Back in the 80’s a hot landscaping approach was turfstone. Originated in Germany, it used perforated concrete paver blocks, rather like egg cartons, to provide both a driveable surface and one that would be green with grass growing up through it.
The experiment had mixed results. The City insisted that since these were drivable surfaces, they had to go on gravel road bed and the spaces in the grid filled with gravel. Grass was then supposed to grow on this road base. The concrete pavers exposed a lot of top surface to the sun and air, which wicked the moisture up out of the “soil”. And it simply doesn’t rain enough in the summer here, compared to Germany, to keep the stones wet enough to support growth.
Installations on LeBreton Flats were often disappointing. Only one actually took on a lawn-green hue, and that was on the northeast face of Tom Brown arena where lawn was not permitted so as to allow fire trucks to drive around the building.
So I was intrigued to find this new plastic version being tried out on a front yard in centretown. The thin plastic vanes allow a lot more dirt into the grid, to support grass, and the plastic bits won’t soak up or wick moisture like concrete does.
Still, it is a too-often a devious means of converting green space into parking space, rather than greening up a vehicle zone. And if the area is snow plowed, will the top edges of the plastic chip and become sharp?
(Note, turfstone is not for high traffic areas. An installation of the plastic version was tried in front of the convenience store on Gladstone/Bell and it now looks awful. )