Blog Cabin 2013: Eco-Friendly Outdoor Rooms

New Blog Cabin 2013 outbuildings take full advantage of the gorgeous waterfront site without risking harm to the fragile coastal ecosystem.

Dilapidated outbuildings discovered on the Blog Cabin 2013 homesite were dismantled and replaced with eco-friendly outdoor rooms that mitigate rainwater runoff and erosion.

"Any time you introduce an impervious surface, like a roof or a patio, in a wet climate, you create the possibility for an erosion problem,” explains project manager Dylan Eastman. During heavy storms, rainwater, which can’t seep through these materials, runs off the surface in fast-moving rivulets that can wash away soil and plants.

That’s why the team decided to dismantle old dilapidated outbuildings and replace them with new structures that let the lion's share of rainwater pass right through them and into the ground.

Eight feet from where a grape arbor once stood, project contractor Ryan Crosser’s team built a pergola, which consists of a grid of reclaimed wood 2x10s installed atop a series of sunken cedar posts. This structure supports five cultivars of Muscadine grapes that — with some judicious pruning and care — will grow over the canopy to provide plenty of shade while allowing rain to pass right through the structure and seep into the pervious pea-gravel surface below.

Closer to the house, Ryan built an outdoor kitchen, complete with a fire pit, a gas grill and an 8-foot granite countertop. Although a modest 12- by 15-foot roof covers part of the patio, it won’t cause runoff problems thanks to two adjacent shade trees. The 30-foot-wide canopy and roots of each tree will, respectively, slow the rate of and help to lock the soil in place during periods of heavy rainfall. Beneath trees, a patio of cobblestone-style pavers, infilled with pervious grout, will ensure water absorption.

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