The Fun Part
Every hardscaping project we design and install has 4 parts to it. Each of these items has non-sustainable and sustainable options with real impacts to the natural world. These elements are: excavation, demo, base and paver. Let’s go over each and talk about the good, the bad and the ugly of all of them. Before we do, I can’t say enough about having a design for your project. Below is an image of a project that is more sustainable because of how it is designed as much as the number of parts with sustainable features. I’ll get into a little more detail about this project later in the blog.
Of all the elements, excavation is always a sometimes. If you are replacing a walkway or patio, you might not really need lots of excavation because the space was dug out during the original project. If you do need to excavate, it’s best to find a home of the dirt on your property. This way, it means you aren’t carting it away and paying for someone to take it. Usually, soil is good for vegetable gardens and flower beds even if it may not look it. If you coordinate with other landscape projects, the soil can be used to overseed your lawn or improve drainage.
Most homeowners don’t have newly constructed houses so they are always replacing something that is already there. The image below shows a walkway project we completed recently. The original walkway had an 8-inch concrete base with bricks on top of it.
The base is the most important factor to make your project sustainable. This is because the base will determine if you are allowing or cutting off the natural flow of rainwater into the ground. The normal process is that rain falls on the ground that is covered with grass and other plants and slowly infiltrates into the earth. When you use concrete, you are completely stopping that natural condition. In the big scheme of things, all the rainwater that runs off goes into rivers and streams carrying pollutants and causing flooding. On a microlevel, if water isn’t allowed to go into the ground, it can create pooling and muddy spots at the edge of your new patio.
By the time you get to the pavers, you are either an eco-hero or not. However, paver selection is a big factor. It’s what everyone sees and thereby the most important part of the new space. This is also were design skills come in and help amplify all of the other green decisions along the way. For the project shown below, you can see that we used a paver that is really nice and modern. We eliminated a few of the pavers and let grass grow in.
Design, Design, Design
Both of the projects shown in this blog needed more attention than standard projects. The devil is in the details. I’ve trained my team to benefit from years of experience and make sure we can execute sustainable projects with great precision. For example, when you have grassy spots within a hardscaped surface, you have to make sure the pavers don’t move or slump overtime. We have a special way of edging them so that the integrity withstands the wear and tear of use.
Sustainable + Contemporary
Sustainable design always needs to be integrated within the overall aesthetic. Contemporary sensibilities are more naturally capable to including green features than traditional work. For one, it’s more playful and doesn’t presuppose a material. This gives us and the homeowner more leverage to find the best answer for a exterior space that has style and the planet part of its DNA, and always means the project is a bigger success for it.