How Permeability is Accomplished
in Permeable Pavers
Permeable paver systems are ecologically engineered to reduce runoff, drain standing water, and eliminate sediment build up. Concrete pavers rest at the top of the system with carefully engineered cracks between each paver to allow for water passage. Below the pavers is the “bedding layer” made up of a stone chip with larger stones resting beneath that bedding layer. Rainwater is stored in the larger stones where it can then leech naturally back into the ground, just as nature intended. The permeability of such systems is that they allow for natural water seepage as though there was no pavement there. While there are multiple types and styles of permeable paving systems, all are eco-friendly, all are site-specific, and all are customizable for enhanced aesthetics and personal preference.
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Water Filtration versus Surface Runoff
From eco-friendly driveways to eco-friendly patio pavers, permeability in any form of pavement allows for rainwater to flow naturally back into the soil and recharge water tables as opposed to flooding unnaturally into storm water holding areas, nearby ponds, rivers, lakes, and streams. The goal of permeable pavers from an environmentally-conscious, “eco-paving” perspective is to create a paving system which offers water filtration, as opposed to surface runoff. Permeable pavers perform this task quite well, as water is able to seep through the pavers, bedding layer, and aggregate to then rest in the soil. Permeable pavers are superior even to pervious concrete or porous asphalt, as permeable pavers do not have a “shelf life” like other permeable paving systems do.
The Real Dangers of Surface Runoff
When we build a house or commercial building, pave a road or lay a parking lot, we must always be mindful of the effect that such construction has on the local environment. When rainwater is not allowed to strike the ground and pass naturally into the soil it becomes surface runoff. It builds up and flows downhill, picking up pollutants, chemicals, and other unnatural substances as it goes along. Cities like Atlanta, Nashville, Austin, Orlando, Miami, Buffalo, and many others have experienced flooding and drainage system failure in the last decade due to overbuilding and the use of archaic stormwater systems. This is harsh on the city, harsh on the environment, and harsh on everyone’s wallets.
Proper Stormwater Handling
Enter in permeable pavers and pervious paving systems to provide eco-friendly solutions to our cities’ stormwater runoff problems. Traditional paving methods just force stormwater into overtaxed drainage systems, rushing potentially contaminated water into our lakes, streams, rivers, and ponds. Permeable pavers can handle any weight of vehicle or equipment, require little to no maintenance, are more aesthetic than concrete or asphalt, are fully stormwater permeable, and most importantly allow for the natural seepage of water through the paving system and into the ground where it belongs. No flooding, no runoff, and no dispersing of pollutants into surface waters.
Permeable Pavers, Water Filtration, and Surface Runoff
Surface runoff is the problem. Permeable pavers are the solution. Permeable pavers solve the problem of water runoff while also providing water filtration. The water filtration is the key to the eco-friendly aspects of permeable pavers. The aggregate stones and bedding layers underneath the pavers create a natural filtration process for water seeping downwards and into the soil. These rock layers that rest below the pavers act in a similar way as a septic field does, naturally cleansing the water of pollutants and chemicals as it passes through the stones. In this way, not only does runoff water have a place to go, but it also receives a cleansing and decontamination as it passes through the aggregate bedding layer.
Permeable Pavers vs. Rain Gardens
There are several, current techniques for tackling water loading and runoff in urban, heavily developed areas. When water is not allowed to seep naturally into the soil due to buildings, roads, sidewalks, parking lots, etc. it creates excessive water runoff. Rain gardens are one approach that offers an eco-friendly solution to stormwater management. However, rain gardens are not as effective as permeable pavers.
Rain gardens are essentially planted depressions or holes on a specified plot of land. Rain gardens are placed in key locations throughout commercial and residential properties alike, usually at lower topographical levels. While rain gardens have some benefits in their ease of installation and their aesthetic appeal, they require regular maintenance and they reach their water load limits rather quickly. While permeable pavers are more of an investment, they only need to be installed once, they have no need for maintenance, and they can handle any amount of stormwater runoff.
Permeable Pavers vs. Retention Ponds
Water retention ponds are another approach to managing stormwater runoff. Also called retention basins, water retention ponds are placed in key, topographical locations near high runoff areas. Water retention ponds are often found on sizable, commercial lots that have extensive concrete parking lots and very large buildings. The topography of the land is considered when planning a retention pond, as such ponds need to be placed at the lowest point possible to allow for proper watershed into the pond.
Water retention ponds serve their purpose well, but they require constant maintenance (mowing around the pond, cleaning them out, draining them, addressing algae, insects, etc). Water retention ponds also take up a great deal of space on any commercial lot, space that could be better used for building. Permeable paving systems can be used in place of water retention ponds. Contractors can install permeable pavers instead to create a parking lot or drive, effectively accomplishing two goals with one application. The permeable pavement not only provides an aesthetic parking area, but it also accomplishes the water runoff management for that area. The building apron expands, and contractors can build a larger structure on a smaller lot of land.
Permeable Pavers, The Ideal Solution for Eco-Friendly Paving
Permeable paving systems are ideal drainage solutions. Permeable pavers provide the best value and the best investment in any paving scenario. These customizable systems provide peace of mind in the positive effect they have on the environment. Installing permeable pavers in a driveway or parking lot creates no negative impact on the local ecosystem, and will actually benefit it instead. Furthermore, a permeable paving system will last more than a lifetime, providing constant value for years to come.
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Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Permeable Pavers
We covered quite a bit of information in this article! Believe us, there's a lot to learn about permeable pavers. This technology has absolutely taken off in Nashville, giving our company the incentive to be the first hardscaping and landscaping group on everyone's mind when people ask, “Who's the best hardscaping contractor in Nashville?”
To answer any questions you might have, we've included a brief FAQ section below. If you still have questions or would like to speak with one of our friendly staff about scheduling a free estimate, don't hesitate to call our office today at (615) 266-6360.
- Where can I use permeable pavers?
- Just about anywhere. As long as you can dig into the earth below where you would like to lay your pavers (in order to install aggregate rock layers beneath the paver system for water filtration) you can install permeable pavers there.
- How much do permeable pavers cost compared to asphalt or concrete?
- There is a difference in price, and while permeable pavers are more expensive, they pay for themselves in longevity and saved costs in other areas. Since permeable pavers filter water through them instead of off of them, homeowners and business owners don't have to worry about water retention ponds, rain gutters, overflowing stormdrains, etc.
- Do I need to perform maintenance on permeable pavers?
- Once every 5 to 10 years the fine-grit rock in-between the pavers should be vacuumed out and replaced to ensure the system continues to filter water effectively.
- Where can I get permeable paver supplies?
- Belgard Hardscapes, Red River Hardscapes, Pavedrain, Unilock, and Pavestone are the five leading companies for paver manufacturing in the United States.
- Can I install permeable pavers on my own?
- You can, though it is labor-intensive work and very time consuming, particularly if one does not have the proper tools and machinery for the job.
- How long do permeable pavers last?
- Permeable paver systems last several decades or more. In fact, most permeable systems never need to be replaced, as long as they are installed properly and are well-maintained.