Everything you need to know about planning a driveway

Everything you need to know about planning a driveway

A new driveway can do wonders for the kerb appeal of your property or be the crowning glory of a major home renovation. Investing time in proper planning is essential to making sure that your driveway perfectly complements the style of your property and delivers everything it should when it comes to practicalities. Here we look at all the elements you need to think about when planning your dream driveway.

Designing a driveway

When you’re planning and budgeting for a driveway, the amount of space you have will dictate how creative you can be with the design. But whether you’ve got room for grandiose features such as turning circles or not, consider everyday practicalities early-on in your planning. How many cars need to be comfortably parked? How will vehicles turn, access and leave the driveway? How wide should it be? How will the driveway work with your garage?

As well as layout, now’s the time to think about what overall appearance you want your driveway to have and choose the best surface to achieve a high-end look. Spend some time researching ideas and looking for driveway inspiration, including what others have done that’s worked well.

Crucially, find out where your property services are, including water, electricity and gas, so that you can avoid them, or be aware of them during the excavation process.

Permissions and compliance

Following severe flooding in 2007, the rules governing driveways were changed in 2008. New driveways must be SuDS compliant, meaning if you’re laying a concrete, asphalt, or other non-permeable driveway over five square metres, you may need planning permission. However, porous surfaces over five square metres square, such as gravel, may not need planning permission, although it’s always prudent to check with your local planning office. If you’re laying gravel, ensure the preparation materials such as the stabilisation membrane and gravel grid retention system are SuDS compliant too.

Logistical issues

How long it takes to install your new driveway will depend on the size and finish you opt for. Before work begins, consider how you will continue to access your house when your driveway is out of action – do you have a back door or side door you can use? Be courteous and speak to your neighbours about the work, keeping them informed of any potential noise and timings. If you plan to park on the road for the duration of the work, let them know.

Preparing the ground

Before a fresh layer of gravel can be laid, good preparation is essential to achieving an optimum finish that will last for years. Firstly, the existing surface needs to be removed. This may involve jack-hammers and sledgehammers if you’ve got a hard surface such as concrete (definitely make sure you’ve warned the neighbours!). Next comes excavation. At this stage, a digger may be needed to get a good and level finish. The depth of excavation, and so the cost, depends on your surface choice. Less excavation is needed by using a shallow gravel grid system such as Beauxfort’s Gravelrings. If you want hard-wired lighting, now’s the time to get an electrician to run the appropriate wiring beneath.

The installation

Once the excavation is complete and the muck-away removed, a ground stabilising geotextile membrane should be laid. Look for a SuDS compliant, load-bearing, heavy-duty type for spreading loads imposed on the sub-base and preventing future rutting and sinking of the finished driveway. Next, to ensure an excellent finish and significantly improve the longevity of your driveway, install a gravel grid system to provide further load-bearing capacity, help resist weed growth and keep gravel in place. This stage of installation is quick – Beauxfort’s Gravelrings gravel grids come in 1m2 sheets and are easily cut to fit, then clipped quickly together. Finally, the gravel is laid. Gravelrings are designed to be overfilled to give an even finish that hides the gravel grids that stop gravel migrating.

Finishing touches

The finishing touches should be considered in your initial design and planning stage, especially if you want hard-wired lights, but now’s the time to install them. Solar LED statement lighting that casts a welcoming glow can be the icing on the cake and doesn’t need underground cables. Consider complementary planting, perhaps something architectural to match a contemporary gravel driveway or something more traditional depending on the style of your property. Once you’ve got a new driveway, your existing fences and gates may look like they need a freshen up too.

Achieve the perfect gravel driveway with the Beauxfort Gravelrings system. Check out our website www.beauxfort.com for more information about the Beauxfort landscape systems, design inspiration and to request a free sample, or talk to our friendly team about your project by contacting us on 0330 055 2599 or info@beauxfort.com.