Latest publication in The Sunday Mail (13th Feb, 2011)

After the floods many of us are questioning how we can stop this destruction happening again? A major flood completely destroys our house and even the landscape it sits on.

Of course, there is little many of us can do to stop Mother Nature in a bad mood! But there are things we can do to prevent complete destruction of the landscape we call home.

An amazing thing happened in Atkinson Drive, Karalee. After the flood raged through that whole area, the only house in the street left with any semblance of a garden was Brett McKensie’s house. He is the owner of Sustainable Pty Ltd, a design and construction firm that has specialised in sustainable home designs, landscaping and construction for decades.

All the homes on Atkinson St are built on sloping blocks; We know houses and landscaping should always be built taking the future potential of land movement into consideration. Many were not of course! Sustainability means to work with the environment – understanding it and securing it. This ensures maximum use of natural air flows, water retention and minimised land maintenance. But it also ensures that after major natural disasters, floods or cyclones, recovery can be achieved very quickly, destruction is minimised.

Sloping blocks like Brett’s should be secured by sensible planning and implementation of biology/engineering methods that combine dead and living material. For example the stairs are built within the natural contour of the block and not just running straight down to the water level and are secured by a solid foundation (dead material) but also by river grasses which are suitable for the area and provide a diverse root system to protect the soil for erosion (living material). This combination proofs to be the most resistant and works with the landscape instead of against it. The downstairs area under Brett’s house is like a concrete bunker that even if flooded, items will get damaged but the structure maintains protected and nothing gets destroyed.

The landscape can be almost held in place, naturally! River grasses and plants with a diverse root system are planted to hold the soil in place and protect it from erosion and major destruction. Often Australian’s model their gardens on a traditional English garden application, but these have no chance of survival in our hot, dry and often harsh climate. Although bright green and bouncy turf looks great, it does not provide any deep root support to maintain the soil on a sloping site, even smaller rain events with a lot of overland flow can destroy these coiffured lawns. Home and landscape need to be planned for this climate which is dominated by draught and floods…

It also is important to create a natural drainage system that works with the existing contours of the land, instead of cutting into it and having to build major retaining walls. As we have seen, these retaining walls cannot survive events such as the recent floods in S E Qld, they just get washed away.

So work with Mother Nature during this flood recovery, ensure your home and landscape is rebuilt in a sustainable way, working with the land vs against it, secure your property against destruction.

Give Sustainable a call NOW on (07) 3201 1177 to talk to your highly awarded experts in sustainable home design and construction and start planning your new sustainable home today!

Phone: (07) 3201 1177