A common issue that many drivers face is the struggle to find somewhere to park, whether you’re out and about or even just at home.
So you might well be considering investing in a driveway if you haven’t already got one. There are plenty of reasons you might want to.
The most obvious reason is convenience, saving you the hassle of parking on the road. An additional benefit is that your car is likely to be more secure too. On top of that, driveways can look smart and add to your home’s kerb appeal. What’s more, they’re said to add value to homes – in some areas, offering a bump of between 5 and 10% according to one estimate.
If you’re mulling over the decision, here are some tips and pointers before you get started.
Drainage and planning permission
You might be surprised to know that planning permission could be your first consideration when laying a driveway. This is because there are rules in place to ensure that your new driveway is built with suitable drainage.
If you lay a driveway - of any size - using permeable (or porous) surfacing which allows water to drain through then you might not need planning permission. So, this would mean using gravel, permeable concrete block paving or porous asphalt as your surface. An alternative drainage-friendly solution that will save you the pain of planning permission includes creating a driveway that directs the rainwater to a lawn.
On the other hand, if you plan to lay a traditional, impermeable driveway that doesn’t allow the water to run to a permeable area, and the surface to be covered is more than five square metres, then you’ll need planning permission.
You should always check with your council's planning department to see whether you need to apply for planning permission.
Also, if you are adding a new access point to your garden and driveway across the pavement, then you will need to obtain permission from the local council to drop the kerbs, for which you could incur quite a substantial fee.
To apply for a dropped kerb and find out how much you need to pay, go to your local council website, or at nidirect.gov.uk if you live in Northern Ireland.
Choose your materials
Bearing in mind the need for drainage, you have plenty of choice for materials to use for your driveway. How about a gravel driveway with a brick edging? Or a loose slate driveway? Some people go for a Herringbone pattern brick paved driveway, while others prefer crazy paving.
Of course, your choice of material is likely to be determined by budget, as well as the kerb appeal factor, and how you plan to use the driveway. Will it be a driveway for everyday use, for one or maybe more vehicles; or will there be room for a decorative garden path?
You won’t be surprised to know that the cost of laying a driveway can vary hugely. Tarmac and gravel driveways are the cheapest driveways and start off from around £1200 for a small one of just 30m2, while block paving driveways can cost anywhere between £2100 and £9000 depending on the size. These charges will also vary considerably depending on where you live.
Consider existing shrubs and trees
If you’re running a new driveway between existing trees and shrubs then don’t forget to consider these in your planning. Any excavation for your driveway could damage existing roots. You also need to be aware that these roots could cause future damage to your driveway as they grow, so positioning and any foundation needed for your driveway should be considered. You’ll probably want to try and reuse some of the plants where possible.
Also, don’t forget about any electricity cables, gas and water pipes that may be buried underground. If you are paying tradesmen to do the work for you, then they should consider this for you. If you’re doing it yourself, then ask your utility companies about any pipes and what the requirements are.
Soften the look
Laying a driveway means you inevitably lose some of your garden. So, do all you can to soften the look and make it as appealing as possible.
That could include some carefully chosen plants and flowers that fit your new area: for inspiration, check out 10 easy plants for driveways chosen by the RHS.
Also, the right lighting can make a big difference. As well as looking great, they help increase visibility at night for parking, walking and be another way to improve security. A good option to consider is outdoor LED lighting, which is long-lasting and energy efficient.
Shape and size
If you only have a small space at the front of your house, you may have little choice about the shape and size of your new driveway. But if you have a little more leeway, consider what’s most important to you before you start digging up your garden.
Bear in mind the number of cars in your family, and how much space they take up when parked. The same goes for any regular visitors. Also, as a driveway is a long-term addition to your home, do you have teenagers who could have their own cars in the not-too-distant future?
You also need to allow plenty of space on either side of your vehicle to park, manoeuvre and open your doors safely.
Driveways need a bit of regular care to look good and stay in shape, depending on what surface type you opt for. DIY Doctor has some basic tips for improving the life of your driveway:
- Kill weeds in the cracks
- Fill any potholes, depressions or cracks
- Seal your drive
- Apply weed and moss killer where necessary
- Use a pressure washer to clean the cracks
The key is to act quickly when you see weeds or cracks in your driveway, to avoid them getting worse, and to keep it looking tip top for many years to come.
For more tips on how to stay happy and safe in your home and garden, go to Solved.