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Article from Homes & Cottages

Parking Made Pretty

The need for more parking space required extra landscaping to soften the look

by Connie Adair

Homes and Cottages Magazine Cover ArticleThese homeowners needed more parking space, but didn’t want their home to look like a parking lot. So horticulturist Mike Mooney and Salix Nurseries in Port Perry, Ontario came up with a parking and planting plan.  Most properties with driveways at the front of the house are split 60/40 (landscape/driveway), but this Mississauga, Ontario front yard is 60 per cent driveway. However Mooney was able to give the homeowners the additional parking space they wanted and enhance the home’s curb appeal too. Heavy machinery was brought in and demolition and rough-ins of the 50×30-foot front yard were completed in one day. “Everything was removed and heavy aggregates, soil and rock were brought in on the first day,” says Mooney, who has been in the landscaping industry for 40 years. Salix is known as being a highly mechanized company, using machinery such as motorized wheelbarrows and hydraulic dumpsters. It makes it easier on the workers and possible to complete each project faster. The project, which had more than 200 tons of material moved in and out, was completed by a three-man crew in seven days. “We’re high-end but we end up costing less because we’re automated. We can do any size job relatively fast,” Mooney says. One spruce tree on the east side was retained and Pyramidal English Oak trees planted on the west side to frame the house.
Eliminating corners softens the look

Depending on soil conditions, driveways are dug down as much as 16 inches. If the soil is clay, as in this case, a Geotextile fabric is the first layer that’s put down. The textile keeps the fine clay from making its way up to the surface. Up to a foot of sub-grade gravel is then added and compacted. 

Next, three or four inches of non-compacted, high-performance bedding was levelled and graded. Interlock (Mooney uses high-quality Oaks Concrete Products) was laid on top in a random pattern. Joints were grouted with polymeric sand, which is impervious to insects and weeds. 

Instead of a straight walkway to the front door, a curved walk slows visitors’ approach to the house long enough for them to stop and smell the roses, so to speak. This is important, especially when you’re selling your home, Moonay says. “We make it feel like they’re sold on the house by the time they get to the front door.”

The driveway and sidewalks are edged in black onyx for a finished look

Eliminating corners also softens the look and requires less maintenance because there are no tight corners to trim, he says. 

The driveway and the sidewalks are edged in black onyx for a finished look.

The interlock can be sealed, which gives it a rich, wet look. “However once you start sealing you have to continue to seal it every year. It will cost about 50 cents per square foot if you hire a professional or about $300 if you do it yourself,” Mooney says.

Salix is part of L&M Contracting, a Tarion-registered luxury home building company. It’s a bonus to have construction experience, he says. When problems such as cracks in the foundation or drainage problems are discovered, repairs are made before they become bigger issues.

When planning a project, he also takes into account features such as irrigation or lighting that the homeowners might want to do at a later date. It’s better to rough it in because it costs more to dig it up later, he says.

Six to eight inches of soil was added to flower beds. The garden includes Early Rhododendrons and dwarf Dogwood, Spiera, Little Princess, Japanese maple and Crimson Queen. “We use dwarf or semi-dwarf plants because they require little or no maintenance,” Mooney Says.

The selection of plants ensures blooms from spring to fall, drawing the eye to the colourful display.