Choosing the Right Driveway Material

For those of us who are lucky enough to have the space, a driveway can be both a blessing and a curse. A solid concrete driveway should last more or less forever, but one that starts crumbling or has not been well-constructed can be costly to repair or replace. It won’t take too long for a neglected driveway to become a bed of weeds and that certainly does not make for kerb appeal.

Which driveway material?

Having it covered in impermeable asphalt (usually called by the brand name Tarmac) may seem like an attractive option in terms of cost, but it certainly won’t be in terms of looks or drainage, which is one of the main concerns when constructing a new driveway. In fact, driveways without adequate drainage have been cited by the Planning Portal as one of the causes of the increase in localised flooding that we’ve seen in the UK in the past 7 years, leading to new guidelines being introduced.

gravel driveway

Image Source: Landscaping Gallery

For this reason, any new driveway that takes away a front garden must be made from a permeable driveway material such as gravel. In most cases they will come under permitted development and not need any planning permission, but it is always worth checking with a contractor or your council before you start work, as some local authorities will have their own rules, especially where listed buildings or preservation areas are concerned. You will usually need permission to drop a kerb in order to create a new driveway access for your home.

The crunch of gravel under your tyres is always satisfying, especially if you own a country home, a Rolls Royce and a driveway that requires its own postcode of course, but in more urban settings you may find that the mess can be annoying. For that reason, many people tend to opt for block-paved driveways when looking for something that declares itself with an effortless style.

driveway material

Image Source: Homedit

Modern block-paved driveways usually sit atop a permeable mesh, which provides drainage and keeps the weeds at bay too. This is a hardy option for any size of driveway, although it can prove expensive and is definitely not one to attempt as a DIY project. You can expect to pay upwards of £3,000 for even a short single car driveway that is paved professionally.


A cheaper and more environmentally-friendly option may be to have a permeable base that is covered with bark chippings. This does have some of the same problems as gravel, in that it can spread around the garden. But the chippings themselves are not too expensive to top up now and then. This can still cost upwards of £1,500, but it’s easier to initiate and maintain than a purely green parking space. It may look like you are just parking on your garden, but it will be a landscaped space that has been set up with plants that bond the soil together to make a space hardy enough to park your 4×4 on while allowing the rain to sink straight into the ground. This can be entirely plant-based or mixed in with a small number of slabs or blocks.

driveway options

Image Source: Resin Drives

Those who are looking for something a bit more outstanding, whether for a new driveway or to replace a tired-looking one, should look no further than a resin-bonded drive. This surface gives the look of a gravel driveway, but with none of the mess, as the small stones are sealed in. The surface remains permeable and you don’t have to sweep up gravel or bark chipping once a week. The other advantage of this kind of driveway is that you can bond any kind of stone or finish into the resin finish, allowing you to use coloured stones, luminescent finishes or even Swarovski crystals if you are feeling a bit flush.

Looking for the help of an expert to build your new driveway? Find a qualified and trusted Driveway Specialist on Rated People by posting your job.

Iain Aitch

Iain is a London-based writer who works as a journalist for a number of newspapers and magazines. He has also written two books, one of which is a hilarious lexicon about Britishness – Iain is a Brit through and through!

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  1. I have block paving but am fed up with the weeds coming through. What do you suggest to replace it with so I don’t get any more weeds!

  2. I tried to give a classy look to my courtyard driveway path with block paving installation, but I am very dishearted because weeds make their ways into the gaps. I think concrete driveways and gravel beds are the good options!

    1. Hi Sandra,

      There are certainly pros and cons for each option. Do you know if you have a decent permeable mesh below the paving? That usually does a good job at keeping the weeds at bay. I’d suggest asking a driveway paver for some advice, which you can do here:


    2. Did you try sealing your driveway. It slows down weed growth but does not eliminate altogether. Needs to be done once a year for best results.

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