Resource: Lawn Parking Lot, Permeable Pavers, Porous Pavement
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Title: Lawn Parking Lot, Permeable Pavers, Porous Pavement
Resource type: Product
Topics: Buildings, Ecosystems, Transportation, Water
Keywords: impervious surfaces, non-point runoff, watersheds, semi-permeable, paving alternatives
Audience: Business, Government, Citizens, Nonprofit
Region: Minnesota Statewide, Outside Minnesota
Summary: Several products allow water to infiltrate the ground rather than running along hard surfaces.
Content: A parking lot and soccer field unique at that time to the US were constructed during summer 1997 just north of 29th St. along 5th Ave. South in Minneapolis. Designed by horticulturist Mike Kelly of Glenn Rehbein Companies, the parking lot is a grass lawn which thrived under daily car parking and which supports a 15-ton truck without damage. The field and lot also provide a perched water table (which minimizes watering) yet allow for infiltration rates above 6 in. of rain per hour, a springy surface preferred over ordinary lawns by soccer players in Scotland, unrivaled resistance to rutting and accelerated recovery of damaged turf.

The secret to this stable but not hard grass surface is English-designed Netlon mesh elements -- small pieces of polypropylene mesh, like fruit tree netting, about the size of playing cards, mixed into the soil. Polypropylene is non-toxic, insoluble, non-absorbent and inert to any of the chemicals likely to be found in a turf rootzone. Washed turf grass was planted above 6 in. of a sand/peat/Netlon mix. 44 pounds of Netlon were mixed into each 15,000 lb. batch of (by volume) 85% sand/15% peat mix. Below that is 4 in. of sand, and below that 4 in. of pea rock. Drain tile and underground irrigation was included.

The soccer field's resistance to wear decreases maintenance costs compared to ordinary fields and has shown itself to decrease players' injuries. The parking lot's installed cost, at about $6 per sq. ft., is more than an asphalt parking lot before the environmental cost savings and the obvious aesthetic value are factored in. The environmental savings include elimination of stormwater runoff control costs, elimination of stormwater temperature increases (to which some aquatic life like trout are extremely sensitive), sand filtering/destruction of car pollutants before they reach water bodies, and ambient air cooling. Additional benefits include dual use -- parking lot or soccer scrimmage field.

In addition to parking lots and sports fields, Netlon lawns are used in the United Kingdom and Australia for emergency vehicle access roads, road edges, stormwater channels, overspill parking lots and playgrounds.

For technical and installation information contact Mike Kelly, Glenn Rehbein Companies, 8651 Naples St. NE, Blaine, MN 55449, 763/784-0657.

Permeable pavers -- another porous pavement technique for allowing water to infiltrate the ground below a parking lot -- see Read about Aqua-Loc pavers from the Oakdale, MN firm Willow Creek Concrete Products at See also Uni-Eco Stone and Turfstone pavers at

An excellent review of porous paving technology, including porous concrete, porous asphalt, various types of porous pavers, and turf-based systems - complete with a table of products -- is available for on-line access ($12.95 fee for one month of site access) in the September 2004 issue of Environmental Building News. See

Porous asphalt tends not to cost more than conventional pavement. The slight increase in cost for the underlying stone bed is generally offset by the significant reduction in storm water pipes and other infrastructure.

Suggested by: Philipp Muessig
Added: 01/5/01
Updated: 05/2/11