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Environmental Issues When Constructing A Driveway

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 7 Jun 2011 | comments*Discuss
 
Driveway Drive Garden Car Planning

No one would have thought twice about paving over a garden for a driveway 10 years ago, but with 'green' issues now firmly in the public eye, the ecological impact of this practice has come under increasing scrutiny. And it's not just paving over gardens for driveways that's attracting attention. With increasingly busy lives being led, householders aren't finding the time to look after large gardens and are covering them over with patios and other hardstandings that are easier to look after.

Flooding And Quality Of Life

The impact of paving gardens over is to send rainwater straight down into storm drains or sewers. A lawn or garden will soak up the water and hold it up, slowing the water flow down and allowing the sewers system to catch up, particularly in times of heavy rain and flooding.

Having fewer plants around to soak up carbon dioxide and release oxygen obviously makes the environment worse. Another effect on our lives is that hard surfaces soak up heat during the day and release it at night, making the stuffy conditions even worse. Subsidence can be a problem, too. National insurance company Esure has also come out against hard surfaces, saying that they prevent water getting to the soil below, which then dries out and shrinks, in particular with soils that are predominantly clay.

There is also the impact on the animal and plant life to consider. The lack of places for small organisms, insects and the like means less food for small animals and birds.

Action To Be Taken

Taking London alone, studies of aerial surveys by the London Assembly have shown that over 12 square miles of front garden are now paved over. The concerns became so great that the government introduced planning permission requirement for paving over any garden area in England in 2008.

Permeable Surfaces Can Ease The Drainage Problem

So does this mean that it’s all over for drives in our front gardens? Not entirely. Most of the problems outlined above occur with non-permeable surfaces such as Concrete, Tarmac and large interlocked blocks. Careful selection of a permeable top layer will allow water to drain through the surface and get to the ground below.

Some brick pavers that interlock but leave tiny cracks between each one will help with the drainage, as will Gravel. But, in both cases, care needs to be taken over the compacted aggregate that supports the driveway, to make sure water can drain into the surrounding soil.

Providing For Wildlife

The only problem that these products don't solve is the absence of plants and trees where animal life can prosper. This can be dealt with by laying down hard tracks for each wheel rather than paving the whole garden, which allows you to keep sections of lawn and borders with shrubs and flowers.

Alternatively, there are an increasing number of surfaces that are hard enough to take a car but allow grass to grow through them. Look for grass reinforcement products; they are usually meshes of concrete or plastic that you can lay down over a substrate, then grass can be seeded in the gaps of the mesh.

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Latest Comments
  • James
    Re: Planning Permission for Driveways
    Hi, do I have to get a permit to convert the front garden into a driveway if I do not need to drop the kerb? The driveway…
    24 November 2018
  • TheResinMan
    Re: Resin Bound Driveway Surfacing
    MITCH - This is quite unusual as white patches are an indication that moisture is present upon install but shouldn't be…
    11 November 2018
  • TheResinMan
    Re: Resin Bound Driveway Surfacing
    exsigs - With regard to the headlights of your car highlighting inperfections, this is quite normal. You have to understand…
    11 November 2018
  • Improvement
    Re: Considering Drainage on Your Driveway
    Hi do I need driveway permit when the rainwater run off to the road? Regards
    24 October 2018
  • Pipoc
    Re: Planning Permission for Driveways
    30 years ago we closed off a drive and started using a different one, The old drive is still there but it is under soil and…
    17 October 2018
  • sav
    Re: Planning Permission for Driveways
    hi i have a nabour we live on a walk and the highways department have removed the bollards and made a hard standing so my…
    16 October 2018
  • daveo
    Re: Can Gravel be Laid on Top of Tarmac?
    Hello, I have a tarmacked drive which is 25 years old, the same age as the property, it is looking very tired, the…
    12 October 2018
  • Gander
    Re: Planning Permission for Driveways
    I am purchasing a rural property near Chichester.and would like to create an entrance further along the lane from the…
    19 September 2018
  • KellyB
    Re: Resin Bound Driveway Surfacing
    I had resin laid about 6 month ago but I have noticed dips on it where my car tyres have been sat. Is this normal or do I need…
    12 September 2018
  • MITCH
    Re: Resin Bound Driveway Surfacing
    Our resin driveway as been down a couple of years it is red/green and has developed white patches how can we bring the shine back
    3 September 2018