Beige Blend Marble Wax Polymer Pathway - Deer Grove Forest Preserve - Palatine, IL

Healthy Landscaping: Exercise Parks and the History of America’s Parks

In People Places: Design Guidelines for Urban Open Space, Galen Cranz (1982) identified four major periods of development in the American Park System: the pleasure park, the reform park, the recreation facility, and the open space system. The four listed park systems accurately reflect the wants and needs of the American public through the years. Now a new park system has evolved – the exercise park. In an effort to create more healthy landscaping across the country, more and more cities are turning to exercise parks for their public outdoor spaces. Kafka Granite is well-versed in the art of creating parks that excel in both form and feature. Our stone aggregates can be found in many outdoor spaces across the country. From paver grit to pathway materials, Kafka Granite can create custom stone blends that fit any criteria.

Pleasure Parks

Midnight Blue Granite Stabilized Pathway - Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation - Dundee, IL

Midnight Blue Granite Stabilized Pathway – Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation – Dundee, IL

In pleasure parks, aesthetics were of the utmost importance. SPUR defines pleasure parks as a “vast landscape of alternating trees and meadows, undulating hills, slowly meandering waterways, and broad reflecting ponds.” Pleasure parks were meant to be enjoyed at one’s pleasure, usually in the early morning or after a meal. Pleasure parks utilized broad areas of rolling hills and natural beauty while pointedly leaving out some of the most common features we see in today’s parks. For example, pleasure parks rarely included flower beds or sculptures, and they had few to no buildings in the park.

Frederick Law Olmsted was one of the foremost pleasure park designers of the time (1850-1900). Olmsted was said to have believed that the greatest compliment to any city’s urban development was pure wilderness. This belief is responsible for the rolling nature of pleasure parks. Olmsted didn’t want any elements in his parks that would remind people of the city, or look to have been placed there by man. Of course, there were some structures in pleasure parks, such as pergolas and performance areas, but these constructions were made to be light and airy – allowing for shade while still offering an unobstructed view of the surrounding area.

Circulation paths were also a common sight in pleasure parks. Several circulation paths and their subsequent pleasure parks can be seen in paintings by the famous artisans of the time. A beautiful example is Women In The Garden by Claude Monet which he painted in 1866. The scene depicts four women conversing while enjoying some sun on a circulation path in a pleasure park in Paris.

Reform Parks

Wineberry Granite Stabilized Pathway - LaSalle II Magnet School - Chicago, IL - Project Credit: Site Design

Wineberry Granite Stabilized Pathway – LaSalle II Magnet School – Chicago, IL – Project Credit: Site Design

Next up came the reform parks, these parks became popular during the progressive era of the 1900-1930s. It was during this period that urban development was booming. Factories were being constructed, and more families were moving into the city to find work. During this period of construction there seemed to be a few groups of individuals being left unconsidered, one such ground was the children.

It was here in the 1900s that people first started campaigning for playgrounds to be constructed in the city. It was decided that children needed more daily exercise because at the time children only had the opportunity to play when their families went to the country on the weekends. Families wanted more than pleasure parks, they wanted areas for their children to run and play and the current neighborhood parks tended to be flat areas that were only one or two blocks wide. These desolate parks usually only contained straight walking paths and a few benches. The much needed change in the city park landscape was ushered in with the invention of the field house. These new field houses were built into the city parks and contained gyms, showers, meeting rooms, and communal rooms for events.

The new field houses were flanked by playing fields and playgrounds, and the parks themselves underwent a large transformation. No longer was it desirable to have parks look untouched by man, now grass gave way to sand and asphalt, and natural tree groupings gave way to flowerbeds and shade structures. With the evolution of the reform parks came organized sports and activities. Reform parks quickly became an integral part of a neighborhood’s composition.

The Recreation Facility

Ruby Red Stabilized Warning Track Mix - Buffalo Grove Park District - Buffalo Grove, IL

Ruby Red Stabilized Warning Track Mix – Buffalo Grove Park District – Buffalo Grove, IL

You’ll see that parks turned into facilities between 1930-1965, this change was prompted by the realization that parks needed to serve everyone, not just small children. Whereas the reform parks were created to give children a place to play by building playgrounds, recreation facilities were built to serve the greater public. It was in this era that adult public sports became acceptable in culture; today you probably know someone who plays on an intramural sport team of some kind. Back in the 1930s organized adult sports such as football, baseball, and basketball became very popular among working class adults.

Something else that became widely popular in the 1930s – bulk ordering. Recreation facilities were a huge success; with the addition of swimming pools these facilities saw thousands of visitors year round. As the suburbs developed people’s homes had less and less green space, facilitating the need for large community provided green areas to play. And so standards developed for park design and community programs. But with all progress comes errors, in the case of the recreation facilities their success was so great that communities wishing to create similar structures and programming rarely considered their individual needs or situations. Here is where bulk ordering came in.

If you produced picnic tables, fencing, gym equipment, or bleachers from 1930-1965 you were in a very good place. To say that sales boomed who be an understatement. Anyone who lived through the great Tickle Me Elmo Christmas rush of 1996 will understand how once something becomes hugely desirable everyone will want one and will pay anything to get one. Such was the case with recreation facilities, and sadly like your Tickle Me Elmo that is probably sitting in a closet somewhere, recreation facilities became so common that they lost popularity. What was once viewed as revolutionary and fun was now seen as ordinary and lackluster.

Open Space

After the 1960s it seemed that every bit of available land was being snatched up for development. Giant parks had been created that had everything from basketball courts and swimming pools to running tracks and outdoor theaters. It was in this time that people started to ask themselves “is all this development too much development?” Unlike the days of the pleasure parks, cities no longer had ample green space to relax in. One could go to the community recreation center but with all of the activities offered it became hard to find a quiet moment.

It was during this period in history that people started viewing undeveloped land as ready to use. Instead of wondering how many structures could be built community members were now ready to leave green space as it was – green. More unique and available forms of play sets were conceived using materials that were readily available, such as tires and railway ties. People were done with cookie cutter playsets – they wanted an opportunity to create a play structure that was unique and suited to their community’s needs. These structures were called adventure playgrounds.

Tot lots also became popular; these were usually made of smaller items, such as one or two tires and sand pits. These tot lots traditionally took up a small portion of the greater park. Aside from the tot lots and adventure playgrounds the rest of the park was left open in what was called an urban plaza. What Frederick Law Olmsted thought would take acres could now be accomplished in a mere block with these new open spaces. The plazas were almost everything Olmsted wanted – large open spaces that appeared to have been untouched by man.

Exercise Parks

Parks have always served as a means to get exercise. From young to old, parks were created to give all a way to exercise with friends and family. Other countries have been incorporating more direct means of exercise into their public parks for years, and in the early 2000s the U.S. joined in. Previous iterations of parks served the general purpose of getting people active; exercise parks are the first form of parks to be created with a specific purpose – to get people to exercise.

Studies have shown that people prefer to exercise outdoors as opposed to indoors and with the rise in obesity the importance of having accessible exercise opportunities cannot be understated. Kafka Granite is passionate about making aggregate blends for these special parks. Outdoor fitness parks are traditionally created in one of four styles.

  • Composite Fitness Station
    • A single piece of equipment, a composite fitness station is ideal for smaller parks.
  • Fitness Trail
    • A long pathway network that moves through the park naturally. This is a great option for parks with long walking paths.
  • Fitness Cluster
    • A collection of equipment that is set up to be used in a collaborative manner.
  • Joint Use Fitness Zone
    • Typically arranged in a semi-circle, a joint use fitness zone is set up so that adults using it can keep an eye on their children.

It is important for exercise parks to allow users to work their total body in something that Playcore calls Total Body Fitness. To achieve Total Body Fitness, an exercise park must offer:

  • Aerobic fitness via cardio endurance activities
  • Muscle fitness via strength, resistance, and endurance training
  • Core fitness via abdomen, lower back, and pelvic exercises
  • Balance and flexibility training to promote stability, coordination, range of motion, posture, and more

Let Kafka Granite Help You to Create an Exercise Park in Your Community

Exercise parks are quickly gaining popularity across the United States. Kafka Granite is proud to offer various products from pathway materials to decomposed granite mixtures, that can be utilized in the creation of these new-age parks. Kafka has been contributing aggregate blends for the construction and restoration of parks for years. Our state-of-the-art crushing facility allows us to create custom tailored aggregate blends that can be used in pleasure parks, reform parks, recreation facilities, open space parks, and exercise parks. If you are ready to either revamp your communities current park or create a new destination, contact Kafka Granite today.

Stabilized American Heritage Pathway Mix - University of Notre Dame

The University of Notre Dame, Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park : A Kafka Granite Case Study

At Kafka Granite, we take pride in having provided materials for a number of sizeable projects throughout the years. From Yankee Stadium to Navy Pier, we have been proud to have helped city planners, corporations, and universities alike revitalize their interior and exterior spaces through innovative projects and initiatives. One such opportunity to help reinvigorate an established space was the Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park project at The University of Notre Dame.The University was looking to reclaim their once great sculpture garden and transform it into a green living space that could be enjoyed for generations to come and we were only too happy to assist.

With the generosity of Charles B. Hayes, the University of Notre Dame was able to acquire the funds needed to restore this once great park to its former glory and beyond. The park originally opened in its phase one iteration in December of 2012 with five sculptures comprising the collection. A portion of the park was then closed after the last 2014 University of Notre Dame home football game to provide a space for materials to be stored during the Campus Crossroads Stadium Expansion. It was at this time that dirt excavated from the stadium project was stored in the then closed sculpture park. After the fill was removed, contractors were then sent in to excavated coal ash that had been generated by the University’s power plant. Additionally, the fly ash that had accumulated underground due to the presence of a landfill which previously occupied the same lot had to be excavated.

With the site cleared it was time for the University of Notre Dame to being phase two construction in an effort to create the sculpture garden.

WHEN: August 2017

WHERE: The finished Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park spans an impressive eight-acre swath of land all the way from the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center to the corner of  Angela Boulevard and Eddy Street. With the addition of the Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park the University of Notre Dame has been able to complete their “greenbelt” vision; a green space highway that encompasses the Compton Family Ice Arena, Irish Green lawn, Notre Dame Avenue, and Cedar Grove Cemetery, creating a gracious and natural southern entrance to the campus.

Kafka Stabilized American Heritage Pathway Mix, made with Organic-Lock, can be found dispersed through the entirety of the Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park. These pathways connect each section of the park and give a cohesive and natural look to this vital feature of the park’s functionality.

The Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park can be found at the University of Notre Dame campus on the NE corner of Angela/Edison and Eddy St. in South Bend, IN.

WHO: Michael Van Valkenburgh and Associates (MVVA) were tasked with creating this modern sculpture garden. They faced many challenges along the way, but with the help of the Snite Museum of Art, the finished Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park is something to behold. MVVA knew that they needed a high-quality pathway material that could withstand all four Midwestern seasons while preserving the natural, sacred-inspired aesthetic. With success working with Kafka Granite on past projects such as the Kenyon College Middle Path and Brooklyn Bridge Park, MVVA felt confident that Kafka Granite Stabilized Pathways would be a solution for Notre Dame as well. Kafka was able to offer the park a high-performing pathway in the desired color. The product was a natural fit.

WHAT: Michael Van Valkenburgh and Associates had quite the task ahead of them when taking on the Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park project. This park posed some unique challenges that every aspect of the finished design would have to overcome and complement, including the finished pathway system. When searching for an aggregate provider, MVVA would only consider products that met the following requirements:

  1. The final product needed to complement the religious aspects of the park.
  2. The pathway would need to match the indigenous plants, shrubs, and trees utilized in the park.
  3. The overall theme of the park needed to reflect what the site would have looked like prior to the University of Notre Dame’s founding in 1842, meaning that the pathway system chosen had to be natural looking.
  4. Every material used would need to be able to stand up to the test of a four-season Midwestern year.
  5. The final pathway material selected would need to be permeable to help with water management.
  6. Any material chosen needed to work together with the rest of the park to reflect the inaugural installation’s theme: Reclaiming Our Nature
  7. The products needed to be able to seamlessly flow around the concrete bases of the park’s installations and be easily amended should the layout change.

But apart from the physical demands of the pathway, there were broader objectives that the overarching project needed to meet, and the pathway that would eventually lead through the exhibition would play a large role in accomplishing the University’s goals. Overall, the finished park needed to:

  1. Assist the University in creating a true arts district for all to enjoy.
  2. Serve as a literal gateway to the local community.
  3. Create a “greenbelt” for the southern campus entrance.
  4. And lastly, create a sacred place that could be enjoyed at any time of day, every day of the year.

HOW: Kafka’s Stabilized American Heritage Pathway played a role in the final vision of Michael Van Valkenburgh and Associates. It was clear to MVVA that Kafka Granite was the best choice for this project. After verifying that Kafka had the material that the park needed there were still several challenges that the contractors had to overcome while getting their new pathway system into place. First, the layout of the park is somewhat undulating, meaning that the final pathway mixture needed to be pliable but have enough rigidity to maintain its form once placed. And second, the final pathway chosen needed to be able to survive in a harsh outdoor setting and withstand heavy foot traffic. The aggregate mixture that was ultimately chosen, the Kafka stabilized pathway mixture in the color American Heritage, utilizes patented Organic-lock technology that addressed both of these needs. It was this advancement that set Kafka Granite apart from its competitors.

The binding agent used in the stabilized pathway mixture is the strongest organic aggregate binder on the market and is made from 100% naturally occurring materials. The finished material drastically reduces erosion compared to other natural crushed stone pathways and is wheelchair accessible. On top of its ability to resist erosion, the stabilized pathway mixture remains flexible and has self-healing properties so the surface will not crack or crumble over time like traditional hardscape materials. Organic-Lock™ is designed to create a stabilized surface that reduces maintenance while maintaining a natural look and feel.

Once Michael Van Valkenburgh and Associates narrowed in on Kafka’s Stabilized American Heritage Pathway with Organic-Lock, they decided to install a mock up. Due to the site’s history as a landfill and later a storing facility during construction, there was no clean pad to hydrate the stabilized pathway mixture on prior to installation. To overcome this obstacle, crews laid down 4×8 sheets of plywoods to hydrate the decomposed granite mixture prior to installation. This may have been an unorthodox mixing and preparing method, but in the end, it ended up being the perfect solution to this challenging installation.

With a finished pathway system that seamlessly blends through the entire sculpture garden, everyone that comes to visit the newly completed Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park can enjoy the magnitude of the finished destination. The newly renovated Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park has already had an enormous impact on the community surrounding the site. With breathtaking sculptures, lighted walking paths, a natural stone amphitheater, and captivating native flora, the finished Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park will be enjoyed by all for years to come.

The Story: Kafka Granite Introduces Specialty Building Stone

After nearly 40 years in the crushed aggregate industry, Kafka Granite recently announced they would be launching a new line of Specialty Building Stone products. Watch the video below to learn how the story unfolded. 


Glenn Kafka, Founder: In 1979, I started in the decomposed granite business. Bought a quarry. 40-acre deposit, and I started bidding road projects and what not. I was moving this rock; it was probably 12 feet in diameter, and I got so far, and it fell back against the blade and it hit it hard, it jarred me, and voila. It glittered. Not quite to this effect, but it did glitter. It had, it had some mica in it, and it was what we call dynamite orange to this day. It sparkled. And I’m like, “wow; It would be awesome if we would crush that and make a decorative aggregate.” So that’s kind of how I had the idea of crushing different colors. Today we have 60 different colors of aggregates, and we collect them from Canada and throughout the U.S.

I did not find this mica-enriched quartzite. I searched for years, looking for aggregates, but this one found me. It sparkles, it glitters. The colors are amazing, are vibrant. It’s just, like, something you’ve never seen before.

The colors. There are so many colors that I haven’t even brought here yet. I’ve never seen anything like this, it was like a red, and a green, and this black, and it just sparkled, and glistened, and it was amazing. And it’s something that nobody else has. It intrigued me.

I said, why don’t we market the glitter stone in a thin stone veneer? That would be something that nobody has. A week later I was up there, and a month later I owned it.

Jason Hestekin, Director of Dimensional Stone Division: So I talked to Glenn 20 years ago about his products, and back then I already knew what was, what was different about what he did. Kafka does things one way, and it’s a top shelf. And part of being Kafka is blazing the trail and setting a new bar.

I’ve worked at a few other quarriers. I’ve been out in the yard, I’ve been in the fabricating end of it, I’ve been in sales. From residential, commercial, agricultural; homes that are bigger than most commercial projects. Just some incredible things that you just to see. You see things because you’ve seen so much. And you’re not afraid of “can you, can’t you,” whatever that looks like. Yes. We can do it; there’s a way. We have proven for a long time we can do a lot of things, and our aggregate industry, we are ready. We are doing everything we can to be a building stone supplier.

Glenn: As far as the quality, we actually have a jump on that because we’re taking a piece of stone that is this large, and we’re trying to make that perfect. What we’ve done in the past was taken that stone and made it into a million little pieces, and had to keep that quality.

Jason: It is so specific. Can you do that in building stone? That’s crazy. Nobody has that type of specification; that type of requirement. And we’re already exceeding that? We got this.

The most exciting part of all of this is, is it isn’t just one product or one specific material, it is a large amount of products that we already have that have an endless amount of opportunity. Something nobody else has. And it’s not one thing, it’s 10, 15, 20, 30, 40 different products that nobody’s never seen. And we’re going to bring all of them to the market.

The launching pad for Kafka’s building stone is our Glitter Series. We will launch with a couple of specific colors, and as we continue to work through that quarry, we will bring other Glitter products to the market. This mica-enriched material is unbelievable, and you have this big “Wow! Holy smokes, I have never seen anything like this before.” It defines what you want to do, which is, nobody else has it so it’s unique, it’s top shelf, it’s the best of the best. We can do all of that with so many other products we already have–that’s the turning point.   

So, you can also expect to see our Legacy Series, and that will be a combination of products from many other quarries that we own. And you can expect to see that immediately this year. Those products are things that are not out on the market that nobody else has. We can truly be a one of a kind. We’re creating our own market, and we’re going to lead the way with it.

Glenn: I’m not getting in this business to compete with anybody that’s already in this business. That’s not my goal. My goal is this. To offer something that nobody else has–something that I love. And I want to show the world. With the mindset of quality comes first, and the product can never be good enough, that’s what we hang our hat on, and that’s where we’re focused on in the future.

I believe that we’re barely scratching the surface. The possibilities are endless.

Jason: We’re ready to roll.

Announcing Specialty Building Stone by Kafka Granite

Kafka Owner and Founder, Glenn Kafka, is excited to share with his loyal customers Kafka Granite’s newest natural stone offerings. Having purchased his first 40-acre quarry in 1979, Glenn has worked tirelessly over the years to evolve and grow the Kafka name into what it is today.

Amongst his first discoveries within that first quarry was an unexpected find; an orange granite with traces of mica in it. This aggregate was discovered by accident when a large solid boulder toppled backward and broke, revealing the dazzling surprise inside. This discovery inspired Glenn to wonder “what if we crushed down this stone to make a decorative aggregate?” And the rest, as they say, was history. Once the concept of crushing decorative aggregate was seized upon, Kafka began producing over 60 unique color variants of specialty aggregates, including Dynamite Orange Granite.

And while satisfied with the results of his crushing endeavors, one day Glenn was approached by an individual looking to sell a quarry with some very unique features. Glenn wasn’t interested in opening another quarry in Canada, but it was promised to Glenn that this new quarry found in Northern Ontario contained something spectacular; multi-colored mica enriched quartzite. And so, after seeing a sample, a week later Glenn decide to venture out to go see the site. Once he laid his eyes on the quarry, he knew just how special it really was. A week later he sent trucks to the quarry to bring back raw material, and a month later he owned it!  Glenn couldn’t help but think: this stone is far too spectacular to merely crush; what other products could we make of it?

The stone found at Kafka’s newest quarry sparkles and glitters in glistening, vibrant hues, making it something that’s yet to be seen on today’s market. Glenn himself has admitted to never having seen anything quite like this new stone. Red, green, black, and more shades have already been discovered within this dazzling new resource. And while Glenn saw this potential for this product as a crushed aggregate, he also had the thought to use this one of a kind stone to make something completely new; glittering natural stone veneer.

There are no comparable products on the market today that can hold a candle to our new stone’s brilliance and shine. At Kafka, we have always prided ourselves on the high product standards we maintain, and we knew that these specialty building stone products would have to live up to our established Kafka standards. After all, part of being Kafka is blazing the trail and setting a new bar.

Our crushing facility produces some of the highest quality, speciality aggregates on the market, and we’re maintaining that same level of quality when it comes to our thin stone veneer and building stone.

And we’re not just talking about one product; these high standards are being applied to our entire new building stone line, which will someday be comprised of a multitude of products. These new products have an endless amount of opportunity.

Naturally, when it came time to decide on the launching series that we would use to introduce our new veneers to the market, the only name that seemed fitting was the Glitter Series. Launching with a few preselected colors, the line will eventually expand to encompass a wide range of sparkling colors as we work through our new quarry. But the Glitter Series will not be our only foray into veneers, our newly released Legacy Series will likewise be comprised of thin veneers and building stone. These new granite, marble, and quartz building stone products will be made from the same Kafka colors that our customers know and love. This high-end building stone will be ideal for any number of applications from building facades to interior features and will be available in a wide range of cuts and colors. 
We didn’t get into this business to compete with anyone else. We came to create our own market and lead the way. At Kafka Granite, our goal has always been to offer something that nobody else has. And whether that’s through specialty aggregates or veneers, we strive to ensure that our products stand apart from the rest. When it comes to our new veneers, we’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s possible. Make sure to stay tuned for future updates about our new veneer lines and the exciting products we’re turning out.

Listen to how the story unfolded by watching the video below.

Photo courtesy of Unilock

4 Recycled Crushed Materials to Start Using in Your Design

Kafka Granite has always taken measures to help the environment. After all, we pride ourselves on the environmental benefits of naturally occurring decomposed granite in comparison with concrete or asphalt. Permeable paver grit, which contributes to groundwater recharge, and white roof options to reduce urban heat islands contribute to our portfolio of eco-conscious aggregates. Using sustainable materials in your next big project could give you points toward a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

Creating a LEED-certified project is a reflection of your project’s minimal stress on the environment. It shows you’ve taken the environment into consideration from the design of your project to the material you used. One way to help earn LEED certification (and the trust of many earth-adoring people) is to use recycled materials as often as you can. This means using insulation from recycled jeans, rubber playground surfaces made from recycled tires, or even pathways or precast concrete fixtures made from recycled porcelain and fire brick —think outside the box for where recycled materials can be used in your project.

 1. Rejected Toilets and Sinks

Recycled Porcelain Aggregate

Recycled Porcelain Aggregate

Kafka Granite has teamed with Wisconsin-native businesses Wausau Tile and Kohler Corporation to stick to an impressive recycling initiative. This three-way relationship started when Kohler noted that its landfills were becoming saturated with brand-new toilets and sinks. These fixtures simply didn’t meet the high-quality standards of inspectors, so off to the landfill they went. Wausau Tile took interest in the discarded porcelain goldmine and approached Kafka Granite for its impeccable crushing facility. The crushed porcelain was to be used for a new product line that Wausau Tile was going to create, but another world of benefits was also unlocked.

Companies like Wausau Tile can use recycled crushed high-quality porcelain in terrazzo flooring and as a unique component to decorative precast concrete. Its potential has also been explored and makes a great material to use in exposed aggregate architectural panels, pathway materials, and epoxy overlay streetscapes. Whistling Straits, the famous Kohler Company owned golf course, is even using their recycled porcelain as bunker liners using the Better Billy Bunker Method. Recycled porcelain is incredibly durable and absorbs minimal water, which makes it especially ideal for climates where continual freezing and thawing is common.

 

 

2. Old Electronics Glass and Mirrors

Kafka Granite Recycled Smoked Glass

Kafka Granite Recycled Smoked Glass

Other materials adding an element of smoke or sparkle to quartz countertops everywhere are electronics glass and discarded two-sided mirrors. Thousands of outdated boxy TVs are tossed to the curb every day, but now the thick smoky glass could see new life by being crushed for other purposes. Two-sided mirrors are also seeing new life as they can add a reflective glimmer to be used in terrazzo flooring, countertops, or anywhere else crushed recycled mirror could add a unique touch. The depth added by these crushed materials gives new life to old, useless glass.

 

 

 

 

3. Copper Slag

Kafka Granite Recycled Copper Slag

Kafka Granite Recycled Copper Slag

Kafka also recycles some less obvious materials for crushed aggregate, such as copper slag. Recycled copper slag is a unique option that you can use as a recycled aggregate in your next project. Durable, attractive, and recycled, these options could help push you toward a LEED certification. But what exactly is copper slag?

Copper slag is a byproduct of copper smelting. Smelting is the refining process that copper ore goes through. Copper ore is what’s mined from the earth, usually from quarries, and is a mix of minerals and rock. In order to extract the usable ore from the mineral and rock blend, the mixed deposits undergo smelting; the process during which the deposits are heated with an agent that triggers a chemical reaction that forces the desired metal end-product out of the ore deposits.

The non-metallic dust, soot and rock are what make up copper slag. Copper slag is friendly to both the health of people, as oppose to alternatives like silica sand that is harmful when inhaled, and the environment. It also has an impressive strength-to-weight ratio, making it a durable, long-lasting option for different projects. Copper slag is primarily black in color with flecks of red and lighter greys, resulting in a pleasant and versatile aesthetic that is mostly used as aggregate in precast concrete to increase its recycled content.

Many prestigious projects have utilized our copper slag recycled materials, such as Chicago’s Navy Pier. The designers on the project were looking for a material that could stand up to the test of thousands of visitors and rapidly changing weather, all while being made using recycled content. Our copper slag ended up being exactly what the project called for, and ended up being a large contributing factor that helped the final Navy Pier project received a gold SITES certification.

4. Firebrick

Kafka Granite Recycled Firebrick

Just like copper slag, firebrick is an eco-friendly material that can earn your project those highly desirable LEED points. But what exactly is firebrick?

Firebrick refers to the dense bricks made to withstand intense heat. These bricks are usually found lining kilns, furnaces, and fireplaces. These bricks are designed to hold even under during rapid temperature changes; such as in locations with mercurial environments. When firebricks reach the end of their application, though, they could end up at a crushing facility like Kafka’s. Crushed firebrick blends have a great blend of light tans, greys, browns and reds. Such a varied yet neutral color palette and strong compaction characteristics makes crushed firebrick a great recycled option for pathways.

Crushed Recycled Material Available for LEED Certification

Being environmentally conscious is never a bad thing, especially if it can earn your project LEED certification. Architectural customers as well as the eco-friendly consumers will benefit from using recycled materials in their next projects. Instead of clogging landfills, these materials are being crushed to exact specifications to breathe unique life into many products like terrazzo floors, precast concrete, and even pathways. Kafka Granite has been pushing the environmental envelope for years and has just what you’re looking for when it comes to recycled aggregate. To get free samples or find where you can get your hands on recycled porcelain, firebrick and copper slag, contact us today. We’re waiting to help find the right aggregate for your project, especially if helps toward LEED certification.

Midnight Blue Granite

Why Is Rip Rap Used for Breakwaters?

The Multi-use Landscaping Tool

There is a certain majesty to waterfront property that is hard to beat. The serenity provided by the sound of lapping waves and gentle movement of the water makes for an idealistic setting for most businesses. Kafka Granite is fortunate enough to be surrounded by numerous bodies of water in the Mosinee area.

With over 15,000 lakes in our home state of Wisconsin, we frequently receive calls regarding how to protect waterfront property from erosion. In these cases, we recommend rip rap breakwaters to those seeking multi-use landscape structures that are both useful and aesthetically pleasing. And just to note, we always tell our customers to refer to their state DNR shoreline regulations when considering making any changes to their property’s shoreline.

Breakwaters and Rip Rap

In need of multi-use landscape supplies that are not only beautiful but functional? Rip rap is comprised of naturally occurring rock that has been broken into pieces ranging from 6” to 30” shards. Kafka Granite offers exceptional quartzite and granite rip rap in a vast spectrum of colors.

Rip rap, sometimes seen as riprap, rip-rap or stone armor comes from the nautical word rip-rap, which in 1822 meant “stretch of rippling water.” Rip rap can be classified as either graded or uniform. Graded rip rap is a mixture of stones that vary in size and shape, whereas uniform rip rap is a mix of stones that are all of a similar size and shape. Records of rip rap can be found well before the 1900s. In fact, rip rap became one of the first forms of erosion control when it was used in the building of the Panama Canal in the early 1800s.

Breakwaters are exactly what the name implies; they are offshore structures that protect property from the force of waves by breaking water before it reaches the shore. The first cited use of a breakwater was in 1769.

Shoreline Erosion

Shoreline rip rap used for breakwaters serves many purposes besides being simply pleasing to the eye. Breakwaters made of rip rap help reduce erosion and absorb the force of waves. Without the use of breakwaters, waves can make a significant impact on shorelines. When left unchecked waves can both deposit debris along a shore or result in erosion. Waves will deposit sediment along the shore when the force of the wave dissipates before it reaches land, this results in layers of gravel, sand and debris being left behind. Erosion occurs when waves break along the shore and then carry parts of the shore back out to the water. It is estimated that wave erosion is to blame for the loss of four billion tons of soil annually, resulting in over $20 billion being spent on replacement soil each year.

Shoreline erosion is a natural process that can occur in lakes, rivers, streams and along the coast. Many factors can contribute to shoreline erosion including storms, strong waves, rain, ice, runoff, winds, loss of vegetation and more. As mentioned above, over time shoreline erosion can present an enormous threat to your property’s value, structural integrity and present a serious financial obstacle, so it’s important to take the necessary steps to ensure your property’s longevity with the use of a rip rap breakwater.

How to Use Rip Rap

Rip rap has many uses; as landscape stone, to form a breakwater, as abutments and more. Rip rap can also be used as a beautiful accent feature or to build striking retaining walls. We are frequently seeing new ways to use this diverse landscape stone, with customers fabricating fountains, steps, benches, and more from beautiful natural chucks of stone. Anyone who owns land along a lake or riverway should first contact their local county, city, or township with questions regarding standards or permit requirements before starting work on their shoreline.

Advantage of Rip Rap Against Other Types of Retainers

Rip rap is an easy-to-use and easy-to-maintain landscape stone that is a very low-maintenance alternative to other traditional retaining walls. Rip rap should be checked annually or after any large storms to ensure that no stones have been displaced. You shouldn’t allow wooden vegetation to grow on your rip rap due to the eventual displacement of your stone from the plant’s root system. Wooden vegetation includes shrubbery such as willow and dogwood plants and smaller grasses such as fox sedge, rattlesnake manna grass and tall manna grass.

A breakwater made of rip rap has another great advantage that you might not have considered—natural wildlife habitat! Traditional vertical seawalls offer no protection or benefits for the local ecosystem, but a rip rap breakwater provides an excellent place for wildlife to feed and hide. Once installed you can expect to see a whole new ecosystem develop around your property. Below are some further advantages of rip rap breakwaters.

  • Rip rap is specifically designed to fight again erosion
  • You will receive a high level of protection for minimal shoreline maintenance
  • Rip rap is intended to withstand a high degree of impact and velocity
  • Once installed, rip rap provides lasting long-term protection
  • Rip rap is a natural repellent to common pests such as rodents and muskrats
  • Rip rap will help secure the longevity of your property’s value

Kafka Granite Rip Rap

After you’ve consulted with your local DNR and are ready to build your rip rap breakwater, look no further than Kafka Granite. Our rip rap selection is comprised of a variety of colored, sized and shaped stones reaching up to 4 feet in diameter. We offer 13 distinctly unique color options including:

  • Cajun Spice Granite
  • Caramel Quartzite
  • Chocolate Brown Granite
  • Dynamite Orange Granite
  • Imperial Gray Granite
  • Linwood Granite
  • Mauve Granite
  • Midnight Blue Granite
  • Platinum Granite
  • Ruby Red Granite
  • Shamrock Green Granite
  • Starlight Black Granite
  • Wintergreen Granite

Rip rap is a great solution for those looking for an aesthetically pleasing stone for a large scale project, for both contractors and architects alike. No project is too small or too large at Kafka Granite. Additionally, while usually known for our crushed stone aggregates, we take pride in offering unique raw rip rap that shines in both form and feature. The natural colors found in our rip rap are sure to complement your next shoreline or breakwater project perfectly. Get in touch with Kafka Granite today to discuss your next rip rap breakwater project. Our rip rap selection is now available for online viewing.

Standard Red Cedar Granite Pathway Mix - Cityville Dog Park - Des Moines, IA

Clever Uses For Decomposed Granite Pathway Material

We at Kafka Granite make an incredible amount of pathway material each year. Our standard, stabilized, and wax polymer pathway material options are perfect for long and winding paths through public parks, woodsy bike trails, and even golf courses. While we know our decomposed granite makes for an excellent walking, biking, or golf-carting path, we also know it’s good for a few unexpected uses.

 

Traditionally, clients come to Kafka Granite to find the perfect aggregate blend for any number of diverse projects. And with over 50 color varieties, and a custom crushing facility, we are able to meet the needs of even the most challenging of projects. Yet we do get the occasional unusual project, but we know that every project is unique and has its own special needs and demands. That’s why we offer standard, stabilized, and wax polymer pathway mixtures.

 

Standard Decomposed Granite Pathways

Standard DG pathways are all natural solutions to your walkway needs. Standard pathways perform better than conventional gravel pathways as they create a firmer surface while remaining natural and allowing water to permeate through. A standard pathway is ideal of low traffic, outdoor walkways, and spaces.

 

Stabilized Decomposed Granite Pathways

For commercial applications or in higher traffic areas, a stabilized pathway mix is the more suitable option for most. The Kafka Granite stabilized pathway mix is comprised of decomposed granite or crushed stone blended with a stabilizing binder. It’s this combination that binds and locks the pathway mix to provide a durable, permeable, and natural aggregate surface. A stabilized pathway resists the erosive effects of weather and traffic better than traditional gravels or a standard pathway mix, making it a great option for areas that receive heavy rain or snow. Stabilized pathway mixtures are ideal for firmer outdoor pathways that can withstand heavier traffic but still provide a natural look.

 

Wax Polymer Decomposed Granite Pathways

The Kafka Granite wax polymer pathway mix is a unique alternative to pavement that offers a waterless and dustless pathway solution. With our state of the art crushing facility, we have the ability to combine the aggregate color of your choice with engineered wax polymers for a sealed, non-permeable surface that does not get muddy or dusty. This unique mixture provides solutions for extremely high traffic areas, steep slopes, and other demanding pathway projects. The pre-mixed formula can be easily installed without water, and is easy to maintain. It also allows greater creativity in design applications for architects and landscapers.

 

Choosing The Untrodden Path

As aforementioned, the traditional uses for our DG pathway mixtures typically include recreational trails, resort walkways, and corporate pathways. But we always love assisting landscape architects and contractors create something out of the ordinary with any of our DG pathway mixtures. Next time you have one of these projects lingering on your to-do list, consider using one of Kafka’s decomposed granite pathway mixes!

Salt & Pepper Granite Stabilized Pathway - Toro Corporate Headquarters - Bloomington, MN

Salt & Pepper Granite Stabilized Pathway – Toro Corporate Headquarters – Bloomington, MN

Serene Water Feature

Want to create your own babbling brook? Or perhaps you have great ideas for a fountain in your future! Whatever watery focal point you’re looking to create, consider using our decomposed granite as the perfect surrounding material for your next water feature. We offer nearly 60 different colors of decomposed granite—including recycled materials—and it can complement practically any aesthetic you’re craving.

When you’re drawing up plans for your dream backyard pond or water feature, consider the color and material variations available to you. From vibrant and bold colors to natural hues of brown and grey, your possibilities are endless. Ensure your new pond has a serene surrounding. Adding bright pathway materials around your pond will make the entire water feature a work of art in your space.

 

Desert Spar Gold Granite Stabilized Pathway Mix - Bay Park Dog Park - East Rockaway, NY - Installed by Laser Industries

Desert Spar Gold Granite Stabilized Pathway Mix – Bay Park Dog Park – East Rockaway, NY – Installed by Laser Industries

Dog Run Done Right

Creating a great dog run can be endlessly useful yet tricky. You may leave the grass in the running area as is, but over time the lawn is going to deteriorate. The continual movement of man’s best friend is going to tear up the grass, make muddy pits, and look generally unpleasant. Cleaning it will become a hassle, and you could find yourself starting each summer off by laying new sod. To get out of sod purgatory, consider decomposed granite pathway materials instead of leaving the grass.

Dog runs don’t have to be unsightly. Kafka’s wide palette of decomposed granite colors will leave your dog run a vibrant complementary feature to your yard or an unnoticed part disguised by granite that goes unnoticed. Whatever design element you’re looking to achieve with your dog run, DG can help you with it. What’s more is that a dog run with a decomposed granite base won’t get worn down and muddy with continuous use. Dogs’ little “presents” are easy to scoop and DG allows everything to permeate into the ground. Your canine friend will be a little cleaner, too, as they won’t have sand or dirt stuck to them after a good run like they would if you went with a different substrate. For the most functional and beautiful dog run on the block, check out our decomposed granite pathway materials.

Xeriscaping

You may be wondering what xeriscaping even is. While you may not have heard much about it in the past, you’re sure to learn more about it in the near future. Xeriscaping is creative landscaping that has the ultimate purpose of conserving water. Once intended for drought-stricken areas, such as Arizona or other perpetually hot geographic areas, xeriscaping is trending as freshwater resources are depleting and people become more environmentally conscious.

Xeriscaping saves water, requires less maintenance, can achieve any desired landscape design, and doesn’t need any sort of fertilizer or pesticide to look beautiful and up curb appeal. Using decomposed granite as your topdressing for your xeriscaping project enables water to permeate to the soil while reducing weed growth — plus, your landscape is sure to look beautiful with Kafka’s color and material variety. Pick a color or multiple colors to complement or contrast your home and drought-resistant plants. While xeriscaping may seem harder than traditional landscaping using bark mulch, it really isn’t. Plus, decomposed granite topdressing won’t erode as much, which means you won’t be replacing it every year.

Bocce Ball

While decomposed granite pathway materials make great decorative and functional surfaces, they also make great athletic surfaces! What isn’t to love about that? Decomposed granite pathway material is a proven surface for bocce ball courts. It will never become muddy as water can permeate through the DG and into the ground below.

Bocce ball courts using decomposed granite as their foundation can be easily maintained and won’t take long to dry after a heavy rain, which means you can go back to playing bocce as soon as the sun is shining again.

Kafka Pathway Materials for All Occasions

As it’s plain to see, our decomposed granite pathway material is ideal for many situations. The durability and permeability make DG an excellent choice for much more than walkways! Plus, our seemingly never-ending list of color choices makes it possible to fulfill any landscaping design you’re going for. What can you think up? We can help you find the DG that’s right for you today.  

Wisconsin Granite Boulders - Private Residence, WI

Landscape Inspiration for Your Next Retaining Wall Project

Retaining walls are often more than just an aesthetic addition to your landscaping project. They’re used to help control downhill erosion, manage water runoff, and even create usable landscaping space if your green space is steeply graded and difficult to use otherwise. When it comes to building a retaining wall, though, you could be overwhelmed by the number of options available to you.

Kafka Granite knows landscaping stone and can help when it comes to making a unique retaining wall. We offer a variety of granite boulders, cobbles, and decorative rip rap—a large angular stone—that can be used to make a one-of-a-kind retaining wall that will blend seamlessly with your natural aesthetic. The variety of naturally colored stone offered make it possible for your retaining wall to become exactly what you’ve dreamed of: a beautiful, natural solution that blends in with your landscape rather than obtrusive  manufactured concrete block.

Must-dos for Building a Retaining Wall

When building a retaining wall from natural granite boulders or rip rap, the size of the stone you’ll need to build the wall you want will impact your wall’s finished design. If your retaining wall is low and following a particularly curvy course, perhaps around a flowerbed, water feature, or outdoor space, you’re most likely on the lookout for smaller-sized granite boulders. Both boulders and rip rap landscaping stone options can blend into your landscape’s surroundings or stand on their own as a decorative feature.

As professional designers and contractors, most will be familiar with the retaining wall process. But to err on the side of caution, here are the most important details to keep in mind when plotting out your next retaining wall project outside of the traditional type, color, and size of stone considerations.

You’ll need to have an in depth understanding of where the property lines are located, power lines are buried, and  where there is a difference in grade throughout the area. Knowing the difference in grades within the property will allow you to plan where and how your retaining wall will adjust to the environment’s natural ebb and flow. With this information you will be able to discuss with your client how they wish to address some of the project’s challenges. For example, is the final retaining wall going to cut into any hills (and how much material will you have to remove in front of or add behind the new wall) or is it going to follow the natural slope of the property? These conversations will allow all involved to better visualize how the final retaining wall will work in your overall landscape design.

The soil your retaining wall will be holding back is also a vitally important consideration. Soils can range from being clay-based to very sandy. The type of soil used will help determine how much reinforcement your retaining wall will need to provide. Also, a heavy clay soil will provide less drainage than a sandier soil. To ensure optimal drainage and avoid damage from saturation or frost-heave to your retaining wall in the years to come, we recommend using gravel as your primary backfill. When your soil is less than ideal for using behind a retaining wall, using gravel backfill for roughly 2 feet behind the wall is a good solution for drainage. Use gravel backfill until 6 inches below the top of the retaining wall because that is where you can safely fill in with topsoil.

Get the Natural Retaining Wall You’ve Always Wanted

Ditch the manufactured blocks that the big box stores sell and provide your clients with something truly spectacular. Opt for a unique and natural retaining wall that will add just the aesthetic you’re looking for to your landscape design. Whether you want to create a retaining wall that will house next flowerbeds or you need to cut into a hill to create a flat, usable space in your green space, don’t wait. The ideal landscape stone is available from your nearest Kafka Granite dealer.

If you’re interested in Kafka’s granite boulder or rip rap retaining wall options, we can help you to find a dealer near you. If you’re interested in becoming a part of our dealer program, we can help with that, too! Give us a call and let’s talk about your next big project.

Salt & Pepper Stabilized Pathway Mix - Akron Art Museum - Akron, OH

Complete Your Project with Today’s Landscaping Trends

As we head into 2018 landscaping season, so should your landscaping design. The trends for landscape design change slightly from year to year, and now more than ever is a growing emphasis on bringing facets of green living—living more environmentally friendly—to the great outdoors. When designing the ideal outdoor space for your next project, there are quite a few elements to keep track of on your landscape checklist.

Kafka Granite is a premier manufacturer of architectural and landscape aggregates in the heart of the Midwest, so keeping our thumb on the pulse of landscaping trends is crucial. We work with landscape architects to perfect the materials used in green outdoor spaces for large-scale projects. Whether it’s the ideal material to complete a walkway, a supply of boulders for retaining walls or water features, or the perfect aggregate for decorative precast concrete  pavers, flower beds, trash cans, and more, we take pride in creating the best of the best when it comes to crushed aggregates for landscape projects.

Things to Consider for the Perfect Landscape

You might have a dream landscape in mind, but before you start digging and plotting, there are a few things to consider. When you begin a project, one of the first constraints you have to work within is a budget. Especially small budgets mean you need to get clever in terms of materials—and maintenance costs. A design outfitted with several seating areas, fire pits, pergolas, and sprawling gardens is going to be substantially more costly than wide-open lawns. Considering cost every step of the way will force you to prioritize the goals of the project and better plan for features to include.

In relation to cost is function. How will this space be used? Does it need to be fit for large crowds, heavy foot traffic, vehicular traffic, etc.? The functionality needs of your landscape architecture often dictate where the budget absolutely needs to go. For example, while having an impermeable wax polymer pathway through the project isn’t exactly what you want, it may be what the project needs in to eliminate erosion on a very steep slope while maintaining a natural aesthetic.

You also have to work within your physical boundaries. Small, awkward areas can be complex to not only design, but install. By exploring all the different colors and textures of materials available, even the smallest of landscaping projects can be crafted into functional, beautiful areas that people can enjoy and use. However, keep in mind limitations that may occur during installation. Often times, with some creative problem solving, a quality landscape contractor, and a little extra elbow grease, solutions can be found for the tight areas where heavy equipment access is unlikely.

5 Booming Trends in Landscape Architecture

Xeriscapes (Dry Gardens)

Creating an xeriscape or a dry landscape is an excellent solution in particularly arid climates. When an area receives little to no rain and is subject to drought, consider this as it requires no irrigation. While these have become popular options in dry climates, xeriscapes can be created anywhere water conservation or minimal maintenance is desired or required. Planning dry gardens means taking into account how the sun reaches your project so you can appropriately plan where you would want to plant shade-producing trees or shrubs and where you’d plant grasses or succulents.

Low-water-use plants in conjunction with an appropriate base, such as a decomposed aggregate, make for a water-conscious landscape design that can provide ample space for gathering, walking around, and more.

Salt & Pepper Stabilized Pathway Mix - Akron Art Museum - Akron, OH

Salt & Pepper Stabilized Pathway Mix – Akron Art Museum – Akron, OH

Using Native Plants

One sure-fire way to have your landscape design blend into its surroundings is to use plants and flora that are indigenous to the area. It would be awkward to include a variety of palms in the heart of Wisconsin, so plan accordingly. Successfully incorporating native plants, though, requires a bit of research. Discover what plants thrive in the area, as well as call that space home, by garnering inspiration from nearby forests or nature preserves.

Rainwater Harvesting

Rainwater harvesting is exactly what it sounds like: Collecting rainwater in wells or barrels for reuse in lieu of letting it run off. Developing the right system to collect rainwater is a process that may need additional assistance. You could create very simple systems, e.g., rain barrels under downspouts, and more complex ones that include sunken reservoirs and more complicated withdrawal techniques. Harvested rainwater is ideal for watering gardens, irrigation, and groundwater recharge.This trend is booming especially in urban landscapes.

90% Starlight Black, 5% Salt & Pepper, 5% Snow White Custom Stabilized Pathway - American Greetings Headquarters - Westlake, OH

90% Starlight Black, 5% Salt & Pepper, 5% Snow White Custom Stabilized Pathway – American Greetings Headquarters – Westlake, OH

Gathering Areas

Don’t let your landscaping architecture go unnoticed. Let your beautiful space be observed and appreciated while being used to maximum capacity by creating inviting gathering areas. Especially if your project includes an open expanse of space that’s begging to be filled, a popular trend is to fill that space with areas to congregate, sit and meet with one another. Maybe it’s the perfect spot for employees to eat their lunches or for passersby to take their next phone call. It could be a gorgeous midway point for people to take a quick break when heading from point A to B.

Your gathering area may be anchored by precast concrete benches, low-lying flower beds, fire pits, or more. If your budget and space allows gathering to be a possibility, the opportunities are endless.

Efficient Irrigation

While not as outwardly trendy as a sleek and custom precast concrete planters and benches, efficient irrigation is a landscaping trend that’s hard to ignore. An irrigation system is simply one that waters your landscaping at regular intervals. Efficient irrigation systems will only provide plants, trees, and shrubs with water when and where they need it. It’s also important to have rain sensors so that your irrigation system won’t kick in before, during, or after rainfall. Efficient irrigation is a way to conserve water as well as ensure you won’t have to worry about flooding from over-watering in the future.

Get Started on Your Next Landscaping Project

So, what will your next landscaping project shape up to be? These trends aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, so utilizing these tips now will put your project in the limelight for years to come. If you’re a landscape architect searching for the right aggregate, pathway material, or decorative stonefor your next project, call or chat with us today.

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!