In many areas, permeable pavers have become a popular alternative to concrete or asphalt for parking lot surfaces because they are durable, economical, environmentally-friendly and they eliminate the need for a conventional storm water management system, which can be expensive to install and difficult to maintain. Unlike conventional solid surfaces, water can naturally drain through permeable pavers, reducing flooding and erosion, and returning the water back to local aquifers. They are quick and easy to install, requiring far less labor and equipment than both concrete or asphalt surfaces, and they need very little maintenance over their typical life cycle.
While these features make permeable pavers a great choice for conventional parking areas, they also prove useful for other applications. Here are just a few of the unique ways that permeable pavers can be used, beyond their typical use as an alternative to concrete or asphalt parking surfaces:
1) Temporary Roads:
In many industries, it is often necessary to move heavy equipment, machinery, supplies and tools over unimproved land, which, especially in wet areas, can be difficult to traverse without building basic roads. These roads make areas like construction sites, oil fields, logging areas, mining sites and utility easements easier to access during inclement weather, when excess moisture can create muddy, impassable roads that can create work delays and damage equipment.
Often, large amounts of rock and gravel are hauled in to create temporary roads in such circumstances, but eventually the surface will wear and erode away, requiring constant maintenance. Another option is to use permeable pavers, which can better distribute the weight of traffic over the entire road surface, preventing rutting. They also do a better job of containing the fill material to the road area, which reduces erosion and the associated maintenance costs. Once the road is no longer needed, the permeable pavers can easily be removed, along with the fill material, making it easier to restore the land to its previous state than other traditional methods.
2) Erosion Control:
In areas with loose soil and little vegetation, erosion can be a major problem. When there is heavy rain, water can carry away significant amounts of surface soil, which can cause problems, such as the undermining of road surfaces, clogging in municipal storm water systems, and landslides that can destroy roads, houses or property.
Permeable pavers can be used to stabilize erosion-prone soils, especially in sensitive areas like slopes or along roadways. The permeable pavers can be laid over existing soil and filled with either soil or a fill material, like gravel, to weigh down the underlying soil and prevent erosion. Each section of the permeable pavers interlocks with the adjoining section, creating a stable covering over vulnerable soil that keeps it in place.
Permeable pavers can be used for many applications in the landscaping industry. They can be filled with gravel, rock or other materials, such as recycled glass, to create attractive walkways between different planting areas.
In arid climates, they can be filled with mulch or other materials to provide a durable covering over top soil that retains moisture and curtails evaporation. In areas with loose soil, they can be used to prevent erosion, and they can be filled with mulch or gravel and used in conjunction with landscaping fabric to prevent weed growth. Around trees, bushes, planting beds, buildings and other features, they can be filled with colorful rock or other materials to create attractive, durable borders. They can also be used in wet locations to stabilize the soil, promote proper drainage and prevent the formation of muddy areas after a rainstorm.
4) Bike Paths:
Urban and suburban bike paths provide a safe place to commute for those riding bicycles, skating, or walking, and many are routed through natural areas to provide an oasis from the traffic and noise of the surrounding communities. Often, these paths are created from concrete or asphalt, which can be expensive to install and difficult to maintain.
Permeable pavers can be a cost-effective alternative to concrete and asphalt for building bike paths in urban areas, as they are quick and easy to install, and they require very little long-term maintenance. They are also more environmentally-friendly than conventional materials, as they are made completely from recycled plastics and they can be filled with locally-sourced materials. This makes them a great addition to projects where the natural environment is a focal point.
Sidewalks and walkways are often constructed from concrete sections, which can be expensive and labor-intensive to install, and they can easily be damaged by soil erosion, frost upheaval or tree roots growing beneath individual sections. Asphalt walkways face similar problems, and in hot climates, they can easily be deformed due to the heat of the sun.
Permeable pavers provide an inexpensive alternative to concrete sidewalks and a durable alternative to asphalt surfaces. They can be installed quickly and easily, and require very little maintenance compared to either concrete or asphalt sidewalk surfaces. When installed correctly, they can also provide a surface that is wheelchair accessible and ADA-compliant. With a variety of fill materials available, sidewalks made from permeable pavers can also be a visually attractive alternative to conventional materials.
6) Grass Parking Areas:
Lawn parking is common at parks, fairgrounds, drive-in theaters and other outdoor events. The weight of the vehicles on the grass, however, can cause damage to the grass, and during inclement weather, many grassy areas can turn muddy.
Permeable pavers can provide attractive grass-covered parking areas, without causing damage to the grass, causing ruts in the soil or creating muddy areas during bad weather. Permeable pavers can be laid over the existing soil and filled with sod or a combination of soil and grass seed to create durable grass-covered overflow parking for outdoor events. When the areas are not used, they look like a standard lawn, and can be mowed and maintained with conventional equipment.
Permeable pavers are an extremely versatile solution for many applications where materials like concrete, asphalt, rock or gravel would traditionally be used, and can be a more durable and economical alternative in many situations, especially when installation and long-term maintenance costs are considered.