Look at the path in your yard. Are the pavers past their prime or even cracked? Or is that unsightly dirt track you’ve gradually worn in the grass your main thoroughfare? If you’re nodding, wondering how to fix it, well, the solution is simple. Lay a concrete path that’s solid, long-lasting and low maintenance. You may think it’s a tricky material to work with, but it’s not as hard as it looks – just excavate, pour and screed, and you can be walking on it within a week.
Gather your supplies:
• Timber pegs
• 90 x 25mm timber lengths for formwork
• Concrete – bagged or premixed
• Wheelbarrow (with inflated rubber tyres, for easy transport)
Note: Calculate volume of area in metres (length x width x 0.1). If the volume is more than half a cubic metre, it’s worth ordering premixed concrete (provided there’s access for a truck).
You'll also need:
Stringline; shovel; screed board; tape measure; drill; power saw; edging tool; concrete groover; mallet; spirit level; bricks or pavers; bull-nose float; suitable screws; steel trowel; brickie’s trowel (optional); rubber boots
Mark out path and excavate to a depth of 100mm. Ensure ground slopes away from any buildings and sits below internal floor level. If path can’t be graded away, a surface drain should be installed and connected to stormwater.
Run a stringline from 1 end of path area to other. Set it to required height of your finished path, ensuring it is taut. Use a tape measure to check excavated ground is consistent height from stringline. Adjust, if necessary.
If path is curved, use power saw to cut evenly spaced grooves halfway through forms – this is known as kerfing and allows timber to bend.
Remove stringline. Hammer pegs into ground at each corner of path area. Position forms along edges and fix to pegs. Hammer more pegs into ground, inside and outside of forms, screwing outside pegs to forms. Where you need forms end to end, screw a 900mm piece across joint on outside and reinforce with pegs. Check formwork is correct height.
Mix up concrete, following pack instructions, then tip or shovel into formwork, removing inside pegs and using shovel to spread it evenly over ground and up sides and into corners of formwork.
Tip: If using premixed concrete, be ready to work as soon as the truck arrives as you’re allocated a limited time to unload. Any time the truck spends on site after this is an additional charge.
Use screed board to move concrete back and forth to smooth it to correct level. If too much concrete builds up ahead of screed board, move it along with your shovel. Use a steel trowel to gently remove any air pockets.
Once concrete has started to dry but is wet enough to leave an imprint, use a bull-nose float to smooth surface.
Round off edges, using edging tool. If it is hard to get in between concrete and formwork, use point of a brickie’s trowel to create a gap.
If your path is longer than 3m, evenly divide it into sections and make grooves or dummy joints across path, which helps prevent cracking. To make grooves, use concrete groover, then leave to set overnight.
To cure, keep concrete wet for a few days by hosing with water or covering with plastic. Remove formwork.