The Off Road Parking Conundrum

The Off Road Parking Conundrum

Off road parking is always at a premium, especially as the number of cars per household continues to rise.

The problem of where to park your car when at home is a frustration for many. Driveways never seem big enough and cars appear to be getting larger. The age old “can you move your car please?” rings out across the nation as cars are shuffled around the drive.

A block paved front garden was the default position a few years ago, but this leaves your house resembling a car park and is devoid of interest and greenery.

So how can PlanToPave help with the balance between off street parking and retaining the air of having a front garden, when the drive is empty?

Technology, design and product development can all help, so let’s look at a few options.

Many modern estate houses (left hand picture) have open plan gardens with a drop kerb and a single or double width driveway, perhaps a path and an area laid to lawn. It does not take long for a few misplaced car wheels to chew up a lawn, so why not replace the lawn with artificial turf? Beyond the turf not needing to be maintained, it stays green, is porous and providing it is correctly laid, will stand the test of time. For those looking for a more artistic and softer outlook, interspersing paving amongst artificial turf can certainly add interest and practicality to an extended parking area. This option though is not cheap, the centre one especially – but it is certainly eye catching.

Continuing on a “pattern theme”, plastic grid ground protectors have been a useful addition to the market. The protectors come in square meshes, but can be cut, and resemble hollow egg boxes. They can be clipped together to form larger areas, with the hollows being filled with a fine gravel, or soil and grass seed. The grass can be cut as normal, but the ground remains stable and free draining. From a distance you would never know that the area is anything other than a lawn.

Moving away from artificial turf and plastic ground protectors, resin bound surfaces come in a variety of colours that provide a welcoming and versatile surface. Contrasting edges add a natural boundary between driveway and greenery and is the product to follow over the coming years.

Trying to break up the shape of an extra car parking space is always a challenge, but a cost effective option would be to use gravel and encompass circular paving to provide interest and shape. Mixed with planters or low level paving, it softens the overall effect:

From a garden design perspective, our favoured route would be to create the appearance of a traditional front garden, but with the structure set with access for vehicles. By laying random paving with exaggerated joints filled with low level planting made up of hardy herbs, such as thyme in gravel, you will be totally distracted from the feeling of looking at a driveway. The low level planting could be driven over occasionally and will bounce back , releasing lovely aromas! Compliment the area with more conventional borders around the edge to make it look like it is all part of a garden, rather than a drive. I would suggest a slate paving to create a contemporary feel.

As you can see, there are a number of ways of blurring the lines of a driveway and allowing it to merge into its surroundings. If you would like to know more about any of the above, or would like to discuss other ideas, please contact PlanToPave on 01329 840940 or email

Share this post