landscaping to separate driveways?

scoutnadNovember 22, 2010

My driveway and my neighbor's driveway are right smack against each other, and traditionally there's been no problem w/ each of us using the other's paving to get in and out/around other vehicles. Lately, though, too many tire marks are appearing in my front lawn (that I didn't put there), and most recently, the cap on my sewer line was knocked off by somebody turning around. I've decided that I'm going to put some type of barrier up, although a fence isn't an option thanks to local zoning regulations.

I'm considering building some wooden boxes, perhaps a foot wide and a foot tall, filling them with soil, and planting flowers, shrubs, or maybe even some boxwoods. Before I proceed, however, I'd like to solicit other ideas. The area in question is mostly shaded for most of the day, so anything requiring full sun isn't an option. Low maintenance is ideal - if I just have to trim some shrubs once/twice a year I'll be more than happy.

Suggestions welcome, and thanks in advance.

Joe in PA.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi Joe. How long has that particular neighbor lived there? Are his kids just now beginning to drive? What changed next door?

Since you live in PA, I can understand what sort of weather you have in the winter, but I'm not sure about how hot and dry your summers might be.

I will make a couple of suggestions for you, but first I need to know just how much dirt space there is, and how much clearance you have down YOUR driveway, so I can calculate what diameter a plant you have room for.

One kind of plant that can grow fairly large in the SOUTH, and I mean about 4 feet diameter, and about 4 feet tall, plus it has lovely white plumes on top, is called PAMPAS GRASS. It can go in the ground directly or it can go in large pots. The root system is hard to remove, and the plant itself LOOKS GORGEOUS....BUT it has leaves (or blades because it is a grassy plant) that are sharp as sawgrass. As a hint on how difficult it is to get between the pampas grass when it is planted close together, the state of Louisiana has it planted in the median of Interstate 10 as a barrier to prevent cars from crossing over. It is quite effective as a barrier. And since it looks so nice, you could plant it in all innocence for its beauty, with no thought of intentionally creating a barrier.

The boxwood would look lovely in big pots. Or, I'd consider getting those half whiskey barrels that are frequently sold at garden stores or Lowes/HomeDepot. I have some dwarf boxwood called GREEN VELVET that are quite hardy and do not grow very tall. The problem with the plants such as that, they cost a good bit of money, and they can be driven over. I'm thinking that if it were me, somebody running over the new EXPENSIVE plants would make me TWICE as mad as I was before I planted them.

If you are on a hillside and have to use salt in the wintertime, then I suggest getting some RUGOSA ROSES. They can take the salt, they have really good thorns as armor against humman traffic, but again they are vulnerable to auto damage. They make good sturdy plants, and also fairly big rose hips as a bit of color in the wintertime.

I think I saw a good selection of different clumping and lovely grasses in the GURNEY CATALOG which arrived at our house last week. If you order from them before Dec 8, you get $25 off your order. They will deliver I think when you want for most plants or seeds.

One thing about the grasses. While they are young, car traffic can run over them if planted in the ground, and it does NOT kill the plant. It bounces back quickly.

You know, if you can maybe upload a picture of the space you have to work with, w/out the houses showing, I think I'd have a better idea what to select.

Glad to have you join us, Joe. Maybe someone with more cold climate experience will be dropping in to chat tomorrow and have another idea for you.

Here is a link that might be useful: Gurneys Shrubs, Hedges & Grasses

    Bookmark   November 22, 2010 at 10:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I was thinking a pic of the area would be helpful also. Not that I have the first idea what to plant...

I'd think more along the line of concrete benches or plant containers...

    Bookmark   November 22, 2010 at 10:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Wow, fantastic input!

Desertsteph - I am thinking of some type of container setup, as there's no grassy section between the driveways.

Moccasinlanding - Nothing has really changed, other than that my tolerance threshold was crossed when the sewer line cap was knocked off. At this point I want to prevent an accidental thing like this from becoming real damage, an insurance claim, legal headaches, etc. Besides, the neighbors have their fair share of clutter (as I do, admittedly), so putting up a barrier will help with aesthetics and curb appeal. (Not planning to sell, but want to keep the option open. Cleaned out LOTS of overgrown landscaping this summer, and plan to establish a new layout next spring.)

Here are some photos. Again, I certainly appreciate the feedback.

1. Looking out at the road. My driveway is on the left.

2. View from my front yard, looking toward my neighbor's house. My driveway is on the right here.

3. View from across the street. My house/driveway is on the right.

Thanks again!
Joe in PA

    Bookmark   November 23, 2010 at 10:20AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oh I see the problem for sure. Is there enough room to put planters down the center with out the neighbor running onto/over them and then getting upset with you?

would it be possible to gouge out planting holes in your drive way base? I can not tell if it is cement or asphalt or? The holes would all have to be on your side of the drive.

My first thought was to widen your drive way side towards your lawn. I can see the edge of brick there. Patio or??
This would make moor room for planters on your side.

Second thought is just let your drive way be utility type drive and put your landscaping on edge of your lawn so your view is a better one then now. Not sure where that sewer cap is I am not seeing it but I am not sure what to look for.

And then you said no fence. Would metal posts with one strand of big chain between them be too much of a fence?


    Bookmark   November 23, 2010 at 10:40AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Have you talked with the neighbor about the problem?

I don't think anything would grow in that narrow space, plus if they have gotten used to using your driveway as well as their own to make turns, they'll just run over anything you plant anyway. What about decorative concrete items? They can be "planted" and be sculpture rather than a fence, but serve the purpose of a fence. Sort of like the things court houses and Target stores use in front, only narrow so you don't overlap their driveway. Something pointy would be effective. ;)

    Bookmark   November 23, 2010 at 1:02PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I wonder if the neighbors are backing into your paver area so they can drive forward into the street? Are the tire areas around those corners?

I also wonder if your neighbors have those rocks near their curb to keep from running over their yard.

It might be more effective to place the planters, sculptures, or whatever on the edges where the tire tracks are in your yard rather than that narrow center section. If you don't have a good relationship with this neighbor, anything down the middle might antagonize them and they could make an effort to hit them. In your yard, it's just your own landscape.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2010 at 1:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Marti8a makes a very good point! My mom has a similar problem, so we've been thinking of putting something in the corner. If the tire tracks are going into your yard, maybe put the containers down there, with flowers or shrubs. Maybe line your side of the driveway, with an access to your yard. Depending on how "enclosed" you'd like it, you could put a beautiful arbor at the entrance.

Sorry, it's snowing like crazy and my Internet download is REALLY slow, so I can't see your pictures, right now. Do you have grass only in the front yard? Do you want to include more garden space?

Right now, I'm on a potager/enclosed front yard "kick" (LOL) so I always think arbors, shrubs (even old-fashioned shrub roses) mixed in with butterfly bushes or blueberries make a great border. Throw in some coneflowers, salvias, cosmos, etc. and you have a low-maintenance border.

It's up to you how much garden to add, but I think the containers on your yard/edge of the driveway will solve the problem...and be a beautiful feature :)

    Bookmark   November 23, 2010 at 4:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oh dear ... that IS a challenging situation, isn't it? I've never seen something like that before.

Any kind of planter is going to make an already narrow driveway significantly narrower. I think I'd have a chat with the neighbor and attempt to erect something over the sewer cap so that doesn't happen again.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2010 at 4:31PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Ok, it looks like you might back down your driveway to park very close to the fence so you open the door for a clear shot at entering your house by the back door.

IS IT ON THE PROPERTY LINE? Can you find the marker for your property line in that corner behind your garage?

Because it seems to me, a continuation of the privacy fence to a point up to the front of your house, or even to the back corner of your house, would be an option.

Whatever you put there, that big dump truck can take out.
And I also think they may be using your front patio to back into so they avoid backing into the street. In that case, placing some big tubs (even the whiskey barrels) full of TALL GROWING PLANTS, so they can see them if they try to back up in your patio, that might work.

I do not know how your front door area is set up, or if you personally use that brick patio area to turn your truck to back up or not? A smaller pickup (but not a dump truck) can go beneath an open wooden arbor set up as a really pretty covered patio with huge container plants that can climb the posts, spread across the arbor, and look fantastic. It might even be a solution if you PARK YOUR TRUCK on the brick patio for a while. I think they may have observed you using it as a turnaround, so they are doing the same.

Your drive appears to be asphalt, so it would be easy to auger holes in it. I'd do the wood and not chainlink, because it will look nicer and not be give a prison look.
A four foot high wooden fence can come all the way to the right of way near the street, but a tall privacy fence can come no further than the front of your house. IMHO, it would be easier to build it the same height if you decide to go that route.

Is blocking the view of their "parking lot" a consideration? I would be very sure not to hide your intentions from the neighbor, so discuss with them the options of "privacy screening".....and let them know what you are considering, and do they want to share the expense. It might be that IF THAT EXISTING PRIVACY FENCE IS THEIRS, they would be quite happy to extend it and only pay HALF the cost.

You won't know until you ask.

I see that little new Vespa scooter looking vehicle, the dump truck, and other pickups. So evidently the family works and comes and goes a lot. Continuing the privacy fence would give them more security for their tools and equipment, right?

Oh. If your sewer cleanout is like the one I had in my front yard, I covered mine up with an upside down big flower pot (terra cotta or cement will do), and then sat a birdbath on top of it. I surrounded the whole thing with more container plants. BUT, since you live where it gets COLD, I suggest that you get yourself TWO WHISKEY BARRELS.
Turn one of them upside down over the sewer cleanout. Put the second one on top of it. Fill it with dirt, and plant something like horizontal weeping juniper that will trail over the sides, or some kind of dense growing vine that likes your climate, and you can clip to keep just the right size.

The only other thing I can think of doing is to narrow your drive way, and make a really narrow planting bed in the uncovered soil. You can get some parking lot stops (long "bricks" that stop car tires) and put them down front and back of the new planting bed. Dig up that dirt a little bit, and then put in really good potting soil. OR, put gravel in it. Then set your cement planters with drought tolerant plants in them. Cement containers surrounded by asphalt especially will cook the roots of average plants. But desert type aloe or cactus plants don't mind the heat. They don't like wet roots though. I'd ask your county extension agent what to plant to do the job. If you decided to use the gravel between the borders, you would not have to dig out any part of your driveway.

It is my experience that low slung cars will avoid crossing over those cement "curbing" things, and quite a few trucks don't like to either, if it messes up their wheel balancing. I don't know of much which will deter a determined dump truck driver though.

Keep on thinking and planning, and one day the perfect solution will POP into your head.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2010 at 12:05AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks again, everyone, for the thoughts. Talking to the neighbor won't fully solve the problem for a couple reasons:

1. I think much of the lawn driving is being done by their visitors (and there are lots of them), rather than the residents themselves (of whom there are also many).
2. There's definitely a language barrier.

In addition to wanting to stop the trampling of the lawn - I've been working on cleaning the place up for a while now - I'd like to block off the view of the piles of "stuff" in their front yard. As of now I'm thinking of a container-based hedgerow - boxwoods or similar - running down the border (on my side). I figure I'll sit on it though until spring, when I'm doing the shrubs & flowers out front. Come springtime, when it's finished, I'll try to remember to post some photos. (I figure I'll refer back to this a few times, as there have been many good points made.)

Think spring everyone - it's (eventually) coming!

    Bookmark   November 24, 2010 at 4:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Scout, yep, I think spring is always better to begin any project in the garden. Take a look at the garden forums of GWeb this winter to get more ideas from folks in your neck of the woods.

And if it is a lot of visitors who are the culprits, I bet a cement curb on the OUTER LIMIT of your drive, will keep those low slung cars from crossing least somewhat. Oilpans don't like being scraped up. And who knows, they may move before spring.

Look forward to seeing you early next year. Have a great holiday season.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2010 at 6:38PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Tiny House Forum?
I like this forum- but I sometimes think that we could...
ML - your new kitchen (or DR?) light fixture
I think I just saw one like it... somewhat anyway....
Fancy expensive 'niche' market appliances
Just now reading @appliances, and there is ever more...
This "makeover" is too bad to continue with. Too bad.....
" I agree with Paul8511 "going elsewhere...
Is anyone else having trouble getting on this new Houzz site???
If you're having trouble (which I did) use your email...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™