While doing your driveway landscaping, make sure you overlook none of the tools in your landscaper's toolbox to beautify this highly visible portion of your yard. If you're handy (or can afford professional help), that could include stone walls, driveway gates and similar features. For a look at what such hardscape components bring to the table, see my picture of a driveway entrance.
But even if you're more of a gardener than a mason or carpenter, you have plenty of options for landscape plants at your disposal. Just be careful to heed practical concerns rather than blindly supporting the plant candidates that you happen to find the most visually-appealing.
For example, when planting at the entrance of a driveway (where it meets the road), Northerners should remember that road salt can be a problem and should try to use salt-tolerant plants. That's right: it's not only at the beach that they're mainstays.
Here's another example, regarding plants installed along the edges of the driveway, lengthwise. Try to envision how your driveway will be used and maintained in the future. Ask yourself such questions as:
- Are vehicles likely to stray off the driveway (as may well happen if you have teenage drivers at home), thereby potentially damaging adjacent plants?
- Will you be hiring snowplow contractors to clear your driveway in winter? Again, adjacent plants could easily be damaged in this scenario.
So if you answered yes to either or both of the above questions, what are you to do? I recommend installing plants that are either inexpensive or prolific. Annuals fit the bill as inexpensive plants and furnish you with an abundance of color all summer. If there should be a driving mishap and they get run over, at least you're not out a lot of money (and they're easily replaced).
There are many examples of prolific plants that you can use for your driveway landscaping -- plants that are tough to wipe out through a mishap, because they'll simply generate new growth to compensate. For example, when red twig dogwood or yellow twig dogwood shrubs lose branches (due to damage), they will simply send up new ones (which is what happens when they're pruned). Some of the flowering ground covers are good candidates for the job, too: not only are they attractive, but it's part of their nature to "go forth and multiply."