cheap diy hardscape

hogan_njFebruary 6, 2012

I put a basketball hoop in the backyard. My son really likes playing but its impossible to dribble ball on grass. Backyard was only option. Busy street front house.

I plan on do myself. Money tight and dont want anything fancy anyway. Something plain. What do u recommend?

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Sophie Wheeler

Dig out 6-12" (depends on your climate), put down a weed barrier, and have some sharp gravel delivered. Tamp it down by hand and lock it into place with dry mortar mix. It's very labor intensive, but it's about as cheap as you are going to get for hardscape. If you want to spend a tiny bit more, rent a vibrating plate compactor for the tamping, and buy pizza and beer for your buddies for the digging. You will have to find something to do with the topsoil and subsoil, and there will be more of it than you think, so see if any of your neighbors or buddies needs to fill in a low spot or wants to make a planting berm.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2012 at 1:34PM
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hogan_nj the mortar mixed into gravel or spread it on top? Oh yeah,I live in NJ so not sure how deep to go.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 8:07AM
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I've used stone dust quite a few times.

It compacts very well; spread 4-6 inches, wet it or mist it with a sprinker, and compact it. I've used just stonedust, and I've also mixed it with dry portland to give a more durable surface.

If you're going to hand compact it with a tamper, you'll be better off doing it in several "lifts" or layers. Put down 2-3", compact it, then 2-3 more inches, compact it.

You can probably rent a gas-powered plate compacter for $40-$50 for a half-day. Well worth it. Well, well, well worth it!

Not sure how big you want to go, but a 20' by 40' area, 6" deep, would require about 15 yards, or 20 tons, of stonedust.

A 20' by 30' area about 4" deep would require half that, about 7-1/2 yards, or 10 tons.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2012 at 6:34PM
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thanks, I like that idea. Any idea of ratio of stone dust to portland cement? I was thinking of renting a mixer to blend it together.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2012 at 9:08AM
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Sophie Wheeler

The Portland/sand mix, aka dry mortar mix, is especially designed to lock together paver patios by being swept into the cracks and misted. The sand fills in any gaps that exist and creates a more knit together surface. You can use the mortar mix over tamped gravel and then mist instead of pavers, and this is what I suggested. Mixing stone dust and Portland and then tamping does basically the same thing but is more expensive and labor intensive since you are doing the mixing on the front end. That wouldn't be a weekend project, and you'd be better off financially buying a mixer than renting one so that you could do it on a longer more realistic timeline.

It depends on which area of the country you are in how much you would pay for stone dust. Here, where there is only wash gravel mining, stone dust is a trucked in luxury and is prohibitively expensive to use for a budget project. If you live somewhere that the stone dust is a byproduct of stone quarrying, then it's bound to be much cheaper and more budget friendly. Make some phone calls and find out the costs of the raw materials that are available to be used. Either way, to do a half basketball court, even in a budget manner, will be quite a project, both in muscle and in dollars spent.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 11:36AM
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