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Marking parking lot lines

 
steward
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Hello friends, I need to mark parking lot spots on a gravel parking lot.  It gets plowed in the winter so the lines will need to be redone each spring anyway.  Are there some good environmentally friendly ways to mark spots?  A couple things I've thought of:

Paint the lines - toxic gick on the ground
Make lines with crushed limestone or other white gravel
Use the stuff they use on football fields - I think it's chalk and would wash away
Put up a marker for each spot - probably won't work since some will be straight on parking, some angled, some parallel

I'm leaning towards the gravel but I'm up for ideas.  Thanks!
 
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Something that might be more work than you want each year but would look good is lines of flat rocks. Before you plow, toss them off, then lay them back in place after.  Space them about 12 inches, and it's easy to see where the parking spaces are.

I vote against toxic gick, and chalk won't hold up through a couple good rains, they redo those lines a LOT.
 
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I've done a lot of these for temporary construction parking. I've never marked individual spaces, but designated rows with rope and concrete filled buckets with a tee-post embedded.  You could drive the posts in the ground if you wanted, but the flexibility of the buckets was nice.
 
Mike Jay
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Thanks for the ideas Pearl and Daniel!  Just to further explain my situation, it's a church and the parking lot is a big loop.  People currently park in portions of the outside of the loop and randomly around the inside.  So I want to put lines for the outer parkers (often 4 park where 5 could) and I want to do parallel or angle parking in a few spots around the inside of the loop.  Many attendees are elderly so I can't have trip hazards or things that they could run into.  

Unfortunately I think the buckets and ropes would encounter too many bumpers

I like the flat rocks but I'm worried that folks would be stepping over them as they walk out between cars and they could trip.

That reminds me of another approach.  Put stakes in the gravel (flush to the surface) and tie ropes from them to the edge of the lot to act as the lines laying on the ground.  The downside would be that I'd have to remove the ropes before it snowed or the plow would tear it up.  And they could tear out the stakes as well.  And if the gravel isn't flat they could also become a trip hazard...
 
Pearl Sutton
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I was thinking really flat, like run your tractor over them and flatten them into the ground flat. I was actually visualizing the 2 inch thick cinder blocks, stomped down, was looking for something more permie to say :)
My world has serious issues with trip hazards, I avoid them at all costs.
Ropes would take little to come up and be trip issue.

OOH! Hey! Let me find a picture.... Swiped this off the thread about recycling glass...

It would be COOL to set colored glass into ground level for markers!! Just the butts showing, flush with the ground. Could run lights in them!! No clue about how to plow it :)
I'll stop now, it's 4:30 PM and I am just now getting around to breakfast, been working since 6 AM. I am getting weird :)
 
Mike Jay
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Hmmm, flat rocks (or bricks) buried flush and painted/colored white could work...  I don't have much experience with how much the plow trucks move around the gravel.  I believe it's much worse before and after there is frost in the ground.  I'll check with some other local experts to see if that could work.

Anyone have 100 flat white river rocks laying around?  

 
Mike Jay
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Just ran across an article on a few ways to do it that the government tried.  

One was nylon whiskers that attach to a nail that you bury in the gravel.  The whiskers stick up and you can see them.  The issue was that unless they put them very close together to form a line, people didn't recognize them as spot markers.

The other was yellow painted landscape timbers as curb stop markers.  They were 8' wide and parking spots are 9' wide so you just put one in front of each spot (angled or straight).  My only issue would be the plow truck hitting them.  Maybe I could just set them out and remove them in the fall once people learn how to park.  I'd have to think on an environmentally happy way to do that.  
 
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Our church parking lot is similar--there's a paved portion, as well as the back portion which is gravel. Usually people do allright in parking, but sometimes there's a bit of wasted space because people parked too far apart. I'm wondering if just doing something at the "curb" side of the parking lot to indicate each parking spot. Like a few flat rocks or a short line of bright gravel to give people an indication of where to park. It would take less resources, and might not get as easily messed up as the lines and rocks closer to the "road." I'll try to mock up an image of what I'm thinking of....

And, since the parking space indicators are only by the curb, hopefully they'd be less of a trip risk. And, if someone really can't park well, other people might be able to just park a little "outside the lines" to compensate,
permaculture-paring-lot.png
[Thumbnail for permaculture-paring-lot.png]
bad Paint depiction of parking lot
 
Pearl Sutton
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Mike Jay wrote:Hmmm, flat rocks (or bricks) buried flush and painted/colored white could work...  
...
Anyone have 100 flat white river rocks laying around?  


Wet saw. Any rock can be a flat rock
 
Mike Jay
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Thanks Nicole, you're way better at graphics than I am :)   Marking just at the back of the parking spots for the "straight in" spots should work well.  Even if I mark the whole spot and the line wears away, it will eventually look like what you're proposing.  The angled parking may be trickier for that to work.  

I'll probably play with a combination of these ideas and see what works.  Once the people are trained to the spots, it should be easier to maintain.  

Very true Pearl, very true...
 
Pearl Sutton
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Mike Jay wrote:  Once the people are trained to the spots,


Will it always be the same people parking there?
 
Mike Jay
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80+% would be the same people.  At least on Sundays when the lot is fullest.
 
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How necessary is the marking?
Are you loosing lots of parking bays?
 
Mike Jay
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They're fairly needed.  Last Sunday I counted about 8 spots we could have gained if people would have parked tidier.  Due to the current randomness we have people parking out on the street and in front of a neighbor that we'd rather stay on good terms with.  Moving those 8 people in closer would resolve the street parking most of the time.
 
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Fair enough.
Keeping good with the neighbour is important.

I can't think of any solution, particularly with being ploughed annually.
Is that necessary?
 
Mike Jay
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Yes, pretty much every time it snows more than 3" they need to snow plow it.  I'd guess 10-20 times a winter.

I had another evolution of an idea.  We have lots of birch trees that are 2-6" diameter.  I could cut a bunch of them and use them instead of treated lumber.  They'd be cute as hell since we're in a touristy area.  And their bark is waterproof so it would last many years if I seal the ends.  The biggest problem is that birch rots within 6 months of being cut if the bark is intact.  To make pretty parking stops, the bark would need to be intact.  I'll call a lumber kiln next week and see if they think they could dry a 6' birch pole with the bark on it.

Maybe I'll start another thread on that specific topic to see if others know how drying birch could work.
 
Nicole Alderman
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Hmmm, to make it less work, maybe just do the angled parking with the logs, and the other parking with the gravel/flat rocks?

I can totally see why you'd need to be able to plough it. Having elderly drive on slick snow would be pretty perilous, as would having the elderly, pregnant women, disabled people, etc walking on the slick snow.
 
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So you use a snow plough, not an earth plough?
I thought you were turning the soil over!!
What about bottles buried upside down in the gravel, with the bases showing.
I have found them to be very strong and you can sweep over the top with ease.
Or, steel pegs with a flat circle on the top, driven into the ground as permanent markers that could also be swept over with a snow plough.
 
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As it happens only for a short duration once a week, maybe have someone help the drivers parking?
 
Mike Jay
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Yes Nicole, we get a foot of snow a couple times a winter and 6" is somewhat common.  We'd have cars stuck in the lot if we didn't plow when it gets over 4" due to the high number of priuses in the congregations (low ground clearance).  And we'd have people breaking hips all over the place.  Funny detail, when I first read your comment I read it as "elderly pregnant women"  

Hi John, correct, we aren't plowing up the parking lot, we are "plowing" away the snow.  For those who don't have the joy of snow, here's an unexciting video of a typical snow plowing event in snow country.


The metal plow scraps along the pavement, or in this case, hopefully scrapes along the top of the gravel to remove the snow.  If anything sticks up, it gets plowed off.  A modest amount of gravel gets relocated off of the parking lot by the plow, especially before and after the ground is frozen.  So I don't think I could use glass or it would very likely get shattered off and be a problem.  The flat rocks or metal pegs with plates could work but if any got exposed a bit extra and made for a spot the plow would catch on, it could be a jarring experience for the plow truck.

Yes Sebastian, we could have parking guides each Sunday morning.  That could work but we'd need more people to volunteer than already are (greeters, coffee hour host) so that could be a challenge.  Plus, once they stop being guided, people may go back to parking randomly.  Plus each parking person could have a different way of stuffing them in there so there wouldn't be consistent training.

I may not have described it well but our lot is an oval with a green space in the middle.  Parking around the periphery would be a combination of straight-in and angled parking.  Parking around the center green space would be a combination of parallel and angled or possibly straight-in.

I'm leaning more and more to having a horizontal log or timber marking the front of each space for the straight-in and angled spots (Natural version of this).  That is a common thing in regular parking lots so it shouldn't require much training.  Marking any parallel parking spots could just require white gravel until people realize that 4 cars can park in a spot instead of the 3 and they can do it without lines.  

 
Pearl Sutton
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And my thought for the night last night was rocks cut with a saw are called "flagstones" or "tile."
I do a lot of reinventing things that are common. I don't usually reinvent the wheel, but I DID once reinvent the outdoor faucet.
A few boxes of tile might be a neat way to put the lines in until people learn. I like the idea of space markers in front of each space.
 
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I love the idea of the markers cut from birch at the front of the spaces. Maybe use lime to mark out lines at the beginning. once you get people used to parking that way they will.
I lived in upstate new york throughout college and I think even flat stones are going to be an absolute horror show to find after the spring thaw, and probably involve some phrases that are better not uttered in the church parking lot when you have to dig through piles of salt-covered gravel to find them.
 
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Our church had the same problem, but we went in a different direction. We created a parking team that helps direct traffic so the VERY limited space we had could be better used by people directing the congregation.

When that worked, but people kept joining our church (a good thing) we went to (2) services. It takes a willing pastor to do multiple services, but the worst part was getting 2 sets of Sunday School teachers and a Double Worship team. It really meant people stepping up to help out!

We also really invested in video and recording equipment and have a heavy Streaming Facebook presence to get the church into the community, but also without cars.

We are now looking to expand to a Saturday Night Service beause of continued growth.
 
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Its fascinating to read about the popularity of churches in N America.
I am a non believer, but the Australain community has very relaxed attitude about church, few attend.
My partner is a Christian Scientist and I have a couple of mates who are in evangelical churches, but they have very low numbers.

I guess its because of the reason people went to North America in the first place, religious persecution, and the belief system has stayed entrenched.
Australia had a very different start, penal colony, and churches are not as popular today.
 
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I like the idea of nylon whiskers.   If you used a masonry bit and a 1/2 inch chuck drill, you could easily drill down a few inches, and then stuff the markers down into the hole, leaving a couple of inches sticking up.  I doubt you'd even have to glue them down into the hole -- as soon as it rains and people drive around on the lot, it would squish the ground and pack the whiskers into place.  They would just bend over and snap back into place with a light grading of the parking lot, or if you use a blade to push snow off in the winter.

I've seen this kind of thing when people are grading things in preparation for paving (like roads and parking lots).  

Here are a couple of links:

https://www.amazon.com/Presco-Stake-Chaser-Whisker-Orange/dp/B0082Z2B3O

https://blackburnflag.com/product/stake-chaser-whiskers/

Fairly inexpensive --- if you buy them in bulk, they'd be less than 10 cents apiece.  If you used 10 of them per parking space, that's only a buck a car --- not bad.  And they come in about a dozen colors.
 
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