Our Native Landscape Story (Part 1): Reducing Impervious Surfaces

This series of posts will highlight sections of our landscape and what we've done in each section.

Our lot is approximately 2/3 of an acre. The house is situated on the top of a gravel esker, and the detached garage is at the bottom of the slope. Our soil varies from gravel and sand deposits on the top of the esker to a sandy-loam at the bottom of the slope. We moved in 2004.

This post will be about the area to the right of the garage. We are at the end of a cul-de-sac, and when looking at the house with our realtor I noticed the excessive amount of paving and parking pads.

Pictured below, the paving on the right side of the garage and the the trailer parking pad on the far right. Underneath the trailer parking pad, (the lot slopes to the right) there was about 10-12 feet in height of fill to make the parking pad level with the cul-de-sac.

In 2007, we decided to remove this excess paving. Reducing impervious surfaces on our lot was one of our goals to help improve water quality. Water will therefore infiltrate into the ground, rather than running off our property, potentially carrying pollutants, and adding to the surge of water that our storm sewers have to accommodate.
Read an earlier post on Permeable Asphalt

We hired a contractor with a skid steer to remove around 1200 square feet of asphalt, subgrade and fill back to the native soil. This included a 10 foot wide section in front of the left side of the garage that is now a raingarden, collecting the cul-de-sac runoff.

We made sure the contractor did not leave the footprint of the paved area and potentially compact the soil in surrounding areas.

Fortunately, we live within a mile or so of an asphalt and gravel recycling center. So all of the fill and asphalt was hauled a short distance and recycled.

We ordered 30 cubic yards of composted leaves and spread this over the soil. This was to help reintroduce beneficial bacteria and organic matter that was lost due to the paving.
Just planted in May 2007

Native trees, shrubs, prairie and woodland perennials were then planted. Along the garage foundation, we added American Hazelnut, Chokeberry and Dwarf Bush Honeysuckle (Diervilla). Along the right side of the path we added several native ferns and spring ephemerals. Beyond this on the right side, Common Ninebark, American Plum and Pagoda Dogwoods are the backdrop.

We did add mulch once with the initial planting to prevent soil erosion. Now the fallen leaves are left and are the mulch.
June 2010

Here is the before and after from the back of the garage.

Just Planted, May 2007

June 2010

In the foreground on the right is Wild Ginger, Jack in the Pulpit and sedges. On the left is Canada Anemone and Dwarf Bush Honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera), a favorite perch of tree frogs.