Valley Permaculture Alliance

OK Folks!  My Urbanite Driveway is nearly complete!  Just some steel edging, and finishing touches and it will be complete.

Started the project three weeks ago with a Jack Hammer, five foot pry bar and lots of energy.  My partner and I demo'd the driveway and piled all the concrete in the middle of the yard.  It took two days.

The following weekend, we started placing pieces and working our way toward the street.  Placing, leveling and back-filling around the urbanite took four days of work for two people.  We split it up over two weekends, using nothing but our backs, shovel, wheelbarrow and some 2x4's to level.  We're tired.

Project numbers:

18,000 pounds of Urbanite, moved twice.
6,000 pounds of sand
14,000 pounds of decomposed granite

Below is a picture of the project, as of a couple weeks ago.

Original Post:

"So I'm thinking about busting up my old cracking concrete driveway and using the pieces to make a wider driveway with decomposed granite in between the pieces. I was all excited about this project and then I got to thinking...

What if my driveway has rebar in it? Would rebar make reusing the concrete pieces more difficult? Am I asking for more trouble than this is worth?

Anyone with experience in this area that could pipe in? Thank you."

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If you rent a concrete saw with a diamond blade, it will go through the rebar as well. It needs to be wet. Here's a link to a project by Joe Debbins:

I think cutting the concrete looks neater than busting it up into chunks. And you can saw around the cracks. Decomposed granite would work as well for spacing as the brick Joe used ...
My neighbor cut his driveway into chunks like Anita suggested and made a patio in his backyard. It looke fabulous!
Generally you will find that concrete 'flatwork' (sidewalks + driveways) does not have reinforcing bar.
Still a lot of work ... if you can live with broken edges ... it will save you money + time + carbon footprint ... not to 'cut' it up ... just my 2 cents ... good luck Bryan
ps here is Nick's website ... he just completed a similar driveway removal project ... only to a greater degree ...
hmmm funny me ... I had never thought of using anything but a manual sledge hammer to disassemble my degrading driveway in the future ... that has no reinforcing in it ... I can tell cuz the cracks are 'wide' - 1/8"+... with reinforcing or welded wire mesh the slab will crack ... the crack just wont open up ... I may have to add my manual sledge hammer to my favorite tool list when the time comes ... Bryan
Hey, I thought my ears were burning! Haha. Awesome that your doing this Nick M. So maybe I can help a little with some ideas and thoughts?? Hmmm... the amount of gas used for the Skid Steer...I have no clue. I don't know how much we started with and we didn't run out. Lots of opportunities in life for experiments that I miss I guess :P

My initial intention with the broken pieces was to build a nice urbanite wall between properties, but after seeing the "shapes" and sizez after pounding out the first section, it was NOT going to work. There just was no consistancy to the pieces at all, so if you wanted to cut the driveway with a saw then i'm sure it would turn out much more shape friendly. Just remember how much that 4 inch concrete weighs when you are thinking about your cuts! My 3-car driveway would mean me moving 16 tons of material!! (my driveway was HUGE, if yours is smaller, and your only going to be basically putting spaces between the pieces, then I would say the saw might be do-able.

I definately used a nice chunk of oil for this project. And trust me, any time that happens with hurts. I also feel though, that oil is an amazing resource! In these days, with most feeling that oil is near its end, I think one of the best things we can do is use it to start building proper inferstructure (sp?). Even Bill Mollison said that it is smart to use resources like oil and fertilizer to initially get a system going. On the other side of my mind, if ANYone can think of a way to do a similar job with a smaller impact, Awesome! For pastics, I don't think that I have boughten a plastic water bottle in years and actually have a t-shirt that says "plastic bags blow" So I DO think about these things. Anyway, we can all calculate our impact in another disscussion...

So anyway, first off, a heartfelt good luck Nick Marse, I think you will be extremely happy with your new driveway ( i am everyday) and I feel that everyone should think about infiltrating driveways (not just the "permeable concrete" either). Hmmm...wonder if I used more oil than they do in the manufacturing and transport of that stuff?? Man I wish I could just get paid to do numbers like that :) Second, if you do decide to use a saw for the job, take caution if renting from Home Depot. I have now gotten a pretty shabby saw from them twice for workshops (maybe just my luck?).

Third... PICTURES PLEASE! befores, durings, afters. Lets others be inspired by the job!

On a side note, I work with 2 teachers who are also realtors and you should have heard their laughs when I said property value. We'll see who gets the last laugh buddies :)

**and thanks Beyondthekitchen for looking at my website:)Thats awesome!
Thank you, Chris. I totally agree with you on organization maintaining neighborhood home values, especially in an area as large and prominent as a driveway. (I am still bothered at how many residential properties in the Valley of the Sun have the garage as the most prominent architectural feature of the home.) No matter how you stack it, or lay it, urbanite still looks like broken rubble. You are also right about the jackhammer, I can't imagine anyone wanting to go after an entire driveway with a sledge hammer, so the carbon footprint of a jackhammer compared with a saw would end up being about the same. It's a lot easier to organize regular shapes than it is to fit jagged pieces together. Slicing and desigining into an overall pattern just makes more sense to me. Good luck with your project, Nick!
Hey Nick,
It is highly unlikely that a driveway of your vintage has rebar or wire in it. Local codes rarely specify such reinforcement in residential driveways or sidewalks around here for modern construction either. In modern driveways, it is common to find rebar pins between the house foundation and the driveway to keep them from separating. You will also find pins between the drive and the curb sometimes, but it is highly unlikely that this is the case at your house.

If rebar was used as a horizontal reinforcment on your drive, the saw will take care of that easily and reusing the pieces will not be a problem. Jackhammers do not cut through rebar though, so consider this on your project. One strategy for breaking it up into managable pieces is to score the concrete to a depth of 3" with the saw and then pry them up. This speeds up your cutting and the concrete will break at these score joints. Any rough edges can be knocked off with a sledge hammer. The underside of the concrete will be rough with lots of exposed aggregate. These pieces are best placed bottom side down in a bed of sand when reusued as paving. If you are making a stacked wall with the urbanite, you can face them either way. I have an urbanite planter in my back yard with the pieces faced bottom side up. It looks cool and makes a nice use of a waste material.
Hope it helps,
Wow, this topic exploded!! Thanks for all the great responses!

I talked to a neighbor who had to bust up part of his driveway at one point to replace some plumbing under it... He told me that they encountered no rebar at all. He also said the driveways in my area are about 4" thick, which he added, is too thin for rebar anyway.

So it sounds like I'm all clear on that front. I rented a jackhammer this weekend and tried my hand at busting a concrete footer and block that ran the 80 foot length of my property... A sort of 9 inch tall wall or border for the yard and street.

It took me and one other person about 7 hours to bust it up and load it into a trailer. I'm so sore. But I did get to experiment with the Jackhammer... Oh and who knew that concrete was so darn heavy! OMG - Not even kidding.

I'm really excited about the driveway project. I'm going to check at my local tool rental shop and see what they have in the way of concrete saws. It seems like identical square pieces would be much easier to maneuver.

I will definitely be talking pictures of the project, as well as my entire landscaping project. We "broke" ground this weekend, as I said before. Depending on how long the driveway takes, I anticipate to be ready for plants in 6-8 weeks.

Gonna be a ton of work, but I think it will really make the yard look great.
How exciting! We were thinking of doing something similar but perhaps cut the concrete so that there are "lanes" for the tires and leave those in place. Our driveway is pretty broken now but rough shapes of course!

I have heard people posting to Craig's list to get rid of their urbanite. There must be someone locally who recycles concrete too but I have no idea where. If you build something like a planter or herb spiral it can take quite a lot of material so you can use it up faster than you think!

Take photos and update us on the progress, I know Nick (rainwater junkie!) is happy that his heat island effect is now mitigated.
I ran the "cut up the driveway" idea by my other half. It wasn't well received.

Between that and the owner of the tool rental shop telling me that if I hit rebar with his walk behind cutter, or dig into dirt with it, that it will ruin the blade (for which I'm sure he will happily charge me $200+ for)... I'm leaning toward the jack hammer, ragged-edge look.

Either way, if the amount of work it took to bust up and pull out 60-70 feet of 6 inch wide footer was bad... I'm dreading the driveway since that will be about 20x the concrete. The driveway is about 10 feet wide and 35 feet long.

On a side note, Pioneer Sand is out of the gravel I had originally picked out (Purple Haze) and they don't think they can get any more. Super sad.
Love reading this thread- always great opinions and points made! I took out a bunch of concrete that was a 'home-made quickcrete job'- it wasn't even level and busted up with my handy sledge hammer quite well-
I rented a concrete cutoff saw to cut a nice edge for the part of the concrete I wanted to keep, and the rest got busted out by hand- it was a great workout.

I ended up searching online and found a company here locally that will recycle the busted up concrete...I'm having a hard time finding the webpage, but if you google search concrete recycling you can find them. They grind it up and reuse it for ABC or other gravel type work. I just called and they gave me the number of a guy with a truck. I had to pay them to come pick it up, but I figured that since I was going to have to pay to have it hauled off anyways, at least I knew it was getting recycled!

best of luck with your project! post up photos!
Updated with pictures in original post!


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