Case Study: New Driveway and Front Garden in Frinton

Case Study: New Driveway and Front Garden in Frinton

I do enjoy looking back over past projects. This one, a new driveway and front garden was particularly satisfying.

What the client wanted

As with so many new driveway projects, the emphasis was to be on parking space. However, rather than brickweave the whole space, our client wanted to incorporate an elegant but low maintenance garden.

The finished new driveway and garden gives a nice welcome home and adds kerb appeal to the  property

The challenges

Access is nearly always a challenge in urban gardens. Not just for the plant and machinery we need to use, but also parking spaces for the team.

Our second challenge was the weather. Landscapers are perfectly happy to get wet and muddy during the course of a day’s work. But some tasks, like pointing and grouting are best done on dry days. Plus of course, if there is any planting to be done, we want to avoid compacting the soil if at all possible.

The design

This property has quite a traditional feel to it. Dormer windows, that beautifully arched doorway and tudor-style windows were crying out for a classically designed new driveway. Driveways are not exactly a traditional feature, but courtyards are – so we agreed on stone setts for the driveway rather than the more commonly used brick pavers. Stone setts are incredibly durable and I personally think they’re very attractive.

The clients wanted a manicured look but didn’t feel confident about maintaining a lawn. Those tudor-esque windows with the geometric panes inspired a simple knot garden design. Knot gardens are beautiful, the box hedges need trimming a couple of times a year but that’s nowhere near as labour intensive as lawn mowing.

However, a traditional knot garden is designed to be viewed from above. At ground level they can easily look flat. In Frinton, visitors don’t normally arrive by helicopter so a beautiful piece of artwork was incorporated to add height and interest.

Planting wise, the boundary wall and the fence between this property and the neighbours were a little bland. So taller plants and climbers were specified to soften the structures and give a more relaxed feel to the space. The centre of the garden is deliberately kept simple so as not to detract from the stone pillar. The edges are adorned with herbaceous perennials that will provide all year round interest.

fence and gate with horizontal slats painted white

For extra privacy and to define the new driveway and front garden, stylish fencing and gates were added to either side of the property and painted to match the render.

The build

Oh dear, the weather really wasn’t on our side for this one.  As you can see from the pictures, the typical Essex soil was quite claggy after persistant heavy rain.


front garden and driveway being cleared for relandscaping

Ahh, the humble skip. An essential resource for landscapers. Not cheap mind you but we are confident that our waste will be disposed of responsibly


First job was to clear away the existing driveway. Whenever possible we will re-use materials but were unable to do so in this case.

We needed to adjust the levels a little. The finished driveway needed to be level with the garage floor but without compromising the damp course for the house. It’s always important to think about rainwater runoff and where it will go. Planners are very fussy about front gardens being permeable so that rainwater runoff doesn’t compromise the environment or main drainage systems.  If you are thinking about a new driveway, it pays to check planning bylaws carefully before you start work.

Laying the new driveway

Once the sub-base for the driveway was in place we could start laying the stone setts. As you can imagine, this is a lot more time-consuming than laying large slabs. However, for a new driveway, the surface is far more robust than pavers. And, dare I say it, more attractive too.

laying stone setts for a new driveway

Creating the layout for the garden

Next came the beautiful marble obelisk. It’s quite a weighty piece and it needed a strong base. A lot of attention to detail went into making sure it was perfectly perpendicular. It’s viewable from every angle so just one degree of lean would compromise the whole garden design. Notice the tent – we weren’t going to let the weather anywhere near that base until it was 100% dry.

tent over a recently installed stone obelisk to protect

For the pathway we used a different kind of surface. Still paving and still in keeping with the colourway of the drive setts. There’s a seamless transition between the new driveway and the front garden yet its clear which part is for vehicles and which is for people.

modern knot garden with simple square design


The final part of the project was of course the planting. For me, this is the bit that really brings the garden to life. In those home makeover programmes the “finished” room looks plain until they add the lampshades, cushions and the obligatory bunch of flowers. It’s the same with any garden. Even if the planting is minimalist, it’s still crucial.

Planting those box hedges was a precision job. In such a geometric design, wobbly lines are just not acceptable!

Contrary to what you might see on Garden Makeover TV programmes, this project took a little more than 2 days to complete. But, the clients feel that it was worth the wait and they consider their new driveway to be an investment because not only has it made their lives easier, it’s added value to their property.

You can see more pictures of this project along with some of our other work in our portfolio here


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