January 15, 2021

The Concrete Driveway

Whether you’re designing a home from scratch on raw land, updating your home’s look, or redesigning new landscaping for your older home, the question of what to do about your driveway will come into play. There are numerous options when it comes to driveway material and design. From gravel to asphalt, stone to pavers, concrete, and a combination of any of these. In this article, we’ll be focusing specifically on concrete as an option for your driveway.

A photo of a concrete driveway.

How Thick Should A Concrete Driveway Be?

The thickness of a concrete driveway depends highly on traveling over it and regularly parking on it. A driveway that will be handling typical traffic (like passenger vehicles and the occasional delivery truck or van) can generally be a standard 4-inch depth without fear of causing cracks or splits in the pad. Driveways that handle constant heavier loads need a thicker base poured. These driveways consist of farms or ranches that endure tractors’ weight, construction machinery (e.g., bulldozers), livestock trailers, semi-trucks, or other heavy-duty equipment. Pouring a 5-inch thickness can increase the concrete’s strength by up to 50%.
Preventing cracking isn’t only about the thickness of the concrete but also the type of soil underneath the driveway. Whether or not the concrete is reinforced; how many and at what interval joints will be installed into the pad to allow for natural movement; and other factors. Your contractor will be able to calculate what and how these various features can be installed or integrated into your new driveway for best use and most extended lifespan.

If and when concrete driveways become damaged, they can be challenging to repair. Unlike other materials that can be easily patched or replaced, concrete needs to be removed and entirely repoured. Patching is possible, but strength and appearance are greatly affected.

Designing Your Concrete Driveway

Part of the fun of designing a driveway in concrete is that you can make it almost any shape or style you’d like. The building material has strayed from its ancestry’s austere gray and become an all-around choice for even flashy concrete driveway designs. From square to curves to stamped and stained, concrete can take on the look of almost any other material.

Factors to consider when designing your driveway are:

Expected Use

Much depends not only on what vehicles will regularly use your driveway (e.g., cars, heavy equipment) and how you want them to flow across your property.

A unidirectional or straight driveway is the least costly of concrete driveway designs. These include the typical rectangular drives you see in many a suburb. Straight driveways are the best choice for homes located close to the front property line, as there is little space for anything other than functionality. But that doesn’t mean your driveway has to be boring! You can add oomph to your property’s entry with stamped concrete, additional landscaping (like bushes, trees, or other landscaping), or building the driveway in whole or part with decorative pavestone. Pavestone or pavers are individual concrete or natural stone blocks that can be arranged in a design. They also withstand more weight than poured concrete.

Circular, horseshoe, or U-shaped driveways are pricier to install, but they also increase mobility, allowing drivers to move across your property quickly. The size and shape of your land and the location and orientation of your home will dictate if these driveways are possible. The minimum outside diameter of a circular or U-shaped drive should be about 75 feet, with a 15-foot-wide lane. Take that measurement along with a few others and building code restrictions on how close your driveway can be to property lines, and you’ll be able to know if a non-square driveway will not only work for you but be legal to install.

A photo of residential concrete driveway.

Position Of Your Home & Lay Of The Land

Yes, curving driveways are more expensive to install, but sometimes they are unavoidable due to hilly property, existing features, or the home’s orientation on the land. Hilly property generally necessitates one or more curves to accommodate vehicles as they maneuver toward your home. If your property has existing features you want to keep (or cannot remove), such as boulders or trees, your driveway needs to bend around them. Lastly, if your house’s garage or entry does not line up directly with the road, you’ll need to install a curve in the driveway to allow for parking and access.

Curving drives need to allow even large vehicles to maneuver, so turns can’t be too tight or too many. Because concrete can be poured to any shape, installing a curved concrete entry isn’t an issue for your landscaping contractor.

Personal Taste, Home Architecture & Budget

Lastly, your taste and home’s architecture will help formulate a fitting style for your new or refashioned driveway. If you want your home and landscaping to be the focal point, create a simple driveway that won’t compete for attention. If your home is simple and you’d prefer onlookers admire your property’s entry more than the house itself, consider a more opulent driveway that is beautiful, lined with flora, and maybe even fun to drive on.

While concrete is cheaper to install than other driveway material, don’t rule out decoration. You can opt to stamp concrete with a paver-like design and even stain and polish it. Stamped concrete is also known as Imprinted concrete.

It’s best to consult with a landscaping and concrete specialist to discuss your ideas and develop the perfect design and plan for your new or updated driveway.

Scapes Landscaping OKC has a rich history of bringing high quality landscaping design to the OKC area. We’re known for serving Oklahoma City landscaping clients with the best rated residential landscaping and commercial landscaping services! Be sure to check out our before and after landscaping gallery. Contact us today at 405-376-0505 and request a quote.