All too often, rainy weather generates more water than a landscape can handle. If this water is not managed properly, it leads to several issues. These can be minor annoyances such as puddles, or more serious issues such as:
- Reduced groundwater recharge
- High rates of runoff and erosion
- An increased likelihood of natural disasters (e.g. flooding or mudslides)
These issues are compounded by the use of non-porous paving materials, such as concrete and asphalt. To compensate for the lack of permeability, additional landscaping elements—such as bioswales—are sometimes incorporated into a landscape design.
What’s a Bioswale?
A bioswale is a landscaping feature used to manage stormwater runoff by slowing, collecting, filtering, and infiltrating stormwater. They are often seen alongside large parking lots, business parks, and industrial areas. Similar to a storm gutter in function, a bioswale normally involves the use of vegetation to reduce the speed of the runoff for maximum effectiveness.
At first glance, a bioswale seems like an ideal way to manage stormwater. However, it’s simply a Band-Aid that has its own host of issues.
As an additional element added to a design, bioswales drive up a landscape’s installation costs. Bioswales also require regular maintenance. If a bioswale is not properly taken care of, there’s a risk that water will not properly drain; a lack of drainage can allow pollutants water to pool on the surface long enough to allow pesky insects to breed. A bioswale must be inspected on a regular basis to ensure adequate vegetation is maintained, there are no blockages, and that any sediment that has built up is adequately removed.
The Bottom Line
There’s a better solution for stormwater management: permeable pavement. Permeable pavement allows rainwater to percolate directly into the ground – reducing runoff and all of its associated issues and eliminating the need for a bioswale or similar landscaping elements. Permeable pavement is also accompanied by environmental and financial benefits.
Environmental benefits include:
- Reduces stormwater runoff rate and volume
- Reduces water pollution by trapping pollutants in the pavement
- Replenishes groundwater, which can, in turn, be used by plants surrounding the pavement
Financial benefits include:
- Reduces the need for conventional drainage features, such as curbs and gutters
- Lower installation costs, since underground piping and storm drains are not needed
- Reduced water-usage costs, since surrounding plants can benefit from the replenished groundwater
There are many different permeable paving options available, and choosing the right one may require a little more research than choosing a traditional paving option, but it’s well worth it. We explore the different options more in-depth here.
GraniteCrete – Your Stormwater Management Solution
GraniteCrete is a specialized permeable paving product; use of GraniteCrete eliminates the need for additional landscaping elements like a bioswale. Mixed with decomposed granite, it has a solid and durable surface with the near-strength of concrete. It contains no polymers, oils, or resins; so, no toxic materials will leach into the ground as water passes through. GraniteCrete will stand up to both foot traffic and light vehicular traffic, making it appropriate for patios, driveways, sidewalks – and more!