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Creating a Recycled Concrete Patio or Path
From recent inquiries to the Regional Green Building Hotline

ΠLow-cost         ΠEnvironmentally friendly         ΠMinimal difficulty

You’ll need:
Broken concrete chunks or slabs of same thickness (minimum 6” wide to maximum 18” wide)
Quarter-minus angular gravel or sand
Kneeling pad
Mason’s line or leveling string
Long level
18” – 24” length of scrap 2x4
String and stakes or flexible metal edging
Weed fabric
Plate compactor

One cubic yard of gravel (27 cubic feet) covers 162 square feet at a depth of 2 inches.
Existing concrete paths or slabs are usually three to four inches thick.
Old, aged concrete has a patina and looks more interesting than newer concrete.  Concrete chunks can be stained with environmentally friendly stains as well.
Take breaks!  This is heavy work.

1.  Obtain pavers by breaking up a concrete path or drive on your property. Ask your neighbors or local construction sites for extra concrete or call the Metro Recycling Info Hotline (below) for a rubble depot near you (may charge a fee).

2.  Determine the boundaries of your new patio or path. Mark with stakes and string or flexible edging around the perimeter.

3.  Dig to a depth of four inches plus the thickness of the concrete pieces.  Selecting concrete chunks of the same thickness greatly simplifies construction.  Tamp down the excavated soil bed with your feet or the plate compactor.

4.  Unroll and lay the landscape fabric over the soil and overlap any fabric edges. To allow grass to grow up between the pavers, omit this step.

5.  Place a bed of two inches of quarter-minus angular gravel over the landscape fabric.  Rake it over so it is level and smooth.  Wet the gravel prior to laying the pavers.

6.  Arrange and fit the concrete pieces, smooth side up.  Avoid using very small pieces as these have a tendency to move, and very large pieces, which are hard to work with.  Keep smaller spacing on a patio to accommodate furniture (one inch maximum); paths can have larger spaces (three inches). For tightly-fitted pieces in a patio ensure a slight slope away from your house foundation.  Drainage will naturally occur in the voids between the pavers as well.

7.  Tamp down the pieces with the mallet and 2x4 and check with a level or a length of leveling      string, set to height of top of pavers, between two stakes. 

8.  Use a broom to fill in the voids and spaces in-between the pavers with the remaining gravel to     the level of the top of the pavers.

9.  Alternatives to gravel or sand in-between the pavers can be grass or “steppable” groundcovers       planted in soil.  Some good choices for low maintenance are Woolly Thyme, Mother of Thyme,     Blue Star Creeper (for sunny areas), Dwarf Mondo Grass, Irish Moss and Scotch Moss (for shady     areas). 

10.  Enjoy your recycled patio or garden path!

Local Resources

Regional Green Building Hotline 503-823-5431
Got questions on construction strategies, materials, financial incentives?
How can we learn from and help you?
Facebook:  Green Development Resource Center
Twitter: @greenhotline

Local Salvaged Building Materials and Tool Libraries

Boneyard NW  
Online commercial building materials exchange from Metro.
Local depots with reclaimed and recycled building materials.
Lots of free stuff from your neighbors.

Habitat ReStore

Portland Metro   503-283-6247
66 SE Morrison Street, Portland, OR 97214
Washington County   503-906-3823  NEW!
13475 SW Millikan Way, Beaverton, OR 97005
Materials donations accepted and are tax-deductible. 
Purchases help build houses for low-income families.

Metro Recycling Information Hotline  503-234-3000
Find a recycling depot near you supplying recycled concrete.

The ReBuilding Center  503-331-1877
Materials donations accepted and are tax-deductible. 

North Portland Tool Library

Northeast Portland Tool Library

Southeast Portland Tool Library


Written for GreenPosting by Valerie Garrett of the Green Building Hotline

Image credit: Kolin Smith and Bourget Bros.

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