What is Green Infrastructure?
I recently considered how many people have told me they don't know what restorative design really means. I spend a good deal of time answering questions like, "what is green infrastructure," "is a swale paved," and that kind of thing. And these questions don't only come from my clients. I've found that a lot of builders aren't familiar with ecology. They install jobs according to 'traditional' methods.
This almost always means high costs, maintenance, water use, pollution, and waste.
I am deeply invested in seeing my designs installed as intended, so that my clients get all the benefits. There is nothing like hearing that a design-only client hired a traditional installation firm only to end up with an unsustainable landscape because the company didn't know how to read or build their master plan. So rather than answering such questions one at a time, I thought I'd create this post to help homeowners and builders get it right.
I was also inspired to create the information sheet below that people can download. It has complete details for one of the most effective and inexpensive types of green infrastructure.
But what is green infrastructure? It is a term used to describe a restoration of the earth's natural water cycle through management. Traditional water management moves storm water directly out to sea via concrete channels. This water carries industrial, automobile, and other types of pollution as well as leaving the land dry. In contrast, a green infrastructure project uses storm water on the land for irrigation. The result is soil hydration, which leads to healthier plants. It also allows the earth to naturally filter impurities and pollutants.
I use the permaculture principle of stacking functions to incorporate multiple supplemental strategies in all our green infrastructure projects. For example, with the right plantings specific pollutants can either be removed from the soil or digested and eliminated completely. I'll cover phyto- and mycoremediation in future posts. For most homeowners, keeping their project simple helps them see it through. So to help folks get started with a green infrastructure project, I created the following information sheet that you can download and use to do your first one or add a powerful layer to an existing or in-process project. You don't need paving, curb cuts, or fancy drains to do this project, and it can be done on a flat or sloped property of any size.