck. The house is up, so we can't move that, and the driveway's location is largely determined by the grade of the land, which includes a stream and, ultimately, a culvert to span it. At the moment we are just concerned with the driveway so any input on the oval element would be great.


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I think even if you stretched it to the north (of the picture) in front of the dependency a bit, it would be okay.

At some point the oval becomes large enough that the center of the oval becomes a substantial enough lawn to be a good centerpiece and push the hardscape to the periphery visually.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 10:34PM
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is it ahistoric to have the oval larger than the house though?

this doesn't appear too big for our house, like the driveway is for a grander size home?

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 10:38PM
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I don't have much perspective on this because the only historical place I've lived and really know about predates this type of thing. But modern circular drives that I've seen are often wider than the house.

If this amount of paving bothers you, could you forgo the oval and have a drive that swept by the front of the house and had a walkway to the front door?

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 11:00PM
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Having the oval larger than the house looks out of proportion to me, but then I'm not a big fan of large amounts of concrete in front of the house.

Do you really need the circular? What if you delete the oval and just have the corner of the "L" in front of the house be enlarged for visitor parking. Then have a section of the driveway there go South about 8' so people can back up, hang a left and drive out. Sort of like a "T", with the North leg going to your garage and a very short South leg for backing up to turn around.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 11:02PM
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As palimpsest mentions, with the interior lawn/landscape of the oval being larger, the hardscape of the drive will be visually lessened. It would be more jarring visually to have a little island of planting/grass against the hardscape, therefore I think it would be best to have the width of the island at least slightly larger than twice the width of the driveway lane. It looks good as drawn, but for one historic example (though not Georgian) look up pictures of Frederick Vanderbilt's Hyde Park estate - the round/oval drive is so large that it's not even understood as a circle when viewed from most human perspectives.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 2:11AM
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It should either be much larger so as to make the interior planting space be the key element here, or it should be eliminated in favor of some other shape. As shown, the turning radius will be functionally difficult to maneuver and it's too much about the pavement itself visually.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 7:34AM
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Jack Kennedy

I think that if you want a more historically accurate and smaller seeming drive the option would be to have the front of the oval turn into a pie shape. So that when you drive up you see more of a fork in the road than a large asphalt pad that becomes the oval....

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 9:43AM
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Could you do either of these?

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 11:07AM
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I wasn't aware that a pie shape was the historic way to do this. I'll have to look for some images.
The driveway is very long and we chose the iCal so people don't have to reverse down it. We don't want a large landing pad near the garage so we thought this would work. I favor the oval over a circle.
Palimpsest, we can't enter the property from the alternative point you suggest, but your other idea could be done if we added a large bit of concrete by the garage.
Also, I'd the oval is on a flattened area, you'd only be aware of its shape as you drive on it or view it from an upstairs window, right?

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 4:16PM
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I think the planting area in the middle of it will be effective in reducing it's impact. With effective planting you can frame the house nicely.

Actually the amount of driveway doesn't bother me much. So many new houses are visually all garage, or if they are not, the driveway leads you to the butt-end of the house, which is usually the worst-planned ugliest facade.

This could actually be a pretty graceful approach.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 8:05PM
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Jack Kennedy

Here is more of what I was thinking of, not necessarily a perfect pie shape. This is the town hall where I used to live, it's late 1800's construction. I think the racetrack oval is throwing you off maybe. What style is the house?

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 8:06PM
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glenwood, thanks for your trouble in getting that photo for me.

the house is a Georgian style and it's actually sideways on our lot (determined by layout of the land and how it can be approached from a culvert spanning a stream). we want it to look rather historic and I think symmetry in landscaping will work with the symmetry of the house (the exception being the attached garage on the left-hand side, though it is set back a little bit to minimize its view).

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 10:20PM
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