Sustainability Pays Off

February 24, 2011  |  sustainability pays off

Sustainability Pays Off 

Chips LandscapingThe skill of articulating real value to the consumer when proposing your water garden construction is something we find we need constant work upon.  At Chips Landscaping we had a tremendous opportunity this past Fall to challenge us in developing this skill.   Since our inception, our company has always utilized organic, sustainable approaches in all aspects of our garden designs.   Often the value and appeal of this is not readily seen as it may take years of garden maturity in the landscape design for the customer to realize the function and value of our initial approaches.

But an experience this past season with a small business owner in downtown Saratoga Springs, New York allowed immediate realization when we constructed a water garden with RainXChange™ system.  We were contacted by Leisha, the office manager at Dr. Mark Moreau’s Smile Sanctuary, midsummer 2010, inviting us to propose a design to increase curb appeal at the busy business frontage.  They also had a secondary issue they asked us to assess. The office entrance walkway had a longstanding history of stormwater run-off issues and freeze-thaw heaving of the cement that impacted patient safety and accessibility.  The overall area was tight, directly adjacent to the parking area and unappealing.

We proposed and completed the front design with great results. Customers were now able to discern the office driveway from a line of old Victorian business and residential fronts along the busy hospital roadway due to the design and installation of unique yet functional plant material.  With that success, we were then invited to address their entrance problems.

We immediately saw an opportunity to offer a long-term solution for their stormwater run-off issue thus creating remarkable value in both function and aesthetics for this business.  These late-1800 early-1900 buildings on the west side of town were constructed upon bedrock.  It was not uncommon back then to blast, excavate the rock and use it to build the foundation of structures.  As more impervious surfaces such as roadways (constantly being resurfaced thus pitching more into the properties), hospital expansion, sidewalks and parking lots became prominent over the years, the rain water had no place to go.  As a result, the entry sidewalk annually heaved due to collecting water underneath and our North Country winter temperatures!  The solution for this over the years was to continually patch and resurface with cement.

With our initial assessment we presented the following goals for the project:

  • Provide a safe and effective year round walkway from parking lot to office entrance.
  • Provide an inviting/soothing/welcoming atmosphere for patients arriving for services The Doctor told us: “I don’t want them to be thinking about a dental procedure when they come into the office.  I want them relaxed and comfortable.”
  • Provide visually appealing yet low maintenance gardens compatible with the site.
  • Provide an environmentally friendly design.

We then outlined the following sustainable solutions/applications:

  • Collect and re-use rain and snowmelt run-off from the roof using the Aquascape RainXchange® rainwater harvesting system.
  • Install a permeable pavement walkway to collect and divert water from the foundation, return to the ground for filtration and garden maintenance (thus reducing dumping into city sewer system with eventual dumping into our local waterways).
  • Design and install a sustainable garden area using site specific and native plantings.
  • Infuse an eco-friendly small Pondless® Waterfall, fully sustainable in combination with The RainXchange® System.
  •  Utilize local small businesses and New York based Uniloc® paver manufacturer to support local economic sustainability.

Here at Chips Landscaping we like to take sustainability up a notch with all our jobs.  We not only look at the environmental design components of sustainability, we look at the “economic” components that would support our local fellow businesses.  When securing materials and services for the job…we try to use “local” as much as possible.  All our equipment/supplies needed to supplement our Aquascape materials for the project were secured by small local business owners like us.

The project outcome has been incredibly rewarding.  Immediate project value was realized. We achieved our original goals for the project.  The office staff observed that the walkway has a “dry” appearance that is reassuring to patients entering the office.  Over the winter months there has been no surface height change in the walkway, e.g. buckling that would cause a patient to trip.  This is a huge relief for the office.  

The office staff also reports that their patients love the new look of the entrance and are proud to be associated with a business “going green.”  Patients are impressed with the immediate beauty and serenity of the water feature, staff reports that their patients are even more impressed once they are introduced to the function and green components.   We were pleased to hear we had exceeded Dr. Moreau’s expectations for the project.  Indirectly, the Smile Sanctuary has felt they are developing a unique branding in the community as their patients share with others their commitment to “going green.”

As a final piece, we created a coffee table style book to chronicle the project start to finish.  We presented it to the Smile Sanctuary as a photo journalism piece.  The staff was excited to see how the project evolved.  In fact Dr. Moreau was on vacation during the construction so this served as a means for him to see how and what transpired.  During the build, there was tremendous rainfall.  The book gave a bird’s eye view of how directly stormwater run-off directly impacted their entrance area.  The book is now in the office waiting room and serves as a great conversation starter for patients.  It is one way to enlighten others to the beauty and functionality of our unique brand of water features.


By Sue DuBois

Aquascapes inc.


Call Warrens Landscaping today to see how we can help with your project!