Did you know that in a typical home, approximately 30-50% of the surfaces are impenetrable to water? This means that water cannot pass through into the groundwater and instead runs off into storm sewers. As it runs off it can pick up some nasty stuff, like contaminants, and lead to flooding and erosion problems downstream. So, how can you, as a homeowner, do your part to address this serious issue?
One solution could be installing permeable pavement in place of concrete!
What is the difference between traditional and permeable pavement?
Traditionally, construction of driveways, walkways, patios and sidewalks is done with the use of impervious concrete or asphalt. When water fails to get soaked up by trees or natural surfaces, it runs off these surfaces and straight into the storm sewer system. This results in water that can become polluted with oil, grit and other contaminants that flow into our local streams, rivers and lakes.
What are the benefits for the environment?
The main environmental benefit is the reduction of water runoff, which can reduce risk of flooding and erosion. Permeable interlocking pavement attempts to solve this problem by allowing for ways for water to pass through the pavement and infiltrate into the ground. The key though is the stone reservoir installed underneath the pavers which retains the water and gives it a chance to percolate back into the ground.
So, now that you know all the various benefits, it is important to know what type of permeable surface is best for your property and your wallet!
Choosing the Right Permeable Hardscape
The first step to creating pavement that is permeable is to choose an option that matches the space given for the project and the budget that is being utilized. Some types of pavement include:
- Permeable pavers, which are similar to traditional stone pavers, but have special gaps filled with small stones that allow water to seep into the ground.
- A plastic or concrete grid system, in which the gaps are filled with gravel or grasses for easy infiltration.
- A porous asphalt, porous pavement (local company!) or pervious concrete, which is a lower cost option, that allows water to flow through final example and a lower cost option.
Considerations Prior to Installation
Before you begin implementing the installation of permeable pavement, it is important plan ahead and consider all possible options beforehand. Installation of permeable pavement requires professional installation to ensure it is done properly so that it can withstand the weight of people or vehicles that will be on it.
Can't do Permeable? Try a Ribbon driveway!
Since permeable pavement options are expensive, require a contractor and have specific slope requirements, they are not viable for everyone. So what can you do if you are unable to install permeable pavement but still want to make a difference? There are other methods you can use to create a more permeable driveway or sidewalk without implementing a full project.
One way that this can be done is to remove some of the concrete, and leave only enough pavement for the tires on your driveway. These ribbon driveways were once quite common and are having a mini-renaissance.
As a homeowner, there are many ways to help the environment and reduce the stress on your local storm sewer system, such as with replacing concrete pavement with permeable surfaces. Contact local contractors to find out more about installing permeable pavement on your property for professional help and proper planning.
Edited by: Christine Tan, Communications Assistant