12 tips for laying concrete garden paths with your own hands

8 min


What garden plot or country house is complete without paths? First of all, they serve to move the owners, therefore, they must be strong and correctly located. They are also a decoration of the territory, with the help of paths you can not only create an interesting decor, but also visually enlarge the area if you make the paths longer. Walkways today are created from a mass of various materials: tiles, crushed stone, artificial stone, but concrete remains the most popular, because it is optimal in terms of price and quality. Moreover, concrete garden paths are easy to make with your own hands.

# 1. Why are concrete paths good?

Before equipping concrete paths on your site, you need to know about all the advantages and disadvantages. The main advantages of the paths made of concrete include:

  • ease of installation, everything can be done independently without the help of specialists;
  • low price (compared to other options);
  • the ability to manufacture any shape and size with the appropriate formwork;
  • extensive decoration possibilities (adding pigment to the solution, using stone, mosaics and other decorations);
  • strength and durability;
  • resistance to the harmful effects of the environment (moisture, frost, etc.).
    concrete paths

Among the disadvantages are:

  • lack of the possibility of redevelopment. Since this is a capital structure and it will be almost impossible to change direction after the end of the work, it is necessary to plan in advance both the structure itself and the entire surrounding area;
  • the complexity of the preparatory work. In order for the design to be really high-quality and reliable, it will take enough effort and spend a lot of time preparing materials;
  • the occurrence of cracks. Sometimes in the off-season, soil shifts can occur, as a result of which the concrete structure can gradually collapse, including from temperature changes.
    concrete paths 2

If we compare concrete paths with other options for the merits and simplicity of arrangement, then they benefit in many ways. Associated with this is the desire to independently organize such trails on the site. Start with it and what to consider?

# 2. What are the steps in creating concrete walkways?

The whole process of creating concrete paths can be divided into the following stages:

  • soil design and marking;
  • soil preparation;
  • installation of formwork;
  • pillow formation;
  • installation of reinforcing elements and concrete pouring.
    concrete walkway structure

No. 3. What tools and materials will you need?

Before starting work, you should stock up on everything you need, namely:

  • cement not lower than 300 grade;
  • sand;

  • crushed stone;
  • waterproofing additives in concrete;
  • pieces of plywood, planks or metal to create formwork;
  • wooden or steel pegs;
  • a sledgehammer or hammer for driving in pegs;
  • container for mixing the solution;
  • a pair of shovels;
  • steel construction mesh;
  • trowel for leveling the track surface;
  • trowels and spatulas.
    do it yourself concrete paths

No. 4. How to design a track?

The first step is to think about where the tracks will be located, who and when will move along them, which determines their width and shape. On paper, you can draw a plan of the site, indicate on it the location of all buildings and important zones, connect them with straight lines, which will be the axes for future paths. The paths can remain level and straight only between huge beds, in other cases it is better to make them slightly curved in order to give the territory an interesting look and make the movement more comfortable and convenient.

concrete walkway design

The width of the path that leads from the gate to the central entrance of the house should be about 2 m, 0.8-1 m wide is enough for auxiliary paths, between the beds you can arrange paths about 0.5 m wide. Those paths along which the car will move , should not be narrower in width than the machine itself.

No. 5. How to correctly calculate the weight of building materials?

So that in the process of construction work you do not have to urgently buy cement or sand, it is better to estimate in advance at least approximately the amount of materials that will be needed. The concrete layer in different conditions may differ: for heavy clay soil – 5-7 cm, for sandy and light loamy soil – 10 cm.In addition, if the soil is swampy, then you need to provide a layer of gravel 5 cm thick.In any case, you need a so-called pillow , which is made of sand and has a thickness of 10-15 cm.

The calculation of all the necessary materials is quite simple. Suppose it is necessary to build a track W = 1 m wide, D = 10 m long and T = 10 cm (0.1 m) thick, and the underlying sand layer will be equal to P = 0.1 m:

  • to organize a sand cushion, the amount of sand required is calculated as W * D * P. In our case, it turns out 1m * 10m * 0.1m = 1m3. According to the reference information, the weight of a cubic meter of sand is 2400 kg, therefore, 2400 kg is needed to complete the underlying layer;
  • concrete can be prepared in the proportion of 3 parts of sand and 1 part of crushed stone, cement and water, but there are other options, which will be discussed later. It is more convenient to first calculate the volume of concrete required according to the formula W * D * T, it turns out 1m * 10m * 0.1m = 1m3. According to the background information, the average weight of a cubic meter of concrete is 2800 kg. The resulting weight of the volume of concrete can be divided into 5 parts, excluding water: 2800/5 = 560 kg – the weight of one part, i.e. cement. The rest 2240 kg is the weight of sand, gravel and water. You may also need dyes, plasticizers, water repellents, etc.

Of course, this calculation does not pretend to be strict mathematical accuracy, but it allows you to roughly understand how much and what is needed.
concrete walkway design 3

No. 6. How do I mark up?

According to a pre-prepared plan for the location of garden paths, it is already necessary to determine where the paths will pass directly on the ground. Their location is indicated by wooden pegs, which are driven in at the same distance from each other and a rope is pulled between them. This is the simplest and least laborious stage of work.

concrete walkway design 2

No. 7. How to prepare the ground?

At this stage, they begin to select the topsoil at the locations of the trail. The earth is removed along with small roots that can begin to rot, form voids in which water can accumulate, and when it freezes and increases in volume, additional pressure will be exerted on the track.

If the layer of the “pillow” of sand is 10 cm, and of concrete – 10 cm, then considering that it is better for the track to rise 3-5 cm above the ground level, you will need to select 10cm + 10cm-3cm = 17 cm of soil. If a drainage layer of gravel is needed, then add another 5-10 cm to the resulting value. A soil layer is selected with a shovel.

concrete path ground preparation

No. 8. How to mount the formwork?

Formwork – a structure for pouring concrete. It is made of wood. If you need to make smooth lines or curves, you can always use plywood or other flexible material. The formwork is mounted immediately or in parts, since the concrete is poured gradually. The second option will also save material costs.

The formwork should protrude 5-10 cm above ground level. At the bottom of the prepared trench, it is necessary to lay a construction mesh, and after every 5-6 m of the future path, install across the boards, which play the role of expansion joints. Thanks to them, the concrete path will not crack when the temperature changes, placing the load on the boards. The height of the expansion joints must match the height of the track.

concrete walkway formwork installation

No. 9. How to arrange a pillow?

The so-called cushion under the concrete walkway performs several functions, the main ones are:

  • concrete load distribution;
  • drainage.

The sandy base allows water to pass through well, which means that the soil under the path will not freeze through, provoking the deformation of the path. Under the sand, many experts advise organizing a layer of compacted rubble, but this is not always necessary. Over time, the sand can go into the ground along with the water passing through it, so it is better to lay a layer of waterproofing made of roofing material, geotextile or agrofiber under it. The last two show themselves very well, since they do not rot and are perfectly permeable to moisture.

concrete walkway cushion arrangement

The sand layer must be well compacted. You may have to wet it for this, since there should not be any voids inside. The surface must be level so that the concrete layer is evenly distributed. It is worth noting that concrete screed or flat stones can be an alternative to sand, but their thickness must be taken into account when deepening the trench.

concrete walkway cushion arrangement 2

No. 10. Concrete preparation and mixing

There is no only correct proportions in the ratio of sand, cement, gravel, water and other components of concrete. As for the amount of water, the best option would be 1 part water to 4 parts cement, but as the composition is prepared, water can be added to improve plasticity.

For lanes with light loads, you can choose a ratio of cement, sand and gravel, such as 0.5: 5: 4. For car tracks, a 1: 1.5: 2.5 ratio is suitable. Many specialists use a universal composition of durable concrete, where cement, sand and crushed stone are in a ratio of 1: 3: 1. Additives are also used that give the concrete the necessary qualities.

concrete path concrete preparation

It is better to choose cement not lower than M300, you can take river sand, gravel 10-20 mm in size. Granite is ideal. If the load on the paths is large, then a larger fraction of crushed stone of 40 mm can be taken. It is convenient to mix all the ingredients in a concrete mixer or mortar mixer, but if they are not available, any container such as a trough or just a large steel sheet will do. First, sand and crushed stone are mixed, then cement is added, a gray mass is obtained. After that, add half of the required amount of water, mix, and then gradually add the rest of the water so that the composition becomes the desired consistency.

In theory, the thicker the concrete, the stronger it is, but with more liquid it is easier to work and distribute it evenly. To make it easier for yourself, you can add a little plasticizer to the composition, which makes the concrete more plastic and fluid without excess water.

No. 11. Reinforcement and pouring

Reinforcement or reinforcing mesh is laid on a sand cushion, over which concrete is poured. The bottom of the trench can be additionally poured with water so that it does not sink under the weight of the concrete. The layer is leveled and compacted until the so-called laitance appears, which gives the concrete excellent strength characteristics and allows it to harden rather than dry out. In order for the concrete to harden and not dry, it is recommended to periodically wet the surface with water or cover it with polyethylene. Some even spread plastic wrap under the concrete, but this is not the best way.

concrete walkway reinforcement

So that in the future water does not accumulate on the paths and puddles do not form, you can make its central part slightly higher than the side ones. The next day, when the solution has hardened slightly, but still soft, you can decorate the surface. For example, you can make furrows in a chaotic manner, simulating a stone surface. The next day, white or red cement mortar is poured into the furrows.

concrete walkway reinforcement 2

No. 12. Final work

2-3 days after pouring the concrete, you can remove the formwork and pull out the pegs. Places deformed by pegs are treated with a solution with a waterproofing additive. The edges of the track are cleared of debris, covered with the remaining earth and compacted. In a few days it will be possible to walk along the path.

concrete walkway decoration

Since the garden path also has a decorative shape, it can be given an interesting appearance. This is either an imitation of natural stone, as mentioned above, or imparting a characteristic texture, staining, or indentation of pebbles, buttons, tile fragments during the hardening stage. In places where there is not much traffic, you can make not a monolithic concrete path, but cast slabs of a certain shape. Cheapness and simplicity made concrete the most popular option for creating a wide variety of garden paths.

The material was prepared with the support of the building store “Russian builder«

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Steve

Passionate about DIY for over 10 years and all the new tools, I give you through this blog all my advice, tips, tests in all areas: carpentry, electricity, masonry, gardening, home automation ...

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