Hardscaping Goes Green

Updated Jun 3, 2012
Pine Hall permeable pavers

As eco-friendly products and practices move in, green industry professionals are discovering the pollutant potential of concrete and looking for more eco-friendly alternatives.

One possibility is clay pavers. Ted Corvey, marketing director and paver business director at Pine Hall Brick, says the move toward clay pavers is partly driven by the EPA’s Clean Water Act, Section 402: National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, a stormwater management initiative by the federal government mandated to municipalities across the country.

Stormwater runoff is an issue because as it rains over hard surfaces, soils, oils and other contaminants are carried into sewage systems and eventually into rivers, streams and other bodies of water. Permeable pavers, like those made by Pine Hall Brick, keep water onsite, allowing it to be filtered naturally into the ground.

This year, Pine Hall Brick introduced two segmental pavers to combat the issue of stormwater runoff – StormPave for commercial sites and RainPave for residential projects. Corvey says that while concrete and asphalt are cheaper, they have to be replaced more often because those materials do not flex with the Earth’s natural movements.

The old way of using segmental pavers involved a base of crushed stone with sand in between pavers to create an interlocking pattern. To make this system permeable, Pine Hall replaces the crushed stone and sand with open-graded aggregates that allows rainwater to drain through to the water table.

Additionally, StormPave and RainPave gain LEED credits for heat island effect non-roof, and while some argue that it takes more energy to fire clay to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, Pine Hall Brick is beginning to use alternative fuels like waste sawdust.

Corvey also says that clay pavers do not use as much energy in transport as other pavers do.

Millenia Walls Solutions is also using another alternative to concrete – recycled polymer units. Paul Forsberg, president of Millenia Walls, says he was approached with this product and immediately loved it.

“It excited me because it went from a concrete, heavy, burdensome, cracked, chipped block to a virtually indestructible product,” he says.

The units are not labor-intensive and are cleaner for the environment. In a Life Cycle Assessment done by Terrafore, a consulting company in California, polymer segmental retaining wall (SRW) units provided a significant reduction in overall environmental impact as well as a considerable reduction in green house gases compared with concrete SRW units.

Additionally, fewer manufacturing plants are needed with these units because they are easier to ship than concrete. Forsberg says they can fit almost 3,000 units on a truck as opposed to 340 units with concrete. Onsite, half the crew is needed to put up twice the wall.

As trends in hardscaping evolve, skills do as well. Steve Jones, owner of PaveTech, says hardscaping is becoming a more complicated field – the skills are becoming more specialized. That is one reason PaveTech’s School for Advanced Segmental Paving is beginning to change its curriculum. Jones says the school is branching out to keep up with the industry’s innovations.

With the industry changing, education is the best practice to stay on top. The more education and training your employees have, the faster your company can grow.

Construct the perfect patio
Use Allan Block wall block and interlocking pavers and slate paving stones from Nitterhouse Masonry to create an inviting outdoor setting for summer entertaining. Both products come in a variety of natural colors, solid or blended, that can be mixed and matched to design seating walls, columns, steps and patio areas. Block products can also be used to build grilling stations or outdoor fireplaces. One-piece column caps are available to provide decorative finishes and come with flat tops for mounting lanterns or other lights.

Lay decorative curbing with Lil’ Bubba
Made for residential or commercial curbing, the Lil’ Bubba lays decorative concrete borders or walkways and can follow any existing landscape bed design. It has a turning radius of 14 inches and can lay borders within two inches of a stationary object. The Lil’ Bubba can lay walkways up to 24 inches wide and curb up to 8 feet by 8 feet. It can also curb with rebar or wire re-enforcements. Additionally, the machine is equipped with a self-feeding, no clog drive system.

Lighting for small spaces
Cast Lighting’s new solid bronze fixture, the Mini China Hat path light, is the smallest version of the China Hat fixture line. It works well for pathways and nooks where larger fixtures interfere. Standing at 15 inches, this model features a solid bronze hat, vase and stake with a heavy-gauge copper stem. It can also be installed in freestanding planters.

Build attractive retaining walls in less time
Millenia Wall Solutions manufactures wall units made of recycled polymeric resin. According to the company, the units weigh five pounds per square foot, are easy to install and better for the environment than concrete. A three-man crew can install 1,500 to 2,000 square feet per day. The units are laid row by row, and weight is added by using crushed stone backfill. Units are designed to resemble natural stone with four options available: AshlarStone, ChiseledStone, LedgeStone and SandStone. Using walls units from Millenia can also provide up to eight LEED credits.

Save time installing architectural stones
Stone-Edg restraints from Oly-Ola can be installed against or under architectural stones. Restraints measure 1 inch high by 2/ inches wide and have a wall thickness of 3⁄16 inch. Contractors can save time because Stone-Edg restraints do not need to be buried and the ground does not have to be scored. They work with stones like tumbled marble, bluestone, flagstone, quartzite and slate and are available in lengths of 71⁄2 feet or 15 feet.

A fun way to shade play areas
Shade Sails are a colorful way to shade playgrounds, parks and even outdoor dining areas. The sails are tensioned fabric made of high-density, UV-resistant polyethylene knit material. The tension comes from stainless-steel cable sewn into the border of each sail that is attached to existing structures or other supports. Sails can be twisted, overlapped and angled to create a variety of forms, and once installed, shades are taut and can resist wind. Shade Sails are available in a variety of colors and sizes.

Remove poles with less labor
With the Pole Jack from Ez-Spot-Ur, poles can be removed safely with a one-man operation. The Pole Jack is capable of pulling utility poles of all shapes and lengths from frozen ground without the operator ever leaving the machine or using chains.

Splash decoration for summer
The WetDek from S.R. Smith is a zero-depth backyard splash pad that is a great addition for any yard – pool or no pool. The WetDek works well with existing pools or as an add-on to new pool construction; however, it can also function as a stand-alone feature. The WetDek is available in 6-, 9- or 12- jet kits and requires minimal yard space for installation. It is also scalable and customizable – WetDek can be installed as a square, circle or any other shape you desire.

Add charm and flavor with brick ovens
Stone Age Manufacturing created the brick cooking oven capable of cooking authentic wood-fired pizzas, breads, desserts, meats and other dishes. It works with gas or wood and is easy to assemble. Heat is concentrated in the most-needed areas, and the oven heats quickly and holds higher temperatures longer. The brick cooking oven is equipped with high temp cement additive, and dampers, doors and thin veneer natural stone are optional adornments from Stone Age.

Carry materials in tough conditions
The Muck Truck is a powered barrow designed to remove debris or carry construction materials on all types of terrain. Equipped with a Honda GXV 5.5-horsepower engine, the Muck Truck is a four-wheel-drive system with four forward gears and one reverse gear. It is capable of carrying up to 550 pounds up a 30-degree slope. Other features include a 6 cubic foot bucket that is easy to empty and remove and a safety cut-off throttle on the handlebars.

Combat stormwater runoff
Pine Hall Brick created StormPave, a permeable paver for institutional and commercial projects to permit rainwater to filter and disperse into the soil. This system keeps pollutants from being carried into storm drains. Designed to look like traditional English Edge pavers from Pine Hall, StormPave features larger space nibs. It works well for projects with impervious surface restrictions and where onsite retention is mandated. StormPave also qualifies for LEED credits.

Accent landscapes with curbing attachment
Tygar’s Driveway Liner Package is used with its Bengal TG1000 curb machine. The package is an attachment used to create decorative borders for driveways, walkways, mailboxes and other hardscapes. Accents are produced in the styles of Belgium block, granite and other natural stones. The Bengal curbing machine is capable of laying curb up to 24 inches wide and can stamp over 30 different patterns. It can also curb up to 16 feet per minute.

The Attachments Idea Book
Landscapers use a variety of attachments for doing everything from snow removal to jobsite cleanup, and regardless of how often they are used, every landscaper has a favorite attachment.
Attachments Idea Book Cover