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I love discovering clever products. While out at lunch the other day with Michael Penney, I couldn't help but notice the sidewalk being repaired. At first glance, I didn't really think anything of it — the street and sidewalks have been under construction way too long in this Toronto neighbourhood. But the sidewalks now had a stone — almost cobblestone — feel, and mature trees and garden beds had been built into the design.

Under closer inspection, the area of sidewalk that was being replaced — and that we were walking on — was not stone at all. It was a rubber-like material that comes in large tile pieces. The construction men were simply placing the faux stone product into the concrete sidewalk frames. I had never seen this stuff before, but it's super cool.

It turns out the product is called Eco-Flex, from a Canadian company based in Calgary, Alberta.

The workers installing the pavers told me that Eco-Flex was being laid here because of a really old tree that the city was concerned about. The product, being flexible, would allow the tree's roots to move and shift during the winter months or in storms. The product is also porous, so water is absorbed into the ground — happy trees!

What's really nice is that the product is made of recycled material. The company uses 11 million pounds of material per month, which equals 500,000 used tires per month. All raw material is western Canada-based, however. The company anticipates outsourcing raw material in the future, based on increased consumer demand.

I have to say, it's nice to know that some thought went into using this product in my city.

Check out their website to see tons of choices for paving solutions.

For more driveway and yard ideas, see our Front Yards With Curb Appeal photo gallery.

Photo credits:
1-3. Morgan Michener
4. Eco-Flex

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