PERMEABLE DRIVEWAY Thinking about installing a new patio, sidewalk, or driveway? You’d be doing yourself and your community a big favor by considering permeable pavers. As you might expect from its name, permeable pavers make it easy for water to drain through or permeate its joints, eliminating standing water (awesome in itself) and help reduce the amount of pollutants that reach our water table (hooray!). Do you experience a lot of flooding on your property? Permeable pavers might solve your problem and reduce pollution. How? They handle rainwater and snow runoff more efficiently than concrete and so effectively reduce pressure on our already overused sewage systems. Instead of allowing water to merely run off the surface into local drains, often carrying pollutants with it, permeable pavers have larger gaps between the stones, enabling water to seep between the pavers down to various layers of specifically constructed gravel and soil, which can accommodate a tremendous amount of water. For example, if you have a 1,000-square-foot driveway, permeable pavers enable you to store close to 3,000 gallons of water under your driveway! This benefits the environment by infiltrating water back into the ground and recharging aquifers for future generations to use. You’ve got a lot of choices for how you use the water you store. You can:
- Pump any rainwater passing through a permeable system back out for drip irrigation systems
- Harvest the water and use it for watering indoor house plants
- Use the rainwater for your decorative water features, such as a bubbling rock or fountain
How Does Your Property Benefit from Using Permeable Pavers?Permeable pavers have been used commercially in Europe for probably 50 years, and only made their way here in the 1990s, where they were primarily used for commercial purposes. They’ve become increasingly popular for homeowners and developers who want to build in areas with an above-average amount of rainfall or snow or whose local municipalities have regulations that call for the use of permeable pavers as a way to reduce runoff and increase groundwater. Take a look at how your property can benefit from using permeable pavers:
- Help Return Rainfall and Snow Melt Back into the Groundwater Table. This creates sustainable urban drainage systems. These pavers also help reduce the number of pollutants that find their way back into the water system.
- Protect Waterways from Pollutants. Oil, rubber, or other chemicals gather on top of paver stones during dry seasons. In areas with traditional pavers, these pollutants make their way into the regular water system during rainfall. With permeable pavers, these pollutants are gradually filtered out as the water makes its way through the various levels of aggregate stone. So, using permeable pavers helps ensure the water that eventually makes its way back into the water table or into the sewer system is much cleaner.
- Durable and Long-Lasting. Installing a permeable paver system costs about the same as installing a concrete patio or driveway. One of the best benefits of permeable pavers is their durability. You can install them in warm or cold climates and they do not peel or crack like nonpermeable pavers. So, while you may have to replace that low-cost asphalt in your driveway three or four times, your permeable pavers will still be in good shape (scroll down and hear from two clients who have benefited from permeable pavers for the past 10 years).
- Reduce Heaving and De-Icing in the Winter. In Chicago where we see our fair share of snow, permeable pavers are ideal. Since the permeable paver system relies on open aggregates, there are a lot of airspaces in the material. That means water flows into these spaces and freezes, which reduces the possibility of heaving. On the other hand, heat from the earth rises easily through the aggregate. Water does not pool or freeze on the surface, so there is less need for de-icing.
- Less Ice Accumulation. When you use permeable pavers, they reduce the accumulation of ice, so there is less chance that you will slip and slide when walking or driving into and out of your driveway.
- Easy to Repair. When using permeable pavers, there is less need to reseal or resurface the stones, and repairs are relatively easy. If an individual stone develops a crack or problem, you can easily remove it and replace it.
- Reduce Erosion. If you experience a particularly dry summer, permeable pavers help reduce the possibility of erosion when rain does come.
- Fewer Mosquitoes. When you install permeable pavers, you will likely notice fewer mosquitoes in your patio area because there are fewer standing pools of water in which they can breed.
Permeable Pavers Help Your Community, Too!Permeable pavers aren’t just about improving your home, they help your community, too! Here are a handful of ways that permeable pavers benefit your community:
- Allow water to refill the local groundwater table
- Improve the quality of local water
- Reduce the “heat island” effect when you use reflective, light-colored permeable pavers (that’s why many cities or towns now require that areas, such as parking lots or large patio areas be constructed using permeable paver systems)
- Decrease your neighborhood’s or town’s need for water in landscaping when you collect water from permeable paver systems
- Extend the life of a municipality’s sewer system because permeable pavers return water to the ground and not into storm drainage systems