Driveway Ideas: Gravel, Block Paving, Tarmac & More

Transform your home's exterior by adding a stunning driveway; whether you choose gravel, block paving or tarmac, here's what you need to know
by Sofia Delgado
2nd November 2018

There’s more to designing a driveway than simply creating a space to keep your car. Whether your garage is at the front or the back of your property, the overall look of this element can have a dramatic effect on your home’s kerb appeal.

There are a variety of materials to choose from depending on your finances, aesthetics and lifestyle needs.

Gravel is the most budget friendly option, costing from £4 per m2, plus it’s permeable and easy to lay – meaning you won’t need to design and dig drainage for your surface.

Top image: The Black House by AR Design Studio features a gravel driveway. This creates an impressive contrast with the property’s black cladding that’s in keeping with its Kent’s surroundings. [Photography: Martin Gardner]

For asphalt finishes you can expect to pay around the £20 mark per m2 – it’s recommended you install at least two coatings of tarmac to avoid future cracking.

Block paving is very popular across the UK at the moment, and depending on the stone you choose, you can be paying above £30 per m2.

Block paving driveway in the UK

This drive is work of The New Driveway Company. The team laid eight different colours of Bradstone’s Woburn rumbled autumn blocks to create an aged look to complement the recently renovated house

For instance, a bag of Imperial Bricks reclaimed granite setts in silver grey costs £175, and these random sized blocks can cover approximately 3m2 of driveway.

Permeable resin-bound gravel is an ideal option for those looking to avoid carrying mud into the house. Its flat surface also makes for easy upkeep. Prices start at £55 per m2.

Driveways Cost

External works and ancillary buildings, such as garages, are surely the most overlooked of all the costs on a home building project.

These elements are frequently under-budgeted in the first place, plus people’s cash streams are often depleted by the time it comes to getting the landscaping done…

Continue reading: Build It’s Cost Guide to Garages & Driveways

Full design and installation cost will vary depending on your scheme and the area of the country you live in. An inexpensive way to boost kerb appeal is to add all-year round planting that’s easy to maintain around your scheme’s edges.

We speak to Darren Field of The New Driveway Company to find out the key elements of designing a driveway.

Do I need planning permission to build a driveway?

Not necessarily. In most cases, driveways fall under permitted development rights. However, there is a set of rules you need to follow and I’d always recommend checking your local authority’s website to see their guide on what’s allowed.

Resin-bound gravel driveway on period property grounds

Landscape architects Barnes Walker designed the exterior scheme for this restored Cheshire residence. The resin-bound gravel driveway is a mud-free solution

Generally, you don’t need to submit plans if your driveway is made of permeable materials
or allows for water to be drained onto your property.

How do I stop my driveway from flooding?

The golden rule you need to follow is SUDS – which stands for Sustainable Urban Drainage System.

Modern timber garage door

Here, the neutral concrete driveway matches the stone cladding, while beautifully complementing the automated Parma bifold garage door in American black walnut by Urban Front

All driveways nowadays have to be SUDS compliant, meaning rainwater is absorbed into the ground near where it falls and does not pour onto the roads.

There are various solutions to cater for this, and it depends on whether you are using permeable materials or not.

With impervious products you can use slopes and gradients to direct water to channel drains and subsequently to the home’s existing soakaway – you could also install a rainwater harvesting system.

Large family home with asphalt driveway

The ample driveway in this house by C7 Architects and Hedge Hunter Farnham provides plenty of space for several cars to be parked outside

Porous materials, on the other hand, make your entire driveway work as a drain. Permeable systems, although perceived to be quite expensive, can be a budget-friendly option, with gravel being the most affordable.

What are the key considerations to design a driveway?

First I’d say aesthetics and surroundings. You want your driveway to match or complement the house, but you also need it to be in keeping with the local area.

For instance, very popular materials at the moment are blocks and pavement slabs in graphite grey, which is the colour many use for their doors and window frames.

Oak frame home with gravel driveway

Sand coloured gravel enhances the village charm of this traditional Border Oak home in surrey

Another crucial matter, of course, is knowing how much rain falls in your home to ensure the right drainage is installed and to predict how it will affect your driveway.

Access to your property is something you need to keep in mind, too. Perhaps you are future-proofing and you want to make sure it’ll still be easy for you to come in and out of your house as you get older.

Gravel grip or resin-bonded gravel are also very sought-after, as they are permeable products and offer an even surface.

How can I make the most of my budget when installing a driveway?

Planning your financing for the driveway can be tricky as it’s often the last area of a new home to get done.

Self builders can sometimes reach this stage having drained their funds, so choosing a company that can offer design and construction solutions can be the best way forward to making sure your finished product is of high quality.

Tarmac driveway in the uk

for this home in the Midlands, Oakleaf Driveways included a striking feature in block paving to the otherwise tarmac surface

For instance, when we meet clients we give them options in various finishes to start with, so that preferred materials and a budget can be agreed.

With a clear figure set, we’ll then put all our experience and imagination into creating a good-looking design that complies with planning and Building Regulations while also offering excellent value for money.

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