08 Mar 2021

How to Design Your Dream Driveway

Whether you’re creating a forever home or renovating to sell, kerb appeal is still an important factor when it comes to the exterior of a property.


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Creating a driveway that is not only practical in terms of access and space but that also complements the period and style of the house can seem a daunting task; but it needn’t be. The key to long-lasting kerb appeal is making sure you design a low-maintenance driveway; choose the right drainage, materials and overall style and it will remain impressive long after the work is done. In this article, Marshalls takes a look at the key considerations when it comes to driveway design, and includes some tips to make sure you make the right choices.

Sub-base and drainage

The driveway sub-base and your approach to water management may not be the most exciting parts of your plan, but getting them right will save you time and money in the long-term. The majority of the cost of groundwork is hidden beneath the surface; the structural layers that provide the functional robustness of the installed system. Cost analysis on pavements, for example, demonstrates that the surfacing element makes up just 20% of the total cost of the system. If you’re inexperienced, seek professional advice and consider using a contractor to do the job. If it requires some excavation, make sure no existing tree roots or services (water pipes, TV cables etc.) are going to be damaged during the process.

Drainage design is another important factor in the initial plans; get it right and your drive will deal with water run-off efficiently and within the legal guidelines, get it wrong and you could end up with a sunken surface, pooling water and even a risk of flooding. The surface area of your driveway will dictate the size and design of the drainage you need. If you have a slope or incline towards the property, you need to make sure the drainage system is robust enough to take away the surface water and not allow it to undermine the house footings or structure of the house. Driveway legislation varies across the UK and in some cases you may need to seek planning permission, so make sure you understand what the local rules are. Permeable paving is a popular option and can often remove the need for planning permission. Those sold by reputable brands allow the water to drain straight back into the ground through your paving and sub base, saving the overloaded drainage systems in a sustainable way. Alternatively, recent innovations include stylish drainage systems, which can discreetly manage water, comply with legislation with no compromise on style.

Driveway design

It goes without saying that your design should reflect the space needed for the size of your property. There’s no set minimum width for a drive, but take into account the amount of vehicles you have next to each other and make sure car doors can open easily. Ensure your design gives you easy access from the highway to your driveway with little or no obstructions that might get knocked or damaged, and make sure it is wide enough to allow reversing into your drive from the road, if you need to.

Driveway planting is a great way to add privacy to the front of the house and create biodiversity. Evergreen and perennial plants and shrubs require the least work to stay looking great all year round, choose options that won’t send the roots into your new driveway and undermine the sub-base. If you have more than adequate space for cars, consider adding a lawn to bring some colour. Artificial grass is becoming increasingly common for front gardens, creating a lawn which looks good all year but requires very little work to keep it that way. Look for British-made options that have a low carbon footprint, and aim for a product which comes with a good guarantee against UV damage and filament loss.

Paving materials

There are an abundance of options when it comes to the surface of your driveway, and the colour and finish should be determined by the period and style of the property. When it comes to choosing a low-maintenance option, porcelain is a great choice for all garden projects, including driveways. Due to the manufacturing process, it absorbs very little water, meaning it has a good resistance to stains, frost and, to an extent, prevents moss and algae growth. Whilst porcelain requires less cleaning and weeding, it is also a durable paving choice, giving you the peace of mind that your outdoor space will stay looking good for a long time. Porcelain paving comes in a range of colours and finishes and is particularly suited to contemporary homes.

Other low-maintenance options include concrete, which is engineered to be long-lasting and durable and can be found in a range of finishes, including traditional cobbles and driveway setts.

Mentioned earlier, permeable paving is a great sustainable option which helps combat issues of drainage and flooding and, therefore, reduces the risk of related issues further down the line. And, if you’re looking for an option that is sustainable and creates green space, there are products on the market that allow you to create a grass driveway. Not only is a grass driveway a permeable option, but it also makes an exciting feature and particularly lends itself to a guest parking area or other space where it will get occasional use.

In summary

Time spent planning your outdoor space is worthwhile, it’s the first thing people see when they arrive at your home, and it’s so much more than a practical space to park cars. If your focus is a low-maintenance space, then research all the materials and design options open to you, take the time to make your choices and seek expert advice where needed.

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