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Landscaping & Design/steep downward driveway


QUESTION: My wife and I are considering purchasing a home. The driveway is extremely steep (decline slope), in fact we couldn't even pull my wife's car into the garage because the slope is so intense. We really love the home but the driveway is almost unbearable, especially with a child. Any suggestions?

ANSWER: This is not a problem that is easily fixed, if you want to use a garage for your car(s).  There also may also be *no* solution. You have about three realistic options: re-orient how you access the garage, chose to build another garage (either attached or detached) if there is sufficient land that allows it, and finally lower the house/raise the garage elevations.  None of these are cheap solutions.

If the house has been on the market for a while, others have had the same sense that this a major detraction to the home.  Consider also that the steep driveway will get wet, and/or will direct water into the garage/home during a rain event. Does it get icy where you live?

More information is required to more fully answer this question: is this a tract home or custom? Is it on larger parcel? Is this rural, suburban, or urban? Is the home older or newer? Why do you think the drive so steep? Is it due to vistas, neighbors, public road access/alignment, or city restrictions?


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QUESTION: The owners report that the drive way does not flood when it rains but is designed to where the water flows off to the side of the house. This is central Georgia; itís rarely icy here.  The home is in a suburban area. Here is a like to the home. Google maps gives the best view of the driveway.

I saw the pictures, and it is a pretty steep slope. Landscape Architectural guidelines are that a driveway should not exceed a 15% slope (6.5:1).  Anything above 6-7% and it is uncomfortable to open your car doors.

I would pursue re-aligning access more to the north by about 40 to 50 feet, and sweep the drive across the front of your house entrance, creating a longer run from West Spring to your garage door, and a drop-off area at the front door.  It would require at a minimum a building permit, including a plot plan plan and grading & drainage plan be prepared for review by the Northridge HOA & Macon/Bibb County.  These would show parcel information, building setbacks, extent of land disturbance, location of utilities, etc. (see or for guidance). Also potentially required is an encroachment permit as part of the building permit. The Real Estate pictures showed a creek in the back, so it may require additional paperwork and perhaps subject to other regulations, if the house is in a flood zone.  Cobb County standards state the a maximum street grade cannot exceed 14% slope (7:1).  I found no guidance for driveway slopes for your area, but I have seen them in California as steep as 25% (4:1)!

You can prepare these plans yourself as the "owner-builder", but I would strongly suggest consulting a local paving/concrete contractor for installation, as Bibb County requires bonding for driveway, curb, & gutter work in their right-of-way.  I estimate that a concrete driveway installation would be about $5,500 to $7,500 excluding permit fees.  (that is $3.70 to $5.00/sf)

Sorry that it may not be the answer you are looking for, but better that you should know before you make any kind of purchase offer.

BTW, my wife & I looked at a home in 2011 that had a similar problem, requiring stairs and re-aligning the front entrance.  We chose to keep looking. I Youtubed "snow in Macon, GA" and I wouldn't want to try and get my car out of your garage in the event that occurred (re:historic snows of 1973)!  

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Marc Chapelle, RLA


I am a licensed Landscape Architect. I can answer general questions about style and design, give you ideas and suggestions for site amenities, help with larger site-planning issues, or perhaps give guidance for recreational amenities & park design. IF YOU ARE GOING TO ASK FOR A PLANT SUGGESTION GO HERE: I prefer you ask somebody else why your petunias are not as perky as they should be; I'd LOVE to tell you how those petunias can increase your home's value!


20+ years of working with homeowners, contractors, developers and local civil engineering/architecture firms. I am located in the dry Great Basin area (Greater Nevada/Utah), so the use of landscape materials OTHER than plants is emphasized. As a licensed Landscape Architect I've worked on both the East and West Coasts.


BSLA in Landscape Architecture,Licensed in NV, CA, & VA - but can answer Q's across the country Many additional seminars, educational venues, and classes (both taught & attended)

Awards and Honors
Best Multifamily project, Reno/Sparks Builder's Association Best Model Home Landscaping, Reno/Sparks Builder's Association

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