What’s your dream MCM driveway made of?

It’s Winter here in Melbourne, which makes it hard to get motivated and out into the garden.  Maybe it’s because the days are shorter, it’s colder and I just want to stay rugged up inside.  Or maybe by the time I get home from work it’s too dark to see the mess the garden is in.  Maybe it’s just because I get lazy at this time of year!

So last weekend my wife and I decided that we’d had enough of our messy front yard.  As I have previously discussed here, native MCM gardens do need maintenance and ours was calling for some.

While sweeping and trimming and weeding, we started thinking about our driveway.  When we moved in the driveway was two strips of exposed aggregate concrete pavers with soil (and weeds) in between.

Driveway 031
The original driveway minutes before a makeover!

As part of our original landscaping of the front yard, we decided on an easy and (at the time) temporary solution to the driveway.  That was to cover the area in crushed rock (lilydale toppings).

The Kennedia takes hold of above the garage!
After a little bit of work to the front yard (and front facade)!

This is quite an attractive and natural material and works well with any bush garden.  Crushed rock or gravel driveways are also a less expensive solution.  They do require regular maintenance to keep the gravel spread evenly (especially in a sloping driveway such as ours) and it is harder to keep them swept free of leaf and mulch litter.

After a couple of years however, we have come to a point where our driveway no longer looks as neat as it did in the photo above.  Which leads me to posing a question:

What are the options for a great looking driveway to complement your mid-century modern home?

Concrete Strips

The traditional concrete driveway only needed to be two narrow strips of concrete.  Nobody was driving big 4WDs so that was all that was required!  These subtle driveways could cut their way across a neatly trimmed lawn giving the impression that the lawn stretched the full width of the block, rather than acting as a solid dividing pavement.

When the centre strip doesn’t contain turf, it can consist of mulch or even scoria as in the driveway below.

With the right construction, there is no reason why this style of driveway couldn’t be used today.

Concrete Pavement

A solid concrete pavement is often the first option for a driveway.

As seen here, even plain concrete works well in a MCM landscape setting and is one of the more affordable solutions.

For more variety, an exposed aggregate finish can be used.  This provides numerous colour options and allows the concrete pavement to be more complementary to the materials in the home.

Exposed aggregate is also a great option for a sloping driveway, with the coarse finish of the exposed stone providing additional traction.

Pavers

Many of the materials here can be used throughout the garden (as discussed in my post 10 Paving Ideas for Your MCM Terrace) and the benefits are the same for driveways.  Pre-cast pavers are available in a range that allows you to select the colour, shape and texture to match the materials of your home.

While terrace paving can be laid on a sand bed, driveway pavements require a solid concrete base and mortar bed to stand up to vehicle traffic.

A paved driveway can be designed to match any other paved areas providing a clean singular material that flows around the home.

Natural Stone

The image below comes from one of my favorite Australian landscape architects, Ellis Stones.  In his book ‘Australian Garden Design’, Stones discusses the use of natural stone in roads and driveways.  Materials such as the bluestone pitcher, common in Melbourne, provide a hard paved area that is “more attractive than concrete”.

'If the joints between bluestone pitchers are left raked out on the rise to a carport, cars cannot slip.'
‘If the joints between bluestone pitchers are left raked out on the rise to a carport, cars cannot slip.’ – Ellis Stones

I love the definitive way that designers such as Ellis Stones and Robin Boyd wrote.  Stones’ quote to the image above has not been written with the worry of liability, but with confidence that this is definite solution for your non-slip driveway!

The driveway above shows a variety of pavers including natural stone and brick for a ‘crazy pave’ effect that becomes the feature of the entry.

Crushed Rock or Gravel

As mentioned earlier, gravel driveways are the most cost-effective.  When compacted well, the material is a perfectly functional and attractive pavement.  Gravel driveways can be formed with any loose gravel or granitic material available at your landscape supplier.

As seen above, red scoria brings out the colours of the natural stone walls and the timber of the home.  Other materials, such as Lilydale Toppings, Dromana Toppings, 20mm River Pebbles or even Granitic Sand all make great driveway surfaces.

So there you have it!

Having been through this list, it’s now back to my driveway to work out the best solution.  At this stage an exposed aggregate concrete pavement is leading the way……. But as always, it depends on the budget!

What’s your dream MCM driveway made of?

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3 thoughts on “What’s your dream MCM driveway made of?

  1. My favorite of these materials if the bluestone pitcher – that looks great. The house with the crazy paving looks remarkably similar to our 1971 house. It’s a cheap way to use a variety of materials and save money. I am married to a tiler – and he works with a wide variety of materials. We also have sandstone on our property (when we dig down and scattered about) I can see this being of use in our garden, rather than our car space. It’s going to be hard carrying every piece up 50 odd steps!

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    1. Thanks Trish! The bluestone does look amazing. Our neighbour has a driveway like that and while it has become a little uneven over time it looks fantastic!

      I guess if it’s between using great materials in driveway or in other garden spaces, then it’s probably better to go with the latter. The cars can come second!

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