Balancing Urban Development and Water Conservation
 

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April Featured Project

Posted April 19, 2020 @ 12:45pm | by Victorian

April Featured Project

Erickson Residence

Project: Driveway Replacement with Channel Drain and Raingarden

 

Todd and Christina felt it was time to redo their driveway and it was important for them to consider ways to do it in a more earth-friendly manner. An asphalt driveway replaced the broken concrete and made things easier for them in the winter to remove snow.

Later a channel drain was installed to reroute water to the side of the driveway keeping the stormwater runoff on their property. Now every rain event, water coming off a portion of the house and the upper portion of the driveway, enters into the channel drain that diverts the runoff into a beautiful tiered raingarden. Not only are they capturing over a 1” rainfall event each time but they’re supporting native plants, pollinators and contributing to replenishing the aquifer!

Let’s elaborate on asphalt a bit more. Conventional asphalt, although seemingly not ecologically-sensitive has some redeeming aspects that do make it sensible when it comes to the environment, and you:

  • most highly recycled product in the world (based on weight)

  • low carbon footprint compared to a permeable driveway

  • easy to repair and overlay unlike concrete

  • in winter climates, it can be much easier to shovel or snow blow.

  • most economical compared to other surface types (spend your money on other things)

 
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Earth Wizards Response to COVID-19

Posted April 16, 2020 @ 5:05pm | by Victorian

You may know Earth Wizards as your eco friendly paving and landscape company.

And it’s true! We do care about the health of our ecosystems. We also care about the health of you and your family. That’s why we are taking this pandemic seriously, and taking all necessary precautions to ensure your safety.

 

It starts with our estimates.

Upon arriving at the site our sales representative will give you a call, and you can talk us through the project without ever having to leave your home. Our sales reps would love to shake your hand and meet face to face, but we will have to settle for a friendly wave through the window. 

 

When we get to work on your project.

We will ensure that any part of your home our crews come into contact with is thoroughly disinfected, this includes water spigots, garage door openers, and electrical outlets. Many homeowners are interested in and enjoy observing the construction process. We love that. But for your safety and ours, we ask that you maintain a safe distance while doing so. 

 

A family owned and operated business.

Earth Wizards also cares about the well being of its employees and contractors. We want to do everything we can to ensure they get through this with as little financial disruption as possible, while also ensuring their safety. 

 

Lucky for us, our business lends itself to social distancing.

For starters, we work outdoors! This means our crews can safely work together while still maintaining a social distance. We also maintain a large enough fleet of trucks, that there is no need to share rides to or from any jobsite. Our employees and crew understand that it’s up to us to keep each other safe.That means not exposing themselves to others if they have any symptoms. 

 

Earth Wizards was deemed an essential business by the state of Minnesota. 

We are committed to continue providing excellent service to you and a safe and stable working environment for our employees.

 

 
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The Garage Apron/Driveway Joint. What the heck happens there?

Posted April 16, 2020 @ 4:22pm | by Victorian

The Garage Apron/Driveway Joint. What the heck happens there?

One of the most common repairs is the joint between the garage and the driveway.  If you’ve experienced this, repaired it, to only have it happen again you’re probably not a happy camper. 

 

Frustrating? A waste of money? 

 

Absolutely. We’d rather you spend money on other pleasures in life than fixing a pavement collapse situation at your garage over and over again.

 

We’d like to elaborate why this happens and what can be done to permanently fix the issue.

 

First, garage construction. To be clear, this is not our expertise. :)

During construction of the garage foundation work, there are concrete blocks placed around the entire perimeter. 

 

Certainly there are many particulars beyond our scope of expertise, we’ll only expound on what we experience. 

 

Each concrete block contains two large holes. Generally the corner blocks of a structure are filled with concrete but the center ones are left open. 

 

This is where issues can happen years later. 

 

Initially soils and base aggregate for the driveway are moved around and fill these holes (to some extent) but those materials are neither compacted or filled in a way that ensures any permanent stability. So then...

 

The power of water.

As time passes and the joint between the garage floor and the driveway are exposed to water from rainfall events, the power of the water will move soil with it. 

 

If there’s a place for it to go. It will go. 

 

Once any of the top layers of soil move through those open holes of the concrete block the surface of the driveway will start to collapse. If you have a concrete driveway, you won’t notice as much of a collapse? Why? 

 

Concrete is a rigid pavement and will create a “bridge” over an unsupported area. 

 

We actually have seen some major wash-out under garage floors, up to 6’ deep because of concrete’s amazing bridging abilities.

 

Why asphalt why?

One of the many pros of asphalt is that it’s considered a flexible surface. And deemed self-healing meaning

that as it expands and contracts with swings of temperature the oils in the asphalt will become rejuvenated and self repair where concrete’s rigidity is not as forgiving.

 

Here’s where the con doesn’t work in our favor. 

 

When the pavement surface of asphalt is unsupported, it begins to collapse, especially in areas where it’s exposed to loads (your car driving over). The adjacent pavement will join in and collapse as well.

 

The fix.

For these circumstances, it’s imperative to expose the concrete block, fill with sand or other self-compacting materials, and then cap with concrete.

 

Then the driveway joint can be reconstructed with compacting base aggregate and new asphalt. 

 

There! You’re good to go not having to revisit that issue any longer. Now you have the time and energy to focus on all those other household projects!

 

 
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March Featured Project

Posted March 11, 2020 @ 2:17pm | by Victorian

March Featured Project

Bull’s Horn Food and Drink Celebrates Stormwater Runoff Creatively

When Amy and Doug decided to purchase a dive bar, they didn’t have grandiose plans to reform it, rather they chose to refine it. 

 

Playing off of ’70’s decor, signage, and vibe they offer a much improved version of the tv dinner, baskets of fresh fried chicken and the best hamburgers in town by mastering the perfect ratio. 

 

They made the restaurant a favorite community amenity for nearby residents with affordable good food and drink. And they didn’t stop there. 

 

They extended their purposeful intentions outside the building envelope. A super cool mural takes up the entire side of the mixed-use building. On the roof, solar panels were installed. 

 

Then it was determining what to do with the parking lot.

 

That’s when we could offer some help. 

Parking lot before 

First, understanding Amy and Doug’s personalities, the restaurant’s needed functionality, the quirkiness with the property and finally budget.

 

Since the first year of business isn’t the time to embark upon a big project, we came up with a phased plan that made sense. We started with the necessary basing and grading to remove the pothole-laden muddy lot to a useable aggregate lot. 

 

Next was a garbage/recycle pad and wooden structure. We even met with the refuse hauler to make sure alignment and the gate opening mechanism was sensible with a poorly placed overhead line.

 

The last and biggest highlight that first year was an outdoor patio. Not only did this provide more tables for more seating capacity but it helped to bring more revenue. 

 

Year 2 brought the other more earth-friendly aspects. 

1. Of course a raingarden. Despite some not so great subsoils, there was proper drawdown of standing water. With any raingarden, ponding water is okay. It’s actually okay up to 72 hours. Mosquitos are always a concern with standing water but the larvae need 7-10 days of water so any properly design raingarden doesn’t actually contribute to these breeding areas.

 

2. Pavers.  Permeable pavers in front of the entrance to welcome patrons, manage those icy times (permeable is better at that). Permeable allows for air flow. So when it’s cold outside those areas are warmer. In the summer, those areas are cooler. Cool, huh

Permeable pavers

3. Same old sort of blacktop. You might think blacktop isn’t so environmentally-friendly, but conventional pavement directed towards sustainable practices does make sense. Being sensible about materials in and materials out, hauling and disposal is being thoughtful with the carbon footprint.

4. Cistern. An above-ground cistern to capture the roof water is filtered and held. A cool pump and hose to make things easy for irrigation.

5. Native plantings. A good layer of compost was placed around the perimeter to give some good hearty nutrients to the native plug plants and low-input required fescue turf areas. 

With Earth Wizards’ help and Amy’s efforts, various grant funding helped to also finance the project. The next step is to apply for a stormwater fee credit with the City of Minneapolis.

We are elated that Doug and Amy were extremely mindful of their property and willing to do what they could towards the property’s environmental impact. With the stormwater mitigation work, it has lessened the amount of volume, heat and sediment that leaves the site and enters into the Mississippi River. It’s a perfect example that ties into Earth Wizard’s philosophy balancing urban development and water conservation.

 

 
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The Crack Effect

Posted March 4, 2020 @ 12:33pm | by Victorian

The Crack Effect

March Newsletter/Blog

 

The Crack Effect

 

Now that we are seeing glimpses of non-winter ahead, we get excited for green grass, beautiful flowers and warm sunlight rays. Unfortunately before the goodness happens we get the remnants that are left behind with winter; the ugliness. Dirty sediment, dormant vegetation and the reminder that it’s clean-up time. Time to get to work.

 

Winter takes a toll on pavements too 

Over the winter you may have noticed cracks in your driveway, sidewalk or patio a bit more than you usually do. Where the frost is most active is where the most movement occurs. That movement then translates to where the pavement is most susceptible. With concrete, after installation, cuts are placed in the surface with the intent that the movement will translate to those weakened areas (but that isn’t always the case). For asphalt, the surface is laid as one continuous mat so the expansion cracks form more “organically,” shall we say. 

 

Freeze/thaw cycle

Cold temperatures cause surfaces to contract which in turn makes those cracks look bigger. Conversely, warmer temperatures cause expansion, making the cracks smaller. What worsens cracks and diminishes pavement integrity? 

  • freeze/thaw cycles; 
  • severity of temperatures during those cycles; 
  • frequency of those cycles;
  • the quality and depth of base aggregate - provides a buffer to underlying earth movement; and,
  • existing subsoils - clay soils retain moisture which exacerbates the expansion/contraction process.

 

Thawing and moisture

Moisture becomes the biggest culprit.  As moisture enters into the crack it will get into the underlying base and potentially subsoils that will compromise the foundational support of the surface. When a substantial amount of force is applied, i.e. driving/parking a car over that spot, the surface is no longer supported properly and is prone to “caving” in. This is why you see potholes in the city street go from small to large quickly. In a driveway, generally you won’t see potholes but you’ll notice hairline cracks in the pavement around the crack beginning to form.

 

When should I pay attention to cracks?

With springtimes bringing more chances of rain, it’s a good time to think about crackfilling. Cracks up to 1/2” generally aren’t substantial enough to merit filling but you can still do so - it just is more difficult to get the material in. You can either continue to watch those smaller cracks until they’re at a point to fill or you can choose to route (widen) the crack to get an ample amount of material in. This is usually done by a contractor. 

Cracks over 1/2” generally should be filled. There are various materials on the market, whether you have an asphalt or concrete surface which can be purchased at your local hardware store or if you want a better commercial-grade product we recommend SealMaster in St. Paul (asphalt) or Brock White (concrete). 

 

If you’d like some assistance with getting this work done, give us a call/email and we can send our team out to get it done for you!  (763) 784-3833 or info@earthwizards.com

 

If I don’t fill the cracks now what can happen?

Over time, when pavement is exposed to underlying moisture issues that cause the surface to be unsupported, more cracking will appear and can become more extensive. Once these areas begin to spread with cracks, generally termed “alligatoring,” it’s time to do something. Whether it’s a surface patch, infrared repair or a full dig-out and replacement our estimating team of Shelly, Derek and Gary can provide you the information you need to make an informed choice.

 

What is infrared technology and what repairs are appropriate?

Infrared is a heating system that penetrates deeper into the asphalt surface and allows a solid bond of the new asphalt to the existing. Repairs that can be fixed with infrared are; areas of porosity (“rocky”) that is unsightly,“birdbaths,” minor surface imperfections, oil spot removals and wide crack repairs. 

 

Earth Wizards has this technology on hand for any small areas! 

 

If you’d like more information on these topics and remedies for repairing asphalt and concrete surfaces, click on the following links or feel free to reach out to us directly:

ASPHALT 

http://asphaltmagazine.com/preventing-and-repairing-potholes-and-pavement-cracks/

CONCRETE

http://www.concreteisbetter.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Slab-Surface-Prevention-Repair-a.pdf

Like us on Facebook and/or Instagram for more content and updates including highlights on some exciting projects! 

 
Filed Under: News Letter | Permalink
 

Churches - A Big Stormwater Footprint

Posted June 12, 2014 @ 8:01am | by Earth Wizards

Churches - A Big Stormwater Footprint

Large Buildings and Large Infrequently Used Parking Lots

Church properties provide a great opportunity for sustainable landscape practices to be used. With a large building footprint creating enormous amounts of runoff any available green space should be considered for capturing, or minimally filtering, stormwater.  This can be done with rain gardens/bioswales, underground stormwater storage chambers and/or rainwater harvesting systems (large of course) and permeable pavements in the people-traffic areas. 

Another big ticket, is the parking lot.  Churches have a unique scenario of needing a lot of parking space - infrequently.  Most of the time when you drive by a church during a weekday there's a few cars, once a week things are fairly full and then wow the big events, packed. How does a designer design for this? Historically parking lot designs are done with those big events in mind but rethinking this scenario is vital for the health of our watersheds.  What about sizing the pavement for the often used circumstance based on say a 6 month analysis and then using alternative pavements for the higher use needs. These areas are often referred to as overflow parking and various alternative pavement types, such as a turfstone, or a grid structure filled with soil and turf, could be used.  Of course instituting capture facilities like rain gardens planted with native plants where any stormwater off the parking lot drains towards is a smart thing to do.

Approaching a stormwater mitigation retrofit (or new construction) should start with a purpose in mind, say a 5-year, 24-hour rain event which in Minneapolis/St. Paul currently is 3.5" of rain.  Factoring that runoff from impervious areas and knowing the subsoils then helps to define things. Certainly poor infiltrating soils will cause bigger expenses so being realistic is important.  Even minimally thinking about filtering runoff using most importanly native plants is doing something rather than nothing.

One last consideration and budget-friendly is to think of decreasing pavement with sharing resources. Why not partner with potential neighboring properties that need parking during the week but not on the weekends? Cities are becoming less structured with parking codes because this issue of stormwater quality requires property owners to take big steps towards change.  Plus with more intense rain events, city stormwater infrastructure is over-burdened and the impact on our waterways extreme.

 
 
 
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I have already recommended you! Our consultant, Shelly, was extremely knowledgeable. She explained (the process) in technical detail. She is the reason I chose Earth Wizards over the other 5 bidders. Installation crew was terrific and exceeded my expectations.

- Don P.
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