‘You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression’ is a mantra that becomes especially relevant when you’re thinking of putting your house on the market. Not every property has a sweeping, tree-lined drive, but however long or short the approach to your home, lavishing some love and design on the driveway will make all the difference to those all-important viewings.
For country-house drives, gravel undeniably strikes the right tone. A reassuring crunch underfoot of a well-maintained gravel drive gives potential buyers that all important positive first impression of your property. Surfacing your drive in this way also acts as an excellent security measure for your home and vehicles as no visitor can approach unannounced, which is reassuring when your house is tucked away down a country lane. Gravel doesn’t please everyone however - Jimmy Choos and children with bikes will always prefer concrete - and it needs occasional raking and replenishing every few years. And don’t forget about edging, which is crucial to stop the gravel from flying far and wide.
If you would prefer a low-maintenance option or if you have a sloping driveway, then resin-bonded gravel is the answer. If you opt for this material, the drive is laid with normal tarmac that has fine gravel bonded onto its surface. The higher price tag is justified as it looks the part of real gravel, but doesn’t wash away down the slope when the heavens open. The permanently fixed aggregates will provide excellent anti skid/slip properties during the winter months, and during dry weather you won’t be choking in a dust cloud thrown up by wheels. At the other end of the price spectrum is road planings, which are chips of tarmac that have been removed and chopped up in the process of resurfacing roads. They’re a suitable alternative to concrete for tricky drives or those with heavy traffic, and create a smooth surface which gets better with use and doesn’t give off any dust. Block paving is also durable and easy to maintain and is usually made from moulded concrete blocks, clay bricks or natural stone. The variety of colours available allows you to be creative with your design – shades of terracotta and grey are the most popular, and granite setts are always a popular choice.
Most important of all, whatever surface you choose, make sure your drive is in keeping with the style of your property. A grand, tree-lined avenue won’t work if your long country drive has a cosy cottage at the end. Instead, consider planting wild flowers and grasses either side of the drive. Ultimately, it’s all about making the most of the driveway you have.