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Grasscrete – Meeting California’s Demanding Stormwater Retention Requirements

Electrical utility access road installed with Partially Concealed Grasscrete System at Orange County Great Park in Irvine, CA.

The Orange County Great Park is aiming at becoming one of the largest and best metropolitan parks in the world, and is a public-private partnership between the City of Irvine and developer, Five Point Communities.  A large list of in-park amenities includes the Great Park balloon, carousel, kids rock play area, walkable historical timeline, historic Hangar 244, Palm Court, Farm + Food Lab, and the recently opened 53-acre sports complex.  The Orange County Great Park project is the ongoing transformation of Marine Corps Air Station El Tora, in southern California spanning some 1,300 acres.  Future assets in the five-year development include a 179-acre wildlife corridor, 71-acres of agricultural areas, and an 18-hole golf course and clubhouse.

Emergency fire lane installed with Grasscrete Concealed System at Orange County Great Park in Irvine, CA.

At the Orange County Great Park Grasscrete has been used primarily for about 20,000 square feet to create hard, drivable surfaces for utility access roads, emergency vehicle fire lanes in the Sports Complex area and as well in drivable-shoulders for several of the roundabouts in the bordering residential neighborhoods.  The systems used are Partially Concealed as well as Concealed.

Roundabout shoulder created with Partially Concealed Grasscrete System at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, CA.

Passed in 2006, California’s requirements include establishing a maximum amount of supplemental site irrigation and encouraging the capture and retention of 100 percent of stormwater on site.  Designing and building-out an appropriately vegetated park of this magnitude while meeting California’s water conservation in landscaping requirements for new development was no small feat and posed an additional hurdle for the durable access prerequisite.  In conjunction with landscape contractor, Brightview Landscape Development, Sustainable Paving Systems Manufacturer’s Representative, Florasource LTD supplied several stages of the park buildout with a combination of materials ideally suited for California’s unique low-water climate and stormwater retention expectations.

Grasscrete is an incredibly durable, permeable paving product that allows grasses or other vegetation to be planted within it. By forming a concrete lattice of solid and void areas, Grasscrete combines the strength and rigidity of a single, structural framework achieving a compressive strength of between 4,500 and 12,000 psi depending on the specific mix of materials while still providing enough access to soil, water, and sunlight to support sustained vegetation. The voids were planted with UC Verde Buffalograss, provided by Florasource LTD.  It’s a great low-water lawn option that was bred specifically to grow well in California and other drought-prone areas, including the desert valleys in Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. UC Verde Buffalograss requires as little as a fourth of the amount of water of traditional turf grasses, and peaks at a growth height of only six inches meaning much less need to be mowed regularly.

The result is a vegetated permeable surface that remains drivable when needed and checking all the boxes related to California’s stormwater retention requirements, is also very flexible in terms of how it can be used: as a drivable, planted lawn-like surface, or a hill stabilizer, a solid surface bottom for detention ponds, for high-end driveways, planted or unplanted, straight or curved, unfinished or polished…there are endless possibilities for a permeable paving solution, Grasscrete.

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