Gravel Paving & Driveways

The appearance of your home's exterior is vital in creating a good first impression. Driveways and paving are key components of your outside space. With minimal effort, you can create neat and beautiful surfaces with gravel. Gravel is one of the most popular materials for driveways, paths and other hard landscaping projects. It is an affordable material for paving and relatively easy to install. It is also an attractive and low maintenance option for paving.

Types of Gravel

Gravel is the easiest material used for designing driveways, paths and other hard landscaping. Gravel is available in wide selection of colours, sizes and textures. Natural gravel is cheaper, with pea shingle or pea gravel being the most affordable material. Mixed gravel with stones of different sizes and finishes also tends to be cheaper. Rounded and specialised gravel is typically more expensive than natural gravel. Specialised gravel options provide more choice in terms of colour and include products made from tumbled glass. Slate mulch is another type of gravel that is available in various colours including green, blue and purple. Semi-natural coloured gravel made from limestone chippings is also an option. This type of gravel is coated with dye, offering a wide selection of colours.

Gravel is available as loose stones as well as self-binding or bounded gravel. Self-binding gravel is particularly useful for paving where there is a lot of foot traffic or longer driveways. The type of gravel is mixed with smaller particles known as fines, making them look dirty with dust on the stones. Self-binding gravel is effective at creating a semi-hard surface, although it is not completely solid like asphalt or concrete. It is also not sealed like hard surfaces. Over time and with increased pressure from foot traffic or cars driving over it, the different sized gravel stones naturally bond together. This gives you a cleaner, more coherent alternative to ordinary gravel. With self-binding gravels, you can also remove the material and crush it in order to re-lay it.

Choosing Gravel for Paving or Driveways

The type of gravel surfacing for paving and driveways you pick will depend on your own personal tastes and what best complements your property. The choice will also depend on your budget since different types of gravel can cost more than others. Regular or natural gravel is best for driveways and rounded gravel should be avoided. Overly rounded gravel scatter more easily under moving car tyres. They can also be hard to walk on and they roll away easier. For paving or other landscaping like a garden path there is greater flexibility in terms of style and creativity. To design a unique or interesting look, you can mix colours and textures to create patterns with gravel. Patterns are best on paving that will not see a lot of movement since stones can become easily displaced over time. For paths, slate mulch is coarser and likely not a good option for areas that will see a lot of foot traffic. Where you expect to have a lot of foot or vehicle traffic, self-binding or bound gravel might be a good investment.

Choosing a Contractor

Hiring a professional for paving and driveway projects will leave you with beautiful finishes. A paving contractor has access to specialised tools such as heavy equipment to leave you with an even surface. They will also be able to provide advice on local planning regulations, and tackle them for you. In addition to placing gravel, the contractor will also ensure there is good drainage by laying a concrete foundation. A strip of block paving or asphalt can also be placed at the border of a gravel path or driveway. This can help limit the spread and loss of gravel.

To find an experienced and qualified paving contractor, see if gravel manufacturers have a list of vetted and approved contractors. Reputable contractors are generally members of a trade association or organisation, such as the British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI) or the Association of Professional Landscapers (APL). Although paving is not a regulated industry, you should look for tradespeople that are registered or certified with a government-recognised Component Person Scheme.

When choosing a paving contractor, do research to determine the quality of their work. Look at online reviews and ask friends and family for recommendations. Use local contractors that have been in business for a long time and specialise in gravel paving. Also, check references and look at examples of gravel projects that the contractor has completed. You should also ask for proof of insurance and a written guarantee for the work. Always try to get three or more quotes from contractors to ensure you are getting the best value for your money.