Friday, April 13, 2012

Edging the Driveway with Granite Stones

This post could also be known as "The Mother of All Projects".

We bought an electric dog fence for Akina.  I'll detail the installation in a later post, but after laying out the wire and testing it, I realized Akina would see a lot of tennis balls roll off our property and if she chased, she'd get zapped.  Also, given that our property ends right by the driveway, there wasn't a good way to demarcate the "warning zone" for her which would make training more difficult.

Pamela and I went to Home Depot and looked at small plastic garden fences, but I wasn't too fond.  I also had extra belgian blocks left over from the garden / grass project, so I thought edging the driveway would not only utilize existing materials but also look very good.

While I knew this would be a big project, I had no idea what I was actually getting myself into.
Looks simple, right?
Last block goes here
Just dig a little trench, right?
At the advice of my neighbor, my plan was to cut the edge of the asphalt along a straight line and bury the beglain blocks in a trench.  This should have been pretty simple.  Unfortunately, as I was digging the trench, I found that there was an old concrete curb that had been buried underneath several layers of asphalt.
The concrete curb was probably 8" deep and was held in place by a larger base of concrete.  Removing the curb would be a huge project itself.
Plan B then became cutting the asphalt on the opposite side of the curb and laying the blocks there.  I started cutting the asphalt but then found there were many layers that had been laid on top of each other over the years.  This would have also shrunk my driveway and created more wasted space between the property line and the driveway.  Not ideal.

I rented a demolition hammer at Home Depot.  It cost $75 for a 24 hour rental.  I felt I needed to spend the money in order to see how easily I could remove the curb, but I wasn't sure if it would still be too much of a project for me.
The demo hammer worked like a charm.  I put my weight into it and the hammer broke apart the concrete like it was nothing.  Even Pamela got in on the action.
Making Progress
I ended up leaving a lot of the concrete curb in place, as it was inside the property line and would act as a good straight edge.

I started laying the blocks into place.  To set them, I first mixed up some Sacrete Ready Mix Concrete powder with sand and water and created a base to sink the blocks into.  I then used a rubber mallet to push them into their final place.  It would have been smart for me to then add mortar in between the stones at this point, but this whole project was about discovery.

For a real step-by-step guide on how do edge a driveway with belgian blocks, follow this link to This Old House.
Whoa, halfway there!
I ran out of belgian blocks halfway through.  I drove up to Bedford Stone in Bedford Hills to purchase the rest.  They had a huge selection of belgian blocks and other stones.  The added weight in the car didn't slow me down enough, as I got pulled over for doing 83mph in a 65mph zone.  Thankfully, the kind officer only wrote me up for an expired inspection (9 days past inspection).

Adding mortar between the stones was also less than fun.  There are a bunch of tools and such, but I found the best way for me was to put on rubber gloves and use my fingers to jam mortar in between the blocks then use my fingers again to smooth and shape the mortar.
Those are hockey shin pads

Driveway Repair
With the blocks in place and mortar dried, the last step was to repair the asphalt.  I had cut out a few sections and the old edges were worn and no longer straight.

I used Sacrete Cold Patch, which you simply pour into place then tamp down.

Finished Product
Well, I'm still patching up parts of the driveway, but the blocks are done and the dog fence is up.


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