The New Driveway

October 2006 - The driveway has always been gravel. It was refreshed many years ago and then tidied-up again when the concrete block paving was installed. Although we like the sound it makes underfoot, it does have a tendency to escape, but more recently it's become embedded with soil, which has allowed weeds to profligate, and worse, cats (or foxes) have found it irresistible.

Peter and I discussed replacement options including extending the concrete block paving, which we deemed too expensive and awkward towards the rear, where there were concrete slabs and manholes. However, we both liked the idea of a cat-proof granular material and after some research, 28mm Mendip Limestone chippings were agreed.

The gravel looking quite neat! 30 sqm of driveway

Having agreed on the material, the question was how thick should it be? We decided that 2"-3" was ought to be adequate. We would need to excavate this depth at the junction with the block paving to finish level, but didn't fancy doing the whole drive.

Tarmac patches in the sub-base Concrete haunch to the paving

Curiosity soon got the better of us and a small area of gravel was scraped up. Then the sub-base was broken up a bit more in order to examine the junction. The sub-base was found to be mainly 'hoggin' (ballast & rubble bound in clay), with areas of patched tarmac.

To everyones surprise, Richard and Jack (Pete's boys) soon got in on the act and over the weekend, the whole of the driveway gravel was bagged-up.

Rain in the week showed up the ponding in the sub-base, although this would not be a problem for the chippings.

So, the front edge was resolved, but the rear was full of little problems:-

Our patio wall, gate and manhole Our garage door - threshold to be installed
Pete's gate - threshold to be installed Pete's SVP - easily surrounded with chippings

Our patio is higher than the driveway, so the brick edge will retain the chippings. Our broken garage door is being replaced with hinged doors, which will incorporate a new deep timber step, and Pete's back gate will require a timber threshold - no problem!. The chippings will nicely cover the manholes and pipework.

Scraped and ready for new topping Scraped and ready for new topping

Another weekends work and all of the partially compacted gravel was scraped away. The sides were found to be quite soft/crumbly so extra material was removed. A geotextile sheet will be laid each side to deter weeds and prevent the new chippings sinking.

Three bags 0.6 cum each The limestone with a red dusty coating

The limestone arrives! It's not pre-washed and is coated in a red dust, but this should wash off quickly in the rain, or earlier if we do it by hand.

We're off! The first barrow-loads go down onto the geotexile sheeting

A crisp, bright Saturday morning was just what we needed to get started. Firstly, some cleaning of drains and sweeping up of of loose gravel then straight to the shovels!

Richard Peter

Richard, Peter and I soon fell into a smooth rhythym. At first we were worried that the bags weren't going down at all and that we'd be left with loads to get rid of, but then we started to wonder if we had enough. We did - just.

One corner given a quick wash displays the limestone greys that will come through in due course

Three tons of limestone moved in less than three hours. Well, we were impressed!

Yes, they are red now and dried to a nice pink, but rain will slowly wash the dust off and the limestone greys will come through eventualy. We like the current reds and the furture greys, so we await the changes with interest.

The chippings are 2"-3" thick, but the door thresholds have yet to be installed, so the chippings don't extend right to the back. Another bag (or part bag) would be ideal to top-up and infill a few places, but this decision will be delayed until the chippings have settled down. We might even hire a 'whacker' to flatten them more quickly. We still await to see if a certain four-legged vistor is deterred from leaving 'deposits' and a sprinkling of mothballs has been added as additional defence.

Everyone was pleased with the result.

A week later we had 'a bit of rain' and to our surprise, the dust washed off easily (except in the lee of Pete's wall) and the true colours were revealed. I think they are fantastic.

Tamping or 'whacking' is now a must to get a level surface as simply kicking lumps around is not working.

Our neighbours Sarah & Ian have kept an eye on developments, but are going to wait and see how our drive develops before taking the plunge.

The chippings would be an ideal solution for their front area, but would probably benefit with an area of smaller chippings overlayed to form a more comfortable footpath to the front door. Let us know if you need a hand Ian!