Sunday, May 29, 2011

How to Recycle a Driveway

Have you priced landscaping stones lately?  I wanted to make a raised bed for the circle of the corner garden and liked the look of natural stone.  I priced limestone rocks at the local big box store and they were $5 - $10 a piece!  That didn't even include the delivery charge.  So this is what I lived with for the last year:
Black plastic edging that was only marginally better than nothing at all.  (And you wonder why I haven't wanted to share lately.)  Recently I was visiting my parents who were replacing their driveway.  I noticed some rocks stacked in neat piles and I swear I thought "Hmmm, I thought they were pouring a new driveway, not replacing it with rock. . . "  Ok, so I can be dense sometimes.  My Dad informed me that no, this was the cracked up parts of the driveway that they were getting ready to haul off to the dump in the morning.  One big guy and a sledge hammer broke up the entire driveway, a fact that impressed my nerdy little family to no end.  Well, I wasn't going to let this go to waste.  I immediately filled up the back of my station wagon and went home to build this: 
This is the prototype that took about 10 minutes to dry stack.  I kept what I was doing from my husband.  If I had told him what I was bringing home a bunch of broken up concrete for the garden, he would have been on the phone with the local mental health facility.  But in the end, he liked the look and ok'd me going back to get more for the circle:
Not too bad, huh?  Certainly an improvement.  In the prototype picture the flat side of the stone, the top when it was a driveway, was on top.  I later decided I like the bottom better because it looked more like real stone, and was more stable with the flat part on the bottom. 

This project was complete and I was very happy with myself when my Husband came up with an idea.  We had another problem we were trying to solve. The sand pit adjacent to the pool garden:
When we first moved into this house with a one-year-old, this was a great thing.  Our daughter could play in the sand while we watched from the house or pool.  But she eventually outgrew it and since it was difficult to put chairs in the sand, it was a huge waste of space.  Add to it that the neighborhood cats had made it a community litter box and the wall surrounding it was starting to rot, it all had to go.  Of course the same old problem came up.  We wanted to use white pavers to make it a patio area, but at $2 to $3 a piece it would have cost us several hundred dollars we didn't have, and I really wanted something more natural looking.  Fortunately the cement guys were still breaking up another part of the driveway and had pieces left.  This time the guys took pity on me and my little car and dropped off the load at my house:  
I sorted them into piles based on size, which I highly recommend for this project.
The cement has its own character.  Most of it looks like rock, but in certain spots you see the tire tracks and footprints left from the mud when they first poured the driveway 20 plus years ago.
First there was demolition.  This is always the part were you freak out and think "What have we done??"  That wheelbarrow in the foreground took a major beating.
Halfway done.
Three-quarters done.
Finished product!  I took the sand from the pit and swept it into the cracks.  Finally, the space is usable again and we've enjoyed several nights watching the fire in the pool.  (Yes, it is already very hot here, but the fire keeps the mosquitoes away . . .)  Not too bad considering it was all free.  Which is a good thing because I clearly need to save up for new lawn furniture!

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