Permeable Paver Driveways: Beautiful in Form and Function

Pavers: Eco Dublin®

The use of permeable pavers in driveway construction is growing exponentially across the country, particularly in areas with water use restrictions or strict stormwater management guidelines. Not only do permeable pavers boost your curb appeal, they also positively impact the environment by decreasing stormwater runoff and improving the water quality of local waterways.

Pavers: Aqualine™ Series

How, you ask? It’s ingeniously simple, actually. Permeable pavers are installed over a gradient bed of aggregate, with tiny aggregate filling the joints between each paver. As rainwater falls onto the pavers (or drains onto the pavers from another surface), the water percolates through the paver joints and down through the base materials below. There, the water is filtered by the aggregates, removing a number of pollutants before the water makes it’s way into the groundwater supply or returns to local waterways. The rising trend is to incorporate an underground cistern with a pump under the paver system so that the filtered water can be captured and recycled. A number of states and municipalities offer grants or tax incentives for these types of rainwater harvesting systems. The recycled water can be used for irrigation, water features, or other greywater uses.

Subterra Stone® improved the safety of this steep driveway.

Constructing a driveway with permeable pavers can also provide a number of other solutions for homeowners. For example, for steep driveways, permeable paver construction is safer during rainy weather conditions than traditional impervious surfaces, such as concrete or asphalt, because rain can permeate through pavers instead of pooling on the surface, thus improving traction.

Illustration of heated paver installation.

In areas prone to heavy snow, a heating system can also be installed under the sand base of the pavers so that snow or icy rain immediately melts and drains away, eliminating snow shoveling or ice accumulation. The sand acts as a buffer between the pavers and the coils, preventing damage from any shifting caused by automotive traffic.

Belgard Provides Charm, Improved Function and Cost Savings for Playground

Every play element of the new Chastain Park playground is designed for group play, from multi-person swings to “racing” slides and harmony stations. (photo: Chastain Park Conservancy)

What happens when kids get involved in the design of a playground? Amazing things! Just ask the community surrounding Atlanta’s Chastain Park. The only public playground serving the 85,000 school-age children within a 5-mile radius, the park’s playground had not been renovated since 2000 and was in dire need of an upgrade. The existing playground had a lot of deficiencies, primarily in that it really only appealed to a small demographic (ages 5-12). The majority of the play structures were too dangerous for smaller children, yet not challenging enough for older children.

A Mega-Tandem™ retaining wall provides an acoustic backdrop for one of the park's harmony stations. (Photo: Carson Matthews)

A Mega-Tandem™ retaining wall provides an acoustic backdrop for one of the park’s harmony stations. (photo: Carson Matthews)

Enter play specialist consultant Cynthia Gentry, an expert in childhood development who met with school children from the surrounding community to begin the design concepts. Kids were asked to imagine what they’d like to see on the playground and put that imagery into drawings, which became the inspiration for the all of the designs.

Gentry then enlisted the help of another consultant, Robin Moore, who specializes in nature-based play, currently a strong movement in childhood development circles. Together, Gentry and Moore conducted a charrette, or meeting of the minds, with representatives from the private school located inside the park’s grounds, local public schools and pre-schools, civic associations, the Parks Commission, and various members of the community. At the charrette, the group reviewed all of the children’s drawings and synthesized them into rough design concepts. A second charrette was held at NC State to compound all of the concepts into one overall design.

Landscape Architect Bill Caldwell took the ball from there, handling permits and turning the master plan into design documents for drainage, utilities, elevation, landscaping, hardscaping, and construction of the restroom pavilion. Caldwell contracted renown water resources engineer consultant, Bill Jorden, to develop the stormwater management plan to meet all of Atlanta’s ordinances for stormwater runoff quality and quantity.

Urbana Stone® permeable pavers throughout the playground manage stormwater, reducing water runoff and reducing pollution. (photo: Chastain Park Conservancy)

Urbana Stone® permeable pavers throughout the playground manage stormwater, reducing both stormwater runoff and pollution. (photo: Chastain Park Conservancy)

“Our goal was to not create a detention pond on a beautiful site of rolling hills and historic oak trees. I also didn’t want to have to convert the flat spaces currently used for open play. Belgard products helped us to avoid these traditional stormwater management strategies,” Caldwell said.

With the help of Belgard Urbana Stone® permeable pavers and Mega-Tandem™ Mass Segmental Retaining Wall™, the team was able to conserve land, meet the stormwater requirements, and save a significant amount of money in the process.

“Because the playground was being built into a hillside, the project required substantial retaining walls, which initially called for poured concrete. We got two Mega-Tandem Walls for the price of one poured concrete wall. Also, using the Mega-Tandem allowed us to value-engineer the pavilion and reduce the amount of poured concrete needed for the foundation. Overall, we saved over $200,000 on the project, factoring the cost savings on the pavilion and the site walls,” Caldwell said.

In addition, the 9,000 square feet of permeable paver walkways controls the amount off rainwater runoff that rolls downhill, which alleviates erosion problems. “An impervious system would have caused a concentration of water flow to the lower elevations, which would have generated more runoff than the original site,” Caldwell said.

Caldwell also notes that the Belgard permable pavers and retaining walls allowed him to create the playground out of what was formerly unusable space. “I love the fact that we took a hillside with a 12-15 degree slope that was basically non-functional and turned it into a 1-acre parkland that is a highly functional and usable space and has become a high-value component of the park,” he said. “We created something out of nothing.”

And what Caldwell considers the best part…this playgound was designed by kids for kids, regardless of age or abilities. The entire playground is ADA compliant, with multiple handicap accessible play elements. “Even the texture of the permeable paver walkway adds a sensory element for children with sensory disabilities, which is not something they would get with a smooth poured concrete sidewalk. Addressing disabilities of multiple spectrums was always part of the discussion from the beginning,” Caldwell said.

Photos courtesy Carson MattHews and the Chastain Park Conservancy.

Patio Design Ideas

The primary benefit of installing a hardscape patio is the lasting beauty. But precisely because it’s going to be there for a very long time, it’s important that you put a good bit of thought into the design. You want to make sure that the space will reflect your personality, as well as suit your functional needs. Below are some inspirational ideas for fabulous hardscape patios using Belgard pavers and wall products to reflect a wide variety of personal styles.

Cozy Rooms

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Fun & Funky Paver Patterns

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Fire Pit Patios

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Sleek & Contemporary

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Permeable Patios

For more patio design ideas, visit our Perfect Patios Pinterest Board.

Using Paver Patterns to
Create Faux Rug Designs

The overarching theme of contemporary outdoor living design is to apply interior design techniques to create outdoor rooms. We see this in every aspect of outdoor living, from furniture design to light fixtures to decorative accents. It’s all part of the effort to truly live in our outdoor spaces with the same comfort, style and ease with which we live in our indoor spaces.

When planning an outdoor living design, one idea to consider is utilizing paver patterns to reinforce the “room” concept. This can be done in a number of creative ways. Think of how you would use carpet or area rugs to define or accent certain living areas, and then apply those concepts to paver design. Here are some of our favorite examples of this type of paver pattern application.

Fireplace Area Rugs

A cozy living room is traditionally characterized by grouping furniture over an area rug near the fireplace. This look can be achieved outdoors by varying paver tone, texture and shape into an integrated design that mimics this look.

Creating Separate Rooms

Indoors, flooring material or pattern often changes when you step from one room into the next. For example, the kitchen may be floored with ceramic tile, and the living room may have wood flooring. Or sometimes, the same material is used, but the laying pattern changes as you cross the threshold. This technique can be done outdoors to create the illusion of separate rooms.

The Outdoor “Foyer”

Turn an open patio area into a grand outdoor foyer with contrasting colors and textures that create the look of a large decorative area rug. This concept can also be used to simulate an entryway runner that leads from one outdoor room to the next.

Defining Conversation Areas

In a large room, area rugs can be used to divide the space into smaller, more intimate conversation areas. The same can be done in an outdoor room. Place a paver “rug” where it makes sense to position a furniture grouping. For additional flare, a fire pit can be placed in the center of the design, creating the look of a flaming coffee table.

Designer Rugs

Contemporary block patterns, contrasting colors, arches and swirly designs can be used to emulate the look of designer carpets and area rugs. Don’t be afraid to get creative!

Incorporating Nature

Another idea is to incorporate grassy areas into your design to add the textural look of shag. This can be done in the form of a runner or as an integrated element of a faux rug design.

Product Spotlight: Mirage Pavers

Mirage® Ardesie Pavers

Mirage® Ardesie Pavers

Belgard recently partnered with the leader in Italian porcelain tiles to bring the Mirage® Porcelain Paver to the U.S. market on a national scale, bringing European outdoor living design options to the modern American home. Mirage allows homeowners to create an exterior design that is an expansion of the interior space, which is a common design trend today. An added benefit is that the outdoor porcelain paver line complements the Mirage indoor tile line, as well as a lines of wall veneers, pool coping, and stair steps, which allows for the development of harmonious, flowing designs.

Mirage® Quarziti 2.0

What exactly is a porcelain paver?

Mirage porcelain pavers have a similar look to indoor tiles, but are thicker and more durable. Indoor flooring tile is typically about 1/2 inch thick, whereas Mirage pavers are available in 3/4 inch thickness for patios and walkways and 1-1/4 inch thickness for driveways. More economical than natural stone, Mirage has a non-slip surface and won’t absorb stains like travertine. Mirage is also resistant to breakage, fading, and the corrosive effects of rain, pool chemicals, deicing salts, and other chemical agents.

Mirage® Sundeck Pavers

Mirage® Sundeck Pavers

Design Options

Mirage pavers are available in a variety of interpretations of stone, wood, and concrete textures, as well as a variety of modular shapes, with many large stock sizes that coordinate with today’s design trends for larger pieces. Additional designs and sizes can also be special ordered, including large slabs for steps and outdoor kitchen countertops.  Mirage also provides the unique installation flexibility to install over sand, grass, gravel, or concrete.

Maintenance Consideration

The true beauty of Mirage is that it’s virtually maintenance free and incredibly durable. It wards off all stains including red wine, acid, and oil. The color will never fade, and it never needs to be sealed. There is only minimal color variation from unit to unit, unlike with natural stone, which can vary greatly. And unlike natural stone, Mirage won’t discolor or allow moss or mold growth. Ten years from now, if you want to add a section, the color will match. If a paver should crack or chip, it can easily be removed with a special tool and replaced. Mirage can be cleaned using any type of cleaner and can withstand pressure-washing without deterioration of the finish. Mirage is also frost free and resistant to thermal shock caused by freeze and thaw cycles in colder climates.

Mirage® Officine Pavers

Mirage® Officine Pavers

Benefits of Pavers for Poolscapes

ArbelStoneMegaLafitt

Products: Arbel® and Mega-Lafitt™ pavers

When designing a pool, the options often seem endless. Pool decking can be done with any number of materials — poured slab, tile, natural stone, brick, wood — so why choose pavers?

Durability

There is no pool decking material that is more durable than pavers. Wood will fade and splinter, slabs will crack, brick will shift and crack, and natural stone can splinter or break. Belgard pavers have a lifetime warranty and are highly resistant to cracking or deterioration caused by exposure to foot traffic, sun, pool chemicals, or salt. On the odd chance that a paver does get damaged, it is easily replaced.

Safety

Bare feet on a wet surface can quickly become a dangerous scenario. Tile and natural stone often get slippery when wet. Belgard pavers have a slip-resistant surface, no matter how wet they get.

Products: Dublin Cobble® pavers, Celtik® Wall

Design Flexibility

Pavers are incredibly beautiful and allow for a variety of design options. Whether trying to create a natural look that blends into lush landscaping, or seeking a tailored look to coordinate with an ultra-modern architectural style, there is a paver to fit the bill. Pavers also work well with other hardscapes to develop a cohesive design. By blending pavers with retaining walls, a design can include steps, garden walls, and an outdoor kitchen that all blend together as one functional outdoor living design.

Overlay Options

Belgard offers a number of thinner profile pavers that can overlay an existing concrete pool deck to bring new life to an old pool for considerably less cost than removing and replacing the decking. Click on the image below to see how this rundown pool was transformed by overlaying the deck with Lafitt™ Rustic Slab.

PoolOverlayVideoFor more inspiration on paver poolscapes, visit our poolscape Pinterest board or the Belgard Design Studio. To find an authorized contractor or dealer near you, click here.