The essence of good driveway design is focussing on the getting the balance right and managing the apparent conflict of interest between providing adequate space for safe and practical car parking whilst ensuring that there is sufficient space to create an appealing garden and/or lawn area.
In small and also larger sites, it is very important to the manage how the space is allocated by avoiding the temptation to provide too much space for the car and too little for the garden. If the space allocation for the car(s) is disproportionate, often the results lead to the garden becoming effectively a designated car parking area. Whilst this might appeal to any owners who are not fans of gardens, many if not most homeowners would much prefer to avoid the car parking requirements dominating the front garden area.
Other important elements include considering the layouts, how cars ‘come and go’, where and how planting borders, lawn areas, pedestrian access etc can and should be configured. Site aspects and characteristics such as gradients also require careful consideration as these too impact what the feasibility and choice of individual finishes. Owners preferred maintenance requirements can also impact on final selections.
Occasionally a site may also have scope to make improvements to making it easier at property entrance/exits points. For example, access steps despite complying with building regulations as to minimum thread size and riser heights, can often appear to be too small and difficult for all users. If space is available it is usually wiser to extend and expand the steps, making them more safe and comfortable to use. Similarly critical assessment of site aspects and levels as was the case in this project, identified the opportunity to effectively raise the ground levels and thus omitting one step level. For example the stepping at the house entrance was reduced form two steps to one and similar reductions were also achieved at the other door exit points. A feature of this expansive front and side garden area, was that it enjoyed a very sunny west facing aspect providing an unusual opportunity to create a sun terrace/patio area.
The design focused on developing a layout clearly separating the ‘driveway area’ from the ‘private garden/patio area. A feature bed would be incorporated into the design and stocked with mature shrubs to provide a interesting focal point but at the same time an effective planted screen ensuring privacy for the side garden and patio areas. Existing mixed boundary planting was rationalised and mostly removed to provide space for a more consistent scheme of boundary hedging. The results would remove the adhoc look to the hedging and provide a more structured, consistent finish and essentially a more harmonious result.
The choice of surface finishes involved considerable discussion and attention. From the outset, natural stone was the preferred choice and silver grey granite with it’s distinctive rounded ‘bull-nosed’ step profile was the preferred choice for all steps. As the owners preferring a dark to a bright tone for the paved areas a number of options were carefully considered ranging from dark granite, basalt, various limestones before deciding on the stunning Kilkenny Limestone which is a buffed pale grey when dry but becoming a striking and dramatic darker colour almost black when wet and the stone’s distinctive white veining much more evident. Silver grey granite setts were included to provided an enhanced distinctive edge to all pathway, patio edgings as well as along the silver grey granite kerbing.
For the choice of stone chippings for the parking areas a special blend of combining two tones (grey and pale brown) of limestone chippings reflecting similar tones to be seen in the house walls was selected for the parking areas.