A lack of parking space is a common problem for homeowners, especially for the smaller lots of older developments. That was the case with this French-style house in the heart of Williamsburg. So the owners engaged Hertzler & George to create additional off-street parking that would also function as an inviting new entrance for the entire property. Not only did it have to squeeze in space for one more car, it it had to look great doing so.
The existing driveway was loose gravel with a 3’ wide bluestone walkway on one side. It was functional, but the gravel was a little untidy and needed occasional refreshing with new stone.
After meeting with the clients, H&G provided several options for the surface of the new driveway, including concrete, natural stone pavers, and exposed aggregate. The clients decided on a blend of materials; buff-colored exposed aggregate for the main portion of the driveway and bluestone banding to match the existing walkway along their brick pool fence.
To find space for the additional parking, existing plantings on the side of the yard had to go. But this opened up a wide view to the house next door. To provide definition and separation, the clients asked for a new fence. After looking at options including wood, brick and metal, the clients decided on a design featuring painted brick piers with wrought iron rails and pickets.
While the columns of the new fence mimicked the material and spacing of the existing brick pool fence that enclosed the front yard, there were a few subtle differences: the first pier was built tall to provide a sense of arrival while the remaining piers were built at a lower height to minimize their bulk. We also added a brick rowlock at the top of the columns for a bit of visual interest.
While H&G’s in-house crew constructed the brick piers, we worked with Custom Welding of Williamsburg on the custom iron railing. It was a bit of a tricky situation because the ground sloped a fair amount towards the backyard, and this required staggering the heights of the fence panels as they went downhill. Another problem was accommodating an existing tree that was growing along the property line. But with a bit of creative adjustments to the fence we were able to save the tree.
Because the new aggregate driveway was wider than the old gravel one, the driveway apron needed to be wider as well. This brought up some important issues. As most homeowners know, your property doesn’t run right up to the edge of the road. It stops at the property line, which is usually set back several feet from the street. So this project required special approval from the Department of Public Works. One of the requirements of the permit was the construction of a slight lip at the front of the driveway apron, right along the concrete street gutter. An important feature, this lip keeps stormwater runoff flowing down the street at a constant speed. Without the lip, water would slow down at the apron, depositing silt. That would cause a constant mess!
Another right-of-way issue was due to the fact that the pool fence was placed very close to the road, making walking along the street difficult. To provide a convenient path for visitors parked on the street, Hertzler & George constructed a dry-laid bluestone path. Since the path is in the city right-of-way, there will always be a chance that the city might need to dig it up someday for utility work. Dry-laid pavers ensure they can be easily removed and relaid if necessary.
With the driveway finished, the owners now enjoy a gracious new addition to their yard. And with space for two cars in driveway, there’s more room for visitor parking. With a bit a planning and organization, you’ll be surprised by how much you can accomplish in a small space. Hertzler & George’s attention to detail has provided a functional space that beautifully complements the architectural style of the house. If you’re having trouble visualizing what to do in your yard, call Hertzler & George. We love to solve your problems.