When it comes to designing your own driveway, you need to think about more than where you’re going to park the car. The design, including the width, shape, materials, and edging of the driveway all add to your home’s curb appeal, which could add some value to your property.
There are also some practical and environmental factors to take into account too. You will need to think about drainage, as a permeable surface allows rainwater to soak into the ground and give moisture to plants and wildlife. These also stop puddles from forming on your paving.
Improving your driveway can also add significant value to your home as well. Whether you are upgrading your house to make it better to live in or preparing a vacation home for sale. Driveways are an important part of the value equation.
What Building Codes And Regulations Do I Need To Follow?
If you’re going to build a new driveway, rather than replace an already existing one, think carefully about how much space you can spare from the front of your home.
In the US, residential building codes state that a driveway should be a minimum of 10 feet across, with a smooth transition to the street or sidewalk. There are also rules about the turning radius for curved driveways.
Check your local codes for rules about minimum clearance heights and obstructions too.
What Do I Do About Rainwater?
In the US, building codes state that the exterior of a property, including the driveway, should be managed to avoid soil erosion or the retention of stagnant water on the surface. You will need to lay a permeable surface, provide some sort of permeable drainage system like driveway drain grates, or apply for planning permission to use a drain.
In the UK, homeowners were previously allowed to pave their front gardens without planning permission, but this was changed in 2008 in order to reduce flooding and pollution of watercourses.
If you use a permeable surface or a permeable draining system, this will allow rainwater to soak through int the ground below. This is good for flood prevention, and public drains won’t have to cope with excess rainwater, but your garden will also need less watering, and puddles won’t form on your drive.
Do I Need Planning Permission For My Driveway?
In the UK, you will need to get planning permission if your driveway will have a surface of more than five square meters, and you intend to direct rainwater to a drain, whether on your property or the road.
An easier option that also complies with the Sustainable Drainage Systems legislation and won’t require planning permission is creating a drainage system that directs rainwater to run into a permeable area, like a dry well.
If you like a conversation area, a National Park, or an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, then you may still need to apply for planning permission before you build your driveway. Check with your local authority.
What Is A Dry Well?
A dry well - also known as a soakaway for our British friends - is a hole that has been dug into the ground that is then filled up with coarse stone or rubble. This allows water to return back into the ground. You can cover it with plants, gravel, or cobbles, and make it a feature. Your installer can advise you on where best to install this.
Which Surfaces Are Permeable?
Gravel is a popular surface for driveways. It works well for drainage as rainwater is able to seep through it to the ground underneath. The noise of the stones will also alert you to the presence of visitors, making it good for security. Gravel is also a very affordable option.
There is a wide range of choice of stone aggregates that you could choose, such as pale limestone, yellow shingle, red granite, black basalt, or recycled slate.
Fourteen to twenty-millimeter gravel works best for driveways. Smaller pieces can get stuck in your tire treads. More angular stones bed together well for a smoother surface to drive on. It’s also a good idea to use a gravel grid to keep the stones where you want them, instead of all over the garden. However, even with this, you will sometimes need to sweep or top up your gravel.
If you prefer the look of traditional paving, then permeable paving is a good option. It is specially developed so that surface water can pass between the blocks into a sub-base and drain away naturally. You won’t need to install a drainage system. As with gravel, these come in a wide range of colors and sizes, with matching edges and borders, for a smart finish.
Resin-bound permeable driveways are manufactured from natural aggregate and are bound in resin. This is a tidier alternative to gravel, as the stones aren’t loose. However, it is a more expensive choice that needs more maintenance. It can be laid over an existing concrete or asphalt driveway, and usually has a long guarantee.
What Are The Options For Hard Surfaces?
Block paving can be laid in lots of different patterns to suit the style of your property. It is made from concrete, clay bricks, or natural stone, and comes in lots of textures and tones, whether you prefer grays and blacks or sands and brick reds, or smooth or sawn. The blocks can come in sizes of 10 to 500mm and are an affordable choice.
Cobbles and setts are usually made from natural stones, although some are made from concrete to look like real stone, and can have riven, sawn, or tumbled surfaces for an older, more timeworn look. Cobbles are more expensive than block paving, but they do add character to a period home.
Paving slabs must be a minimum of 50mm thick to be able to withstand the weight of a car on them, and they might need to have a sub-base. Check with your supplier to find out.
All of these hard surfaces can be maintained very easily with regular sweeping and an occasional clean with a jet washer. If you’ve spilled oil, call a specialist, as the correct way to clean will depend on the stone or surface that you have used.
What About The Edges Of My Driveway?
It isn’t essential to have edging if you don’t want to, but it does make the drive look smarter by creating a neat border. There is a wide range of options available, from traditional Vicoroain or rope-top style cast concrete, to timber railway sleepers and hewn stone curbs. You can usually buy edging at the same time as your surface material, from the same supplier.
Do I Need To Hire A Professional To Lay My Driveway?
This depends on the surface you use. For anything other than gravel, it’s a good idea to hire a professional.
How Do I Maintain A Gravel Driveway?
Rake the gravel on a regular basis to get rid of debris and weeds, and to keep the surface even.
Clear away any dirt that has built up on the edges of the driveway, as this can prevent water from draining away properly. Fix any potholes by clearing the gravel from the surface, filling the hole with aggregate, firming it down, and then recovering with gravel.
How Do I Clean A Hard Driveway?
Hard surfaces can be easily maintained with regular sweeping and an occasional jet wash. Seek advice if you need to clean an oil spill, so you get it right for your surface.