Planning your perfect driveway
The value of kerb appeal is not to be under-estimated. The front of your house creates an important first impression, adds value to your property and makes a huge difference to the welcome you get when you return home. Whilst you may need to include a parking space and room for dustbins, you’ll also want to think about creating the right look for your home, as well as that all-important budget.
Start off by looking at your essential routes out of the house; how will you get from your front door to the road and any side gate or garage? Consider what design will best complement your home. Straight lines can look formal and contemporary, while softer curving edges suit a more traditional or informal property.
Where do you want to park your car and will you need space to turn? Positioning your car away from your front door and window will give you a better view from inside your house and leave your front doorway clear.
A really easy way to inject character and style to the front of your property is using plants, yet nearly 5 million front gardens in Britain have none in them. Plants offer helpful privacy and shade, not to mention benefits for wildlife. If you are tight for space, consider pots or plant some ground cover amongst decorative aggregates (below). Native hedging like beech that holds its leaves in winter can be great for privacy while silver birch can create a dappled shade and perfect screening for bedroom windows. And if time is an issue, go for low maintenance drought-loving plants like lavender, grasses and succulents.
Lighting should be functional, so you can easily swing into your driveway and find your front door in the dark. You may also want to include movement sensors to improve your property security. Important for aesthetics, outdoor lighting can also highlight features like pathways, house numbers or specimen trees to help your property to feel all the more inviting.
Labour: When budgeting, bear in mind that unless you do the work yourself, you’ll need to factor in labour costs. Installation tends to start at around £20-£45 per m2 depending on location and the level of skill required.
Materials: As well as surface materials, most driveways or parking spaces will need a solid base of 100-150mm compacted hardcore for gravel and 200mm for block paving (more on clay soil). This will usually involve digging out any existing material and lining with a non-woven membrane, with two layers of compacted DPT1 (or DPT3 for SUDs compliance) on top.
There are a range of materials commonly used for driveways, from concrete blocks and shingle to tarmac and resin bound. A simple scheme that mirrors three or four colours or materials in the buildings and landscape around you will usually work best. Here are a few of the most common options…
Concrete blocks are a very popular driveway material because they are practical and hard-wearing. In fact some driveway products like our Tobermore blocks come with a 25 year guarantee for structural integrity. Driveway blocks are usually 200x100x50mm or 60mm and typically laid in a half bond, basketweave, fan or herringbone laying pattern. Choose from traditional options like Brett Alpha and more contemporary products like Bradstone Stonemaster (below) which is also 50% recycled.
If you are using driveway paving, incorporate planting and other surfaces like decorative aggregates. This will prevent your front garden looking like a car park and ensure you have good drainage. To protect your driveway from oil stains, weeds and loss of sand, we recommend sealing with a sealant specially formulated for concrete block paving. Products like Easy Seal BCS are water-based and easy to apply in one coat only.
Not sure how your driveway would look? Try the useful visualisation service for Tobermore driveway blocks.
The most common choice, shingle, is a relatively inexpensive way of resurfacing a drive and for this reason it can be a practical choice for larger areas. Also great for natural drainage, decorative aggregates are a good option for security because they crunch underfoot. Gravel tends to look softer than driveway blocks and works well with planting. Work out how much decorative aggregate you need and choose from a wide variety of stones to suit contemporary or traditional properties. There are also some recycled options that have a lower environmental impact. Avoid slate chippings as they tend to break under the weight of vehicles.
Ensure you use a proper sub-base and prevent gravel from spreading into other areas by using an edging like Cor-ten edging or stone setts. A ground stabilisation grid is great for keeping shingle in place, especially useful on a slight slope.
Read more on choosing decorative aggregates.
Although not very exciting to look at, asphalt can be a relatively low cost and durable option which can also be good for a sloping driveway. However it can fade, stain and crack due to freezing weather and tree roots so may need resurfacing from time to time.
Resin-bonded and resin-bound
Resin-bonded and bound surfaces can be applied over concrete or tarmac to give a high quality finish that looks softer and lighter than traditional asphalt. Both are suited to sloping sites and most products are very porous, offering good drainage.
Resin-bonded consists of a thin layer of resin with dry aggregate scattered on top. The surface layer of aggregate can loosen over time, especially under turning vehicles, so does require a degree of maintenance.
Resin-bound is similar but more durable because it consists of different sized aggregates, mixed sand, resin and hardener to create a surface layer. Find out about Kebur’s installation service for resin-bound.
If you need any help landscaping your driveway or front garden, our professional landscaping team can provide a free consultation and advice within the Farnborough area.