If you’ve been living in your house for a while, or you’ve just bought a new home, chances are you’re thinking about making over your driveway and the paths around your home.
Driveways and paths are an integral part of every house. The driveway creates the first impression of your home for visitors or if you’re selling, potential buyers. While paths create a safe and easy passage through your yard, if done right, they can also act as a valuable landscaping visual and design element.
So, if your driveway or paths need attention, you may want to consider the pros and cons of these five materials to makeover some of the hard landscaping elements of your property.
Concrete is usually the most obvious choice when it comes to driveways and pathways. But, is it always the best?
Concrete does have the following benefits. It is:
- Extremely durable. If it is poured correctly, a concrete driveway will last for decades. This toughness has made it a cornerstone of all types of construction.
- Cost-effective, and you can expect to save money if you opt for concrete over other materials.
- Incredibly versatile. If you choose concrete, you will have a variety of finishes you can choose from that allow you to create texture, colour and mimic the look of other, more expensive materials.
- Low-maintenance. Once set, all you will need to do to maintain the look is to sweep and hose it down occasionally.
However, keep in mind that there are also some downsides to concrete:
- If concrete isn’t poured correctly, it can crack quickly and require costly removal and replacement.
- You will need to invest in a good sealant. You need to apply this sealant every five years to prevent moisture becoming trapped inside the concrete, and weakening its structure.
- A concrete slab is essentially unified, so damage in one section can quickly spread. Proper laying techniques will prevent damage from occurring.
If concrete isn’t for you (it can look a little ‘hard’ sometimes), then you may want to opt for its cousin: paving.
Paving offers several benefits:
- Depending on the material from which your pavers are constructed, they are incredibly durable. When laid correctly, the small pavers link together to create a surface that is flexible and strong enough to deal with impact and shifts beneath the surface.
- Pavers are not connected, so damage to one paver won’t affect the rest, making repairs and replacements cheaper than concrete.
- Pavers are relatively low-maintenance. You can keep them in perfect condition with a quick sweep and hose.
- Pavers are an incredibly stylish option and they give you a range of design and installation options.
Sound good so far? There are a few drawbacks to consider:
- Pavers take longer to install than concrete. Pavers require extensive surface preparation before they can be laid, and because they need to be installed piece-by-piece, it can increase labour costs.
- While the pavers themselves are low-maintenance, they can create maintenance indirectly. For example, you’ll need to pull out the weeds that tend to grow between the cracks, and re-grout occasionally.
- If you opt for a custom paver, and one cracks, it may be expensive to source and purchase more to ensure a uniform look. Choosing concrete pavers will circumvent this issue.
If concrete and paving aren’t really floating your boat, then you may want to consider stoneworks.
Whilst it can be more expensive, stonework offers several benefits:
- Stonework driveways and pavers look incredible. There is nothing quite like the craftsmanship and intricate detail that stoneworks offer.
- Your driveway and paths will be 100% unique. And you’ll also enjoy the beautiful natural variation that stone offers.
- Once laid, stoneworks are very low maintenance.
On the downside:
- Stoneworks can be an expensive option, as it requires the work of a skilled stonemason. However, you will enjoy the unrivalled beauty, natural variation and elegance stoneworks offer.
- You’ll need to seek out an experienced and certified stonemason. Without the proper skills at your disposal, you’ll end up with an expensive mess that needs to be replaced before you’ve had time to enjoy it.
Gravel or Lilydale topping
Maybe you want something a little less permanent than concrete or stoneworks? Then look no further than gravel or Lilydale topping:
- Gravel or Lilydale topping is likely to be the cheapest option for your driveway or paths.
- Installing gravel or Lilydale topping is a quick and easy process—all you need to do is pour the gravel into the driveway or path and level it out.
As with all options, there are some negatives too:
- Gravel or Lilydale topping offers you less control over the structural design of your driveways and paths.
- Both toppings require extensive maintenance. Nothing is fixed, and you will need to continually add more toppings to keep everything looking good and at the correct level.
- When the toppings dry out, they create dust problems. As you walk-up your driveway or your garden path, you’ll kick up dust which will end up on your shoes and in your house. In the event of heavy winds, your home will be plastered with dust and dirt.
Last, but by no means least, we come to bluestone, which can look amazingly sophisticated if laid properly, plus:
- Bluestone is a durable material, that should last a significant amount of time if laid properly.
- Bluestone has a naturally rough surface, making it non-slip.
There is a catch though:
- Bluestone is expensive, as the stone is rare and requires quarrying and transport.
- Bluestone offers very little design innovation; it doesn’t have the natural variation other natural stones and gravels.
- Bluestone can be high-maintenance, as it requires frequent sealing to prevent it from damage due to exposure to chemicals.
We hope one or a combination of these exquisite materials has inspired your yard makeover project.
For more ideas take a look at these ideas to upgrade your kerb appeal for under $5k and how to choose the right fencing style for your home.