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!

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

How Much Aggregate Do I Need for My Pathway?

When starting any new pathway project, one of the first steps when assessing your construction needs is calculating how much decomposed granite aggregate you will need to complete your project. As a landscape architect or contractor, knowing exactly how much to specify or order is somewhat of an art. If you order far too much aggregate surplus, you could have just wasted part of your budget that could’ve been put elsewhere. Estimate too little, and you’ll endure the burden and costs of shipping what little amount of material you need to complete the pathway, on top of delays on the jobsite.

With our experienced team members and innovative online tools, Kafka Granite is here to help you through the entire ordering process. Our experts can help you determine how much decomposed granite you’ll need in tons depending on the purpose of your pathway, or you can utilize our easy-to-use coverage calculator to help you find an accurate estimate according to your measurements.

Factors to Consider When Planning A Pathway

Pathway Cross Section

Standard & Stabilized Pathway                                       Cross-Section Diagram

When planning for a pathway project, there are a number of factors that should be taken into consideration. Whether it’s color or permeability, decomposed granite aggregate pathways have quite a few variables that need to be figured out before investing in the material.

How Deep Should Your Pathway Be?

This is one of the main determinants for how much material you should use. Measurements you need to know before ordering pathway materials include the path’s length, width, and depth. While you may already know its projected length and width, which will help you determine its area in square feet, do you know how deep your pathway should be? Kafka recommends going no shallower  2″ compacted for wax polymer pedestrian pathways and 3″ compacted for standard or stabilized pedestrian pathways.

2” Deep: A 2-inch depth is only suitable for a pedestrian-traffic pathway using wax polymer pathway mix. It is not recommended to intall any standard or stabilized pathway at a 2-inch depth.

3” Deep: A 3-inch depth is necessary to create a standard or stabilized pathway suitable for pedestrian traffic. A 3-inch depth is also required to withstand vehicular traffic using wax polymer pathway mix.

4” Deep: A 4-inch depth should be used for standard or stabilized pathways that will sustain heavier traffic weight. If vehicles will use your standard or stabilized pathway, plan for this depth.

Kafka Granite most commonly sells decomposed granite aggregate by the ton. This calculator will help you determine how many tons of DG is right for your project. Simply input the square footage of your crushed stone path and discover an estimate for how much you need based on the pathway’s depth.

The most cost effective way to order pathway material is in bulk truckload quantities. If ordering in bulk doesn’t work for you, we can also ship the product in 3000-lb. supersacks. For any of our pathway color or mix options, the DG is crushed and screened to a 1/4” minus size, which always allows for a firm surface that compacts well. Each pathway material including standard, stabilized, and wax polymer mixes utilize their own sizing specifications. Architectural specifications can be found below:

Three Pathway Mixes to Choose From

In addition to the depth of your pathway, you should consider what mix of aggregate your project would benefit from the most. Kafka offers three DG pathway mix options: standard, stabilized, or wax polymer.

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

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

Standard Pathway Mix: Durable, beautiful, natural and environmentally friendly—it’s hard to beat the value of standard DG pathway mix. With a specific size of ¼” minus with fines, our standard mix is the ideal size for perfect compaction while still allowing water to permeate and recharge the earth below. Choose this option if your pathway will be serving as a low-traffic walkway, nature path or rustic garden trail.

 

 

 

 

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

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

Stabilized Pathway Mix: The core of our stabilized pathway mix is a similar mix design as the aforementioned standard mix, but a stabilizing binder is preblended to the DG. We have different stabilizers available depending on factors such as your pathway’s climate, slope, use, etc. Stabilized pathway mix is more durable than standard mix as it resists the erosive effects of weather and traffic better—all while retaining its environmentally friendly permeability.

 

 

 

 

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

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

Wax Polymer Pathway Mix: The toughest of pathway mixes, wax polymer pathway mix combines crushed stone with engineered polymers. Wax polymer pathways require no water during installation. When looking for a dustless, sealed, non-permeable pathway material that looks far more natural than asphalt or concrete, this wax polymer pathway mix may be just what you’re looking for. Consider this option if your pathway is going to be in a particularly well-traveled area since it simply doesn’t get muddy—no matter the rainfall. Wax polymer is incredibly strong and durable, meaning it can stand up to the heaviest foot traffic.

 

 

 

What Color Works with Your Design

Lastly, consider the color of crushed stone that would go best with the pathway’s surroundings. Kafka offers nearly 50 colors of crushed stone and recycled materials, so you aren’t restricted to only a few common colors. Make your pathway pop or blend in; modern or rustic. The choice is up to you.

Find Out What You Need to Get the Job Done

Your project is important, so making sure every checkpoint along the way goes as planned, including ordering the right amount of material, is crucial. By simply plugging in the square footage of your pathway, you’ll be able to create an estimate for how much material to order using our calculator above. This crushed stone pathway coverage calculator can help you determine your budget and overall needs. Assess what type of traffic your pathway will endure, determine what pathway mix will work best for your project, pick just the right color and there you have it—the perfect decomposed granite pathway mix for your project. Contact us today and let’s start building.

Glitter Series Raw Stone

Kafka Granite Acquires A New Quarry

Kafka Granite has grown mightily since its inception in 1979. What started as a one-man operation run by Glenn Kafka has turned into one of the top decorative aggregate providers in the country. Through sweat, hard work, and a couple of tears, Kafka Granite has transitioned from a one-man decomposed granite operation to the most diversified aggregate providers in the country (while remaining family owned and operated). Through all of our changes and growth, we’ve retained what matters most to us: our brand identity and history. No matter how much we grow, we still strive to maintain the same values that Glenn Kafka started out with nearly 40 years ago.

Currently, Kafka Granite provides over 60 different color varieties of granite, marble, quartz, and recycled aggregates, but we are excited to announce that this new quarry has been shown to yield something a little extra – sparkle. Due to the high concentration of mica intertwined with strong quartzite, this beautiful glittering natural phenomenon is something that is not commonly found among aggregates. If that wasn’t rare enough – the colors range from black, to green, to pink. With only 60 of the 700+ acres exposed, we are yet to discover all the colors that may lie beneath the surface.
We are beyond thrilled to incorporate this thrilling new product into our product lineup. With the addition of the various colors mica enriched quartzite, we will be able to provide our customers with an even wider variety of manufactured sands, accent pieces, landscape stone, and natural stone veneer. With its signature look and feel, this remarkable stone is opening up a lot of opportunities for Kafka Granite and our loyal customers and supporters.

 

Kafka Granite Glitter, LLC

Exploring Our New Mica Enriched Quartzite Quarry

At over 700 acres, our new quarry is an abundant deposit of mica enriched quartzite. This spectacular stone develops naturally into multiple distinct colors and two different hardnesses and consistencies, making the possible applications of this rare find seemingly limitless. Geologists estimate that our mica enriched quartzite deposit was formed around three million years ago when tectonic plates deep inside the earth slammed into the Canadian Shield, heating the host rock of clear quartz and colored mica until it reached liquid form. The color from the mica then transferred into the clear quartz during cooling, resulting in beautiful, vibrant colors of quartzite laced with an abundance of mica.

Kafka Granite Glitter, LLC

Although the deposit was created horizontally in different colored layers, it was later thrust up vertically into a 10.5-mile-high mountain with the colored layers becoming vertical bands/transitions through the deposit.  This means that now the

colors appear next to one another, not on top of each other. Overtime, the glaciers removed the mountain top overburden. With minimal ground cover to clear, this leaves the company with easy access to the different color bands of stone, and a far more sustainable approach to blasting and quarrying. According to geological estimates, the deposit runs approximately a mile below the surface; however it’s estimated to contain over 20 billion tons of material sitting above ground alone.

We have identified a plethora of color varieties at the site so far, including an enticing black, vibrant pink, and various shades of green, but have barely scratched the surface.

 

The Glitter Series

The new shimmering stone sourced from this quarry will accurately be named the Glitter Series. The Glitter Series is set to debut with five new manufactured sands. Those sands will include our newest colors Galaxy Glitter, Rosa Glitter, Mint Glitter, Aspen Glitter, and Plum Glitter. These new color variations will accompany the other 60 aggregate colors that Kafka already provides to customers across the United States.

Mint Glitter

Mint Glitter

Aspen Glitter

Aspen Glitter

Galaxy Glitter

Galaxy Glitter

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rosa Glitter

Rosa Glitter

Plum Glitter

Plum Glitter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Galaxy, Mint, and Rosa are also available in beautiful varieties of decorative stone and large boulders for stunning accents, show-stopping water features, and unique retaining walls.

 

Mint Glitter Landscape Stone 1 1/2"

Mint Glitter Landscape Stone

Multi-Glitter Landscape Stone 1 1/2"

Multi-Glitter Landscape Stone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rosa Glitter Landscape Stone 1 1/2"

Rosa Glitter Landscape Stone

Galaxy Glitter Landscape Stone 1 1/2"

Galaxy Glitter Landscape Stone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Galaxy Glitter - Dimensional Cut

While the product will be made available to our customers as manufactured sands, landscapes stone, and accent pieces, early on we determined this remarkable stone was far too special to merely crush. This product has also propelled us to start a new business in fabricating and supplying a unique line of building stone products in 2018. This new venture is set to include a variety of “Glitter Series” products, while also launching a “Legacy Series” of classic Kafka Granite colors you already know in love – made available in thin and full veneer.

And that’s just the start. As we dig through our new deposit we plan on unveiling additional stone colors, as well as new products; so stay tuned!

 

Experience The Glittering Beauty Of Kafka Granite’s Newest Quarry

We are beyond thrilled to be able to share our newest quarry with our valued customers and friends. Sitting on picturesque Reynolds Lake, the glittering stone from this new quarry perfectly reflects the natural beauty that can be found surrounding our latest quarry. We urge those wishing to learn more about our newest quarry or about the product that the quarry is expected to yield to call their representative or to contact Kafka Granite directly at 800-852-7415.

Photo courtesy of Unilock

Using Unilock at Navy Pier: A Kafka Granite Case Study

Kafka Granite has been supplying aggregates to some of the country’s largest remodels and revamps for years. From the Brooklyn Bridge Park in Brooklyn, NY to the Erin Hills Golf Course in Hartford, WI, a wide range of Kafka Granite products can be found at some of the country’s most popular attractions. Such attractions include the Buckingham Fountain, Yankee Stadium, and Chicago’s Navy Pier. The Navy Pier project was one of Kafka Granite’s crowning achievements. Through hard work, determination, and collaboration with Unilock, Kafka Granite was able to help the city of Chicago restore their historic landmark.

Navy Pier was first opened in 1916 and has seen millions of visitors since. Most recognize Navy Pier by it’s glowing ferris wheel and lively family-friendly entertainment. In 2016, to celebrate the Pier’s 100th birthday the city of Chicago decided to give the beloved destination a makeover. The goal of the project was to preserve the history and integrity of Navy Pier while making it more eco-friendly and ensuring its longevity for future generations. Navy Pier is a massive venue with over 50 acres of stunning lake front property. When city officials began researching ways to revitalize this historic landmark they knew that whatever products they decided to utilize would have to withstand hot Chicago summers, wave barrage from Lake Michigan, and the harsh winters that cover the Midwest every year.

Kafka Granite has a long history of creating green alternatives that can be utilized in a variety of applications. Some of Kafka Granite’s eco-friendly projects include the white roofing materials and decomposed granite mixtures. However, one of the most common ways Kafka Granite can help projects attain a LEED or SITES certification is through the use of their recycled aggregate blends, and the Navy Pier project is a perfect example. Through a partnership with Unilock, Kafka Granite was literally a key ingredient in restoring one of America’s most iconic landmarks and achieving the prestigious SITES Gold Certification through GBCI.

WHEN:

Renovations began in 2013 in order to be complete for Navy Pier’s 100th Anniversary in July 2016. The project was awarded Sustainable SITES Initiative (SITES ) Gold Certification in November 2016.

WHERE:

Navy Pier needed to cover the entirety of the 50-acre pier with a high quality, yet aesthetically pleasing, concrete pavers. In the eyes of the design team responsible for the Pier’s redesign, the pavers needed to act as an organizational device that could help inspire the design aspects of the other areas of the Pier’s new design and serve as the fabric that tied the entire redesign together as a whole. The new pavers made in partnership with Unilock and Kafka Granite can be seen on the tree-lined South Dock Promenade, as well as the expansive and newly developed Polk Bros. Park and Fountain.

WHO:

James Corner Field Operations ultimately won the competition that the Navy Pier was holding to choose their next design firm. James Corner Field Operations then decided to partner with Unilock. Unilock is a leading manufacturer of interlocking precast concrete pavers. Unilock knew that they needed to partner with a local, regional aggregate provider to create the pavers that the James Corner Field Operations were looking for, and Kafka Granite was a natural fit.

WHAT:

James Corner Field Operations, the company who won the right to lead the redesign of this historic landmark, needed a paver that could function in a variety of settings. For this project, the paver ultimately chosen needed to work in areas of heavy-duty pedestrian and vehicular traffic, and in areas that were designated as heavy-duty vehicular roadways. Additionally, certain areas needed to be permeable to help direct rainfall away from the storm sewer systems and back into the natural ecosystem. If that weren’t enough, James Corner Field Operations had a few additional qualifications when it came to choosing their winning paver.

  1. The company who provides the paver must be able to provide support for the lifetime of the project
  2. Pavers must meet SITES certification standards
  3. Pavers must be comprised of at least 30% recycled content
  4. Pavers must come from and be manufactured from within the region
  5. Any aggregates used in the pavers must be regionally extracted
  6. Pavers must have a high SRI value

HOW:

The vision of the leading-edge landscape architects at James Corner Field Operations (JCFO) was brought to life in part due to an innovative partnership between Unilock and Kafka Granite. One major goal of the Navy Pier’s redesign was to establish an area that was less commercialized and more focused on uniting green space and people. The first challenge of this project was buried in trying to expand the desired green spaces and improve pedestrian access while concurrently improving stormwater management and using recycled materials in an effort to have the project SITES certified. Due to the Pier’s proximity to lake Michigan, all care and consideration had to be put forth into the design and development of the runoff system for the Pier’s vast 50-acre surface area.

Kafka Granite and Unilock responded to the call and rose to the challenge of creating this new urban oasis landscape while remaining environmentally conscious by creating a one-of-a-kind Navy Pier collaboration. As the nation’s premier manufacturer of concrete interlocking pavers, Unilock was an obvious partner when it came to creating a gorgeous surface for the improved landmark. In order to meet the rigorous specifications JCFO established for materials to be used, Unilock teamed with Kafka Granite to create a solution that would check all the boxes mentioned above.

Kafka Granite’s recycled copper slag was an imperative part of the Navy Pier redesign puzzle. With Kafka providing recycled crushed aggregate to Unilock, specifications were precisely met while environmental needs were surpassed. Not only was a portion of the pavers permeable, which will aid in stormwater management, but their clever incorporation of recycled materials made this project’s SITES Gold certification possible. In total, 30% of the materials used for the entirety of the redesign were made from recycled content.

Kafka Granite has been incorporating sustainable processes and products into the aggregate industry for years. From its state-of-the-art crushing facility to its use of recycled porcelain, kiln slag, copper slag, firebrick, glass, mirror, and more, Kafka Granite is a company that understands the importance of reducing, reusing and recycling. By using recycled copper slag that would have otherwise found its way into a landfill, Kafka made it possible for Navy Pier, and various other projects, to achieve highly a sought after SITES certifications. Not only will the Navy Pier’s new design have a positive effect on the city of Chicago, but the gold certification acquired using Kafka Granite recycled aggregates rendered the redesign to be the first project to earn such a pristine level of eco-friendliness under SITES v2 requirements. Kafka Granite looks forward to helping many more companies and project become eco-friendly and be awarded green certifications in the years to come.

Wheelchair Accessible Pathway

Kafka Granite’s Guide to Wheelchair-Accessible Pathway Materials

Every year we help hundreds of clients create stunning outdoor spaces. From ballparks to city parks, we want everyone to be able to enjoy the areas that we assist in creating, that’s why offering commercial wheelchair accessible materials is so important to us.

Providing accessible pathways is a federally mandated priority for all designers and architects. In 2010, the Department of Justice published revised regulations for Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. These regulations set minimum requirements for newly designed and constructed State and local government facilities, public accommodations and commercial facilities.

Firmness, Stability, and Slip Resistance In Wheelchair Accessible Walkways

Under the 2010 ADA regulations, accessible outdoor flooring and ground surfaces must be stable, firm, and slip-resistant. The ADA regulations define a stable surface as something that resists movement, while a firm surface is something that resists deformation by applied force, and an accessible surface is something that remains unchanged by external forces, objects or materials.

Exceptions to the ADA Regulations:

  • Animal Containment Areas
  • Areas for Sports Activities
    • This does not imply that sports arenas and sport viewing areas do not need to meet the ADA standards, this exception only refers to the physical area when the sport shall be played. An example would be a football stadium. The stadium itself must have accessible entrances and accommodations, but the actual field does not need to exhibit these traits.

Wheelchair Accessible Pathway Specifications

To be classified as an accessible route, pathways must meet or contain one or more of the following requirements and attributes:

  • A running slope no steeper than 1:20
    • The cross slope of walking surfaces can not be steeper than 1:48.
    • Changes in level with a maximum of ¼ inch are permitted to be vertical.
    • Changes in level between ¼ inch and ½ inch need to be beveled with a slope not steeper than 1:20.
    • Changes in level greater than ½ inch must be ramped.
  • Doorways that provide a clear width of 32 inches
  • Curb ramps excluding flared sides
  • Elevators with accessible features
  • Platform lifts

The width of your pathway must be at least 36 inches; you are allowed to narrow your walkways to 32 inches wide for a length of 24 inches every 48 inches. An example would be if you wished to have planters that protrude onto your pathway, those planters can only stick out 4 inches onto the pathway and they must be spaced 48 inches apart.

Two additional features your pathways must contain are passing space and turning space. An accessible route with a width less than 60 inches must provide passing spaces at intervals of 200 feet. Additionally, if your pathway contains any 180º turns, your turning space must be either 48 inches, or 60 inches, depending on the width of the pathway.

pathway diagram

Here are some questions that you should ask yourself after you have finished designing your structure’s new accessible pathways.

  1. Is there a route available that does not include stairs?
  2. Is that route firm and slip resistant?
  3. Are your pathways at least 36 inches wide?
  4. Can all objects that protrude onto the pathway be detected from the vantage point of someone in a wheelchair or by someone with a visual impairment?
  5. If your walkway is lined by curbs or raised edging does that edging drop off at entrances and exits on the path?
  6. If ramps are present is their slope less than 1:20?
  7. Do ramps that are longer than 6 feet have railings on both sides?
  8. Are any railings present sturdy and between 34-68 inches high?
  9. Are all public spaces on an accessible route?
  10. Is there a 5-foot circle or a T-shaped space for a person using a wheelchair to reverse direction?
  11. Are all signs mounted with their centerline 60 inches from the floor?
  12. If there are restrooms available on the property is at least one restroom fully accessible?

Kafka Granite Commercial Wheelchair Accessibility Materials

Common materials for wheelchair accessibility include asphalt and concrete. However, what happens when a natural look and feel is desired but wheelchair accessibility is required? Kafka Granite has a solution with their stabilized pathway mix.

Decomposed Granite as an Asphalt Alternative

Botticino Marble Stabilized Pathway - Midwest Palliative & Hospice - Glenview, IL

Botticino Marble Stabilized Pathway – Midwest Palliative & Hospice – Glenview, IL

Stabilized decomposed granite pathways are an excellent alternative to asphalt and concrete pathways. Not only does decomposed granite traditionally cost less than asphalt and concrete over the span of its lifetime due to its limited maintenance, but our Stabilized Pathway Mix made with Organic-Lock has been tested for ADA accessibility and has met the maneuverability performance requirements of ASTM F 1951-09b.

Kafka Granite is an industry leader in natural pathway products. Our stabilized pathway mix is comprised of decomposed granite or crushed stone screenings crushed to spec and blended with a stabilizing binder called Organic-Lock. This combination binds and locks the pathway mix to provide a durable, permeable, and natural aggregate surface. Kafka Granite’s Stabilized Pathway Mix resists the erosive effects of weather and traffic better than traditional gravels or limestone screenings, and when installed correctly, can qualify as an ADA accessible pathway surface. With a natural look that is much less obtrusive than concrete or asphalt, our stabilized pathway mix blends in well in natural settings, making it an attractive option for use in botanical gardens, green roofs, nature paths, greenways, golf course cart paths, trails, or any environment where a more organic feel is desired.

Kafka Granite offers Stabilized Pathway Mix in over 50 colors. The pathways are easy to install, require little maintenance and offer various edging options such as pavers, concrete, sod, natural grasses, or wood chips.

Stabilized Pathway Installation Instructions

  1. Prepare the subgrade and spread the base course material to the approved depth and compact with a 1-3 ton roller. Allow for 20-25% compaction. A crushed, angular road base such as a ¾” minus is an optimal base material. For pedestrian applications, base should be 4-6 inches compacted; for vehicular applications, base should be 8-12 inches compacted. To assist in the bonding of materials, pre-soak the base course before placement of the stabilized pathway mix.
  2. Pre-hydrate the stabilized pathway mix at the job site — this activates the stabilizing binder. Turn the pathway mix until a moisture level of 10-12% has been reached. If you can easily make a ball out of the aggregate with your hands, there is too much moisture.
  3. The stabilized pathway mix must be spread and compacted. Screed if possible. For large installations, using a paving machine for this step is highly recommended to ensure the material is evenly spread at the specified depth.
  4. Compact the stabilized pathway mix using a 1-3 ton double drum or single static drum roller. Do not use a vibratory plate compactor or vibratory setting for this step. When no further visible roller marks can be seen on the surface, compaction of the pathway is complete.
  5. Ensure the pathway is level. The pathway should rest true to elevation and shouldn’t vary more than ¼” at any spot when tested with a straightedge. The surfaces should be crowned at a minimum of 2% and be flush with adjacent materials or edges. The pathway should also be sloped at least 1% to drain away from structures.
  6. After the pathway has been compacted and leveled, apply a light spray to the surface to give it a clean appearance. Once the water begins to run off the surface, stop spraying the pathway.
  7. Once the surface of the pathway has visually dried, light pedestrian traffic can take place on the new surface. However, the stabilized DG pathway should fully cure before vehicle traffic is allowed. Depending on the path’s moisture content, time of installation, climate and depth of installation, curing times vary.

Creating Accessible Pathways for All

Make your outdoor pathways accessible to all with Kafka Granite. Our experienced team of experts is here to help ensure that every visitor will be able to thoroughly enjoy your next outdoor pathway project. Our stabilized pathway mixes are perfect for both green spaces and commercial locations alike. Let us help you make your next pathway project accessible to all.

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

Erin Hills Golf Course: A Kafka Case Study

Just over two hours away from Kafka headquarters in nearby Hartford, Wisconsin, sits a beautiful picturesque golf course. Carved from glacier movement thousands of years ago, Erin Hills is a golf venue that cannot be rivaled by many. The 652-acre course still maintains some of the streams that were carved by the last glacier to cover Wisconsin, and it offers visitors exquisite vistas composed of rolling hills and swaying grasses.

Erin Hills is so breathtaking that it has been chosen to play host to the 2017 U.S. Open. The 2017 U.S. Open will host 156 players from all over the world. With so many players coming to the course to play along it’s stunning route, Erin Hills decided to replace their existing walk paths with new highly durable paths that could withstand the harsh Wisconsin winters and the course’s hilly terrain.

Kafka Granite was called in to replace Erin Hills’s highly erosive existing pathway system and replace it with a custom blended aggregate color of both stabilized and wax polymers pathways. With a long history of working with various aggregate binders for these purposes, we at Kafka Granite felt confident that we could deliver a pathway system that would complement the natural beauty of Erin Hills and reduce the maintenance for their grounds crew.

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

Photo courtesy of Paul Hundley

WHEN: Fall of 2012 to Spring of 2017

WHERE: Erin Hills Golf Course, 652 acres of property in Hartford, Wisconsin.

WHY: Erin Hills desired natural looking cart and walking paths that blended in with the course, but there were issues with erosion due to the hilly terrain. Their grounds crew was spending far too much time maintaining their walking paths when their valuable time could have been spent maintaining the course. Refusing to settle for obtrusive hardscapes such as asphalt or concrete, they opted for a natural aggregate path blended with wax polymer thanks to Kafka Granite. On flatter terrain, they chose to combine their aggregate with a stabilizing binder. With the first ever U.S. Open to come to Wisconsin to be hosted at their course in 2017, pressure was on to update all of the walking paths with Kafka Granite materials before the June 2017 event.

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

Photo courtesy of Paul Hundley

WHO: Our product is designed to be simple to install and maintain, so for this project the Erin Hills ground crew was able to install their new pathway system themselves.

WHAT: Erin Hills decided to use both stabilized and wax polymers pathways. Our stabilized pathway mix consists of decomposed granite or crushed stone screenings blended with a stabilizing binder. This mixture binds and locks the pathway mix to create a durable, permeable natural aggregate surface. Our stabilized decomposed granite surfaces are crafted to better withstand forces that would otherwise lead to erosion, which was the issue with the previous pathway mix that Erin Hills had been using.

Our wax polymer pathway mix combines natural crushed stone screenings or decomposed granite carefully pre-blended with an engineered polymeric wax in an entirely waterless process to create a unique paving alternative. This wax coated aggregate mix creates a dustless, sealed, non-permeable, but yet natural-looking surface that is perfect for use on a golf course as it can stand up to extensive wear and tear and the hilliest of terrain.

Erin Hills was looking for a natural solution that would blend in perfectly with their gorgeous scenery. At Kafka Granite, we offer over 50 different colors of pathway solutions. It was no problem to create a specialized blend for the Erin Hills golf course walking paths that was a perfect color match for what they had envisioned. 

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

Photo courtesy of Paul Hundley

HOW: One hurdle that we had to overcome while working on the Erin Hills project was finding the correct binder for the pathway mixes. We choose our binders based on local climate, pathway slope and individual aggregate type. With a property as large as Erin Hills, our dedicated team members worked hard to derive the proper binders needed. During this process our team was able to devise and implement a brand new wax polymer binder that was cleaner and performed better than the planned original binder.

Custom Blend Wax Polymer Pathway - Erin Hills Golf Course - Hartford, WI

Joe Sell (North Shore Superintendent), Chris Zugel (Whistling Straits Superintendent), Glenn Kafka (Kafka Granite Owner), and Zach Reineking (Erin Hills Superintendent) during installation at Erin Hills

The wax polymer pathway mixes present much less of a challenge as our wax polymer pathway is pre-blended for easy installation and maintenance. No water is needed for the installation of this product. Crews chose not to compact the new pathways with a one to two ton roller. Since Erin Hills desired a more natural looking pathway system, it was decided to let foot traffic compact the new pathways naturally. Wax polymer pathways were a great alternative for the Erin Hills project because these pathways do not get muddy or dusty like more traditional walkway options. This will help keep all golfers and observers dry and clean during the U.S. Open and will make the pathways ideal for local golfers all season long. Additionally, the Erin Hills grounds crew will no longer be spending large amounts of time maintaining the pathways and will now be able to focus on the course itself. Our wax polymer pathways are easy to maintain and can be easily manipulated if subtle changes are needed. These new pathways won’t have a problem standing up to the harsh freeze/thaw cycles that the course is subjected to in Wisconsin due to their nonpermable composition.

The stabilized pathways used at Erin Hills were chosen for their affordability, permeability, and design. With 50 different color variations, Kafka Granite was able to duplicate the custom aggregate blend already used for the wax polymer pathways that allowed for a seamless transition into the stabilized pathways. The stabilized pathways were used in flatter areas of the course, as the use of Stabilized Pathway Mix is not recommended on slopes over 10%. Kafka Granite stabilized pathways are made to withstand heavy foot traffic, reduce mud, dust, and erosion, while still remaining permeable. Following installation recommendations, Erin Hills installed 3 inches of prehydrated stabilized pathway mixture over a DOT approved base course for proper stability and drainage.

Kafka Granite’s stabilized pathways are a more affordable option than Wax Polymer Pathways, which helped Erin Hills to conserve costs. Because of its affordability and versatility, Erin Hills utilized our unique stabilized pathway mix whenever the more durable wax polymer mix was unneeded. Through a combination of both wax polymer and stabilized pathways a truly remarkable pathway system was created.

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

Photo courtesy of Paul Hundley

Instead of going with a high-maintenance, easily eroded option, Kafka Granite helped Erin Hills find the perfect pathway mixture for their one-of-a-kind golf course. Thanks to the hard work performed by our team in conjunction with the groundskeepers from the Erin Hills golf course, these new walkways can be enjoyed by all for years to come. Zachary Reineking, Director of Course Maintenance for Erin Hills had this to say about their new pathways at the end of this project,  “Over the years Erin Hills has tried an array of products for our undulating walk paths. The wax polymer and stabilized crushed granite from Kafka Granite provides a superior combination of ease of installation, durability, limited maintenance, and great aesthetics.”

With over 60 colors of specialty crushed aggregates for manufacturing, architecture and landscaping available, we are able to create customs products that will perfectly reflect your design vision. Our knowledgeable sales representatives are eager to help you find the ideal Kafka Granite solution for your next project.