Landscaping your driveway - a guide for householders

General guidance on what you should consider when landscaping your driveway.

More and more householders are laying hard surfaces over front gardens. Low maintenance, easy parking, or just the latest trend in garden design - these are some of the reasons that people give for turning their natural green spaces into paved or concrete utilities. This harms the appearance of our towns and villages and has led to a noticeable, and worrying, decline in garden wildlife as a result. With increases in hard surfaces leading to accelerated run-off of surface water, localized flooding also commonly occurs.

Although you may now require planning permission to pave over your front garden we have acknowledged that the majority of these new, permitted paved areas are not landscaped. The tree-lined streets and leafy areas of our town and villages are being replaced by great expanses of concrete and tarmac which do not respect the character or appearance of our district.
 

Why should I landscape?                                                                          

Landscaping your paved front garden has many benefits. It:

  • Makes an attractive street and/ or area to live in opposed to a 'concrete jungle'
  • Provides your property with extra security and can help reduce the risk of trespassing, crime and vandalism to your home and vehicles
  • Encourages wildlife back into your garden
  • Reduces surface run off and flooding
  • Increases the curb appeal of your property and will enhance visual appearance of the property thereby adding value to your property
     

Hard or soft landscaping                                                                            

Hard landscaping methods include walls and fences.

Soft landscaping methods include flower beds, shrubs, trees, hedges and ground borders.
 

Examples of good and bad practice

Screening example on a drivewayScreening

A well designed driveway can not only provide you with the extra off-road parking you require, but can also screen and protect your property and vehicles. Planting a hedge and/or trees correctly and sympathetically helps to hide the parking area and vehicles from the view of adjacent residential properties or from the view from the public street. By choosing additional landscaping you will improve the appearance of your property and the street scene, increasing your properties curb appeal.

We understand the need for paved front gardens to allow for safer, off road parking but we do ask that the works are carried out sympathetically. Landscaping your paved areas will screen the concrete and driveway from public view in order to maintain an attractive district.

Visability example on a driveway Visibility

When landscaping and designing your front paved area, you must take into consideration public and highway safety. You should try to retain and maintain a clear and safe access point to and from the highway. Where the drive joins a footway or a shared surface, 2m x 2m pedestrian/vehicle visibility splays should be provided on both sides of the drive.

Within these areas there shall be no obstruction to visibility greater than 600mm above the footway or shared surface level.

Points to consider 

  • Inadequate driveways can lead to cars reversing out onto the road without sufficient visibility; this can lead to accidents
  • Without proper visibility, the use of the driveway can be dangerous to pedestrians walking past the drive
  • Inadequate driveways can lead to awkward and dangerous manoeuvres which could result in accidents

Materials

The range of materials that can be used to create a useable driveway is now so vast that a well designed and landscaped driveway can be very attractive. More commonly both horticultural and landscape architectural elements are being combined and this can include trees, shrubs, flowers, vegetables, decorative stonework, walkways, patios or screening.

However, when landscaping your driveway consideration must be given to the level of maintenance required and also whether the plants/ foliage used are year round or seasonal. In addition the materials should be suitable to the location in particular if your boundary is next to a busy highway; the use of loose materials such as gravel will be inappropriate as the loss and spread of gravel from the drive on to the highway could cause an unsafe road surface for other motorists. At least the first 2 metres should be bound surface. By following the advice above, the Council hope to maintain the appearance of many streets around the District and prevent inappropriate paving.
 

Will I require planning permission?    

The following is general advice only and you are advised to check the position regarding your particular case.

In practice, you will not need planning permission if a new or replacement driveway uses permeable (or porous) surfacing. See our driveways guidance for further details.

The erection, construction, maintenance, improvement or alteration of a gate, fence or wall will not normally require planning permission if:

  • The height of the gate, fence or wall does not exceed one metre above ground level if sited adjacent to a highway, or two metres above ground level if positioned elsewhere
  • The gate, fence or wall is not within the curtilage of a listed building. Soft landscaping including trees, shrubs, grass or flowers would not require any planning permission
  • On choosing to landscape your driveway, we would encourage you to use materials and plants which would be:
    • Suitable for the space available
    • Suitable for the type of soil to allow surface water drainage and successful growth and maturation of plants
    • Would look appropriate within the streetscene and the surrounding area

 


Additional information

Paving your front garden - Planning Portal guidance

► Patio and driveway planning permission - Planning Portal guidance

► British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI)

Videos