When designing the perfect landscape, plants often take center stage. However, the “hardscaped” areas of our yard are where we often relax and enjoy the fruits of our botanical labor. Rather than simply installing concrete patios and walkways, consider using permeable materials to create the perfect conversation areas to augment your gardens, landscaped beds, and lawn.
Conventional patios and pathways that use traditional concrete or brick and mortar are impermeable, meaning that water cannot soak through them. During rainstorms, water can puddle up on these surfaces, and, if not graded properly, patios may even hold water up against the house or foundation. By making these spaces permeable, you can help water soak back into the ground, reduce standing water in your yard, and minimize the erosion that can result from rainfall flowing off hard surfaces during storms. Allowing rainfall to soak into the ground where it lands also helps to replenish groundwater.
So, how can you incorporate these permeable features into your backyard? Crushed shell or gravel works well on walking paths. A grid system can help provide support and structure to hold these materials in place. Or, try permeable pavers on your next patio renovation, which have the bonus of also being friendly on bare feet!
To learn more about permeable pavers, porous pavement, and other options for your yard, check out the HGIC 1861, An Introduction to Porous Pavement.