6 Things to Consider Before Installing a Gravel Driveway in Essex



There are many reasons why you might consider installing a gravel driveway at your Essex property.

When installed correctly, a gravel driveway is a fully permeable SUDS (sustainable urban drainage system) compliant form of driveway surfacing that will prevent the need to install additional drainage, as it will allow rainfall to pass through naturally to the ground below.

From an aesthetic point of view, gravel driveways look fantastic, too, particularly for traditional and aged properties as they can really complement the surroundings of this style of home.

When compared with certain other forms of driveway surfacing, such as block paving or resin bound gravel, they are also cheaper per square metre. This makes a gravel driveway an ideal choice for large areas or for those wishing to create additional parking in the most cost-effective manner.

But is there anything you should consider before taking the plunge and installing a gravel driveway? Well, to get the most out of your new driveway and ensure that it proves to be a fantastic investment in your property, the answer is yes. But, don’t worry, we’re here to help. We’ve compiled a list of 6 key things to consider before installing a gravel driveway in Essex, to help you avoid any potential issues. So, without further ado, let’s begin.



1. Will you use a cellular grid system?

gravel driveway using grid system chelmsford

We highly recommend that you do. But what exactly is a cellular grid system? Well, it is a series of plastic honeycomb panels that quickly and easily clip together to form a solid platform which you fill with the aggregate of your choice.

We highly recommend that you use a cellular grid system for several reasons.

Firstly, it helps to retain the gravel. Some people are put off having gravel driveways, thinking that they will be messy. Well, this can be true if you don’t use a cellular grid system. The honeycomb grid retains the gravel and minimises movement, preventing dips and ruts. It will also help prevent areas of gravel build up, which can be difficult to walk through.

Secondly, cellular grid systems help to prevent the sub-base from being visible through the top surface. Typically, we use MOT Type 3 granite as a sub-base material. If you were to put the gravel directly on top of the sub-base, over time you’d start to see the granite aggregate from the unbound sub-base mixing up with the decorative gravel and it would start to look unsightly.

Also, cellular grids will give your driveway a nice flat finish. We only install 20mm of gravel on top of the grid system, which leaves the driveway looking nice and flat, rather than wavy, as it can do without the grid.

Finally, honeycomb grids can also increase the strength of your driveway. You may think that a plastic grid system is flimsy and wouldn’t support the weight of a vehicle; however, you’d be wrong.

Once filled, cellular grids have a load capacity of up to 500 tons! When you consider the average car in the UK is typically no more than 2 tons, it’s safe to say the grid system will be strong enough!

The only downside is the additional cost. Cellular grid systems cost anywhere between £14 and £20 per square metre, but we certainly think they are worth the investment as you’ll have a gravel driveway that will look and perform at its best long into the future.



2. Will you use a raised edge?


Unless your driveway is running up to a closed edge, such as your property, a fence or a boundary wall, then you really should consider installing a raised edge to the perimeter of your driveway.

Although the cellular grid system is really good at retaining the gravel and keeping it in position, installing a raised edge is an extra line of defence to prevent gravel from spilling out at the edges of the driveway. And it will work the other way, too, stopping anything such as soil from beds or a lawn area from spilling onto the driveway.

On top of this, it also provides a much neater finish.

All in all, we highly recommend installing a raised edge to the exposed perimeter edges of your driveway.



3. Will you install paving to the entrance of your driveway?

gravel driveway raised kerbs

When installing a new gravel driveway, it’s also important to carefully consider whether you will install a form of paving in the driveway entrance.

Again, we recommend that you do. This is for two reasons. The first is that it acts to retain the gravel, as we have just discussed. The second reason is aesthetics. Installing paving at the driveway entrance looks good and will enhance the overall appearance of your property and give it the wow factor when you first pull onto your driveway.

When it comes to the type of paving, you have plenty of options.

Block paving these days comes in a huge array of styles and colours, and then you have lots of types of natural sett to choose from, such as limestone, sandstone and slate.

However, by far the most popular type of paving to use for a driveway opening (in our experience) is the humble granite sett. It’s extremely hard-wearing, which makes it ideal for withstanding the impact of vehicles bumping across the front of the driveway, and their aesthetic appeal just works really well alongside gravel. It’s certainly our first choice!



4. Will you install a paved border?


In much the same vein as installing paving at the entrance to your driveway, you may also wish to consider installing a border to frame your driveway.

There aren’t really any reasons to do this other than aesthetic ones, although the pavers can help retain the gravel.

There’s little doubt about it, if you choose a form of paving that complements your home and its surrounds, then it will enhance the appearance of your driveway.

The only drawback is that it adds additional cost and therefore, if you’re on a tight budget or want the best bang for your buck, then you could pass on a paved border as, like we said, it’s certainly not essential.



5. Will you install a boundary wall?

boundary wall essex

One of the best times to repair or rebuild any perimeter boundary walls is whilst you are having a new driveway installed.

This is because it is the most cost-effective time to carry out these works. A new gravel driveway installation will involve excavating the existing surface using a mini digger. So, whilst the machine is there on site, it makes sense to make use of it and demolish walls and excavate any necessary trenches for footings.

You’ll save on waste disposal costs, as any old walls can be disposed of in the same grab lorry that is typically used to dispose of the driveway excavations.

Sometimes, if your existing walls are in really poor condition, the act of excavating the driveway can cause further damage and you may find that you are forced to rebuild a wall. This isn’t necessarily through carelessness by your chosen driveway contractor, it’s just that sometimes excavating the driveway means it’s unavoidable. Therefore, it’s important to bear this in mind when having your new driveway installed and to reserve some of your budget, if necessary.

So, if you have any aging brick walls in your front garden, consider replacing them at the same as building your driveway.



6. What type of aggregate will you choose?

Granite Chipping Driveway

The final thing on our list of things to consider before installing a gravel driveway is, of course, the gravel itself.

Again, you have plenty of options here, too.

There’s brown gravel, grey gravel, granite chippings, Cotswold stone and black ice, to name but a few.

The best type of aggregate to use is an angular stone, as they will lock together and prevent movement. Most types of gravel are rounded, but as long as you choose nothing bigger in diameter than 20mm, this is also a great option.

We do recommend that you avoid slate chippings as they are very much prone to sliding and can also break easily under the weight of a vehicle. This form of aggregate is best left to pedestrianised areas only.

There is a wide range of aggregate to choose from that is ideal for use on driveways.

Regarding size of stone, we recommend that you opt for a 20mm aggregate. Some of our clients prefer the look of 10mm, which is fine, but bear in mind that this size of stone is prone to getting stuck in the tyres of your car and, over time, this will cause you to gradually lose aggregate, meaning it will need topping up. A 10mm aggregate also tends to attract the local cats who’ll think that you’ve kindly installed them a giant litter tray!





As you can see, there’s lots to think about before you take the plunge and install your new Essex driveway.

If you want to discuss your project, and you’re based in the Essex area, then why not give us a call on 01245 697688? We’re always on hand to help, even if it’s just for a friendly chat.

We can discuss your project and give you ideas on how to get the most out of your new driveway. We can also arrange for a free site consultation and no-obligation quote.

If you have any questions or comments, don’t forget to leave them in the comments section below, and thanks for reading!


How Much Does A Gravel Driveway Cost?


cost of gravel driveway essex

Gravel driveways are generally a very cost-effective way of surfacing any driveway, large or small.

This makes it a particularly popular way of surfacing large driveways and sweeping private roads.

Some may consider it to have a more natural look than other forms of driveway surfacing such as block paving, concrete or tarmac.

With the many benefits of gravel driveways its little wonder they are so popular and we’re regularly asked to provide customers across Essex with quotations to carry out such works.

If you are considering having a new gravel driveway installed, then you may be wondering how much it might cost?

If you are, you’ve come to the right place. In our latest article, we’re addressing the many factors that can affect the cost of having a new gravel driveway installed at your Essex home.

We’ll also give you a rough ballpark figure to help give you an idea of how much it might cost you.

But to begin, lets start by looking at some of the factors that can affect price.



Will You Use A Cellular Grid System?


ecogrid e40

When installing a new gravel driveway, we highly recommend using a cellular grid system such as the EcoGrid E40.

This plastic honeycomb grid system helps to retain the gravel on your driveway.

A gravel driveway built using a cellular grid system will provide a far better, more level finish than just putting the gravel straight onto the sub base.

It also means that your driveway will last far longer as the grid system prevents gravel migration – meaning you won’t get any bold patches or lose any gravel off the driveway that will have to be continuously topped up.

But of course, it does come at an additional cost. A good quality cellular grid with a thick wall, may cost somewhere around £15 per square.

In our experience, the additional investment is well worth it for a long lasting, better performing driveway.



How Much Will Need to Be Excavated from Your Existing Driveway?



For a typical gravel driveway installation, using a cellular grid system, will require 230mm of excavations below the finished height of your driveway.

The important thing to remember here is the phrase ‘below the finished height’.

Under some circumstances, we may need to reduce the levels of your driveway, therefore, requiring more than a 230mm excavation.

One of the biggest costs involved with any new driveway is the waste disposal.

Obviously, the more waste we’ll need to dispose of, the more your driveway will cost.

But in the same way some situations may require more than 230mm to be excavated, it is just as likely that we may be able to raise the height of your driveway from its existing level, requiring us to dig out less than 230mm.

The 230mm excavation allows for 150mm Type 3 (free-draining) sub base, 20mm sharp sand laying course, 40mm grid system.

Of course, should you choose not to have a cellular grid system, you’ll also save on waste disposal costs too as we’ll only need to excavate around 190mm from your existing driveway.

The amount of excavation works needed for your new gravel driveway has a big impact on the cost.



What Additional Extras Will You Require?


We always recommend using a raised edge around the perimeter of your driveway to prevent gravel migration.

gravel driveway installation in leigh on sea, Essex

In some instances, you may have a garden fence with concrete gravel boards around the boundary of your driveway, in which case, you won’t need a raised edge installed.

If you do require an edge restraint, obviously these can come in various shapes, sizes and colours, which of course vary in price too.

gravel drive essex

There are also other optional extras to choose from for your new driveway such as steps, plant beds, borders, paving your driveways entrance or maybe even a new decorative brick wall?

These additional extras will have an impact on the cost of your new gravel driveway too.



What Type of Aggregate Will You Want to Use as the Finished Surface?


There are many different types of aggregate to choose from when it comes to building a gravel driveway.

In Essex, the most cost effective is either a 10mm or 20mm brown/golden or grey shingle. This is because it is easy to obtain in the local area.

However, you could choose from a variety of other types of aggregate including granite chippings, limestone chippings, Cotswold Stone or maybe even Polar White chippings.







Of course, these all vary in cost and will have a significant impact on the cost of your new driveway.



How Good is Access to Your Driveway?


Building a gravel driveway, as we have said, involves excavating the existing driveway and importing aggregates to form the sub base and of course, the finished gravel itself.

grab lorry for excavations gravel driveway cost

To do this in the most cost-effective way possible, having enough space to allow an 8-wheeled lorry access to your driveway is vital.

Disposing of waste in the most cost-effective method means being able to get a grab lorry close enough to your driveway to allow its Hiab crane to reach your driveway and grab the soil and waste from your driveway and crane it onto the back of the lorry.

The aggregates for the sub base and the top layer of gravel are most cost effective when purchased in ‘loose loads’ that can be tipped directly onto your new driveway, rather than purchasing them in bulk bags.

If your driveway is not accessible to these types of vehicle, rest assured its highly likely that it will mean you cannot have a new driveway installed, but it may just take a little more labour to get the job done.

If access to your driveway is tight, we may need to use a mini dumper to cart waste and aggregates to and from your driveway.

But in the vast majority of driveways we have built over the years, it’s very rare that this will be necessary.



Some Ballpark Figures…


There’s little point in writing an article about the cost of installing a gravel driveway without giving you some ballpark figures.

Of course, as we have seen, there are many factors that will affect the price and no two jobs are the same.

This means that we cannot charge on a ‘per-square-metre’ basis but only on a ‘job-by-job’ basis.

But to give you an idea of some numbers, let’s look at what an average driveway may cost.

We’ll assume your driveway is 60m2, we’ll be using a 40mm cellular grid and we’ll need to excavate 230mm for your existing drive.

Access is excellent, you have chosen a standard 20mm golden shingle and there are no steps or raised edges required.

To give the driveway some additional kerb appeal, we’ll be installing 5 rows of granite setts across a 4m driveway entrance.

As a very rough ballpark figure, you would probably be looking at somewhere around £4,000 to £5,000 including all material and labour costs and VAT at 20%. (Please Note: This article was written February 2018. If you’re reading this in February 2019, its probably safe to assume that this estimate is probably 2-5% higher now)





gravel driveway surfacing essex

Hopefully this article has helped to give you an idea of what a gravel driveway might cost and some of the various factors that can affect price.

But of course, the figures given above should be treated with a pinch of salt and don’t be surprised if your driveway costs more or less than this as no two jobs are the same!

The only way to get a precise figure for your own individual driveway would be to contact us for your free no obligation written quote.

You can do this by calling us on 01245 697 688 and we’ll arrange for a free site visit at a convenient time that suits you.

We cover the whole of Essex including Chelmsford, Brentwood, Billericay, Southend, Braintree, Wickford, Basildon & South Woodham Ferrers, so if you live within these areas, why not give us a call today?

Should you have any questions regarding the cost of a new gravel driveway then leave us a comment below. We look forward to hearing from you.



How to Install a Gravel Driveway


shingle driveway in essex

There are many reasons to have a gravel driveway installed at your Essex property.

Gravel driveways provide a cost-effective way to transform any driveway, large or small and gives your property serious kerb appeal.

There are several methods you can use to install a gravel driveway and the focus of todays article is to show you step by step the process in which we take (and recommend) when installing a gravel driveway.

One of the key steps is to install a plastic cellular grid system. These honey-comb like grids are perfect for any gravel driveway for a number of reasons.

The main benefit is that the grids hold the gravel in place, preventing it from shifting around your driveway, which may result in the bold patches that you may have noticed on other gravel driveways that haven’t used a cellular grid.

Of course, there is an additional cost involved when installing a cellular grid system, but the additional investment is well worth it as your driveway will perform far better, for far longer.

So, let’s begin our step by step process we undertake when installing a new gravel driveway.

The following pictures show the before, during and after stages of a gravel driveway installation completed on behalf of our client based in Chelmsford.





The initial brief was to create an attractive front garden and driveway to give the property increased kerb appeal whilst also providing some much-needed additional off-road parking.

As you can see, the old block paving was certainly in need of a face lift.

Gravel Driveway - Before



Step 1 – Excavation


The first task is to clear the site and excavate approximately 230mm below the finished height of the new driveway.

A laser and string lines are setup to help us accurately achieve this.

As this driveway was 90m2, approximately 21m3 of soil and hardcore was removed from the site during this phase.

Excavations were disposed of using a grab lorry as it is the most cost-effective way of doing so whilst causing minimal disruption to local residents as no skips are required.

It’s also good for the environment too as soil and hardcore can be recycled for use as topsoil and hardcore.

Gravel Driveway - Step 1 -Dig out



Step 2 – Sub Base Installation


Once the excavations were complete, the next phase was to install a 150mm MOT Type 3 sub base.

We highly recommend using a Type 3 base rather than Type 1 as its permeable – preventing flooding and ensuring that the finished driveway is fully compliant with the 2008 SUDS Regulations without the need for linear drains and soakaways.

Decorative granite setts were used to frame the front of this project, but of course, you can choose any form of sett, cobble or block paving to achieve a unique look.

Installing a small strip of paving across the front of the driveway also helps prevent migration of gravel onto the public footpath and road.

Raised Keykerbs where also installed to retain the outside edges of the driveway and prevent the gravel from spilling out on to flower beds.

Gravel Driveway - Step 2 - Sub-base



Step 3 – Laying Course Installation


A weed membrane is then installed on top of the sub base and approximately 20mm of sharp sand is levelled and compacted with a vibrating plate compactor.

The sharp sand provides a level surface to install the grids on to.

Gravel Driveway - Step 3 - Sharp Sand



Step 4 – Cellular Grid Installation


The next step is to install the cellular grid system, supplied by EcoGrid.

We use a 40mm grid which has the capacity to withstand up to 120 tonnes per square metre.

The grids are locked into place and any necessary cuts are made to ensure a tight fit across the driveway.

Gravel Driveway - Step 4 - Grids 2



Step 5 – Gravel is Spread & Levelled


To complete the driveway, we spread and level the gravel leaving approximately 20mm above the top of the grids.

Of course, there is a wide variety of differing types and colours of aggregate that you can choose to lay on your driveway and there is something to suit every property, whether its modern or traditional.

We do however recommend choosing a stone of no less than 20mm in diameter. This prevents the stone from getting caught in the tyres of your vehicles.



Completed Project


And here’s the finished project. As you can see, it’s a big transformation from the old driveway and gave our clients the additional parking space they needed.

The use of a cellular grid system will prevent dips and ruts to create a low maintenance driveway that will last long into the future.

Gravel Driveway - Step 5 - Gravel Spread





gravel driveway installation in essex

It’s vitally important that you install your gravel driveway correctly to ensure a long-lasting driveway solution.

Once installed, your new driveway will give your home serious kerb appeal, whilst adding significant value to your property.

We are highly experienced gravel driveway installers, covering the Essex area.

If you live in Chelmsford, Brentwood, Billericay, Braintree, Romford, Wickford, Southend or any other part of Essex, why not call us today on 01245 697 688 to arrange for your free site consultation or email us your details and we’ll call you.

We’ll be more than happy to explain the installation process in more detail and advise you on how best to design your new driveway, both for practical and aesthetical impact.

We can help you decide on optional extras such as edgings, kerbs and borders to complement your new gravel driveway.

Do you have any comments or questions regarding gravel driveway installations? Is there anything you would like us to explain in greater detail?

Then we want to hear from you! Leave us your comments or questions below and we’ll be more than happy to help you!

Thanks for reading.



6 Reasons to Install a Gravel Driveway in Essex


gravel driveways essex

Gravel driveways are an extremely popular surfacing option for driveways all over Essex.

And rightly so.

Over the years, we have installed many gravel driveways both large and small and its ability to transform any property makes gravel a hugely popular driveway surfacing system.

There are many reasons why they are so popular amongst our clients and in this latest article we’re going to be look at some of the benefits in greater detail.



1. Perfect for Home Security


gravel driveway installation in leigh on sea, Essex

Our first benefit of gravel driveway is security.

Walking or driving on gravel makes a very distinctive crunch sound which is ideal for preventing potential thieves from entering your premises.

You may even hear the footsteps approaching your property in the night, alerting you to their presence.

Thieves are aware of this and by having a gravel driveway installed you may prevent thieves from targeting your property.



2. Cost Effective


large gravel driveway in boreham

When compared to other types of driveway system, for instance block paving or resin bound gravel, a loose gravel driveway provides a cost-effective alternative.

It’s generally cheaper than block paving as the labour cost is lower as gravel driveways involve less manpower.

Large areas can be covered in much quicker time frames making it the perfect solution for large driveway areas or private roads.

Resin bound gravel is more expensive as of course, there’s the additional cost of the resin and it also involves more labour to ensure that the resin is adequately mixed with the aggregate.



3.Quick Installation


As we touched upon in our last benefit, gravel driveways can be installed quickly thereby causing minimal inconvenience to the homeowner.

A typical driveway installation consists of excavating the existing driveway or front garden, installing a permeable sub base, followed by a layer of screeded sharp sand before installing an EcoGrid cellular grid system along with the chosen gravel.

ecogrid gravel driveway system

This is relatively quick process and a driveway measuring 60m2 can be completed within 3 days.

For a quick installation, gravel wins hands down every time.



4. Gives Any Property Serious Kerb Appeal


Gravel driveways have the ability to transform any property, old or new, traditional or modern.

gravel driveway installation in essex

There is a wide range of colours and styles of aggregate that can be used to surface your driveway each with a unique look that will perfectly complete the surroundings of your home.

Traditional gravel driveways will have either a brown/golden or grey gravel but there are countless other options for aggregate choice such as Granite, Cotswold, Limestone, Ice Blue or Marble chippings to name but a few.

gravel driveway surfacing essex

Your chosen form of gravel or aggregate can also be complemented with a wide range differing forms of paving to add borders and kerb details to add character to any driveway.



5. Adds Value to Your Home


gravel drive essex

In todays society, its very common for families to own multiple vehicles.

This means that having adequate off-road parking at your property is a huge selling point for any potential buyer.

Of course, putting cars on your driveway is much safer than leaving them parked out on the public roads.

Gravel driveways also significantly enhance the physical appearance of your property, when selling your home first impressions are everything and a beautiful driveway is sure to make a lasting impression on potential buyers.



6. No Need to Install Additional Drainage


So long as a gravel driveway is installed onto a permeable sub base, there is no need to install linear drains and/or soakaways that are typically needed for other types of surfacing such as block paving.

Gravel Driveway - Step 2 - Sub-base

Type 3 Sub Base


We recommend installing gravel driveways onto a 150mm sub base consisting of MOT Type 3, which is a permeable sub base system.

This means that rainfall will drain through your driveway and down to the sub grade/earth, naturally returning to the local water table.

Since 2008, regulations were introduced to prevent uncontrolled runoff of rainwater from front gardens onto roads, because this can contribute to flooding and pollution of water courses.

Soakaways and other methods of controlling surface water runoff can add significant cost to your driveway installation.

With a permeable gravel driveway there’ll be no need to install drainage, saving you additional costs whilst improving the drainage of your existing driveway or front garden.





shingle driveway in essex

As we have discussed, there are many benefits of having a gravel driveway installed.

Its ability to transform the appearance of any property at an affordable price means it is little wonder why its such a popular choice of driveway surfacing in Essex.

If you have been inspired to transform your own front garden into a beautiful gravel driveway, then why not give us a call on 01245 697 688 for your free consultation or send us a message here.

If you have a property located in Chelmsford, Brentwood, Wickford, Braintree, Shenfield, Billericay or Romford, then we can help.

We install gravel driveways across the Essex area and our experienced team can transform any driveway large or small.

Why not find out more information about our gravel driveway installation service in Essex.

If you have any questions regarding gravel driveway installations or anything landscaping-related then leave us a comment below.



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