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When planning a driveway it’s important to get the balance between appearance, functionality and safety.

Not only will it be the first impression of your home, it’s also likely to be used on a daily basis. So, in addition to being aesthetically pleasing, your driveway needs to perform well and ensure optimal safety.

Top considerations when planning a driveway

Whether you’re planning a new driveway or replacing one that’s tired, we have some tips to help you design one that complements your home and garden and meets all your needs.

1. Layout

planning a driveway
Circular bluestone driveway creating an impressive entrance and improve safety

If you’re starting from scratch, you may have the opportunity to play with the driveway layout to improve usability, appearance or both. In property’s with limited space, a simple straight driveway typically works best, but in larger properties, you have more flexibility.

The driveway layout you choose can impact the appearance of your architecture and the feeling of the property.

The main driveway layouts include:

  • Straight: a direct line from the street front to the garage or carport. A good option for smaller properties and can be effective at creating a strong line of vision to the architecture, particularly if framed with trees.
  • Curved: an easy curve that can be designed to avoid a tree or when your access point and garage don’t line up. A well-planned curved driveway can help add more character to a property.
  • Horseshoe: a circular driveway allows you to enter the property and leave without reversing or turning around. This design is beneficial for those on a busy road, but only suitable for larger properties.

2. Gradient and width

planning a driveway
A narrow, short granite driveway by Outdoor Establishments

The natural topography of your property will greatly dictate the gradient of your driveway. However, if you are planning a driveway it’s best to aim for a slope that’s neither too steep or too flat for optimal drainage.

A driveway that is completely flat could experience poor drainage with water pooling on the surface. A driveway that’s too steep on the other hand may become too slippery when wet, especially if the surface isn’t well considered. Adding curves can help reduce the slope and building up the middle of a flat driveway can ensure the water can run off on either side.

The width of the driveway is also an important consideration and will depend on your local Council requirements. An average minimum width for driveways regards of their length is 2.5-3 metres and increases to 5-6 metres for a standard sized property with a double garage.

The gradient and width of your driveway are important for safety. Councils will have a minimum and maximum for each, so it’s important to confirm your local regulations before applying for permits.

3. Materiality

planning a driveway
A Porphyry crazy paved driveway by Pepo Botanical

The material you choose for your driveway will not only impact the aesthetics of your property, but also the performance of your driveway. For best results, select a surface that is visually cohesive with your surrounding landscape and the architecture. Ideally, the material should be durable, provide traction and a non-slip finish when wet and be forgiving to marks and oil stains from everyday wear and tear.

Some of the most popular materials for a driveway are:

  • Exposed aggregate
  • Bluestone paving
  • Concrete
  • Brick paving
  • Cobblestones

You can read more about each of these materials as a driveway surface here.

4. Access

planning a driveway
Safety is the number one considerations when planning a driveway and access

One of the key considerations when planning a driveway is the street access. You’ll want to design a driveway that creates a safe and easy entry and exit. This is particularly important if you live on a busy or a narrow street where visibility is restricted.

The size of your property will greatly inform what you can do to improve the access, but you can also help increase visibility with your design. Avoid planting tall shrubs and trees, lower your fence height, installing lighting and adding a mirror are just a few ways you can create a safer driveway.

5. Maintenance

When designing your driveway, consider the cost and time required to maintain your driveway. This relates mainly to the material you choose to surface your driveway with. For instance, gravel may be more affordable than stone paving but will require regular maintenance. You may find the up-front-cost is worth it in the long run.

Feature image: Granite stone driveway by Preston Lane Architects