There is more to designing your home’s entrance than providing a place to park a car
Starting from scratch
Image: This resin-bound gravel driveway, a project by David James Architects & Partners, is colourfast and UV stable. Similar Flex Flooring Stonex Resin Bound surfacing costs from £60 per sqm, including installation
When planning a new-build, your driveway will be influenced by the size and layout of your plot. Drainage, groundworks, road access and the surface material all need to be considered and the design should also reflect the architecture of the house. Where will the driveway lead? A garage? The side of the house? An area at the front? In the case of the latter, ensure that cars can park off to one side so there’s clear access to the front door. Include a mix of practical hard landscaping with planting and greenery to make it look attractive and also help with drainage.
If space allows, a semi-circular driveway with a separate entrance and exit is a practical option for a busy household. Curved designs look more informal than a straight driveway and may be a solution if you have areas of existing planting. The width of your driveway should be at least three metres for a small car, more for large or multiple vehicles, and plan in lighting to illuminate the way.
Upgrade your home
Image: This concrete driveway contrasts with the stone walls. The automated bi-fold doors from Urban Front have movement sensors and prices start from £12,600 (urbanfront.co.uk)
If you want to turn your front garden or a side access into a parking area contact your local council for advice. The depth of the space should be at least 4.8 metres in length; large enough for a standard vehicle without overhanging a pavement or blocking an entrance. If space is tight, a turntable can be fitted where a car is driven on, then turned 180° and driven off again.
You should also apply to have the kerb dropped. For more information on your area, tap in your postcode at Gov.uk.
A coordinated finish
Image: Lightly tumbled Beachside sandstone driveway setts have a textured finish and cost from £70 per sqm at Stonemarket
For a sleek and contemporary look, choose the same surface for steps, pathways, edging and even a patio or terrace if the drive continues to the back of the house. Keep greenery simple with linear planting and neatly trimmed bushes for a modern scheme, or opt for wild flowers and foliage for a more relaxed, country style.
However, it is important to note that large swathes of the same surface can look bland, so consider ways to add interest such as creating curves, laying block paving in a pattern or fitting built-in lighting.
On the surface
Budget will be a major factor in your choice of materials, but you should also consider the age and style of your house. Gravel is one of the cheapest, easiest and quickest driveway surfaces. It’s fully permeable and comes in a range of shades.
Driveways should have three or four layers; each rolled and left for a day to settle. Gravel comes in different sizes but avoid the very small varieties as they will get stuck in tyres and are harder to walk on. Around 20 millimetres is a good option. It is prone to scattering unless contained by some form of edging. A gravel retention system will stabilise loose material and minimise movement.
Resin-bound gravel has a contemporary, professional finish. The mix of aggregate, stones and resin stays looking pristine and it is suitable for slopes. ‘This can be an expensive solution, but creates a softer feel while achieving a firm surface. It needs to be laid over a porous sub-base to be SUDS compliant,’ says David James, managing director at David James Architects & Partners.
Self-binding gravel has better stability than loose gravel. Its fine textured with clay particles and binds together when rolled.
A hard decision
Image: Contrasting stones make an eye-catching feature, as this project by Langlea shows. Black basalt imperial setts, £90.02 per sqm, and silver grey granite imperial setts, £73.48 per sqm, at CED Stone
Block paving can be laid in contemporary and traditional patterns. Concrete blocks are the cheapest option but coloured versions will fade over time. Clay and natural stone, although more expensive, wil retain their colour. Setts or cobbles are hard-wearing and come in natural stone such as granite or stone-effect.
Block paving can be permeable or impermeable, with the former being laid on a free draining base with wide joints around the blocks filled with fine aggregate to allow water to drain through. ‘Sloping driveways can be surfaced with concrete block paving,’ says Claire Blake, product manager at Marshalls. ‘Ensure that the sub base is good quality and level, and blocks have a suitable textured finish for improved traction.’
A different approach
Image: Landscape architect Barnes Walker used reclaimed Yorkshire stone paving in this driveway, with a quirky grass centre to link with the garden design
Poured concrete is strong, durable and easy to maintain. However, it can crack over time and look unsightly due to root growth and freezing conditions.
Control joints can combat cracking, but they’re visible and give the surface a large slab look rather than being smooth and expansive. Available in a range of colours, concrete can be stamped or imprinted with a decorative design. Permeable concrete has a porous open-cell structure to allow water to drain away.
Tarmac, although not as aesthetically pleasing, performs well in extreme temperatures, is suitable for slopes, can be laid over existing materials and is low maintenance.
Grass paving is a porous, eco-friendly surface. Grass is grown through an open cell matrix. Select a tough grass variety; good ground preparation is essential.
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