Two Words: “Recycled” “Concrete”

As we head into our fourth year of this long recession, all of us in the landscaping profession have become increasingly astute about how to provide homeowners with landscaping remodels that they can afford.  Yet, while they request more economical garden installations, our clients continue to desire beautiful and, increasingly, environmentally sustainable design solutions.  The challenges presented by these requirements actually offer some surprisingly creative opportunities for landscape designers and contractors who are willing to try new and unconventional approaches. 
This quandary brings back memories of my wise grandmother who taught me about the treasure trove of beautiful and pragmatic solutions awaiting those who are imaginative- and economically savvy.
alameda paradise files (1)
Repurposed concrete driveway

When she immigrated to the US in the early 1900’s, this impoverished young woman had nothing but hope for a better life- and gumption.  Her uncanny ability to fashion haute couture from salvaged remnants of fabric; to serve up feasts from cut-rate groceries; to cultivate lush, prolific gardens from scavenged seeds – all demonstrated an artful determination to transform scarcity into beautiful and valuable commodities. 

As a designer committed to providing quality landscapes to discerning clients during these challenging economic times, my grandmother’s wisdom constantly resonates with me. Homeowners have had to navigate the maze of this ongoing recession by being increasingly practical and creative about home improvements.  Their renovation priorities are typical: to enhance their quality of life by creating a more enjoyable outdoor space; to capitalize on the value of their home; and, for an increasing number of environmentally conscientious homeowners, to incorporate sustainable landscape features in their remodels.  Of course, all of these requirements must be economically viable.  
Graceful recycled concrete terraces

Given the above parameters, Grandma’s pragmatic adage, ‘Waste Not; Want Not,’ is often the best approach to modern landscape design.

The growing trend to use recycled concrete in landscaping projects perfectly illustrates this principle. From elegant terraces and innovative planter beds, to artistically reimagined driveways turned into patios, repurposed concrete provides an inexpensive alternative to new materials for constructing beautiful and functional landscape features.  Although labor costs can be similar to construction with new materials, overall costs are less using recycled concrete. Because pre-existing concrete is ubiquitous on many residential landscapes, repurposing it on-site rather than hauling it off to dumps reduces landfill waste, conserves fuel used in transporting materials off and onto the site, and reduces carbon emissions generated by transportation.  In addition, recycled concrete can add beautiful texture and color to a garden.

In the words of one wise grandma, “What’s not to like?”

Graceful recycled concrete terraces
Graceful recycled concrete terraces
alameda paradise files (5)
Repurposed concrete driveway



2 Responses to Two Words: “Recycled” “Concrete”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Great article and wonderful examples!