Pave the Way to a Greener Home: Eco-Friendly Hardscapes
Our world and our impact on it are ever-changing. Countries around the world are banning straws, plastic cutlery, and plastic shopping bags. But, all those changes are large scale. The goal of those actions is to reduce global waste.
What small scale efforts are happening? There are many different things you can do at home to reduce your carbon footprint. Most of us have heard the most common ones. Common Eco tips are to turn the water off while brushing our teeth, recycle, and take shorter showers. But did you know that your choice in building materials for your home matters more?
One of the best things you can do for the environment is to pick earth-friendly materials. An earth-friendly material is one that renews itself. It can also be recyclable or work with the existing environment. Pavers are an excellent choice for the eco-minded homeowner.
Many paver options are natural. They come straight from the Earth. They also have a lower environmental impact on the ground where you chose to install them. Pavers allow for water permeability. They also need less cleaning, which means less water and less chemical runoff. Even concrete paver options are better for the environment than one giant slab.
Your home and landscape design create a lasting impact on the land around you. Building with the Earth in mind can lead to longer-lasting structures. It can also lead to less maintenance for you! All this considered, pavers are the green choice. Let’s look at what that really means for your lawn and your local environment.
Naturally Occurring Resource
Many paver choices occur naturally in the Earth. Some of the most popular pavers are natural stone pavers. A few examples of stone pavers are soapstone, limestone, and travertine. You can find all these materials somewhere in the Earth.
Stone is a naturally occurring resource. This means stone pavers react better to the elements. They work with the water cycle. This makes stone less prone to cracking and water damage. It is also easier to fix and replace than concrete.
Concrete is a man-made material. Most of us have seen the concrete mixers driving around. Concrete has to be constantly spinning in those mixers until it is ready to pour. To keep the concrete spinning, the truck has to be on. The truck emits carbon dioxide while it is on.
Stone pavers do not need the same level of processing. Their carbon footprint is much smaller than concrete.
One thing pavers do that concrete slabs do not is they allow for water permeability. This means that when it rains, pavers let that water through. Because they are porous, water can travel through the actual paver. That water then drains into the ground. This process is vital for the underground water supply.
Rainwater is an important part of the water cycle. Rain is a form of precipitation with many purposes. When we talk about the water cycle, rain refills the aquifer. The aquifer is the underground water supply we mentioned above. In areas like South West Florida where it rains quite a bit, there is a larger aquifer. But this doesn’t mean it can afford large losses of rainwater.
Aquifers lose water when we pump water out. We use this water for almost everything, including drinking water. Aquifers rely on precipitation to stay full. If rain is unable to fill the aquifer, something called land subsidence is more likely to happen.
Aquifers are big holes under the ground that get filled with water. If the water in the holes runs low, the holes become empty. The empty holes cannot support the weight of the ground above it. This causes the top level of the ground to collapse, taking whatever is on the surface with it. This occurrence is land subsidence.
Paver patios and driveways are the best way to ensure rainwater is going back into the aquifer. They allow water to get through to the ground through the interlocking seams. Open paver designs that allow patches of grass through are the best option here.
Pavers Help Prevent Run-off
Concrete driveways are not water permeable. This means that rainwater cannot travel through a concrete driveway. When it rains on a large piece of continuous concrete, that water sits there with no place to go. Once enough water builds up, it runs off into a nearby storm drain. On the surface, this sounds fine. After all, this is what drains are there for. To catch extra water from the street and driveways. But that water coming from your driveway is full of pollutants.
Rainwater absorbs any chemical or oil spill on your driveway. The water carries these pollutants away into gutters and then storm drains. Water run-off also often absorbs spilled gas and fertilizers. The water from storm drains ends up in local bodies of water. This means the pollutants on your driveway end up in local ponds, lakes, and streams.
Pavers are an excellent way to avoid large amounts of run-off. This is because of their water permeability. Water that travels through pavers reaches the ground below. Rain is then absorbed back into the ground.
Pavers do still have pollutants on them, though. But, water that travels through the ground goes through a natural filtration system. Limestone and soil collect most of the pollutants present. That makes pavers the ultimate water-friendly hardscape material.
Low Environmental Impact
Installing any type of structure or surface to the ground causes damage. Removal of grass, trees, and all other plants occurs before installation even begins. This leaves nothing but dirt. That dirt is then covered by the building material of choice. Of the many options out there, Pavers wreak the least havoc.
Pavers are individual pieces of stone, brick, or concrete. This allows for a large flexibility in placement. Trees, bushes, or flower beds can all stay in place when installing pavers. The design of your pavers can easily incorporate existing flora. This offers the chance for a flat surface without removing all the native plants.
Pavers also have seams between each piece. These seams allow for air and water to get down to the ground below. Concrete driveways or patios do not have these seams. The soil underneath solid concrete takes much longer to recover.
Eco-Friendly Driveway Installation Options
Unique Paver Designs offers two different installation options for large paver designs. The first is excavation. Excavation uses 60mm thick pavers. Excavation is the better choice for new projects. Excavation is also good for removing any existing concrete.
The second installation option is overlay. Overlay projects use 30mm thick pavers. Overlay is good for remodeling or with concrete that is still in good condition.
We recommend using excavation for eco-minded projects. This is because excavation will remove any before laid concrete. Removing the concrete creates less of an environmental impact on that area.
Less Cleaning = Less Chemicals
Pavers are stain-resistant. This means cleaning happens less often. Most stains also need some sort of chemical to strip them out of the paver. Because pavers are stain-resistant, they need fewer chemicals to clean them, too.
We already talked about chemicals and pollutants in runoff. So by now, you know that less chemicals near your local storm drains is a good thing.
Pavers also need very little maintenance in general. Most of the time they only need to a quick sweep and rinse with a garden hose.
Eco-friendly hardscape options do exist! You can have a beautiful space while supporting your landscaping. For more information on green hardscape options, call us at Unique Pavers Design. We are always available for your questions. We want to help you build the patio, driveway, or even the fire pit of your dreams! Take a look at our online gallery!