Platinum Granite Standard Pathway Material - Metropolitan Correctional Center - Chicago, IL

How to Use Your Landscaping to Manage Water

Long gone are the days of creating a beautiful landscaping for only aesthetic purposes. Landscape architects today are constantly on the lookout for how the land can serve some utility purposes as well. As masters in their field, landscape architects can plan and create an environment that is both beautiful as well as functional. The trend to “go green” isn’t going away anytime soon.

The surge in environmental consciousness is leading designers and architects to find ways to reduce carbon footprints, utilize environmentally friendly or recycled materials, and minimize a project’s environmental impact whenever possible. Many companies, including Kafka Granite, are creating building materials in greener ways than ever before, which is why we support these efforts where we can. One way to make your commercial landscaping work for the environment is to use it as part of your project’s water management. A useful and beautiful landscape for your project is very possible through research, planning and using the power of permeability.

Sunset Pink Permeable Paver Grit- Buckingham Fountain - Chicago, IL

Sunset Pink Permeable Paver Grit- Buckingham Fountain – Chicago, IL

What Does Water Management Mean?

The water that lands on the ground during a rainfall might not ever cross your mind again once it’s over and dried up. However, consider the fact that one inch of rainwater hitting one acre of asphalt over one hour yields 27,000 gallons of water. In ideal conditions, this rainwater would easily flow into your city’s sewers and be on its way to your water treatment facility. However, too often do these systems become overwhelmed by heavy storms and debris, causing flooding and even sewage backups. This causes pollutants such as oils and trash to sit stagnant or flow into public waters, neither of which help the environment.

Furthermore, an incredible amount of water is used for the outdoors, especially in regions that experience droughts or very hot, drier seasons. The amount of water used to preserve landscapes is staggering. For example, in North Carolina the average amount of water used for the outdoors is 20–30 percent of a facility’s total water use annually. For environments that have notoriously hotter weather, this water consumption for the sake of lush lawns could be even higher.

So what exactly does water management mean when it comes to landscape designs and function? Best Management Practices (BMPs) for landscape water conservation range from plant selection to irrigation in order to reduce landscape water use. Adopting BMPs for your next landscape design project will help with financial savings and environmental efforts.

How to Start Planning a Water-efficient Landscape

Oftentimes, commercial and industrial workplaces sit across large plots of land. This vast area is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of rainwater and save on using water for outdoor purposes. Before you start implementing a landscape design, you need to consider what the land will be used for.

Ask yourself the following questions before you begin to cultivate your design. When you can answer the questions below then you know that you’re ready to begin creating your landscaping vision. If you are in doubt about the legalities and protections that are in place at the site of your next build we recommend contacting your local government or Department of Natural Resources to answer any uncertainties that arise while reviewing the questions below.

  1. What is the natural habitat of the area?
  2. What are some native plants and animals currently residing on or nearby the project?
  3. What will the pedestrian or vehicular traffic be like once completed? Is this a recreational area?
  4. Will I need automatic irrigation systems?
  5. How will I create a suitable hydrozone for the space?
  6. What type of ground cover should I be utilizing?
Platinum Granite Standard Pathway Material - Metropolitan Correctional Center - Chicago, IL

Platinum Granite Standard Pathway Material & Platinum Permeable Paver Grit – Metropolitan Correctional Center – Chicago, IL

Keep Hard Surfaces in Mind: Reduce Stormwater Runoff

Optimal landscape architecture isn’t restricted to lush green surfaces and garden beds. Creating the best landscape for water management also means thinking about the hard surfaces in your project, i.e., driveways, parking lots, sidewalks, and courtyards. When these surfaces are made of nonporous material, such as nonporous asphalt and concrete, this creates unwanted stormwater runoff, which draws pollutants to waterways.

Ensuring you use porous materials that provide ample drainage is a key factor to achieving ideal water management with your landscaping. Decomposed granite provides stable, compact surfaces while still allowing rainwater to pass through. Consider a combination of permeable pavers and permeable paver joint infill for large expanses, such as parking lots. Kafka Granite offers a large variety of durable granite and quartz aggregates for permeable paver grit that can withstand intense freeze/thaw cycles. These aggregates emphasize the aesthetic goals of your landscape design as well as provide a way for hard-surfaced areas to provide even more water management opportunities.

Kafka Can Help Your Landscape Start Saving Water

A water management plan integrated in your landscape design can help your project environmentally and financially. Through planning a tight irrigation schedule, creating hydrozones, and implementing permeable surfaces wherever possible, you’ll be conserving water and time all while helping the environment. Reducing stormwater runoff helps ease the stress on sewer systems, reduces sewage backups and flooding, and alleviates the amount of pollutants and debris running into waterways. Interested in permeable solutions for your landscape? Let Kafka Granite help you create a beautiful and eco-friendly space—send us a message or call today for your next project!

Rustic Granite Stabilized Pathway - Downtown East Commons - U.S. Bank Stadium - Minneapolis, MN

A Short Guide to What You Need to Know about Decomposed Granite

While decomposed granite (DG) might not be on your radar, it’s a common material you come across in your garden, in a park, or on a pathway or walking trail through your community. It crunches under your feet at the baseball field. It can can be compacted to create a beautiful, natural surface while remaining firm and permeable, and stabilizing additives can be added to further enhance these valuable qualities. It’s in more places than you think, but after checking out this guide, you might have a few ideas of your own for the broad variety of uses and aesthetics decomposed granite brings to the table.

What is decomposed granite?

Granite is the most common igneous rock (rocks forming through the cooling and solidification of magma or lava) on Earth. In the case of granite, it originally crystallizes below Earth’s surface where its slow cooling allows large crystals to form. You may have seen granite take shape as some of America’s favorite sights like Yosemite Valley or a few guys on Mount Rushmore.

Decomposed granite is the completely natural derivative of granite. When granite erodes and endures weathering over time, it easily starts flaking and crumbling away from its parent source. This decomposed granite crumbles into various sizes of particles and can be further crushed and screened to specific sizes for different project needs. Granite weathers into decomposed granite in part because one of its components, feldspar, chemically weathers into a clay mineral called kaolin, which, when exposed to more water, further deteriorates.

Where can you find decomposed granite?

Crushed decomposed granite is produced by more than 100 quarries throughout all regions around the United States. Because of the varying levels of chemical composition around the U.S. and Canada, quarries in different regions will produce DG of different colors. In Kafka Granite’s home turf, vibrant reds, browns, and golds are most prominent. Other regions may be known for their tans or greys. Because of the demand for DG in a variety of colors, Kafka Granite also crushes natural stone to mimic the qualities of decomposed granite, and therefore Kafka Granite is able to offer more than 50 different colors—a rare offering by most suppliers. Our natural decomposed granite and crushed stone alternatives are crushed and screened to size and can be used interchangeably for decorative and practical applications.

What is decomposed granite used for?

Many would assume that granite and all of its derivatives are primarily used for countertops and architecture, but you may be surprised to hear that once granite has been transformed into decomposed granite it’s applications take on a multitude of uses. Despite its name, decomposed granite is still very strong. In fact, DG is harder than marble and the unique composition allows it to compact firmly for patios, ballparks, driveways, pathways and landscapes, or more high-traffic applications such as roads, while yet maintaining drainage characteristics not found in most other hardscape surfaces.

Caramel Quartzite Stabilized Pathway - Grande Cheese Headquarters & Research Center - Fond du Lac, WI

Caramel Quartzite Stabilized Pathway – Grande Cheese Headquarters & Research Center – Fond du Lac, WI

Kafka Granite is an industry leader in DG and offers both standard, stabilized, and polymeric wax decomposed granite mixtures. These innovative mixtures are comprised of various colors of granite, quartz, marble and in some cases, recycled materials such as porcelain, kiln slag, copper slag, firebrick, and more. Thanks to the care we give in creating attainable eco-friendly products, Kafka Granite has been able to assist many designers and architects receive LEED and SITES Certifications. Decomposed granite is a versatile and robust material that can be used in everything from the trails and Erin Hills Golf Course to the Downtown East Commons at the U.S. Bank Stadium.

How can you stabilize granite aggregate?

Sometimes standard DG just isn’t right for your project. You may need more stability and durability. Your pathway might need to be able to withstand heavier traffic, or your ballyard may need the moisture-retaining properties of an organic binder to minimize dust and mud. Kafka offers several crushed granite mixes that have been engineered to support high traffic areas, such as our stabilized and wax polymer pathway mixtures.

Whatever the reason, crushed granite can be stabilized with natural binders such as Organic-Lock and Stabilizer Solutions. These binders help create a durable surface that resists the erosive powers of weather or heavy traffic—all while maintaining the natural aesthetic you may have been going for in the first place. This means stabilized decomposed granite is an excellent alternative to obtrusive or less-natural looking asphalt or concrete pathways, driveways, etc, while still remaining permeable.

Custom Erin Hills Blend Wax Polymer Pathway - Erin Hills Golf Course - Hartford, WI - Photo courtesy of Paul Hundley

Custom Erin Hills Blend Wax Polymer Pathway – Erin Hills Golf Course – Hartford, WI – Photo courtesy of Paul Hundley

For the highest level of erosion resistance and durability, the Kafka Granite wax polymer pathway mixtures is an optimal solution. This hearty mixture can withstand intense erosion and be laid on the steepest of hills, due to its completely sealed, impermeable surface. However, this surface yet retains a natural aesthetic and can be easily maintained and manicured overtime, unlike traditional hardscape materials.

Where can you buy decomposed granite?

Decomposed granite can be purchased in a variety of ways. Depending on the size and scale of your project, we’ll be able to assist you with finding your ideal decomposed granite mixture. It is usually easier for smaller-scaled operations to source our aggregate mixtures from a member of our expansive dealer network. With dealers spread out all over the Midwest, finding a Kafka Granite near your next project is easy.

When it comes to large-scale projects, we most commonly assist contractors, architects, and designers by providing direct quotes for their architecturally specified projects. With a versatile portfolio comprising standard, stabilized, and wax polymer pathway mixes, we can help any project find its ideal pathway mixture.

When you get in touch directly with Kafka, you’ll be able to speak with one of our crushed granite pros who can help you determine exactly what you need for your specific project. You can also receive samples and ask questions before making a final decision.