Driveway Widths 101: What Des Moines Homeowners Need to Know

Choosing the perfect driveway width in Des Moines is critical – too narrow and larger vehicles can’t fit, too wide is a waste of concrete. The ideal width depends on factors like number of vehicles, availability of street parking, and local regulations.

This article will cover single vs double driveway widths, how to account for vehicle sizes, circular driveway considerations, width guidelines for borders and openings, as well as the key reasons to hire a pro for the job. Getting the driveway width right from the start prevents issues down the road, so let’s start measuring!

Single vs Double Driveways

Whether you choose a single or double driveway depends entirely on your property’s needs. A single driveway provides access for one vehicle, while a double accommodates two vehicles side-by-side.

The standard recommended width for a single driveway is 10 to 12 feet. This allows most mid-size vehicles like sedans, small SUVs, and trucks to fit comfortably without needing to edge over grass or landscaping. anything narrower than 10 feet starts to get very tight and restricts opening doors fully.

For double driveways, an ideal width is 20 to 24 feet. Twenty feet gives enough passing room for two vehicles, but doors may hit each other if parked side-by-side. If you’ll regularly have two vehicles parked next to each other, go for the full 24 feet to allow both doors to open fully. This also provides flexibility over time if you upgrade to larger vehicles.

It’s important to account for the largest vehicles that will use the driveway. For example, if you occasionally have an RV, boat, or trailer, that extra width gives them the needed room to maneuver without running over the concrete edges. Damage to driveway edges is one of the most common causes of cracks over time. Planning wide enough avoids issues down the road.


Be aware that Des Moines does limit driveway openings to 24 feet maximum for residential properties per city ordinance. However, the driveway can widen as it extends towards your garage or parking area. So while you may start at 12 feet across, it can flare to 20+ feet further back to accommodate parking and turnarounds. Checking opening limitations is crucial before pouring concrete!

Considering Vehicle Usage

When deciding on driveway width, you need to account for both current and future vehicle needs. Take measurements of all vehicles owned now, including the widest points with mirrors extended. This provides a baseline width to accommodate what you currently own.

Then consider possible future vehicles over the lifespan of the concrete. For example, will you purchase a larger SUV or truck in the next 10 years? Do you foresee an RV in retirement? Are teen drivers likely to have their own cars soon needing parking? Understanding the largest vehicles that you may own down the road is crucial to ensuring long-term fit.

Some examples of vehicles needing wider driveways are dually trucks, large SUVs like Suburbans and Expeditions, full-size vans, and any type of trailer or recreational vehicle. If an F-350 fits now at 12 feet, going to 20 feet gives plenty of extra breathing room over time without needing to widen in the future.

Installing a driveway too narrow for the vehicles actually using it risks damage to the concrete edges. Driving or parking with tires over the edges causes cracking and deterioration much quicker. The repairs to widen or replace sections are expensive and inconvenient. Getting the width right in the initial pour saves hassle and money in the long run.

Before finalizing driveway plans, physically measure the widths of vehicles with a tape measure. Account for mirrors and open doors as well when taking measurements. This quantitative data ensures your new concrete offers plenty of clearance when pulling straight in or turning.

Thinking About Turnarounds

For homeowners interested in a circular driveway, plan for a minimum width of 12 feet. However, wider is often better to provide plenty of room for vehicles to navigate the turn. Larger vehicles like trucks require extra space to prevent cutting corners over lawn and landscape edges.

As a general rule of thumb, add 2 feet of width for every 10 feet of vehicle length. For example, a 15-foot long truck would need at least a 14-foot wide turnaround. Measure your vehicles, add appropriate extra feet, and use that number when designing the curve. Errors on the narrow side lead to redoing sections over time.

Circular driveways come in shapes like full circles, horseshoe, rounded rectangles, and semi-circles (a half circle). The most common for residences are horseshoe and semi-circular starting from the street entrance to the garage area. Work with the concrete contractor to integrate the shape you prefer while meeting minimum width guidelines.

In terms of cost, installing a basic 10-foot wide and 20-foot long semi-circular driveway runs $3,500 on average. Larger projects can reach $10,000+ for extensive grading, landscaping, lighting, and special coatings. As size and complexity grows, so does the price tag. Keep your unique needs and budget in mind when finalizing circular driveway plans.

Other Width Guidelines

If your driveway will have borders like walls, fences, or heavy landscaping on the sides, adding an extra foot or two of width helps prevent damage from opening doors. Without enough clearance, car doors ding and scratch easily on structures built too close to the edges. Consider the car door arc and add a 1-2 foot buffer zone.

As mentioned before, Des Moines limits residential driveway openings to 24 feet maximum. Ensure your initial width across at the street meets codes before pouring. The driveway can still flare out further back if needed.

Driveway Length

In terms of length, driveways should extend at minimum to allow one car to fully park off-street, preferably with an additional 5-7 feet for maneuvering room. Any shorter starts to limit functionality when guests visit or future garage expansions. Length relates to stability as it reduces movement from weight shifts over a longer section.

On depth, recommended minimums are 4 inches for concrete and 6 inches for asphalt. Heavier vehicles, snowy climates, and high-traffic usage merit thicker depths up to 8 inches to prevent cracking or dips over time. Proper base layers beneath the pouring surface are also crucial for frost resistance.

While concrete and asphalt are most common, decorative materials like pavers, gravel, stamped patterns, etc can add visual appeal. However these options often have higher upfront costs and more complex installation requirements compared to traditional pavements. Make sure to factor ongoing maintenance needs as well if opting for alternative decorative looks.

Professional Installation

Correctly measuring, grading, and pouring concrete is crucial for longevity and preventing future cracking or stability issues. Specialized tools and knowing what permitting is required in Des Moines for drainage and slope compliance are also technical aspects best left to the experts.

I recommend all homeowners have an experienced local concrete contractor handle driveway installations and replacements. Seek out only licensed and insured professionals who can provide local references upon request. Ask questions about the process and materials used so you understand what goes into creating a durable, high-quality driveway.

Choosing the right driveway width may seem complicated, but by factoring in current and future vehicle types, available space, intended use, borders, and codes, Des Moines homeowners can determine the ideal driveway dimensions for their property. Hiring a knowledgeable local contractor like us ensures proper installation and preventing issues for years to come.

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