Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sustainable Materials 101: Urbanite

Urbanite. It's all the rage these days in sustainable design and I guess we can see why. Urbanite is simply a fancy word for broken up concrete, often times from old patios, driveways, etc. that up until recently was commonly hauled to the dump. What's so great about it? It's plentiful, economical, ecological and is an all purpose hardscape material. Thanks to recent trends and internet forums, craigslist, etc. it's becoming more and more common practice for construction companies to leave their urbanite from jobsite demolition to be picked up by sustainable landscaping companies or DIY home owners. And everybody wins- they save tons of money on dump fees, people get an affordable hardscape material and the earth gives a great big sigh of gratitude... also I'd like to think that the concrete is probably happy to be reincarnated into something lovely and have decades more use in a new garden. I've collected a few images below of creative uses of urbanite, although the sky is the limit. Enjoy.

Contemporary. Below urbanite and pea gravel are a perfect marriage. Left: industrial modern elements blend seamlessly with the ubanite and gravel patio. Right: Narrow saw cut concrete strips may seem an awkward shape to deal with and utilize in design, but this garden artfully paired and placed the urbanite strips with pea gravel to create a contemporary clean geometric design that looks as though the strips were intentionally poured in place!

Pathways and Patios.
Below the rough edges of broken concrete are softened and warmed with plant material. Sweet cozy and inviting.

Planters, Benches and Raised Beds.

 Left, urbanite is mortared and capped with poured concrete top to create permanent custom seating. Foundation Design in LA.

Below drystacked urbanite vegie beds are super fantastic... what better thing to do that rip out the concrete, keep it on site and reuse it to GROW FOOD. What's not to love about that. Dry stack beds below are by Terra Nova Landscaping here in Santa Cruz. You gotta love their keyhole planter (bottom)

So there you have it, a lite crash course in urbanite.

To find creative ways to re-use materials in your garden contact your local landscape designer, or hey- how about me, Andrea Doonan Horticulure + Design at

No comments:

Post a Comment