Stonemark’s HOA Renovation Project Journal
Anatomy of a Planter
Leaching water from failed planter waterproofing membrane
As an aside to our main topic of plaza deck systems, we thought a discussion on planter “anatomy” itself would respond to questions about why planters leak. The bottom line reason, of course, is water. When developers build complexes they should line the concrete planters on the plaza deck with a waterproofing membrane before they install the plants (although missing membrane is a common construction defect). It is understandable that the plants which present the complex in the most attractive light, and give that “lived in” look, are the fast-maturing and lush plants and trees. After a period of time, these root systems grow to the point that they outgrow and choke the planter, and clog the drains. The buildup of water saturates the planters and accelerates the degradation of the waterproofing lining, and water starts to leach through the concrete, stain, and then penetrate the surrounding plaza deck itself. This process is observable to a lesser extent with pots placed on patios.
The only real resolution to this problem is to remove the plantings and soil from the planters, then the deteriorated waterproofing. The corroded drain should be replaced, and the pipe replaced or hydrojetted to clear it of roots. After new lining is installed, new soil and appropriate plantings can be installed. We recommend you consult with a landscape designer so as to make the best choice for non-invasive, size-appropriate, and perhaps drought-tolerant plants. See the photos below for the process of renovating a deteriorated planter.
Destructive testing at planter
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