A traditional flagstone driveway is made using cut, irregular stones that convey a distinctively Old World European sensibility. In particular, it provides a superb compliment to French, Italian, Mediterranean, and other styles of Western architecture.
Depending on the way the stone is cut, it can be used to support either an formal home and residential landscape design, or it can be used to create a countryside look reminiscent of Old Europe and early Colonial America. It can even be used to support a patio home built to look like a small cottage.
If a home has a distinctively formal appearance, such as we see in many Italian style homes, cut flagstone can emphasize this formality with symmetrically shaped stones whose colors directly correspond to those of the home.
Flagstone comes in many different shades of red, blue, or brown. This spectrum makes it possible to match hues very closely to those of a home and create a drive that introduces the essence of one’s home life to guests pulling immediately off the street.
If a flagstone driveway is made from irregularly shaped stones, it can be used to support a countryside look that is at once austere and sophisticated. Many French homes are even to this day world-renowned country estates.
Several of our clients in the West Houston/Memorial area have invested large sums of money in French-style custom homes that look very much like these European homes. A landscape master plan developed around one of these residences quite often features a flagstone driveway, flagstone walkways, and one or more flagstone patios that establish the sensibility of country living insulated and set apart from the surrounding urban environment.
People with discriminating tastes prefer this effect over that of a simple concrete drive, or even a decorative concrete drive, because it ties directly in with specific forms of architecture. It also works extremely well with natural elements of front yard landscaping. After all, stones are part of nature.
Flagstone’s irregular edges and natural coloration makes it an ideal bridge between the manmade and the natural. Other front yard landscape elements, such as gardens, flower beds, and custom fountains, can all be linked between a driveway, a motor court, and walkways that lead to special points of interest.
Flagstone driveway construction is done in a series of steps to make the stones into a smooth surface that is easy on the wheels of vehicles. First, the size of the drive is calculated to scale with that of the house and front yard.
An area is excavated according to these dimensions, and concrete with reinforced steel frames is poured into this area. We first mortar the flagstone to the concrete, and then connect the individual blocks with mortar between the edges. This holds the joints together and creates a very attractive surface that is resistant to cracking when the earth occasionally shifts.
A flagstone driveway is never cheap, and we do not recommend it as a standalone investment. In the context of professional landscape design, driveway construction is intended to set the theme for the homeowner’s entire outdoor lifestyle.
The home is emphasized with a sense of drama and entrance.
It is not uncommon, either, for the drive to lead to an even more sophisticated motor court whose level of aesthetic is one step up design-wise from that of the driveway. This creates a heightened sense of awareness as one enters the property, then parks the car, then walks across the motor court to the front door of the house.