Driveway



Most of our driveways only really accommodate one parking space, two might fit if we cross the footpath and generally there's road space for one too. As with most Estates there's always a lot of cars and more than the Developers planned for. 


What happens when it's no longer just Mum and Dad's car but the kids too? Rented houses could possibly have 5 adults, each with cars, plus visitors and this did happen a few years ago where two neighbouring households had 10 cars between them. This can make for a jam packed street. 

We don't have any visitor parking bays or areas other than on the road and so it becomes a slalom sometimes to get through. The bigger issue is when an ambulance or fire engine needs to get passed in a hurry, will there be enough room for them? To make more space you'll sometimes see cars parked up on the grass verge but it's often at the cost of the grass which becomes muddy grooves.


Kids also play outside their homes and we all know the obvious safety dangers for them or the high chance a ball or bicycle will cause damage to the cars.


Some households have made changes to their front garden to get their cars off the road and here we'll explore the options of how to swap a lawn for parking space.

Is There Space?

The amount of space you need depends on what type of car you want to accommodate and how big the garden is. To get a car onto the lawn the entry wall pillar might need to be moved to make it slightly wider or it could be completely removed.


There also needs to be enough side space to open the car doors and get past so it generally means parking at an angle in front of the bay window. Depending on the position of your house you may also need to remove some of the grass verge too.

What Surface Material?

Even a small car weighs at least 1000 kg and parking directly on the grass will eventually turn it into a muddy mess. There's 4 practical options available with different costs, some being DIY and all requiring the same basic preparation. Most require some thought and planning for water drainage too or you'll end up with puddles everywhere and boggy gardens. 

Each of these options are in the order of DIY difficulty and each has their own selection of colours & shades, textures & patterns to make it as complicated as you like. The job prices are only general indicators since there's a variety of options with each and all will require some basic clearing up with a skip needed at around €150 and the same again for a basic hardcore foundation for a car sized small area plus the actual top material:
  • Gravel, from €100
  • Concrete, from €150
  • Bricks or slabsfrom €300
  • Tarmac or SMA, from €1,000 to €10k.
In summary the cost of taking the car off the road starts at around €400 and whether it's DIY.

Gravel or Stones

Perhaps the quickest and simplest option that provides a decorative finish that both allows water drainage whilst also retaining the front garden image. You need to have an edge to keep the stones in place or they'll be scattered out onto the path and without a good solid foundation it will quickly turn into muddy grooves. Make it too deep and you will get the car stuck, chose a very small stone size and grooves appear with cats using it as a litter tray too. Finally if you do ever wheel spin you'll throw stones around but you can lay a mesh to keep these stones in place. 


There is a huge variety to chose from and either 15kg bags or delivered by the ton.
Weeds will find a home in most gardens given the chance and gravel is no exception even with a weed mat laid first. It can turn green with algae if there's no direct sunshine.


Gravel however is a very good security feature since it makes noise that puts off intruders and thieves.

Concrete

Widening the area with concrete to accommodate a second car is the most obvious solution to match the existing drive. When laid it initial tends to be a slightly different shade and large areas are better suited to a ready made delivery that can be poured out. If the surface pattern is textured it'll hold the dirt and if there's poor surface drainage there'll be tide marks too. Concrete also tends to crack unless it has a good foundation, might need reinforcing with metal bars and planned expansion gaps.



Slabs or Paving Bricks.

With patience DIY enthusiasts can achieve this over a few days and there's a wide variety of colours and decorative layouts. This effect can also be achieved more quickly through modern techniques of 'printing' patterns where it is poured and rolled similar to tarmac. The advantage is that it does away with any joints for weeds but is also at risk of cracking like concrete.



Also available although not seen anywhere locally, except for St Mary's Church car park in Navan, are the perforated slabs or meshes filled with gravel or soil and grass. However, they're not great for the ladies walking over them in high heels !


Could you lay these to stop wearing out the grass if you are parking on the front grass verge since they'll stop you creating muddy ditches?

Tarmac

Definitely not DIY and the most expensive solution it can seal and provide a hard yet flexible surface very quickly. Tarmac is used less in preference for Stone Mastic Asphalt (SMA) but be wary of 'cowboys' who'll quote but may not provide the results to match. You really need to do your own research to ensure you know what you need, who you trust and how long you want it to last. Everyone is familiar with pot holes in roads and you don't really want them in your driveway.




It's not an ideal scenario to lose your front garden but if you decide to take your extra car off the road you'll at least free up our narrow streets and probably reduce your car insurance too.



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