Greenscapes and greenbuilding: integrating “engineered soils” as a stormwater best management practice in sustainable landscape construction
King, Wayne E., Sr.
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Engineered Soils and Landscape Systems (ES&LS) are emerging as low impact development (LID) tools that can be used to mimic predevelopment hydrology and preserve water quality in developing watersheds. Healthy soil and landscape systems provide many important stormwater management functions; when properly designed, these systems route stormwater runoff through functional landscapes that store, infiltrate, evaporate, filter, and slow the velocity of stormwater runoff, reducing both peak flows and volume. Engineered soils are now being designed with compost and mineral aggregates in a measurable way so as to meet specific soil quality and depth requirements and perform to a standard of permeability, stability, and fertility. Properly functioning soils have multiple benefits and are cost-effective in terms of improved plant vigor, stormwater infiltration, water conservation, and pollution control. The use of ES&LS has the potential to reverse the land development trend in which thin layers of synthesized soil are used to replace native soil. In the future, these systems may also be used to reduce the sizing requirements for downstream detention and treatment systems--providing substantial savings in construction costs while providing a more aesthetically pleasing and sustainable landscape.