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Paths & driveways

Jun 10

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Friday, June 10, 2016  RssIcon

Paths and driveways

I thought I would look at what you can do with paths and driveways, as it is a common part of landscape work.

There is a much wider selection of materials to use now than 15-20 or so years ago. At that time, the main material for paths and drives was plain concrete or asphalt. I saw a classic example of this on one property in which a concrete path went from the back door of the house a good 20 metres to the old incinerator. It was the focal point of the garden! It was the first thing to go.

You can still use plain concrete, but you also have a choice of exposed aggregate, and coloured concrete. Exposed aggregate gives a weathered look, rather than the new white look of plain concrete.  This explains its more recent appeal. The process is to add a retarding agent to the concrete, which slows down the curing or hardening process in the top 2-3mm. This gives enough time to allow the fines in the top layer of concrete to be washed off the next day, exposing the aggregate or small stones. You can also add extra black oxide to the concrete to give it a darker colour. Normally you use 1%  minimum black oxide but can add more as required.

Coloured concrete comes in a range of colours, and it is preferable to mix in the colour rather than add to the surface. Peter Fell has a range of colours you can mix in , with the greys being most popular now. Solid concrete like this has the advantage that there are no joints and so no weeds or moss can grow in the joints like segmental pavers. However, as with all concrete you need to have concrete control joints to allow for expansion and contraction. The joint cuts are done by a concrete cutter at set distances apart, and will stop random cracking in the concrete. You can also do a colour & cut ( that’s not a haircut!) so you cut sections of the concrete to look like large tiles. If vehicles are used on the concrete, you should always use reinforcing.

Segmental pavers such as the Firths concrete pavers, or Monier clay brick pavers are laid over sand on a solid base. You can use a variety of patterns, for example, herring bone or stretcher bond (staggered like a brick wall). The base preparation is very important, as unless you get a solid base, you can get subsidence and movement. It is important to use the correct paver, for example, thicker ones for vehicle traffic.

Larger pavers or flagstones come in a range of sizes, textures and colours. They can be laid on a rigid base of mortar or a flexible base of sand, but I suggest always lay them over mortar. Regarding bricks, if you want to use recycled bricks, I suggest you use them on walls, as the high porosity can make them attract more moisture, which in turn attracts moss.

There are a number of solutions for moss and weeds growing in the joints of segmental pavers. You can use a jointing sand which creates a flexible but impervious joint. Also, in winter, you can spray on sodium hypochlorite (found in products like Janola) to control the moss. It is best to apply it neat or at 50% solution. You can use a sprayer to apply it, but watch your clothes, and using it near ornamental plants as it can damage them!            

All of the above surfaces can have a sealant added. This reduces the fading of any colours in the paver, and protects the pavers from stains and moss growth.

Asphalt is also still used on driveways, especially with brick edges, or brick dividers to break up the uniform black colour. It is cheaper to lay but doesn’t last as long as concrete.

If you need any advice on your landscape please let me know.

Jon

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