While helping to build a vegetable garden at Increase Miller Elementary School in Katonah, N.Y., Tom Dieck of TRD Designs, Ltd. was compelled to turn his attention – and expertise – to what he considered a perfect extension of the traditional classroom. Starting with an overgrown, neglected school courtyard, Dieck and his crew led the charge to create a unique educational space for the young students at Increase Miller.
Dieck, with three daughters who had already graduated from the school, and one still attending, realized it was a perfect opportunity to give back to the school that had given so much to his family. He said, ''I decided I would like to do something special with that space before my last child had passed through
This shows the start of the Permeable Paver Installation. The environmentally friendly courtyard highlights two of landscape architect Tom Dieck’s current passions: rainwater harvesting and water features.
Dieck credited the success of the project to a community of people coming together, resulting in an incredible transformation. Volunteers, including school administrators, parents, students and local businesses, collaborated to create the beautiful new space. Students and their families cleared the brush. The crew dedicated after-hours time to make the project a success.
Permeable pavers allow rainwater to pass down through 10 inches of gravel to a liner, which then sends the water to a 1,250 gallon storage container. The gathered rainwater is then pumped back to the surface to nourish the plants keep the courtyard fountains flowing. TRD Designs donated time, labor, plants, water features and plumbing materials. Several other businesses contributed to the project, including Marin Masonry, which donated the labor to install the patio. UNILOCK of New York, donated the permeable pavers. In addition to his company's involvement, Dieck held a series of school assemblies, outlining the course of the project, explaining the benefits of rainwater harvesting, and tying the new courtyard’s features back to the science curriculum.
The science classes will have a field day and the field days have begun. Students are already enjoying the space to study plants and insects, conduct experiments, and learn to appreciate valuable water.