Ideas can be hard to come by if you're looking to upgrade your front garden with a drive. Turning a lacklustre driveway into a practical and eye-catching front garden may seem impossible.
However, it doesn’t need to be difficult to bring the front of your home to life with a carefully crafted design. That's why the team at Marshalls have put together a list of ways you can revamp your front garden and driveway, including tips on improving your driveway drainage to make sure your space stands the test of time.
How to transform your front garden’s driveway
From a simple garden paving upgrade to converting your drive into a rain garden, these front garden driveway ideas will hopefully inspire you to get creative with your home’s exterior design scheme and make it truly your own.
1. Gain more off-street parking
Living in built-up, inner-city areas can often make parking a challenge. However, if you sacrifice some of your front garden space, you can easily create an off-street parking spot or two. Having a driveway is a proven way to add value to your home when you come to sell, as well as being a practical improvement for you to benefit from.
For those who own large vehicles or perhaps you have more than one car, you may want to consider how your vehicles might sit within the space. Would the area be too tight? Or would there be enough room for your design?
As well as this, knowing how far you want your vehicle away from the road will also be useful in your planning. You don’t want a driveway that’s difficult for you to use and manoeuvre around.
When creating a new driveway, it’s important to consider the drainage regulations. A new driveway over 5m must be able to provide adequate drainage for water. If this is not the case then you will need planning permission. For more information about the rules for a new driveway, read our other guide for help.
When it comes to materials, natural stone setts are a great choice as they are neutral and work with a variety of styles. Adding potted plants in the corners of the driveway brings in colour and helps to make the space more beautiful.
2. Balance your lawn and drive ratio carefully
When designing your new driveway and front garden, you'll want to choose the lawn-to-paving ratio carefully to make sure your space can deal with rain effectively, whilst also bringing some softer, natural elements to the space.
Having a lawn can be a great way to naturally deal with potential flooding issues, so it’s important to try and keep a good balance between paving and lawn where possible.
3. Use unique paving
Another great idea is to use interesting pavers like brick block paving to create unique patterns on your driveway. For an extra level of wow-factor, mix-and-match different colours of paving stones together to create a finish that it not only eye-catching but also totally unique to your home.
Laying permeable paving is great for driveways as it allows surface water to flow between blocks into the sub-base below.
If you live in an older property, opting for a cobblestone driveway is a great way of creating an inviting driveway and front garden space that’s in-keeping with the period of your home. Or, for a more modern home you could take a look at porcelain driveway paving, which is gowing in popularity and gives a great, sleek finish which can be easier to take care of than other materials.
To ensure there is a good flow between the drive and your home, you could also consider using the same block paving to create a garden path leading to the front door. For more inspiration, explore our unique garden paving ideas.
4. Light the way
Adding lighting to your driveway not only increases safety at nighttime but also enhances the visual appeal of the space. Pillar lights and lanterns create interest during the day and at night. Paving lights that are recessed into the ground or nearby retaining wall are a great alternative if you'd prefer something more subtle.
It’s also possible to combine safety with security by using illuminated parking posts on your driveway. These are an effective way to protect your home against theft whilst doubling as a useful wayfinding aid.
Solar-powered lights are an excellent option for reducing energy consumption and minimising environmental impact. And, with solar technologies having come on leaps and bounds in recent years, there’s now a fantastic range of models and styles available.
5. Fence-off play areas
Keep your kids and pets safe by fencing off the driveway, especially if you have a lawn or a play area that borders the drive. A fence will also increase your property's security, which is always a benefit.
Choose a fence design that suits your garden best - anything can work, from a simple wooden fence to a specially designed iron fence with a custom driveway gate.
Fences are also a great way of bringing a pop of colour into your front garden as it’s quick, easy and affordable to transform them with a lick of paint.
6. Line the driveway with a stone wall
If you have a steep driveway, a stone wall along its edges can increase the safety of the drive and improve aesthetics. Natural stone walling can work well for long driveways bordered by manicured gardens or meadows.
When installing a garden wall, be sure to match the look to the external design elements of your home - either through colour or texture. If this isn't possible, you can also utilise the same light features along the drive as you have outside your home.
7. Upgrade your driveway borders with plants
Adding a flower bed alongside your driveway can drastically increase your property's kerb appeal and create a welcoming outdoor space for visitors. Fill the beds with a variety of low-lying flowers and foliage to add colour and texture to the driveway.
If you have a large or long driveway, you can plant a wider variety of flora and experiment with height and contrast. Add some tall, light greenery such as fennel, tall grasses or bamboo to create a sense of movement whilst also enhancing privacy.
Edge the flower beds with rounded kerb stones or decorative pavers to create contrast and add a personal touch. Include some hanging baskets outside your front entrance or a window box beneath a front window to continue the flow of the garden design.
8. Add gates for grandeur and security
A garden gate is a great way to provide peace of mind and an increased feeling of safety within your own home. Whether closing off a small space or an larger plot, garden gates provide increased privacy and security.
You could create drama with a curved entranceway to the drive - this will perfectly complement grand iron gates and ensure the beautiful entranceway is the focal point when arriving at your home.
If you'd prefer something more minimalist, a simple yet stylish wooden gate will be an elegant addition. Paint it in a neutral colour like white, grey or black to preserve the contemporary aesthetic.
9. Manage drainage with a rain garden
One front garden driveway idea that is becoming more and more popular is a rain garden. This type of garden works by managing rainwater runoff from hard surfaces in a low-lying area planted out with wetland plants. These plants can survive being waterlogged, allowing the rainwater to seep into the ground slowly while also preventing flooding. In fact, rain gardens are proven to absorb up to 30% more water than a lawn, making them ideal for any properties in flood-prone areas or that are built on land at risk of erosion.
A rain garden is also a great way to attract birds and pollinators into your garden without requiring a lot of maintenance, pruning or mowing.
10. Consider adding a pond or water feature
Adding a pond or water feature to your driveway adds a tranquil element to the area. If you have a large property, you could install a fountain and create a turning circle at the top of your drive.
Moreover, incorporating some pond plants will add some lovely greenery to the hard landscaping of the driveway. Using natural stone garden walling when creating the water feature will also help soften the area's look.
Read our guide on how to create your perfect pond for some more inspiration.
Get the perfect front garden driveway with Marshalls
At Marshalls, we have the materials and expertise to help you create the perfect outdoor spaces for your home, design preferences and lifestyle. And, with our registered installer network, you can find a reputable contractor to do the work too. Visit our blog on how to plan your front garden for more guidance or get in touch with our friendly customer service team today who will be happy to advise on the best solution.
Can I use my garden as a driveway?
Yes, you can! Adding a driveway can improve the value of your home. Remember to consult the laws regarding a dropped kerb before installing the driveway.
Adding a strip driveway to your garden is a great way to improve parking without compromising drainage and greenery. If you plan to turn a big section of your garden into a driveway, be sure to check if you need planning permission for it.
Read our guide on what to consider when planning a driveway.
How can I make my driveway pretty?
A quick and easy way to make your driveway pretty is to add a border of small flowering shrubs or to place plant pots with small trees in strategic spots (be sure they don't hinder your ability to park easily, though).
How do I soften the appearance my driveway?
Planting ground cover in between concrete block paving will soften the look of your driveway. Another way to counteract the harsh edges of a paved area is to add warm lighting for the evening and a variety of plant pots with trailing vegetation.
Alternatively, you can create a welcoming driveway by converting it to a strip driveway and turning the open areas into green spaces.