Driveways enhance the home aesthetics and the entire home’s real estate value given the right designs and materials. Like everything else, when given enough thought, beautiful driveways can be done on a budget.
You can explore a lot of materials from very basic ones such as gravel and stone to more complex ones to work with like concrete and stone moldings.
If you are looking for viable options for budget driveways, here are some driveway ideas on a budget that you could explore.
Related: Garden path ideas
20 driveway ideas on a budget
Installing bricks on the driveway is one of the best options for shorter driveways. They are finished in themselves, easy and cheap to install, and very durable when maintained properly.
Although prone to weeds, treatments, and the existence of brick moldings without gaps in between have become remedies to lessen the chances of weeding in the driveway when using brick materials. Here are some ideas from The Spruce and Houzz.
Read also: Yellow brick driveway ideas
2. Grated asphalt
The fact that tarmac or asphalt is still a top choice for national roads would already manifest how cost-efficient this material is. It is easy to pour, level, and given its dark gray finish, you can leave it as sleek as it is or easily accent it with colors if need be.
It is natural-looking, resembling gravel even, but without pebbles and rough stones that could cause inconvenience. You can get an English countryside feel for your driveway if you use grated asphalt like these ones from Paving Inct., Katia Goffin Gardens and Artisan Home and Design.
The more common name for this driveway design liquid asphalt and stone or the seal chip design. It looks a lot like asphalt, but it is finer, more compressed, and has more layers of pressed gravel on the surface.
Being the aggregate of gravel and asphalt, it is more functional in longer driveways. As such, it is found more in rural settings or in bigger suburban homes. It is a cheap, low-maintenance driveway that will give off the rustic look anytime. Just look at these ideas from Brico and Houzz.
4. Edged stones
Using loose materials for driveways are practically the most inexpensive choice. Small, fine stones edged with concrete, planters, or bricks have a classy effect for long driveways. Add it with a complementing landscape to generate a clean, minimalist look like these ones from Cape Cod Land Excavation and Timberstone.
Another low-cost, sturdy, and functional choice for driveways would be concrete. They come full circle thanks to the array of designs that it comes with. They are the default driveway material in the suburbs.
You can always spruce up your concrete driveway by putting in other colors or by drawing up a centerpiece image for your driveway using concrete too. Here are some ideas from Concrete Network and Landscaping Network.
Related: Best concrete slab ideas and designs
6. Pavers/Block paving
It is one of the most low-maintenance and durable materials out there. It is expensive at first but with its longevity and classic look, everything will be worth it. You can minimize weed growth with block paving and its natural old school look makes the added cost of finishing irrelevant. Other than this, pavers can be installed DIY.
If you are looking for some driveway designs made of pavers, here’s some houzz.
This material is the best choice for locations with tropical climates. Aside from its natural look, its durability to withstand moist, high heat and water (it is considered more durable than brick and concrete) makes it a practical driveway choice.
If you are all in for a classic, white style, go for cobblestone. It is low maintenance and when splashed with some tropical landscape flair will enhance the entire estate. Just look at these ideas from Stepping on Stones and Above All Masonry.
8. Permeable driveway
Also called the PICP, permeable driveways offer new solutions to avoid water ponding in the driveway. It comes with a permeable surface where water could pass through and at the same time providing a solid ground where the car can be parked.
Brick, cobblestones, and concrete can be transformed into a permeable driveway by adding sand in between the gaps. This way, water is absorbed, weed is resisted and pollutants are filtered. If you are eyeing permeable driveways, here are some sample designs from Houzz and Paver Connection.
9. Natural stone tile
This is another strand of the concrete driveways but if you dig that slippery like touch because of the stain finish, go for the natural stone tile. To add more dynamics, you can choose the herringbone or chevron designs. It is good for suburban, modern homes and in compact driveways.
Staining natural stone tiles are imperative for its pristine look for years. It is an important maintenance mechanism that may come with additional costs. If you are exploring some natural stone tile designs, here are some of the ideas that you can consider.
10. Wood chip
Scrap wood chips never run out of function and if you are working on a very tight budget for your driveway, go for the wood chip driveway. It is perfect for rural areas if you want to avoid the muddy driveway or in ranch houses to get a more rustic vibe.
They also fit winding driveway designs, especially for literally long driveways. Wood chips are sure to be found in suburban landscaping, but you will not find them as a driveway material due to strict HOA rules. Here are some wood chip driveway ideas from Pinterest and Houzz that you can consider.
This material is the ‘new age’ of driveways. Compared to asphalt and concrete, rubber is more inexpensive and easier to install. It is also at par with them in terms of durability. With its smoother surface, it is a good option for homes with small kids.
And since they come in different colors, you can use darker colored rubber accents in between. Or you can also mix and match it with stones, and other natural accents to go with the rubber surface. Here are some concept designs from Houzz and Stalbert Today.
12. Gravel, and crushed stones
It is like gravel but not that fine so you will not worry so much about loose movements underneath. It can be recycled so it is very cost-efficient. Basically, this design is laid down in a base of fine gravel and instead of a patch of grass, add crushed stones on top. Add some more crushed stones to use as a border to hold it all together.
Depending on the color of the crushed stones used, you can go for the rustic countryside feel with darker colored stones and go to suburban California with lighter colored stones. Here are some ideas.
Related: How to Control Weeds in a Crushed Stone Pathway
If you are not comfortable with the generic look and surface of asphalt, gravel, and concrete, you can go for the unusual but smoother surface resin. Raking will not be necessary and weed growth will not become a problem. They might be harder to put on though, needing the help of a professional so beware of additional costs.
Overall, the resin is functional and stylish at the same time. You would want it for longer and rustic driveways. Here are some designs to consider from Houzz
14. Pavers and grass
Concrete, asphalt, stone, and cobblestones can begin to look dull at some point. To include more dynamics, you can add grass arrangements that will exude a geometrical look. It can be overlapping, the traditional square, or the hedge maze effect of large estates.
Depending on the thickness of the grass used in between the pavers, you can easily transition from the classy and neat royal gardens or a more tropical look with thicker grass in between. Here are some concepts to consider from Pinterest and Dea Vita.
15. Grass and gravel
Grass and gravel are other loose materials that will stray on movement, but it is one of the most inexpensive yet versatile driveway materials out there. It evokes the most rustic look and the most heritage style. It will look good in ranch house driveways, coastal villas, and barn and English cottage designs.
Add some artificial or natural grass patches to separate the walkways or adorn each side with trees and plants and you are good to go. Check out these grass and gravel driveway ideas from Pinterest
16. Decorative gateways
Adding iron-wrought, Victorian, or minimalist gateways enhances any cobblestone, concrete, or brick driveway any day. They look classy, traditional and the gateways themselves are equally durable. You can also add a whole line of garden lights to welcome you until you reach the end of the driveway after you open the decorative gateway.
Gateways like these are common for large estates but they will also look fine in compact suburban driveways. Look at these concepts.
17. Natural landscaping
By natural landscaping, we mean tree canopies and plant accents and borders. The driveway can be concrete, asphalt, or gravel but a tunnel of large trees or the calming effect of flowering plants on both sides of the driveway make the travel more whimsical making this design good for long driveways.
If you are considering this one, it might take time before you see the ‘fairytale’ effect of the plant and tree canopies. All in all, it has a unique aesthetic touch like the ones from House Beautiful and Surround Landscaping.
To veer away from the traditional straight driveway, opting for a winding driveway gives a more dynamic look. It is versatile for both compact and long driveways. It also gives off a classic Southern California feel. You can accent out the winding look with permeable grass at the center.
Winding driveway designs also lessen the chances of mudding and harrowed grass in between pavers since you have set a specific route where the tires would screech around. You might want to consider these designs.
There is no limit to what you can add to your driveway design. If you have a lot of time to spare, go for a mosaic driveway mixing in an asphalt base, stone tiles, curved concrete or pavers, rectangular shaped tiles if you must create a unique ensemble or a mosaic style driveway.
If you have family emblems, they are also good inclusions for a customized mosaic design driveway. If you are thinking about this, here are some designs to consider from Fair Fax Family Fun and Patio Magic California.
This type of design usually makes use of concrete tiles and comes either with an exposed or hidden drainage as an accent or border. Darker colored tiles are always the most recommended ones. And you will not fear water pooling or slippery driveway every time it rains because there is drainage where all the water is automatically channeled.
Minimalist driveways are neat and calming especially when set out in contrast to bright colored homes. Putting in potted plants as accents are also commendable. Here are some minimalist driveway designs from Trend Hunter.
What is the best material to use for driveways?
There is no one answer to the best material used for driveways. Of course, the great triumvirate of driveway materials will always be gravel, asphalt, and concrete but this does not say that they are all that there are when it comes to driveway construction. For a head start, here are seven of the most popular driveway materials used:
- Gravel and stones
How much should a driveway cost?
When it comes to driveway costs, the materials to be used and area dimensions have the most to say in terms of the price range. According to Home Advisor, materials alone would range from $4-50. Installation can cost from $5-15 per square foot. All in all, expect a range of $2000-7000 for a driveway.
How can I make my driveway look nice?
Now, there are certain maintenance procedures that must be done every now and then for your driveway to stand out in the neighborhood any day, any time. Here are some tips to employ to make your driveway look nice:
- Pressure washing once a month
- Filling cracks and repairing the pavers/brick/concrete immediately
- Stain concrete and natural stone tile driveways
- Put some color and accents by installing borders
- Add landscaping and set up driveway lights
- Scrap and change the entire driveway for a new design
What is the longest-lasting driveway?
The straight-up answer is concrete. It is the old school driveway material and is the go-to option for suburban homes. It does not break or crack easily, it will last for decades when maintained properly. If the installation goes well, it is said that regular pressure washing is the only maintenance work to be done with concrete. Runner-ups would be loose materials such as gravel and stone.
What is the best low maintenance driveway?
The cheapest driveway does not mean the lowest maintenance. The lowest maintenance driveway material would be paver. Specifically, the three lowest maintenance pavers would be permeable pavers, paving stones, and concrete grass pavers.
Pavers are low maintenance because they are designed to withstand harsh climate conditions and the gaps in between allow water flow even in the absence of drainage. Other than this, the composite materials used to make pavers in themselves are water absorbent, so you do not have to worry about mudding or water pooling. As for maintenance, a good pressure shower once in a while will do.
Do weeds grow through resin driveways?
The good thing about resin driveways is that they are completely bound. This means that weed growth is rare. To make it more weed resistant, the resin is double treated with sealing. It has to be noted that the sealing will wear off in traffic. As such, it is an important part of the entire resin driveway maintenance.
More than this, you cannot always bank on the idea that resin driveways will not encourage weed growth. Seeds distributed by the wind during windy seasons might still cause weed growth in between. In more moist climates, algae or moss might emerge instead of weeds.
Driveways are important groundworks, literally and figuratively. If you are going down the budget design route, you must invest a lot of time, effort and active searching not only for complementing designs but to know the best materials that will match your home and the estimated cost of the whole project. If you have all of these, you are ready to go.
When it comes to the most common materials used for driveways, at the top would still be the old school materials composed of concrete, stones, gravel, and asphalt. But in recent years, new trends such as rubber, mixed elements of complementing materials, and bolder, customized designs are now part of the whole driveway hype.