08 Sep 2023

Unlike other pavers, permeable pavers do not require expensive specialised equipment when they are being installed. PHOTO/BEATRICE NAKIBUKA.
By  Beatrice Nakibuuka

There are various types of pavers to choose from when building a patio, walkway or even a pool decking depending on your budget and décor preferences. One of those are permeable pavers.
As the name indicates, these pavers allows water to pass through the surface and be absorbed into the ground below.
They are designed to help manage storm water runoff by reducing the amount of water that flows into storm drains and sewer systems. 
According to Andrew Mbabazi, a landscaper at Ayodele Innovations, permeable pavers can be made from various materials such as concrete, brick or plastic and they are often used for driveways, walkways, patios and other paved surfaces.
They offer benefits such as erosion control, groundwater recharge and decreased flooding risk.
The tumbled texture of theses pavers makes them less slippery and excellent for outdoor use. When thinking of designing an eco-friendly home, many times people focus on the interior elements or structural and architectural concerns.  
However, landscaping solutions are also a great option when looking to integrate innovative green systems. 
Eco-friendly landscaping designs can double up as aesthetic and functional spaces that can complement the look and feel of the entire home. 
To design a stylish and sustainable backyard space, a key tip is to focus on colour, texture and pattern when selecting materials.
A key eco-friendly material in the outdoor and landscaping market is permeable paving, which can greatly enhance the curb appeal of a home and create functional and lovely garden paths, walkways and driveways.
Mbabazi says installing permeable pavers reduces the amount of standing water and pools, which are optimal breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other insects. 
“Because the water will drain through the porous surface, it will likely result in fewer pests that breed in stagnant water such as mosquitoes,” he says.
Since permeable pavers can help prevent flooding in low-lying areas, they are ideal during heavy rainfalls by absorbing water. Water that infiltrates the ground can help recharge groundwater supplies, maintaining healthy water levels in aquifers.
The absorption of water prevents soil erosion and helps maintain the stability of the ground beneath the pavers. As water passes through the ground, it gets naturally filtered, reducing the amount of pollutants and contaminants that reach water bodies.
“Groundwater replenishment is very important in maintaining healthy ecosystems and ensuring a sustainable water supply. Permeable paving promotes replenishment because they allow water to infiltrate the soil and recharge the groundwater table,” Mbabazi says.
This process helps prevent water scarcity, supports the health of aquatic ecosystems, and contributes to overall environmental sustainability.
Some permeable pavers are durable, says Mbabazi and can withstand traffic from vehicles. This makes them suitable for driveways and parking areas. Permeable pavers typically require less maintenance than traditional pavement since they are less prone to cracking and can self-repair to some extent.
He notes that unlike other pavers, permeable pavers do not require expensive specialised equipment when they are being installed. The installation process for permeable pavers starts with a clear and level area with a layer of rock.
There are several types of permeable pavers but the commonest are the permeable interlocking concrete pavers, remarks Mbabazi. 
Permeable interlocking concrete pavers are mixed with a very low content of fine sand, so that they have void space. They are made of brick, stone, or concrete, set on a highly permeable bedding. The joints and opening voids within the pavers should also be filled with stone to allow water to percolate downward. 
“Permeable pavers are prone to clogging from sand and fine sediments that fill void spaces and the joints between pavers,” he warns.
Permeable pavement is not suited for high-traffic areas. It is generally not suitable for sites where it will be subject to heavy axle loads, although permeable interlocking concrete pavers can be engineered for such sites.
Permeable pavers are suitable for keeping landscaped areas well-maintained and prevent soil from being transported onto the pavement. Monitor regularly to ensure that the paving surface drains properly after rains. Do not reseal or repave with impermeable materials.
Grass pavers 
Grass pavers are a type of open-cell unit paver in which the cells are filled with soil and planted with grass. The pavers, made of concrete, distribute the weight of traffic and prevent compression of the underlying soil. 
“These may require periodic reseeding to fill in bare spots. For grass pavers, use deep-rooted grass species whose roots can penetrate the reservoir base course. Irrigation may be required but should be infrequent soakings so that the turf develops deep root systems,” says Mbabazi. 
Grass pavers are appropriate for pedestrian-only areas and for very low traffic areas such as residential driveways and parking lots. 
Grass pavers can improve site appearance by providing vegetation where there would otherwise be only pavement. These pavers are not ideal for high traffic or high speed areas because they have lower load-bearing capacity than conventional pavement. 
“Remember that the effectiveness of permeable pavers depends on proper installation and maintenance. It is important to follow manufacturer recommendations and seek professional advice if you are considering using permeable pavers for your project,” Mbabazi warns. 
Unlike traditional concrete pavers that need frequent repairs, permeable interlocking concrete pavers do not crack and therefore, do not need frequent repairs.
This is because they have holes that allow for airspace and, natural temperature changes. If there is any damage, you can remove and replace a damaged stone instead of an entire section.
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