High use areas in your garden may require a hard surface. Concrete is a very hard wearing and versatile material and can be used successfully for driveways or paths. Concrete can bedecorated with tiles, stonework, inlaid bamboo, coloured or painted to provide a decorative effect.
The depth of concrete that you require depends on the use of the area. Pedestrian areas require a depth of 7.5 cm concrete laid over a depth of 7.5 cm scalpings. Areas that take light traffic such as driveways require twice this depth; 15 cm concrete over 10 cm of scalpings.
When laying concrete it should be contained within wooden frames. Once you have marked out your area to be concreted then dig out soil to a depth to accommodate both your scalpings and concrete. Ensure your path is level in order to allow rain water to run off the surface. You will need to allow a fall in gradient of 1:60.
Use timber that is 5 cm thick to create bays into which to pour the concrete. The depth of the timber should match the depth of concrete required. Drive square wooden pegs into the ground and secure the wooden boards to the inside of the pegs to make a wooden frame. Ensure your wooden panels are level by checking levels with a spirit level.
If you are concreting an area larger than 3-4 metres in length/width then you will need to divide the area into several frames to allow for expansion joints between each section. This will allow the concrete to expand within each section without cracking. Suitable expansion joints include treated fibre board which should be placed between each section. You may wish to mask these joints by the use of bricks, stone or bamboo on the top section of the joint.
Mix together 1 part concrete to 6 parts ballast to form the concrete mixture. Place the concrete into the place with shovels or wheel barrow, ensuring the concrete is slightly proud of the wooden edging boards. Using a thick wooden board to tamper down the concrete in a downward motion to compact the concrete.
Remove any excess concrete by moving the board in a sawing motion and level to the height of the edging boards. You may wish to decorate the surface of the concrete by in-laying stone or bamboo; or by watering the concrete lightly with a watering can to expose the stones within it.
You need to allow the concrete to set prior to use so when the surface is just firm enough to be covered without marking, lay over the surface with polythene sheets secured around the edge for approximately 3 days depending on weather conditions. If desired, remove the wooden boarding.
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