In Spring 2015 final plans were developed to depave the area outside units 1 through 4, a total of three and a half additional parking spaces. This area had served as our container garden for several years as plans evolved to transform this space into a permanent garden.
In late Spring Jason cut the asphalt into 3’x3′ tiles to prepare for a weekend blitz to remove the asphalt.
Several days later the big day for our community asphalt removing work party arrived. It was very hot but we had a tent set up to shade participants and plenty of snacks. Asphalt removal was more difficult than anticipated when we discovered it was extra thick and the cuts did not go all the way through in some areas. Nevertheless, with a great community effort, all the asphalt was removed by the end of the day. We removed a total of 4 dumpsters of asphalt chunks!
A second work party was organized in the Fall to remove the gravel and prepare a winter cover crop. You never know what you will uncover when you remove asphalt: we discovered what appeared to be a gravel filled trench running along the sidewalk and a large amount of gravel in the center. That graveled center area seemed perfect for a patio. We did not think too much about the trench and just covered it with plenty of compost. After the final perimeter gravel removal, we placed a large amount of compost on the area and then seeded it with daikon radish, chosen for its deep tap root’s ability to penetrate the heavy, very compacted, clay soil.
One final surprise awaited us a few days later on Halloween day as residents were preparing holiday decorations for an evening party in the basement community room, below the depave site. There was a sudden and sustained downpour and all of a sudden, water started pouring into the room from the adjacent basement crawl space. Apparently the heavy downpour saturated the depave site and overflowed into the gravel trench, making its way into the basement crawl space next to the community room.
Fortunately the flooding was intercepted by residents before it did any damage. We installed a sump pump in the area as the water flow into the crawl space continued intermittently.
We are not sure if the basement leak has completely resolved since there is no problem with gentle rains and downpours are very infrequent. Fortunately, we have had no further flooding into the community room. We have left the sump pump in place in case of additional water problems in the space, but we anticipate eventually the soil will develop capacity to absorb any rain falling on it without causing runoff into the gravel trench.
The winter cover crop did very well and we are now planning final ornamental plantings. Before the permanent plantings are installed we plan to cap the trench area with a heavy clay layer to minimize risk of any further water entering the trench and making its way into the basement.