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Diggin' It

Permeable paving: Good for the environment and your landscape

Less runoff, replenished groundwater levels, and tax savings are a few of the reasons why your home needs permeable paving.

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Part of that is because the installer must be trained to handle this concrete. For instance, the mix is much drier when laid down, and the usual techniques for finishing won’t work.

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Also, the pervious concrete is inches thicker than its impermeable cousin — so that adds to the price. And it still doesn’t have the strength to bear the weight of multiton truck loads, although in home use, that shouldn’t be a problem.

In both cases, the preparation below the surface is more exacting, and often the substrate gravel bed goes down a foot or more, so that the water can be received into the soil effectively.

And what about plant growth on the medium? Tom told me that in Georgia, that’s not a problem.

But the Pacific Northwest where I live has been known for its "green" long before the term meant sustainability. And a lot of that color comes from moss. Would opportunistic moss spores clog the holes in the concrete?

According to Seattle installers Pervious Concrete, Inc. clogging of any porous surface can be a concern. However, even with my ordinary concrete driveway, I clean off the leaves and other detritus regularly and wash it down a couple of times a year. So if I took that kind of care with a permeable surface, there shouldn’t be a problem. And power washing goes a long way to keeping those tiny holes open and moss free.

In future postings I’ll talk about other water conservation methods I saw at the show, including the latest and greatest in graywater use, and why your next toilet should feature two handles.

Mary-Kate Mackey is one of eight garden writers who blog regularly at Diggin' It. She is co-author of “Sunset’s Secret Gardens — 153 Design Tips from the Pros” and contributor to the “Sunset Western Garden Book,” writes a monthly column for the Hartley Greenhouse webpage and numerous articles for Fine Gardening, Sunset, and other magazines. She teaches at the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism & Communication. She writes about water in the garden for Diggin’ It.

Editor’s note: To read more by Mary-Kate, click here. The Diggin' It blog archive has everyone's posts (scroll down]. The Monitor’s main gardening page offers articles on many gardening topics. See also our RSS feed. You may want to visit Gardening With the Monitor on Flickr. If you join the group (it’s free), you can upload your garden photos and enter our next contest.

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