It's summertime, which means a lot of people are going to start thinking about sprucing up their outdoor spaces, especially their hardscapes. But whether you're looking to rebuild your patio, deck, walkway or driveway, you should really considering using permeable (also known as pervious) materials instead of asphalt or concrete.
While asphalt and concrete have been the go-to outdoor surfaces for years, they really have very few benefits other than being one of the least expensive options. A better choice would be a pervious material — something that allows water to drain through the material itself, or through the joints of the construction — here's why:
Surface Water Management: During a heavy rainfall our town's sewer systems can get overwhelmed, while the ground gets very little benefit of the natural irrigation. But by using permeable materials the ground can capture water runoff, absorb it and clean it during the process. It's win-win!
Reduction of Overall Irrigation Demand: By allowing the water to seep into the ground, the direct and surrounding areas will need much less man-produced irrigation. This will save you money and reduce the amount of water used for your everyday irrigation needs.
Local Heat Island Effects: By allowing water to filtrate into the ground, the surface and surrounding area temperatures will be cooler than a hard impervious surface. Bonus points for using permeable surfaces that are also light in color, because they will also help reflect sun and heat to even further reduce the local ambient temperature, which will also improve the health of local vegetation and improves air quality..
Overall Better Appearance: Generally, permeable surfaces just look better. Instead of boring concrete or high maintenance, ugly and smelly asphalt, permeable surfaces come in a variety of styles that pretty much always look better. Options range from standard wood decking; brick, stone or concrete pavers; pervious concrete; interlocking open grid 'grasscrete' pavers; gravel, river rock or glass, etc.
Whether you're looking to earn credits for a green building program, or just hoping to spruce up your land for the season, permeable paving systems are a great way to improve your property, while being environmentally friendly and low-maintenance.
- Chicago Green Alley Program... and techniques to upgrade your backyard.
- Beyond Concrete: Permeable Paving