Project of the Month: Philadelphia Water Department and Permeable Patios

Cedar Run Landscapes has been selected to participate in PWD’s Rain Check pilot program. This program was developed to help homeowners improve their landscapes while managing stormwater runoff. By redirecting this runoff we are reducing the amount of rainwater that enters Philadelphia’s sewer systems and in effect decreasing water pollution and improving our waterways. To learn more about this program, click here.

This month Cedar Run Landscapes installed a 126 sq. ft. permeable natural stone patio. Below are several photos taken during the installation process. Permeable patios are constructed to permit water to soak though the joints of the paving stones where the aggregate base below filters out particulates. This cleans the water as it percolates into the water table.

Here is Keith, one of our supervisors,  finishing the depaving and removing of compacted sub-soil  before the installation of the permeable patio.

The crew is  filling in the patio joints with clean stone which will allow water to seep into the base below and into the ground.

Finished patio after being sprayed down with water.

By installing permeable patios and implementing other types of storm water solutions, Cedar Run Landscapes is taking the initiative in sustainable design. We are proud to be participating in greening our local communities and hope to continue providing innovative techniques for handling stormwater issues. With each project installed, we are reducing runoff and helping to protect the health of our watersheds.

“Mrs. Rain Guy” and millions of others left dry

Courtesy of

I’ve been busy this weekend with ordering supplies for my nursery, helping to rototill the new community vegetable garden at our neighborhood synagogue, and partaking in Philly’s biggest weekend for disc golf at Sedgley Woods.

Meanwhile, “Mrs. Rain Guy” is up in Boston for a business conference. Unfortunately, the city of Boston and 29 suburbs have been left without drinkable tap water since Saturday evening – the result of a giant water pipe rupture. It’s been a major inconvenience for residents and businesses, who are required to boil water for drinking, brushing teeth, etc. While this is a temporary situation, it’s an important reminder of the value of our water supply, which is an issue of sustainability that I feel passionate about. Water is often an undervalued resource in the minds of people who are lucky enough to have it readily available, even though it is so precious and vital to our existence.

Here are a few facts from to consider:

  • Less than 1% of the world’s fresh water (or about 0.007% of all water on earth) is readily accessible for direct human use.
  • 884 million people, lack access to safe water supplies, approximately one in eight people.
  • On average, every US dollar invested in water and sanitation provides an economic return of eight US dollars.
  • An investment of US$11.3 billion per year is needed to meet the drinking water and sanitation target of the Millennium Development Goals, yielding a total payback for US$ 84 billion a year.
  • Other estimated economic benefits of investing in drinking-water and sanitation :
    • 272 million school attendance days a year
    • 1.5 billion healthy days for children under five years of age
    • Values of deaths averted, based on discounted future earnings, amounting to US$ 3.6 billion a year
    • Health-care savings of US$ 7 billion a year for health agencies and US$ 340 million for individuals

By being more mindful of consumption, and/or utilizing sustainable systems like rainwater harvesting, rain gardens, and permeable patios, you can help preserve our water resources and reduce costs in capital and conservation. If you are interested in learning more about these topics, join us at the Cedar Run Landscapes Open House on May 15, 10-2 pm at our nursery in North Wales, PA.

“Winter Break” for Aquascapers

I recently had the opportunity to leave behind the frigid temperatures of the Northeast, for a visit to Cabo San Lucas,

Aquascape Contractors on the beach in Cabo San Lucas

Mexico! Because Cedar Run Landscapes is a certified Aquascape contractor company, I was invited to be a participant in an Aquascape focus group,  helping them to fine tune their “Creating Opportunity with Sustainable Landscapes” Seminar which will be on national tour in January and February. This was an amazing opportunity to be a part of this small group of participants that met with Greg Wittstock, CEO of Aquascape, and Ed Beaulieu, their Chief Sustainability Officer, to discuss the content and presentation. I was asked to use my experience in rainwater harvesting, rain gardens, sustainable landscapes and business practices, and comment on how their presentation promoted these initiatives. The informal atmosphere gave us Aquascape contractors some time to get to know each other and learn more about the different approaches we take towards sustainability on a personal and business level.

Newly hatched sea turtles on the beach

Our meeting was held at the Marbella Suites En La Playa, which also is the host location for the American Leadership Academy a non-profit organization devoted to leadership training for college students. It is a beautiful spot along the Sea of Cortez with lots of wildlife -  we saw whales in the surf, a flock of  pelicans flying overhead in  V formation, and even helped a nest of emerging sea turtles to avoid being consumed by a large group of Bat Rays waiting for them to swim into the surf!

Stay Tuned:

I will be making some speaking appearances in January and February, presenting on our work in rainwater harvesting and gardens, the integration of permeable paver patios with rain water storage, and our Ponds For Kids program. Presentations will be sponsored by The Pa. Landscape and Nursery Association, E.P. Henry, The Penn State Agricultural Extension Service and Delaware Valley College of Science and Agriculture. Please let me know if you would like dates and times!

Grand Opening success

A very nice "thank you" from Montgomery Elementary School

A very nice "thank you" from Montgomery Elementary School

The Grand Opening of our pond and rain garden at Montgomery Elementary school was a hit. The kids had a great time, showing their parents what they had helped to plant and build in order to complete the project. It was a great way to get the school and Cedar Run Landscapes together to celebrate the success of Ponds for Kids.

More pictures from the work on the project on Flickr!

Getting ready for the Grand Opening

Montgomery Elementary school students, working hard to help build their new rain garden

Montgomery Elementary school students, working hard to help build their new rain garden

It was very cool to have Cedar Run Landscapes and the students at Montgomery Elementary on yesterday’s NBC 10 Show!  – check out a video of the broadcast online if you missed it… Today we’ll be back at Montgomery Elementary  installing an LED lighting system for the pond, landscape and waterfalls. We’ll  also  go over all the work the students did in the past two days to make any necessary adjustements – we want to make sure that the rainwater harvesting systems and plants grow successfully, and and also look great for the Ice Cream Social/Pond Grand Opening with the students and their parents on Friday night.

Have you seen our rainwater harvesting Pond for Kids yet? What do you think about this project?

The Water Bill

Red hoses at our nursery indicate harvested rain water for use

Red hoses at our nursery indicate harvested rain water for use

After our most recent water meter reading, Cedar Run Landscapes is proud to announce that we have reduced our dependence on public water supplied by the North Wales Water Authority by 45% in the first half of 2009 over the same period in 2008. Our construction and utilization of our rainwater harvest and re-use system has saved the costs of the purification and transportation of a bit over 23,000 gallons of one our most precious resources… water. Also, we have reduced the both the electrical demand and chemicals that would have been needed to clean the water prior to entering the distribution system.

As a side benefit, we have eliminated 23,000 gallons of runoff from entering our streams and rivers, thereby reducing the degradation of our waterways. Pretty cool!