PPDL Picture of the Week for
December 17, 2012

Permeable Materials in the Landscape 

Kyle Daniel, Nursery and Landscape Outreach Specialist, Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Purdue University

The term ‘sustainable landscape’ has been in the common vernacular for several years, though the concept of sustainable landscapes has been around for many years.  There are many definitions to the term ‘sustainable’, as well as many varying practices involving sustainable methods.  New technologies in the hardscape industry have been developed that significantly improve sustainable practices in the landscape through permeable materials.  The major advantage of permeable pavers is for mitigating storm water run-off.  This type of run-off contains oil, chemicals, solids, etc., which would normally drain to local creeks, rivers, lakes, or oceans.  As opposed to traditional paver materials, this technology allows water to infiltrate through the material, as well as between pavers, which can aid in eliminating much of the toxic substances found in storm water run-off.  In addition to storm water run-off, plant roots are able to extract water from areas below this surface, which could not occur in a non-permeable material.  Urban tree life expectancy is well below 30 years, which is when the maximum environmental benefit of trees is realized.  The lifespan of urban trees can be increased using permeable pavers, allowing for increased rooting areas for water, nutrient, and oxygen absorption.  Utilizing these new types of technologies in hardscaping areas will aid in making landscapes more sustainable.

For more information on permeable pavers, please visit the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute (ICPI) at:

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Permeable pavers

Purdue Plant & Pest Diagnostic Lab Purdue Cooperative Extension Service