Think Garden, Think Richard: Driveway Materials

Happy New Year! In my new series of articles for 2019, Materials For A Purpose, I am going to be discussing to choose the right materials for your purpose and how they fit into the design of a space. I want to get you thinking about the options you have and how the right selection can give you a timeless solution rather than a predictable, uninspiring result.

This month I want to explore driveway materials and how they can be used to give your property more curb appeal.

Colour is an important driver in selection of materials. A lot of driveways are at the front of the property and the house brick often informs the colour of the materials for the drive. When I design a front garden I like a harmony of materials so that the space looks cohesive. A recent drive we built used old style red brick pavers as a surround, path and threshold to retain the grave. This tied in nicely with the house and was very in keeping with the existing aesthetic. In contrast a drive we designed and built in Cambridge used blue engineering bricks, dark limestone and pale gravel to give a contemporary feel.

Gravel is still far and away the most popular material selection for a drive. From a security perspective it works well due to the noise, but it is a cost effective solution and better for the environment. Water management has become a big issue over the years I have been working in this industry and anything that can prevent extra water in the system is a good thing. Gravel drives are great because they are permeable. There are of course many different gravel shapes, sizes and colours, but the key is to consider the theme of the space. If it is functional and municipal then concreate edging and shingle could be the answer. If the look is to be softer then a smaller size pea shingle with a subtler set edging detail could be the way to go. The most common mistake I see is too much gravel being used and this just creates a beach effect. We love to use limestone as the sub base material as the finished surface of gravel will bond into it and help hold it in place. It has also become very popular to use Eco grid to improve the stability of an area. I think this is relevant for a larger scale but for the domestic setting it is hard to beat a limestone and shingle finish.

Pavers or bricks are really useful to help prevent gravel migrating onto the highway. The simple addition of five or six courses of pavers or engineering bricks at the threshold of your drive really smartens things up. Again, remember to consider colour selection if the effect is not complementary then you should think twice. Whenever we present a new design we always show samples of materials, but even then it can be useful to see the materials used on a large scale on a previous job. Pavers are a great way to edge a space. They can also help continue a design theme from front to back garden.

Blocks are popular as a drive material. The entry level materials although cheap and municipal can be the right choice for some projects. We recently used the entry level grey blocks on a no nonsense project in Cambridge where a new property had been built at the end of a garden that backed out onto a road. This solution was appropriate because it fitted the local aesthetic perfectly. We had to manage the water into an Aco drain and away to a soak away. This is a down sides of less permeable surfaces. These are the most commonly used materials but other solutions are available such as resin bound surfaces, Breedon gravel and even old fashioned grass as a temporary parking surface. It is important to remember that the front garden should be more than a car parking area it should look good too! A good use of hard materials can then be brought to life with plant selection. For more in depth advice or garden design help please get in touch to arrange a consultation.

For more in depth advice or garden design help please get in touch to arrange a consultation.