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Toronto City Hall Green Roof

One common phenomenon we see in large cities is the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect. Temperatures in urban areas are are significantly higher than in the surrounding rural areas. The temperature difference is larger at night, especially when winds in the area are weak. The biggest concern with UHIs is that they contribute to overall global warming. 

The increase in heat retention and the inability to cool urban areas is partly due to the use of construction materials such as concrete and asphalt. We can counteract this by incorporating strategies that are proven to minimize the UHI effect into our urban design. Creating green roofs, increasing plantings of trees, smart landscaping designs that use natural ventilation and the use of other asphalt alternatives in outdoor spaces are all examples strategies to combat the UHI effect. 

Asphalt Alternatives

Urban planners suggest the use reflective pavements as possible alternative materials to use in urban construction. But, certain studies (NAPA) show that reflective pavements are not nearly as effective as originally believed. While they do reflect heat back up from the ground, they do not return it to the atmosphere. The heat simply reflects onto nearby buildings and pedestrians. 

Clearly, another answer must be found. Decomposed granite and other similar aggregates, combined with stabilizer solutions such as Organic-Lock offer a better outcome. They do not absorb heat to the same degree as concrete and asphalt and thus contribute less to the UHI effect. They can be used for pathways, various other open spaces and parking areas. Their ability to remain water-permeable means that they are especially effective when used for pathways in green roofs. 

As urbanization continues to grow we need to respond to the problems it creates. When we use stabilizer solutions with pathway aggregates it can help balance the environment with urbanization and city infrastructure. With strategic approaches and materials, municipalities have new options for maintaining their landscape while reducing the heat island effect.  

golf course landscape materialsDeveloping landscape design for golf courses is often complicated by the need for balance between the game and nature. You’ll need to choose the right golf course landscape materials when designing your golf course. Using certain strategic approaches will help you design a beautiful and efficient golf course design.

Defining exact measurements and determining the best materials to use is extremely important. Locations existing trees, shrubs and water features often conflict with placement of pathways, fairways, sand traps and other components. Golf course landscape materials that work naturally with the natural elements already present will help avoid future problems. 

The complexity of golf course design is increased by the need for paths needed for movement of the players through the course itself. It’s important that the materials you use for your golf course pathways are harmonious with nature. But you also need to use materials that can withstand weathering from natural elements that are easy to maintain. Materials which quickly deteriorate or need high levels of maintenance will quickly become problematic. 

Including stabilized decomposed granite or other similar aggregates in your choice of golf course landscape materials can be an effective solution. This material gives you a natural appearance and a pleasing crunch underfoot. Ease of maintenance is provided by the presence of a high-quality stabilized such as Organic-Lock. With its water-permeability and resistance to washing out from rainfall run-off, it’s the perfect complement to a thoughtful golf course design. 

DG Stabilized Pathway

If you’re looking to create a natural looking surface for a pathway or a yard the chances are you’ve looked into several types of crushed stone alternatives. However, you’ve probably also read about the negatives: washouts, dust and puddle formation. The simplest solution for this problem is to use a good stabilizer with stone aggregates.

We believe the best decomposed granite stabilizer (that works just as well with other aggregates, too) is Organic-Lock. It’s an all natural, self-healing, strong and water permeable binder that will require minimal maintenance while providing you with a highly functional and beautiful surfaces.

Looking for the Right Decomposed Granite (DG) Stabilizer?


  • Erosion resistant
  • Stable
  • Self-healing
  • Low Maintenance
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Organic
  • Aesthetically Pleasing

Paver Problems

The impact that the environment has on a pathway effects both its appearance and its longevity. Certain pathway materials, such as asphalt and concrete, as susceptible to cracking and crumbling. Other, such as gravel and certain aggregates, can suffer from washouts.

Challenges with weather, closeness to rivers and surrounding nature all contribute to fast deterioration. The resulting potholes, muddy spots and puddles require ongoing maintenance and repair. 

Finding a Viable Solution

Using decomposed granite, or other similar aggregate, with an effective pathway stabilizer offers a better solution to these problems. Stabilized stone aggregates do not degrade, crumble or crack. They are durable and easily repairable. Landscape architects also love the natural texture and character that this product offers. The end result is a low-maintenance, beautiful and stable pathway. 

The difference with decomposed granite begins with the gradation of the material used. Angular stone with sharp edges allow it to easily lock together when compact. With a proper gradation profile, the smaller particle sized will effectively fill the voids between the larger one. Adding an effective pathway stabilizer to these materials it binds the aggregate together for a stronger end result. 

The best pathway stabilizer not only provides not only consistency in its results. It also offers lower maintenance as it ability to absorb water helps it to resist erosion. Using a superior binder such as Organic-Lock provides high quality results using a naturally sourced ingredients. 

The Best DG Stabilizer: Organic-Lock

Stabilized decomposed granite offers better results for pathways and landscape projects. Using Organic-Lock stabilized aggregate ensures consistent results with low maintenance requirements. 

Learn more about Organic-Lock DG Stabilizer.

decomposed granite stabilizersAs the implications of climate change become more apparent, we need to find innovative alternates to create sustainable cities. One such alternative is the use of decomposed granite in pathways and open areas. 

Urban Heat Island (UHI) Effect

Asphalt and concrete, while widely used by landscape architects, intensifies the urban heat island (UHI) effect. The presence of concrete and asphalt in modern cities contributes to the urban heat island effect. Asphalt and concrete react to the warm weather by absorbing and holding the energy from the sun during the day and releasing it when it is cooler at night. At least 50% of urban hardscapes use concrete and asphalt while some regions in the mid-west use up to 94% of these materials. 

Understanding this effect, and its implications, and finding alternatives to alleviate this problem is becoming more important all the time. For urban areas, use of decomposed granite for pathways, open areas and green roofs allows for surfaces which absorb less heat and contribute less to the UHI effect. 

Water Permeability

Asphalt and concrete are also impervious surfaces. In other words, they do not allow rainfall and water from urban usage to pass through to the groundwater table. Instead, water runs along these surfaces, picking up pollution and contaminants, including high amounts of inorganic nitrogen and phosphorus, along the way. These contaminants are then washed into storm drain systems and eventually back into rivers, lakes, and oceans. 

Using decomposed granite rather than concrete or asphalt allows water to pass through. The porous texture of the decomposed granite allows absorption of water, allowing water to return more easily to the groundwater table, filtering out harmful pollution and contaminants are along the way.

As climate change continues, reactions to climate change in urban environments will continue to increase. Solutions that use innovative materials to mitigate harm is of the utmost importance. Using permeable decomposed granite surfaces with stabilizers such as Organic-Lock is one important way we can increase sustainability in urban areas. 

golf course asphalt alternativeWhen constructing a golf course construction, you’ll want high-quality pathways that need little maintenance.

Conditions found on golf courses can lead to fast deterioration of pathways. You may be interested in using an asphalt alternative for golf courses. 

Consider using a stabilized aggregate or crushed stone. This will give you a greater flexibility over the uneven terrain often found on golf courses. To withstand the effects of golf cart traffic and rainfall runoff, you need to use a suitable aggregate stabilizer. The stabilizer will work with the aggregate to provide a strong, low-maintenance surface.

When looking for a stabilizer to use for this purpose, consider the texture and style of aggregate needed for the results you expect to see. Organic-Lock blended aggregate provides superior results when used as an asphalt alternative for golf courses. It provides the strength needed for golf cart traffic. And it is water-permeable, limiting damage due to rainfall runoff. 

Whether you are upgrading your pathways or building a new course, start with quality materials such as Organic-Lock stabilized aggregate. 

installing stabilized aggregateThere are key elements you can look at when installing stabilized aggregate. If you are working on a hardscape project, then your installation process makes a difference in the final outcome. It also affects the amount of maintenance required in the future. This will change the outcome of the project you are working with. 

1.  Find the Right Materials

When installing stabilized aggregate, you will find that choosing the right materials make the difference in the outcome and future maintenance. Specific types of aggregate mix differently with different stabilizers. You will also find different color combinations with aggregate, all which changes the outcome of the project you are working on. 

2.  Calculate What You Need  

You don’t want your process of installation to be interrupted by the wrong measurements. You need to have all of your materials clearly defined.  When installing stabilized aggregate, get clear measurements for the raw materials you need for your project. It is also important to consider details, such as round edges or alternate routes that are used with the aggregate. You can use a product calculator to find the right amount of materials required for your project.  

3.  Level and Excavate the Hardscape

The stone or aggregate that you use with your hardscape should be on a compacted base 4-6″ in depth. When installing stabilized aggregate, make sure you use equipment that compacts the sub grade to 95% Modified Proctor Density. 

Make your next hardscape project work for you.  If you are looking at installing stabilized aggregate, then follow these simple tips to cut costs and time. With an effective approach, you will minimize future maintenance while ensuring that your landscape installation is durable and professional. The right materials and processing allows you to take the next steps with landscaping projects.

Join us October 20 – 23 in LA as the ASLA Expo.  Learn more by clicking here.

natural landscape productsWe often overlook the mix of ingredients used in landscape projects. We often apply chemicals strictly for the sake of convenience. But we can cause harm through the careless use of these chemicals. If you take steps to use natural landscape products for your next project you will reduce the possibility of causing harm. But you need to understand how the products you choose impact your landscape in order to make an informed decision. 

Natural landscape products can offer alternatives to use in your hardscape projects. While some products may seem effective when you first apply them,  many will deteriorate rapidly over time. Natural substances have the ability to work with the surrounding environment, merging with the foundation of your product. They can work more naturally with the aggregate and stones you are using.

You will see different results with each of the products that are available on the market today. For instance, if you decide to use polymeric sand in the joints of your paving stones, you may find that the chemical binder leaves a white substance called polyhaze on the surface of your stones.

Better Results

On the other hand, EnviroSAND, with its organic binder Organic-Lock, will not produce this resulting haze. The organic binder has the ability to work more effectively with the sand. EnviroSAND will product long-lasting and durable results. There will be less water erosion because the organic binder works with water to hold the EnviroSAND in place. 

You can find natural solutions that reduce pathway erosion, last longer and provide increased durability for your next hardscape project. 

landscaping permeable surfacesThe use of permeable landscaping surfaces in urban development is important. It alters the overall effect on the environment of architectural structures. Permeable surfaces reduce rainfall runoff and recharge groundwater reserves. As a result, the use of permeable surfaces should be a priority among landscape architects.

The properties of the materials used have a direct correlation to their impact on storm water, ground water, wastewater management and water supply. Surface contaminants in water that passes through permeable landscaping surfaces are filtered out before the water returns to the groundwater table. Conversely, such contamination is not filtered out of rainfall that is diverted from non-porous concrete or asphalt surfaces into storm drain systems. 

The direct environmental impact has long lasting results on above the ground as well. Reducing surface runoff reduces surface erosion and damage to urban structures as well. Surfaces that are not water-permeable erode quickly.  There is also a significant amount of damage which is caused in areas where weathering has more impact. 

Water that is in contact with impervious surfaces has a tendency to hold heat. This leads to elevated water temperature, contributing to the Urban Heat Island effect. Allowing water to pass through into the groundwater table helps to alleviate this concern. 

Working with permeable landscape surfaces relies on finding materials that are compatible the surrounding environment. Landscape architects can incorporate additional vegetation and soils to increase a property’s water permeability. They can also limit the impact of hardscapes by using water-permeable materials such as gravel, mulch and stabilized aggregate pathways.

Organic-Lock stabilized aggregates can offer increased water-permeability to hardscapes while providing the strength needed for foot pathways, as well as light and heavy vehicular traffic. In addition to its water-permeability it is also 100% organic and deters weeds and insects.

Join us at the annual meeting and expo for the American Society of Landscape Architects!  

This year we will be in LA for the ASLA Expo from October 20 – 23, 2017.  Here’s what you can expect:

We’re looking forward to meeting you this year at the show! 

Stop by booth #235 to find out more about Organic-Lock. 

– Learn about Organic-Lock and the benefits of using our aggregate stabilizer
– Understand our product permeability
– Speak with representatives about using Envirobond and Organic-Lock for your next project
– Find the key elements to proper installation of Organic-Lock for any project
– Understand applications for different aggregate variations
– Find simple maintenance techniques for your next architect project

Learn more here:


Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio needed to renovate its historic Middle Path as it had become impassable in foul weather. It was no longer the right path for their needs. 

Kenyon College’s Middle Path is a 3,600-foot-long walk made from a local river stone. It is a focal point for the landscaping on campus. It had a lovely color and texture, and the crunchy sound it made underfoot was pleasing. But it was this looseness that allowed the walkway to wash out during rainfall, leaving muddy puddles – or icy patches in the winter. 

Before the renovation, puddles and muddy areas were common on the path, making travel difficult. Photo by Matthew Girard.

The Search for The Right Path

Kenyon Collete hired Michael Van Valkenburg Associates (MVVA) in 2010 to come up with a solution for this problem. They needed to design a surface that would be accessible in all weather conditions but retained some of the charm of the original pathway material. Concrete pavement was not suitable for this reason. After considering a wide range of solutions, MVVA proposed using decomposed granite for the project. 

Decomposed granite (DG) is a textured paving material that preserves the look and feel of a natural stone pathway. But stabilized DG doesn’t degrade over time, is easily repairable and provides a stable, firm surface. DG releases a thin layer of aggregate that is crunchy when walked on. This means that users will have a pleasant experience similar to the original river stone walkway. MVVA was also able to approximate the color of the river stone as there was a wide range of local granites available.

DG’s sharp edges allow this angular stone to lock together when compacted. There is also a high percentage of fines to fill the voids between the stones. While DG can be installed on its own, MVVA designed the Kenyon project with the integration of a plant-based binding agent to further bond the aggregate together. When combined with a binding agent, it is now referred to as “Stabilized DG”. 

An important feature that the organic binder in this project had to have is water permeability. In the first test panels that were built, water could hardly penetrate the surface before running off. Saturating the DG required enormous amounts of water. As well, the mockups became soft and muddy during the freeze-thaw cycles in the winter. The mockups were a failure. Once again, this was not the right path for Kenyon College.

The Search Continues …

MVVA did a complete analysis to determine the cause(s) of the failure. They looked at the compaction of the subgrade, the fact that the stabilizer resisted absorption of water, insufficient drainage in the surrounding soil. They contact other landscape contractors who had undertaken similar work. 

MVVA sourced the aggregate for the Kenyon mockups from Kafka Granite in Wisconsin. At that time, Kafka was testing an alternate organic stabilizer. It was our organic binder, Organic-Lock. Envirobond became an active participant in testing and developing the stabilized DG required to move this project forward. Kafka compared our binder in trials against other stabilizers in trials that varied the DG aggregate size. 

In the summer of 2013, MVVA installed two new test panels on the Middle Path by two different contractors. The two panels held up well through the following difficult Ohio winter and were deemed a success. Kenyon College finally had the right path for their Middle Path.

Kenyon College Middle Path After

New LED lighting on 12-foot poles and custom black locust benches completed the renovation. Photo by Neil Budzinski.


DG is not a totally carefree material. However, with the use of Organic-Lock as the stabilizer for DG, maintenance is vastly simplified. You will still need to do winter maintenance and pathway repairs with stabilized DG. The Organic-Lock advantage is that its self-healing nature allows maintenance and repair to be done much more easily. It is also ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Compliant and eligible to earn LEED points. It could be the right path for your project. 

MVVA now specifies our organic binder, Organic-Lock for all their DG installations. They work through our dealers in the US – Kafka Granite of Wisconsin and Read Custom Soils near Boston. With proper consideration given to pre-hydration procedures, compaction, proper drainage slope design and the correct DG grain size, consistent and beautiful results can be achieved.  


This is an abstract from an article in Landscape Architects Magazine by Neil Budzinski and Matthew Girard, senior associates at Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc.

Click here to read the in-depth case study on an Organic-Lock blended pathway system installed at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio.