Tuesday, December 21, 2010

2010-The Year of Drainage Problems Continued

After the excavation and demolition were complete, Paul and I proceeded to set grade and design the gravity drain system, as well as the downspouts from the corners of the building were installed underground (but kept separate) with the gravity drain system.  Drainage behind the retaining walls had to be installed, as well as a sump crock and sump pump were installed under the walkway.

The entire walkway that was removed was re-located and re-constructed out of brick pavers.  The base material for the pavers was designed and installed as a permeable paver system, although it is important to note that we did not use actual permeable pavers.  We used traditional Holland brick pavers because of the smaller joints that would be less maintenance in the long run for the property owner.  The maintenance of the 'permeable paver' system would consist of a Spring cleaning of the leaves and then a vacuuming of the joints with a shop vac.  This procedure would also be completed in the Fall, after the leaves had fallen.

The base material under the brick pavers, 6A clean Limestone was installed starting at a minimum depth of 6" gradually creating a depth of approximately 3'.   The 6A was installed in 4" lifts and compacted.  Once the grade and slope of the handicap ramp were set, the entire brick paver area was screeded with Crushed Peastone for the leveling course of the brick pavers.  The Holland pavers were installed, all cuts made, soldier course cut and installed, and the brick pavers were compacted several times.  The brick paving portion of the job was complete.
Towards the end of the project, we experienced several all day rains where the mid-Michigan area received approximately 1" to 1-1/4" of rain.  The gravity drain system worked flawlessly.  The drainage system also helps to clean the water that drains down from the parking lot, collecting a good portion of the oils, salts, dirt, residues, contaminants, before it drains out to the pond behind the property.  The concrete sidewalk that was removed from the project was broken up and moved to the back of the property where it was re-utilized to build a retaining wall along the entire back of the property where it has been eroding for several years, helping to make the project sustainable.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

2010-The Year of Drainage Problems

The 2010 landscape season has been extremely interesting for Landscape Labor Solutions.  Several of our larger hardscape projects revolved around extensive drainage dilemmas that had to be corrected.  One of our projects in Holt this Summer included relocating a handicap ramp to a lower level doorway at a commercial building.  During the Spring rains in April, the basement of the building had suffered extensive damage from a flood caused by an abundance of rain and a failed sump pump.  The building owner had specific requests - fix the drainage by installing a gravity drain, relocate a handicap ramp, re-install a retaining wall, and add a set of steps.

After extensive design and collaberation with the building owner, the demolition and removal of the retaining wall and sidewalk began.  After 2 1/2 days of demolition and excavation, we removed approximately 20 cubic yards of treated timbers and approximately 65 cubic yards of excavated soil.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Give Knock-Out Roses a try this Spring!

It is not very often in the landscape world that a plant is developed that everyone already loves and is improved to require little care.  The Knock-Out Family of Roses was developed to be easy to grow and ot require specific care.  They are the most disease resistant rose on the market today.  They have a stunning flower power with a generous bloom cycle (abou every 5-6 weeks) that will continue until the first hard frost.
All Knock-Out Roses are self cleaning, so there is no deadheading.

 The Knock-Out Family of Roses can fit into any landscape.  They say this rose suits every garden and every lifestyle.  You can plant them individually among shrubs, annuals, and perennials in mixed beds and borders.  You can plant them in large masses or you can plant them as flowering hedges.  You can also plant them along a foundation to provide a bright border.  This Spring when you are visiting your favorite garden center looking for plants to add to your landscape, do not hesitate to look at the Knock-Out Family of Roses.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Adding Curb Appeal to Your Home with Brick Pavers

Many older homes throughout America have an aging asphalt or concrete driveway that probably needs replacement.  If you are looking for an aesthetic change, or to replace broken asphalt or concrete, brick pavers offer an excellent alternative.

There are so many options that one should consider when replacing their driveway.  There are the old stand-bys of asphalt and concrete, which are the most often selected and economical choices.  Concrete can be installed with different textures, but if not properly installed concrete can eventually crack.  Repairing these cracks is extremely difficult, and often unsightly.

Brick pavers, whether clay or concrete brick pavers, are excellent alternatives to asphalt and poured concrete surfaces.  The brick paver option available today seem endless; it is becoming easier to match color, texture, and style of brick to any design of home.  If careful design choices are selected, a brick paver driveway can really increase the look, style, and value of a home.

Brick pavers distribute energy and pressure laterally, which means less pressure per square inch.  Brick pavers are great because they are manufactured with a greater psi (pounds per square inch) than say a concrete slab.  Concrete often has a psi of 3,000-3,500, whereas brick pavers often have a standard of  8,000-9,000 psi per brick.  Brick pavers have a long-standing history, and have been utilized as paving for roads for as many as 2,000 years throughout Europe with great success.

Another wonderful feature of brick pavers is their ability to breathe during seasonal temperature changes; asphalt and concrete do not have the ability to expand or contract which is why cracks will appear after a year or two in cold climates.  If there is damage to an area, brick pavers can simply be lifted and re-installed with minimal work or cost.  Repairs to asphalt or concrete often look like patchwork and can be very costly.

Installation of brick pavers is often more expensive than asphalt or poured concrete.  Although, if the brick pavers are installed correctly the first time, their investment will pay off over the long run.  Pavers are in place forever.  Brick pavers usually have an estimated life cycle of 40+ years.  During the lifetime of an average brick paver project, it is possible you will have to re-pave asphalt or re-pour concrete two or more times to maintain the neat appearance.

Another paver option that has been around since the early 1970's is "Permeable Pavers."  Although this brick paving system has been around for over 3 decades, because of LEED building guidelines and the sustainable environmental movement, permeable brick pavers are enjoying a belated acknowledgement and recognition, and starting to gain in popularity throughout Europe and the United States for their sustainable attributes.

The design of permeable pavers allows water to pass through the permeable brick pavers and permeate down into a specially designed bed of drainage stone.  This permable system allows the rainwater to re-charge the natural groundwater and is considered a sustainable practice.  We are starting to see permeable pavers used more and more in cities who are having problems with an overabundance of stormwater that is washing contaminants and pollutants into our lakes, rivers, streams, oceans and watersheds.
Permeable pavers are being used for driveways, patios, additional parking areas, parking lots, streets, sidewalks, alleys, etc.  Millions of square feet of permeable brick pavers have been installed throughout the United States alone.  Permeable brick pavers have been most widely used in commercial projects, but are starting to be utilized by homeowners as an excellent alternative for driveways.  We urge you to research and become an informed  consumer with the various paving options available to today's homeowner.

The pictures that you see accompanying this post are pictures of one of our completed driveways that was installed with Belgard's 'Subterra' Permeable Pavers.  If you are considering brick pavers for your driveway replacement or you are installing a new driveway, Landscape Labor Solutions representatives would love to introduce and educate you on the various options available today by todays manufacturers.  Call (517) 646-8990 to schedule your brick paver consultation today.  Landscapes Labor Solutions is a company committed to installing sustainable landscapes whenever possible.  You may also view other pictures of this completed sustainable project at www.weneedsolutions.com/LID-Sustainability-Project.html.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Reapiring and Recoloring a Faux Bubbler Stone (Post #1)

This weeks project is repairing a faux Bubbler Rock/Water Feature.  The faux rock made out of foam was starting to show some chipping and discoloration, as well as the faux concrete coloring was starting to flake off of the stone.  I brought it back to our shop in late November when we cleaned up the homeowner's garden.  This faux rock was originally designed to be just that, a fake rock to cover up something.  We decided one day approximately 8 years ago to turn it into a water feature and a focal point outside the homeowners bedroom window.  We drilled (2) holes and ran the plumbing, as well as faux finished the entire fake rock with concrete and then faux finished the fake stone with concrete colorant to make it appear more natural.  This will actually be the 2nd time that I have completed this process.

This was back in the day before the water feature/fountain manufacturers had created the fountain basin or reservoir that we now have today.  We created the fountain basin out of a 33 gallon pickle barrel cut in half, the one that we selected was very thick plastic and would never break if water froze in it.  One of the first things we did was take and create a metal mesh system to act as re-enforcement and help stabilize the plumbing to keep it from moving during normal maintenance of the bubbler water feature.  We cut into the stryrofoam side of the fountain with an angle grinder with a metal blade.  This allowed the pieces of metal mesh to slide right in to the foam side of the faux stone.  The metal mesh was then filled with foam and allowed to cure.

Next, we took and used a metal brush and cleaned off all of the loose debris-concrete, algae, sealer, etc.
We then blew off the outside and inside of the faux rock with an air compressor.  We then took and vaccummed all of the surfaces, inside and outside of the faux stone.  This would make sure all dust and debris was cleaned from the surface so that on the inside we did not have a bond breaker for the foam.  The outside of the stone was also vacuumed so that we did not have a bond breaker on the outside for the concrete.  Next we took and mixed a high strength concrete and mixed it a little wet.  I then took a cheap china bristle paint brush and stippled the entire faux rock with concrete.  A stippling technique was used so as not to show brush marks, but still allowed us to get concrete into every nook, cranny and crevice and still maintain a textured, authentic rock look and feel.  This completed our first day of the faux stone water feature rehabilitation.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Correcting Water Drainage in Front Of Garage Doors (Post 2)

There is one other option that could be used to collect water in front of garage doors, although I do not consider it as effective because of the maintenance involved.  A channel drain could be installed across the front of the garage.  Although, in my professional opinion, I do not find this option as successful over the long run as I do installing the permeable brick pavers.  Let me explain why I feel this way. 

A channel drain can become clogged with leaves, dirt, and debris over time because it is directly open to the elements, whereas the pavers have a crushed drainage stone in the voids of the brick that allows water to quickly flow through, but filters out leaves, dirt, and debris out of the system.  The permeable pavers will also filter out toxins, heavy metals, brake dust, motor oils, pollutants, contaminants, etc.that would normally wash down your driveway, into the curb and gutters, and eventually into our waterways.

I do not have any pictures of drainage channel installed across the front of a garage, but I have installed it in between a concrete driveway and brick pavers to catch water that would normally cause a severe drainage/erosion problem.  In the picture that I have included with this post, we had approximately 1,500 square feet of concrete driveway draining downhill onto a newly installed brick paver walkway.  All rainwater and smow melt was captured by the drainage channel and approximately (4) years later we have not had any erosion or wash-out problems.  Although, you do have to caulk all of the seams with a flexible elastomeric caulk, otherwise rainwater will erode and undermine the area through the cracks.  You will also have to watch the flexible elastomeric caulk over time and re-caulk when needed.

The voids between the permeable brick pavers can become clogged over time.  Results of professional studies concerning permeable pavers are just starting to come in that show (depending on the site) that it takes approximately 5-6 years to clog the drainage voids of the permeable pavers.  When this happens, you take a shop-vac and sweep out the voids (and yes, you will sweep out the drainage rock, too), but the infill drainage rock is generally inexpensive to replace and this will re-establish the drainage ability of the permeable pavers.

Permeable pavers provide a practical and economical way to eliminate pollutants from waterways while reducing urban water waste.  Permeable pavers are considered a sustainable practice.

Correcting Water Drainage in Front Of Garage Doors

While doing my daily morning routine, which consists of drinking coffee to bring me out of that comatose state as well as working my way through 30-40 e-mails that I receive every night.  Saturday morning I came across a video (wich can be seen on our Facebook page) on DoItYourself.com that explained a situation with a driveway that was higher than the garage floor.  Because the driveway was higher, it created a problem where water was frequently pooling in front of the garage door.  This allowed water to flow into the garage instead of away from it, as well as it was rotting the garage door, surrounding trim, and the siding.  This is an all too common problem with older homes and we see it frequently.  This problem usually occurs because the driveway has been repaved once or twice over the years and this raises the level of the driveway in comparison to the garage floor.

In this video, they marked a straight line in front of the garage door approximately 3' out from the garage.  They cut the asphalt driveway with a cut-off saw and removed the asphalt and disposed of it.  The gravel base underneath the asphalt driveway was sufficient enough to allow them the install concrete brick pavers right over the existing gravel without any changes to the sub-base.  I liked the concept of what they were doing as an economical fix to this specific drainage situation, but I did not like the idea that the water was allowed to drain and stay right at the foundation of the garage.  We would never allow water to drain like this around the foundation of the home, why would we do it in front of the garage.

If homeowners have this problem, which many do with older homes in the city.  I would rather see the homeowner install permeable pavers which allows the rainwater to drain extremely fast.  I would also like to see them excavate the area and install clean, crushed drainage rock underneath the pavers and install perforated (perforated means with holes) SDR-35 Sewer Pipe to remove the water from the affected drainage area.  Although, I must also point out that this water must be removed to somewhere away from the foundation of the garage.  This water could be drained away from the garage to a rain garden, a slope graded away from the garage, or any number of better choices.

Because our mid-Michigan soils contain so much clay content, which does not provide any drainage.  It is always good to err on the side of caution and install it correctly.  This will also add value to your property, especially if you are looking to sell your home in the future.  I would also reccomend that during this drainage correction installation that some sort of filter fabric be installed underneath the pipe and drainage stone, this will keep any movement of small soil particles from washing into the system and help keep the drainage stone clean.  I would also recommend installing a layer of geogrid within the stone base to assist with the structure of the stone underneath the pavers.

If you are experiencing these sort of problems with drainage in front of your garage or near your house, I would like to point out that Landscape Labor Solutions would love to assist you with exploring options to correct your drainage situation.  We invite you to check out our Drainage & Grading Solutions webpage at www.mylaborsolutions.com/Drainage---Grading-Solutions.html.  Our talented and skilled landscape laborers have extensive experience in dealing with this sort of drainage challenges.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Drainage...Are You Ready For The Spring Thaw?

Mid-Michigan has just experienced it's first mild thaw.  On the evening of Monday, January 26th I noticed that the local T.V. stations were reporting Flood Watches.  The brief thaw that we experienced late last week and through the weekend was filling up the drainage ditches, streams, lakes, rivers, wetlands, etc., causing potential difficulties for people living in flood-prone areas.  We urge you to watch your property and note where you may find problems with water.

Landscape Labor Solutions offers many drainage solutions to help clients manage or solve their drainage challenges.  Possible remedies can be as simple as spreading topsoil around the foundation of the house or building; or adding pipe extensions to downspouts to move the downspout discharge away from the foundation of the house. 

Sometimes more elaborate systems are required.  Landscape Labor Solutions is always more than happy to look at your specific problems and see if we can provide you with a solution(s) to help you with your drainage challenges.  Call (517) 646-8990 to schedule your drainage consultation.  We travel all over mid-Michigan to assist people with their drainage problems.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Installing a Brick Paver Patio (Part 4)

Lets start out by recapping nailing in the spikes for the edging.  As a company rule, we install a spike, skip (2) holes, and then install another spike.  If we are edging really tight curves, then we spike every other hole.  After you have installed the edging, we take and shovel dirt over and against the brick edging.  We then take the plate compactor and tamp the soil around the outside of the patio.  This provides two things.  First, it must be done so that as it rains we are less likely to have washout.  Second, this helps in allowing no movement in the brick pavers.

Next, we take bags of polymeric sand and dump them out on the patio.  We take a broom and very lightly broom the sand all over the patio.  You want the loose polymeric sand to be about 1/4" deep and do not worry about sweeping the polymeric sand into the joints.  A 1/4" of loose sand allows the plate compactor to glide over the patio causing less damage to the brick pavers.  You will need to compact the entire patio in (3) different directions.

Compacting the patio levels the paver stones into the bedding layer of 2NS Sand and allows sand to vibrate up through the bottom of the joints.  This sets the pavers in place and makes for a tight patio.  The polymeric sand will lessen the likelihood of ants and weeds.  But we do not guarantee that it will take care of it all together, but it does help.  Once the patio has been compacted properly, you will broom off all polymeric sand from the brick.  Take your time and also make sure you even clean out the chamfer joints (beveled joints between the brick pavers), this makes for a more professional installation.  You probably will broom off the patio 2-3 times before you have it clean enough.

You may even want to blow it lightly with a leaf blower.  Lastly, you will take and lightly spray down the patio with a garden hose.  It is important not to let the water puddle on the pavers or more importantly in the paver joints.  Let the patio dry for approximately 30 minutes to an hour.  Lightly sprinkle the patio with water again not allowing it to pool with water.  Repeat this process one more time.  You have completed your brick paver patio installation.  While the patio is drying, we usually use this time to do our clean-up around the edge.