3. Soften and highlight with plantings
Carefully placed plantings go a long way toward fixing the in-your-face feel of an unadorned driveway and garage. Small- to medium-size trees along the edge will eventually overhang the driveway and partially screen the garage. Be wary of planting too close to buried utilities, and choose trees without overly aggressive roots. You also want to steer clear of trees that drip sap, such as birch and honey locust, to avoid a mess on the cars under them.

Garden elements in the front yard will also divert focus. Add a trellis or a water feature, or frame the entry or walkway with flowering shrubs and perennials of different heights. If you combine evergreen and deciduous plants with special seasonal effects, such as colorful autumn foliage or winter berries, you'll provide color and interest at all times of the year. (Because planting zones vary around the country, get suggestions from your local nursery.) Finish off with container plantings right around the front door to brighten it up and create a dramatic focal point.

Finally, consider a walkway from the street to the front door, reducing the need to use the driveway and redirecting the emphasis to the entry. This is a throwback to the days before cars, when the front yard and porch were considered public spaces meant for sitting and socializing with neighbors and passersby, and the carriage house was relegated to an alley out back.

In the end, while you're doing all this to make the garage disappear, you'll find you've created an engaging landscape. The emphasis will be off the utilitarian and onto the bounty of curb appeal you will have added to your home.

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