Driveway Space Is Precious But Should You Get Rid Of Your Front Garden?

21/02/2019

Parking spaces are (almost) priceless these days. A home with enough space to park all of your cars (yours, your partner’s car, your kid’s cars, their partners cars, and so on) will be in high demand, especially as it can have an affect on car insurance.

It’s common to see what would be a front garden completely paved over to maximise driveway parking. But should you completely pave over the whole of your front garden? Many people would default to a “yes” answer, but there’s a few things to keep in mind.

Urban Runoff

Urban runoff is basically the surface runoff of rainwater that is created by urbanisation. Urban runoff contributes massively to flooding and water pollution in built up areas and can be a real problem.

When it rains around 50% of the rainwater is absorbed into the ground, 40% evaporates, and 10% ends up as runoff. However, urbanised areas are covered with non porous surfaces such as roads, pavements, and car parks. As the rainwater can’t be absorbed into these surfaces, around 55% becomes runoff.

Wikipedia

This larger amount of runoff either finds its way into drains or sits stagnant. We probably all know an area or road that gets flooded after heavy rain, either because the drains can’t handle the excess runoff or the water has nowhere to go.

Depending on where you live, runoff after heavy rain can pose a real risk of flooding. Flooding is repetitive and almost always costly, especially when there has been significant flooding. You don’t always have to live in a floodplain to be at risk to its effects.

So what does this all have to do with your front garden?

Keeping your front garden has a positive impact

As we’ve determined, if you turn your whole front garden into a driveway, covering it in cement, paving, or resin bound surfaces, any rainfall on it will be 100% runoff. Keeping part of your front garden green will instead have a much more positive impact and will allow for some water absorption into the ground, therefore creating less runoff.

But giving up potential driveway space can be a hard sell.

The compromise

Off road parking can help increase a home’s value, or provide a stream of income if you have a spare space you can rent out. However, it’s very rare for 100% of a driveway to be used for parking. In fact, it would be very difficult to park multiple cars in a way that uses all the space while still making it possible to easily drive in and out.

This usually means you’re left with areas close to your house or boundry wall that won’t be used.

A good compromise that many homeowners adopt is to include a border around the edge of their driveway. These borders don’t have to be huge, but occupy the space that wouldn’t be utilised by cars.

Serenitylandscapes

If you cover your driveway in a flat surface such as resin bonding or cement, you can include a slight incline which directs rainwater runoff to the borders.

Completedrivewaydesigns

The border can be as high or low maintenance as you want. You can plant it with flowers or shrubs, cover it with decorative stone, or keep it as simple grass.

Some driveway inspiration

Here are some driveway design ideas that keep some green space while allowing plenty of parking.

Pinterest

You don’t need to give up much driveway space. This example shows a small shrub and some plants have been planted against the house, along with a line of gravel and some more shrubs along the border of the drive. There’s still plenty of parking space available.

Pinterest

In this example there is a small shrub border running around the edge of the drive. On the edge that sits against the pavement, there is a larger hedge. This hedge blocks some of the view into the property from the pavement and adds an extra level of privacy while using minimal driveway space.

Pinterest

Here you can see a freshly planted border along the boundary wall and fence. Some young shrubs have been planted that will grow taller to give some added privacy. The curved lines of the border also add an element of interest, along with the contrasting brickwork.

Pinterest

If you want a low maintenance option, go for drought tolerant plants and cover the surrounding area with a mulch like bark or decorative stone. The plants will survive without the constant need for watering, and mulch will minimise the amount of weeds that can grow.

Save some space for greenery

In the end, converting your front garden into 100% driveway isn’t ideal for the environment. Do your bit by keeping as much of the space green as you can while maximising parking potential.

What’s more, a driveway with a bit of greenery always looks a lot nicer.

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