Whiting Forest of Dow Gardens Installs Permeable Path

Grant and Midland, Mich. — At Whiting Forest of Dow Gardens, guests of all ages and abilities can now discover the woods, ponds and meadows on the nation's longest canopy walk, which is 1,400 feet long and as high as 40 feet above the forest floor. The forest is now more accessible at ground level, too. A new permeable pavement path, installed with Porous Pave XL, establishes a half-mile long loop. Made in the U.S.A., Porous Pave XL is a highly porous and durable paving material made with 50 percent recycled rubber chips and 50 percent aggregate mixed on site with a liquid binder.


“We had a long list of requirements: ADA accessible, non-slip, safe in rain and snow, porosity to allow air and water to get down into the soil, and a non-intrusive installation to protect our trees,” said Kyle Bagnall, Whiting Forest program manager. “In 2017, we tested Porous Pave in a walkway around the Dow Gardens Founders Circle. That gave us confidence to select it for the new Whiting Forest path.”

“The permeable pavement replaced bark mulch,” said Jonathan Alderson, landscape architect, Jonathan Alderson Landscape Architects, Inc. “To minimize potential damage to the forest, Porous Pave was installed without excavation that could have harmed tree roots.”

Four inches of pine needle duff and bark mulch were scraped off to each side of the six-foot-wide path. “After site preparation, Porous Pave was poured and finished at a two-inch depth atop a compacted drainage stone base,” said Jeremiah Crivac, site superintendent, Three Rivers Corporation, the general contractor.

The project manager, the landscape crew and an arborist worked in close cooperation. “When tree roots were exposed during site preparation, they were clean cut, kept moist, and covered with mulch and duff,” said Alderson. “In the installation of the canopy walk and the permeable path, we had to remove only six trees.”

The paving project was completed in August 2018. According to Fred Eddy, Jr., owner’s representative and Whiting Forest project manager, Midland Engineering, Ltd., Porous Pave provided additional benefits. “During installation, it was easy to make the material conform to the many curves of the path and to press it right up against the canopy walk decking and limestone walls, forming seamless edges between the surfaces,” he said., After the Midland, Mich. area received its first snowfall of the season in early November, facility maintenance workers used a power brush to push the snow off the path. Residual melted water permeated down into the Porous Pave rather than freezing and forming ice on the surface. “The path was so clean and dry, I was asked if the surface is heated.”

Dow Gardens
Established in 1899 as a home for Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow and family, the 110-acre Dow Gardens in Midland, Mich. now welcomes more than 138,000 guests annually. Dow Gardens offers a Pollinator Garden, Stream Walk, Herb Garden, Color Garden, and the Pineside grove of Balsams, Hemlocks, Blue Spruce, Elm, and Birch trees. Visitors are invited to explore the uniquely-designed landscape, take a tour of the historic Pines Home, participate in one of many hands-on educational programs, and discover beautiful art and music in a relaxed, natural setting. The nearby Whiting Forest of Dow Gardens features 54 acres of woodlands, ponds, meadows, streams, and an apple orchard, which visitors can explore on the nation's longest canopy walk, 1,400 feet long. Begin your visit online at www.dowgardens.org.