Kafka Granite Organic-Lock Stabilized Pathway Mix Installation

Organic-Lock has long been viewed as the strongest organic binder on the market today. At Kafka Granite, we’ve been partnering with Organic-Lock for years to create our stabilized aggregate pathway materials. Thanks to our partnership with Organic-Lock we’re able to offer durable pathway materials that can hold up to anything from busy parks to torrential rains.

Organic-Lock is designed to stabilized aggregate surfaces, making it the perfect binding agent to be added to our unique blends. Through this combination, we’ve been able to offer products that can result in natural-looking, permeable surfaces that can hold up to extreme conditions. Today we’re walking through how to properly install our pre-blended Organic-Lock aggregates on your job site.

What is Organic-Lock?

Organic-Lock is a powdered binder made from renewable resources. It is specifically designed to be blended with crushed aggregate to create natural looking pathways and surfaces. But how does it work?

First, the binder locks the aggregate in place to minimize erosion and worksite maintenance; saving you time and money in the long run. When it rains or your pathways become saturated by moisture of any kind, the liquid permeates the aggregate where it then comes into contact with the Organic-Lock binder. When this happens, the moisture and Organic-Lock binder together turn into a gel that coats each piece of the aggregate. The gel then expands in size and works like glue to hold the pathway together. This process greatly reduces erosion and keeps your finished pathway in one piece longer. This video contains some great illustrations to further highlight how this unique mixture works.

Preinstallation

Your pre-blended aggregate and Organic-Lock mixture will be supplied by Kafka Granite. When prepping your installation surface, you’ll need to focus on moisture content and optimal site preparation. Your delivered mixture will always have room to improve, so we recommend using the snowball or step test to find the ideal mixture of water and aggregate for your batch of material. Ideally, you want your mixture to have an 8-10% moisture content. Here’s how to use those two methods to get your aggregate to this magical moisture level.

The Snowball Test:

When first assessing your material, scoop up a handful in one hand. Try to compact the material into a snowball shape. If it crumbles and can’t hold its form then you need to continue adding moisture. If you can compact it into a ball but it has a noticeable wet sheen then your moisture content is too high.

Too Dry

Too Wet

Just Right!

The Step Test:

In place of the snowball test, you can use the step test to determine your mixture’s readiness. Once again, form a rough ball, then place the ball on the ground and step on it. If your mixture has too much moisture it will have a wet sheen to it, if it’s too dry it won’t be able to hold its shape. An ideal mixture should show a perfect impression of your boot’s tread while holding its shape without any wet sheen visible.

If your mixture is showing a wet sheen the best thing you can do is add additional dry material until you can complete a successful snowball or step test. Once you have reached the ideal moisture content for your mixture, replicate your exact measurements for the rest of your material.

Left: Too Wet | Right: Just Right

 

Installation

The most important aspects of a successful installation of our stabilized mixture are subgrade and base construction, surface watershed management, spreading, compaction, and installation completion. This video will walk you through successfully executing each of these five steps to ensure an astounding finished product.  

The installation process for our stabilized mixture is simple. Our products come with individualized product installation specifications, so there will be no guesswork when it comes to the amount of subgrade you need, how compacted your base should be, or what type of base you should use depending on your region’s DOT recommended crushed granular road base.

This portion of our video guide will also help you to assess potential issues for your pathway system; such as sprinkler heads, uneven terrain, a dense canopy cover, and more. We’ll equip you with all of the installation guidelines and best practices, such as maximum slope, that you’ll need to ensure that your pathway is installed correctly the first time. Saving you time and money by eliminating costly do-overs. If you have any further questions about our stabilized Organic-Lock products give us a call today.

Custom Blend Stabilized Pathway - Kenyon College - Gambier, OH

Revitalizing the Historic Middle Path Pathways at Kenyon College

When the charming and historic Middle Path running through Kenyon College’s campus became pitted, messy, and dangerous, Kafka Granite stepped up to the plate and provided the perfect stabilized DG pathway solution to give this aging pathway new life. Having helped many high-traffic areas resurface their existing pathway systems, we knew that we were up to the challenge.

Using Decomposed Granite for Kenyon College

Some might think that the name “decomposed granite” implies a lesser significance than that of the stronger sounding marble, granite, or stone, but in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Sometimes, it’s the little things that make all the difference, as was the case with Kenyon College.

When it came time for Kenyon College of Gambier, Ohio to tackle the mounting problems being posed by its historic Middle Path, Kafka Granite was called to come up with a custom solution that would preserve the historical significance of the path while making it safe for future generations. Through a forensic approach, thorough testing and deep collaboration between Kafka Granite and the college’s design and landscaping team, the historic charm and aesthetic of Kenyon’s Middle Path was preserved by the use of a one-of-a-kind stabilized pathway system.

Using a Stabilized Pathway System to Save the Middle Path

The famed Middle Path is a 3,600-foot-long, 8-foot-wide walkway was originally crafted from local river stone. The landscape of Kenyon’s campus is delicately structured around the well-traveled path, rendering it a staple to the scenery. The smooth, round characteristic of the river stone, however, was creating deep wells, soft patches, and excessive displacement that made for puddles, mud, ice and unsafe travel in inclement weather. Calling Ohio home, the College was frequently plaqued by many differnet types of weather conditions, so they needed a durable aggregate that would hold up to anything the state could dish out.

Kenyon sought a solution that would maintain the aesthetic and experiential dimension of the sound of the stone’s crunch underfoot while providing more stability and compaction for less aggregate displacement while being permeable enough to avoid puddles. Replacing the path with concrete or asphalt would offer more stability, but these materials wouldn’t preserve the charm and overall aesthetic of the much-loved pathway, and would lead to oversaturation in the rainy months.

We were able to create a stabilized pathway solution that was the perfect ratio of organic stabilizing binder and crushed stone. Additionally, we were able to produce the perfect aggregate that was both the perfect color and gradation to give the school’s pathway material optimum compaction and performance. A variety of product mock-ups were rigorously tested on-site at Kenyon using a variety stabilizing binders, specifications, and installation techniques before settling on the combination of a custom Kafka Granite color combination and Organic-Lock stabilizing binder.

Custom Blend Stabilized Pathway - Kenyon College - Gambier, OH

The Installation Phase

We were present at the construction site, which allowed our experts to oversee proper installation as well as answer any questions to grounds crew ran into. Through a close relationship in which multiple experiments and tests were run, our two teams combined were able to identify the best binder for the school’s historical pathway system.

The final organic binder utilized in the stabilized DG was Organic-Lock by Envirobond, which made for the perfect solution to Kenyon’s problem of a deteriorating pathway. With Kafka’s pathway mix blended with Organic-Lock, Kenyon College’s stabilized pathways will experience less erosion than their predecessor, which was the original problem that prompted Kenyon College to reach out to Kafka Granite. Furthermore, the new DG stabilized pathway system will yield less mud and dust while remaining permeable for optimal drainage. The new pathway blends in seamlessly with the natural beauty of the Kenyon College campus and has the added benefit of being ADA accessible, meaning that everyone will be able to enjoy its beauty.

Furthermore, stabilized DG offered a thin loose top layer of aggregate, which replicated the feel of the original path. By being able to conduct thorough testing, provide a solution that was aesthetically ideal, and oversee the entirety of the installation process, our team was able to aid in preserving the historic charm and sophistication of Kenyon College’s iconic Middle Path.

Find Your Perfect Pathway Material at Kafka Granite

At Kafka Granite, we offer more 60 unique colors of aggregate and a full portfolio of innovative products, such as our all new natural stone veneers. From recycled materials to stabilized aggregates, we have the pathway mixes your project needs to meet its goals, be it preserving the past or meeting the demands of the present. If you would like to learn more about the Kenyon College project you can read the full story in the November 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

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

Basic Principles of Commercial Landscape Design

Commercial properties are often large, sprawling expanses that may be the site for a corporate campus, warehouses, office buildings, or more. Despite not being a small or cozy area, expansive commercial landscapes don’t have to remain barren or boring. Kafka Granite is familiar with making large-scale projects look beautiful inviting, as can be seen by our work on the Navy Pier, Buckingham Fountain, and Loyola University. We understand trying to strike the right balance between creating a good-looking space while maintaining its functionality.

By providing landscaping materials that are both beautiful and incredibly durable, Kafka is able to offer the product you need to make your commercial landscape architecture stand out from walkway to retaining wall. Whether you’re starting with a blank slate or have some pathways or parking lots in place, let us help you with designing your commercial landscape. Not only will we help you to transform or complete your project, but with our green alternatives you can take your project one step closer to obtaining a SITES or LEED certifications.

Combine Form and Function

The very first step to ensuring your commercial landscaping is stunning, and logical, is to make a plan. How extensive or simple this step is may depend on the size of your lot or the scope of your project; the larger the lot or project, the more planning you may have to do. If you’re sure of what your property needs when it comes to the landscape, then you might be able to do this part by yourself. If you’re uncertain about how you want the layout of your landscaping to “flow,” then the eyes of a professional landscape architect may be necessary.

Draw a map of your property and make note of where structures and trees already exist as well as where the sun hits during the day as this could affect where you plant certain types of sun-loving flora. Once permanent items are marked, the next step is to play around with where you envision things like parking lots, outdoor seating, pathways, gardens or courtyards. Remember that pathways and courtyards don’t have to be so linear or square—make sure to test out different curving lines or shapes, and see what feels best. Additionally, consider how you truly want the space to be used. Can you see your staff wanting to sit outdoors for lunch? Do you envision guests walking along an especially scenic part of the lot? Is there a steep grade that would benefit from a retaining wall? By thinking about how the space will be used, you’ll be better able to plan for what you build in it.

This initial phase is also a good time to try and tie your landscape architecture to the design of your building. You can complement the colors or textures of existing structures by using different colors of granite or flowers within your gardens. Create a tentative color palette for your overall design to serve as an inspiration for the rest of your project.

Make a Good First Impression

The landscape architecture of your business is also important in that it can make or break a visitor’s first impression. If your business is one that sees a lot of visitors, who are clients or otherwise, focus on making a good first impression. This means making the entrance a focal point so that it’s easy to find and is welcoming. Establish a clear path from the parking lot to the entryway.

When it comes to essential elements like trash bins outside the entry, consider using tasteful and good-looking alternatives to the plastic garbage can. By using alternatives like a crushed granite decorative precast waste receptacle, you can make garbage go away with an aesthetically pleasing container. What’s more is that decorative precast features can be made using any color of granite to match or complement materials used elsewhere, and they can include outdoor furniture like benches, tables, and more. Kafka Granite for example, offers over 50 different colors of decorative precast aggregates.

 

Choose the Colors and Materials of Your Landscaping Material

Now that you’ve decided what features you need from your landscaping and how you’ll make a welcoming first impression for your guests, it’s time to figure out what materials you’ll want to use to make your plan a reality. Questions to ask yourself to help figure out what materials you’ll need include:

What will your pathways be made of?

Do you prefer cobbles, pavers or decomposed granite? Each material will have a different aesthetic appeal and one may match the look of your building’s architecture more than the others.

What color will your pathways be?

Color is always a tough decision whether you’re painting a wall or choosing an aggregate. Do you want a natural look? Perhaps you want a look where the pathway truly pops? When you come to Kafka Granite for crushed granite walkways, you’ll be met with over 50 color options. With variety like that, you have your pick of neutrals, greens, reds and more.

What kind of traffic will be on your pathways?

Something you may have considered in your planning stage is how your pathways will be used—are you expecting just foot traffic or will there also be bike, golf cart, ATV or light vehicular traffic? By measuring the wear and tear that will be taking place on your paths, you can choose the best material available whether it’s standard, stabilized or wax polymer. We’ve spoken extensively about the difference between these three pathway materials on our blog.

What is your parking lot going to be made of?

Not every parking lot has to be an endless sea of asphalt. Don’t be afraid to incorporate your parking lot into your grand landscaping architecture design. In lieu of asphalt, imagine using permeable paverss with environmentally friendly permeable paver grit.

What surrounds your gardens?

Depending on your landscape architecture, the gardens or foliage in your design may be natural and unenclosed, or they may require a bit more structure from distinct edging and retaining walls. Retaining walls can be made from boulders or more angular decorative rip rap if you’re looking for a unique and beautiful option. And when it comes to your flowerbeds, will you be using decomposed granite landscaping stone or mulch as your base? These options may seem small but they can make all the difference when it comes your project’s end result. 

How much money or time can you put toward maintenance?

If the answer is, “Very little,” then perhaps high-maintenance gardens aren’t the solution for your landscape. Crushed stone-based xeriscapes can are becoming more popular as they require less maintenance and water, and they are a beautiful alternative to thick gardens. Consider this factor when ultimately deciding how much hardscape to incorporate into your design.

Get Started on Your Commercial Landscape Architecture Today

If you’re looking to get started on a commercial landscaping project, make sure you do it right. Coming to Kafka ensures you get the best materials and the best selection on the market to achieve exactly what you envision. Call us today to find a dealer near you or to speak with one of our expert consultants. If you’re a landscaping materials dealer searching for a way to carry a great selection, chat with us to find out about our dealer program. With so many colors and materials to outfit every part of your landscape’s design, you’ll be thrilled you chose Kafka Granite.

Stabilized Salt & Pepper Pathway - Brooklyn Bridge Park - New York, NY

Healthy Landscaping: Fitness Parks for the Greater Good

City parks and nature reserves are places where whole families can go for a fun retreat from the rigors of the day. Outfitted with a variety of amenities ranging from groomed pathways to open fields to playground equipment and basketball courts, parks are a way for everyone to unwind with a breath of fresh air. Kafka Granite has played a role in paving parks and pathways with high-quality aggregates for decades. From large projects like Brooklyn Bridge Park in the heart of New York City, to smaller local parks and community recreation facilities, Kafka knows the importance of creating healthy public spaces that anyone can enjoy.

With incredible varieties of pathway mixes and ballyard materials, we’ve been able to help pave recreational walkways and athletic surfaces for a wide variety of public and private applications. That’s a lot of fun memories being made on our aggregate mixtures. Throughout the decades, we’ve seen the evolution of city parks as we know it, and there is a new trend in public arenas that has us excited: exercise parks. In lieu of the traditional teeter-totters and merry-go-rounds for children, exercise parks are built with health-related stationary equipment for adults to boost their heart rates and enjoy physical activity in the company of friends and community members.

The Need for a Healthy Outdoors

It’s no secret—obesity has become a veritable pandemic throughout America. Scales are tipping as new data shows that more than one-third of U.S. adults are considered obese with 1 in 20 reaching extreme obesity. An addiction to sugar, easy access to cheap processed foods, and longer working sedentary working hours have created a population of people who need more options for getting fit. Many barriers to exercise include poor proximity to a gym or the cost to join the gym. Additionally, a lot of people don’t like the feeling of being boxed into a gym—the smell, the congestion, and the crowds can be turn-offs for many.

Exercise parks are an excellent alternative for people looking to get fit for free in the great outdoors. They’re also a way for cities to show that fitness and health are public priorities that will help everyone live longer, happier lives. As more cities realize that accessible fitness spaces are good for everyone, the more you can expect to see them pop up. Priority for construction is in “fitness deserts,” or areas where there aren’t many (or any) fitness options.

These areas also open the floodgates for people who are new to working out; they can try a simple machine at first and work up to more at their own pace. And the convenience is virtually unbeatable. Long gone are the days of watching your kids play at the park from the seat of a park bench. Instead, adults can keep an eye on young ones from their perch on the elliptical or weight machine.

Wide Variety of Exercises and Benefits—for Free!

You may be wondering how an exercise park can include more equipment than playground staples like monkey bars or ladders. The evolution and affordability of weather-resistant, tamper-proof exercise equipment is surprising. Equipment targets the full range of muscle groups and joints, and they’re easy to use by people of all skill levels and abilities. From bodyweight equipment such as chest presses, body curl stations and parallel bars, to cardio machines like ellipticals and hand cycles, these parks truly serve as a well-rounded fitness arena for anyone to use, anytime of the day.

While many exercise parks include one clearing with the equipment planted in a common area, some parks are starting to incorporate fitness trails. A walk or jog along these trails will have you coming across a variety of fitness stations that each target different muscle groups or fitness activities. Not only will the fresh air keep participants motivated, but the natural surroundings are sure to be more pleasant to get fit in than a muggy and crowded gym. Kafka has, of course, been more than happy to help urban developers find the perfect standard or stabilized stone pathway mixtures that make the perfect exercise trail.

Planning an Exercise Park Can Be Easy

Does your next outdoor project include planning and building an exercise park? Kafka Granite can help. A successful exercise park is going to need to be supported by any number of additional attractions, such as walkways to and from the park, ballparks for play, and bike paths for commuters to reach the park. The materials chosen for these additions needs to be able to withstand high amounts of foot traffic, digging and cutting from busy feet, and a variety of weather types. Kafka may have just the solution you’re seeking.

With a palette of nearly 60 colors to choose from, any exercise park can get a bold injection of color or a natural aesthetic with Kafka Granite stone through high-end pathways materials. And with a broad range of ballyard mixes, your ballfield won’t be left out when redesigning your entire park space. The materials used in both our pathway and ballpark mixtures can withstand rigorous activity while providing active park goers with safe footing while on their way to or enjoying their favorite outdoor activities. Additionally, with our permeable aggregates, both pathway and ballyard mixes, your park visitors will be able to enjoy your park’s facilities regardless of rain or shine.

No one wants to slosh through mud to get to your exercise park or neighboring ballfield. Maintaining clear pathways will eliminate one more obstacle that’s keeping your community members from getting active. Both the elderly and young will rely on dry, non-slip pathways to get them where they want to be in your finished exercise inclusive park. If the entire park goes from fitness haven to swimming pool, the value of the equipment is lost and deterioration could set in if the machines are left surrounded by a moat of water keeping would-be exercisers away.

Instead of making health-hungry citizens wait days for a path to clear to reach their new favorite exercise park, install a solution like a stabilized decomposed granite surface. Natural, permeable, and durable, this option would be able to hold its own against rigorous exercisers and torrential downpours alike. It’s also easy to install, maintain, and replace over the years. Less obtrusive than cement or asphalt, it’s a popular pathway choice for outdoor facilities.

Jumpstart Your City with Healthy Goals in Mind

If you’re stuck wondering what the perfect addition to your city would be, consider an exercise park. Grants can be obtained to help alleviate financial restraints and the benefits for the community are undeniable. Playgrounds are evolving and adults can now have some fun, too. Instead of taking a backseat to their kids running around, adults can get in on the fun and break a sweat, too.

If you’re considering incorporating an exercise area into your next park, or if you’re already in the planning phases of construction, don’t hesitate to give our experts a call and ask about our ideal landscape material options. Avoid getting stuck with unsightly asphalt and nonporous cement. Instead, use a beautiful, durable, permeable and more supportive surfaces to help everyone achieve their fitness goals.

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.

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.

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.  

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!