How to Free the Soil by Depaving

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By Cat Johnson
Shareable
April 15, 2015

How much thought do you give to pavement? Our cities are covered with it, but it’s not exactly a hot topic of conversation—though it should be. Pavement causes all sorts of problems including the fact that water can’t soak through it and instead runs across it, collecting pollutants and biological contaminants that make their way into waterways, plants, animals, and ourselves.

Depaving is the act of removing pavement and freeing up the soil below. Doing so reestablishes balanced ecosystems. Depave, a Portland-based nonprofit promoting the “transformation of over-paved places,” put together a guide to help people depave in their own communities.

As How to Depave: the Guide to Freeing Your Soil states, “the removal of impervious pavements will reduce stormwater pollution and increase the amount of land available for habitat restoration, urban farming, trees, native vegetation, and beauty, thus providing us with greater connections to the natural world.”

Here’s are Depave’s key points to depaving.

Preparation

Before you start tearing pavement up, do some research. Things to consider include how water interacts with the site; what drainage currently exists; and where the downspouts from existing buildings send water. There may be opportunities to disconnect downspouts from sewer lines and utilize the newly-depaved area for on-site infiltration.

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