Practically speaking a driveway is essential for most homeowners and because you’ll see it several times every day, it is really important that it is well considered and works for you and also enhances your home.
As with all aspects of garden design there are practical and aesthetic considerations and what works for one house and client is not going to be right for another. That said there are a few key points to bear in mind:
Create a sense of welcome and entry by emphasising the front door and designing the entrance route so visitors know which way they should go. Especially if the back door or utility door is visible from the drive, the design should lead them toward the front door.
With country houses the driveway position can have a significant impact on the house, so making sure the driveway commands the best view of the house is also a consideration.
Planning and water run-off. Any impermeable paving over 5m will need planning permission unless the water run-off is captured and dealt with in the garden. The surface can be designed to send water into a flowerbed or into a drain that leads to a soak away within the garden.
Foundations. Depending on the use, a sub base of 150mm for cars or 200mm for lorries will be needed.
Block paving. This is a relatively inexpensive solution but moss and weeds grow between the blocks and need annual weed killing. It may remind you of a car park
Tarmac – this tends to be quite utilitarian but easy to maintain and is a cost effective option that can be enhanced with other materials.
Gravel. This is often misused and given a bad press. I find that by using 10mm size it is big enough not to wedge in shoe. If it is well laid it won’t drift into thick lumps and the membrane beneath should never be visible. It makes a comforting ‘crunch’ when walked on and tends to be relatively cheap and can be laid into a plastic honeycomb stabilising system to allow its use on a gently sloping site.
Self-binding gravel. Used at National Trust houses, this is a gravel and clay like material that is laid in compacted layers. It can get weedy and is considered messy by some.
Resin bound gravel – aggregate can be ‘glued’ down to create a neat and unmoving surface that has texture and is water permeable. Resin bound surfaces are becoming increasingly cost effective as opposed to Resin bonded which are costly.
Paving slabs or setts, as long as they are thick enough and well laid with suitable underlay these can be used for driveways.