Saturday, January 31, 2009

Nice Days Have Their Price

Bright, sunny, warm, and balmy considering how cold it has been here in Omaha for most of the winter so far. Love these days during the winter, but I have also come to dislike them as well.

Even though we haven't had much snow this season, there are still snow piles all around parking lots, streets, and driveways such as mine. Those lovely piles of black and gunk really start melting on days like this. On my driveway, the snow melt runs across the width of my driveway and REFREEZES during the night. Tonight, after a nice dinner, I returned home and parked in the driveway, unwittingly right over where the snowmelt had refreezed. I spun around like an ice skater, but not as gracifully, and caught myself on the car instead of on the pavement.

Why does it have to be like this each winter season?

The main goal is to replace my driveway with permeable pavers so that I don't have to put up with it anymore. What are permeable pavers? They are just like most any other paver you have seen in a patio, driveway, or parking lot application, but instead of water running off of them, the rain and snow melt goes between the joints of the pavers and filters through aggregate to the soil below or to pipes to take it away. No more slips, falls, or heaven forbid a legal issue.

For now, the first phase of my driveway project uses a rain garden to catch any runoff from even getting to the driveway. So along the edge of the driveway, I am building up a berm to hold water back in a flat bottom garden so that the runoff filters into the soil and not onto the driveway. The rain garden is going to give me a lot of color as well as help out with limiting the number of times I become an ice skater.

Both the permeable pavers and the rain garden I mentioned above fall under a type of design that is called Low Impact Development. Just as the name implies, whenever we do a project, whether in the landscape or with a building, we should have as low an impact as possible. Managing the stormwater that we displace with our roofs and driveways is at the heart of LID. Just as I experienced today, utilizing LID properly not only is beneficial at the onset of any project, but also yields benefits way into the future.

I will continue to write and discuss various landscaping and LID topics here on the blog, so always check back and join me in utilizing LID more and making it the standard by which we design. Thanks!

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