I’m very excited to announce that LandArts has won our Green Ideas = Free Tools contest, and with that will be receiving over $1,000 in Pave Tech tools.  Here’s the winning entry:

I try to minimize the use of wood with it’s limited life span. In the last year we have done several deck-to-patio conversions where a deck company comes in, rips out the old deck and replaces it with a much smaller landing and steps. Then we come in and install a rot-proof patio where the deck stood. It’s an EASY sell. Some homeowner go all-out and have the landing and steps constructed out of a recycled material like Trex. Grade level patios are more private and snug-feeling than elevated decks. Most decks are too small so we typically increase the size of the patio by at least 50% larger than what they had. Having the patio at the same grade as the lawn means kids can “play through” and when entertaining large groups can spill over onto the lawn.

When installing patios and walks we always find a way to reuse spoils. If there are no areas on site that need filling we might design a feature, such as a pondless waterfall that would benefit from raising the grade. If there is a recycling facility nearby, concrete and asphalt can be dropped off at little or no cost and crushed concrete base material picked up in a single trip. Saves money, saves time, saves fuel.

For the last three years our table saw has been replaced with a paver splitter. We use a lot of tumbled pavers and the splitter gives us a perfect “weathered” edge. Human-powered, no noise pollution, no expensive blade replacements.

We do a lot of water features and customers have been expressing concern about power costs and water usage. Sealing leaks (the idea is for the water to go OVER the rocks ) and testing and tweaking waterfalls means we can get away with using smaller, more economical pumps. A simple rainwater harvesting system will supply enough water to keep the water feature full and for hand watering of plants. A typical rain barrel will fill with rain in minutes…and be drained almost as quickly. A 560 gallon tank will fill with one good rainfall and provide water for weeks. Another idea is to tap onto the AC condensation pipe with flex PVC and run it into the water feature.

With rising gas prices and fairly long commutes to many of our work sites we’ve moved to a four-day work week. My guys typically are into overtime by noon on the fourth day. If there’s one day in the week when rain is expected we just go ahead and take that day off. No more driving 1.5 hours to work two hours on the job. An added benefit is the built-in rain day each week to help us stay on schedule. I’ve been trying to get my suppliers to stock all of the hardscape materials I typically use so we can get everything to the site with one delivery.

We’re looking at getting a cabover diesel dump truck. A biodiesel conversion would cost under 1k and there is a plant nearby making the stuff from chicken fat from poultry processing plants…but I wonder what that stuff smells like when it burns

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