Parking With Style

Convenience and beauty aren't mutually exclusive.
Steve Bender

The words "parking area" and "attractive" seldom find their way into the same sentence. After all, most parking spots are utilitarian spaces designed to do nothing more than accommodate cars near the house. Not this one, though. Its clever use of structure, pattern, and evergreen foliage showcases a parking court that's both convenient and good-looking.

In this instance, necessity forced the homeowner's hand. The long, narrow drive linking the city street to her Birmingham home meant that when visitors came, the parking situation was tight. Today, however, guests can pull into one of four 8-foot-wide parking spaces cut into a slope at the side of the house. When folks leave, they simply back up, turn right, and proceed forward down the drive.

All in the Details
The convenience issue was solved. But what about beauty? Garden consultant Norman Kent Johnson and contractor Landscape Services, Inc., helped with that. It boiled down to details.

Bands of brick delineate the spaces, which are covered with gravel to distinguish them from the asphalt drive. "At first, I didn't like the gravel," the homeowner admits, "because it's sometimes hard for your feet to get firm purchase." But the handsome look convinced her. "It's enough contrast that, to me, it simply says, ‘Park here,' " she adds.

Brick columns spaced evenly along the retaining wall lend further definition to the parking spaces. This strong pattern maintains interest even in winter. To amplify the effect, the homeowner trained Confederate jasmine along strands of nylon-string trimmer line attached to masonry nails. This forms a graceful evergreen braid on the wall.

A bed of deep green mondo grass at the base of the wall adds softness and color all winter long. Visitors are cautioned not to back into the spaces, lest heat from mufflers and tailpipes burn the ground cover. Adding convenience doesn't have to mean adding ugly. This parking court proves it.


"Parking With Style" is from the December 2007 issue of Southern Living.