Learn from the Experts: Petro Design Blog

Kathleen Litchfield President of Petro Design/Build, Inc. Kathleen Litchfield
President of Petro Design/Build Group, is one of the Washington area's leading landscape and garden design experts. Her insightful advice on landscape design, construction, and practice has been published and quoted innumerous regional and national magazines. She has developed and taught accredited courses in horticulture and has lectured for garden clubs, the National Association of Remodeling Industry, the Landscape Contractors Association, the Smithsonian Educational Series, the George Washington University landscape design program, and the Washington Design Center.

Kent Richard Abraham, Principle Architect with Abraham/Petro Kent Richard Abraham,
Principal Architect with Abraham/Petro a division of Petro Design/Build He is a member of the US Green Building Council 2006. His education includes Bachelor of Architecture, 1970, University of Nebraska, With Honors (Cum Laude),Awarded the Faculty Award, Outstanding Senior Student; Master of Architecture, 1971, University of Pennsylvania, Studio of Louis Kahn. He has served as Chair, Thesis committee school of Architecture and Planning, The Catholic University of America Washington, DC since 1978.

Archive for December, 2011

Petro lends a helping hand…

designingFor the last few years Petro has worked closely with the staff at Pecometh Camp & Retreat Ministries.  Petro donates their time and design eye for the development of the group’s most recent undertaking: the new Adult Retreat Center!

The volunteer designers at Petro became an integral part of the design team providing valuable suggestions regarding layout, grading, drainage, and material selections during the design/development phase.  To start, the designers at Petro spent time facilitating workshops with key staff.  They worked together to select building color schemes, re-align driveways to ease circulation, evaluate species for the Storm Water Management area, among other various tasks as well, all to provide the most efficient, sustainability, and aesthetics for the center.

The building phases are now complete, and the ribbon cutting was held last month.  Currently, Petro is donating time to help with the courtyard design.  The Retreat Ministry will be looking for Donors to create the pavers for this area.  Petro has connected with Increte, a contrete contractor who will ALSO donate time, materials, and installation of over 2,000 square feet of concrete to the project!

The new retreat is located on the Eastern Shore in Centreville, Maryland, with beautiful tranquil views to the water.  What better place to have a retreat!  It has been Petro’s pleasure to work closely with the wonderful team at Pecometh to help them attain the best design possible

For more information on Pecometh Camp & Retreat Ministries, visit www.pecometh.org


Lessons from Hurricane Lee – continued ‘Surface Drainage’

I recently saw a ‘grab’ line in an advertisement for a drainage company that stated “The most common solution to drainage is a system of French drains”.  No! This is wrong.   A French drain in the wrong location can be a costly mistake. Here are a few basic rules for handling surface drainage:

  • If the area can be graded to divert the water, this should be the first approach.  A minimum of 2% slope on turf is sufficient to move water.
  • If grading is not an option a surface drain, or better yet -a catch basin, could be an option.  The inlet point must still be 2% higher than the outlet point.  Excavation and distance are key financial considerations.
  • For standing, percolating ground water a French drain system is a viable option.  Water takes the path of least resistance so gravel surrounding an open perforated pipe draws the water in.  The pipe still needs to be diverted to a lower elevation in order to remove the water from the area rather than just gathering it.

A turf swale is a good conductor of water

A turf swale is a good conductor of water

Catch basin with atrium grate to intercept surface water

Catch basin with atrium grate to intercept surface water

French drains should not be located next to a foundation of a home for any reason.   You would think that this was common sense but I have been on 3 projects in the last 4 months where a contractor had done just that hence, drawing water into the foundation of the house.  On one project the downspouts had been tied into this foundation French drain – diverting water into the home and providing the food source for molds.

A drain tile system installed at the base of a foundation during construction is designed to divert ground water into a sump or storm water system.  This is a building code and has nothing to do with surface water.

A drysteam can be used to divert surface drainage and include a French drain system as seen below.

A drysteam can be used to divert surface drainage and include a French drain system as seen below.