Can you pour concrete directly on dirt? (Including tips to do it well)
Dealing with projects that include the task of using concrete can be complicated for many people. Although they are known for being good, long-lasting materials, preparing concrete needs a lot of patience, time, and skill.
If you are planning to use concrete for your DIY project, you may be wondering whether it is necessary to prepare a gravel base or if it is possible to pour it on the dirt. No need to look further – we will tell you everything you need to know to ensure that your end results are just what you expected.
Pouring concrete directly on dirt – is it a good idea?
To keep it short, yes, pouring your concrete mixture directly on dirt is doable. However, whether it is a good idea will depend on a lot of matters.
Let us take a look at it this way: If you are planning to build, for example, a patio on your lawn, preparing the area would be your first step. This includes removing vegetation, assessing the type of soil in your area, checking to see if drainage is necessary, and other important tasks such as leveling and compacting the soil.
The reason why the mentioned steps are crucial is that concrete is a material that is highly susceptible to water. If your area is not prepared well, it will also affect the curing of the concrete, which will eventually be an important factor in whether it will last a long time or not. This is exactly the reason why experts recommend adding gravel before your concrete mixture. When gravel is not present, the moisture in the area will go directly into the concrete, resulting in it settling under and damaging the slab.
If adding gravel to your base is not convenient for you, you should remember to do two things: first, remove vegetation, and second, add barriers in place to secure the concrete while it is still wet.
How to pour concrete for beginners
Pouring concrete over dirt is possible. However, if you want your project to last, there is a proper way to do it.
The materials and tools you will need:
- Safety equipment
- Measuring tape, level, and strings
- Hammer and nails
- Shovel, trowel, and tamper
- Wooden slabs and boards
- Concrete mix
Step-by-step guide on pouring concrete without gravel
Step 1: Secure permits
Before getting your materials ready and digging on your lawn, the first thing you need to do is go to your local building department. Since there is a possibility of you putting yourself and others in danger with the project, you should ask for a legal permit to dig for a safe process.
Once you already secured the essential permits, make sure to equip yourself with safety equipment such as gloves and boots.
Step 2: Mark the area
Determine how much space you will need for your project. Depending on what you are planning to build, you may need to install wooden stakes as marks for an easier process.
Make sure to plan your design before proceeding to the next steps. It would be helpful to also put the measurements on a piece of paper with a simple illustration of what you are planning to achieve.
Step 3: Remove the unnecessary debris
Once the area is marked, remove all the debris you can see on its surface. This includes grass, rocks and stones, branches, and other debris that will just get in the way of your project.
Step 4: Get digging
Using your shovel or another digging tool, start digging your soil according to the necessary measurements. The depth you will need to dig will ultimately depend on what your project is.
Step 5: Tamper the soil
After digging, the next step will be to compact the soil. Use a tamper, trowel, or any tool you have that will help level and smoothen the area.
Tip: As much as possible, do your digging during the dryer climates. This makes it easier to compact the ground and lessens the chances of dealing with wet, heavy, soil. On the other hand, if the soil is too dry, spray some water unto your base while you compact the ground.
Step 6: Install the forms
For most projects, formwork is essential to hold the concrete mix in place. You can install your forms using pieces of wood and nails so that you can easily remove them once the mixture dries.
Optional: Add rebars
If your project needs a concrete base that could support tons of weight, adding a rebar is highly recommended. This is often the case if you are building a concrete driveway.
Step 7: Prepare your concrete
Pouring water into your concrete mix requires proper care. According to Family Handyman, “adding water to the concrete makes it flow down the chute and fill your forms more easily, but it also weakens the final slab.” (1) If you are using commercial mixtures, follow the instructions to a T for the best results.
Step 8: Start pouring the mixture
Start pouring your mixture into the forms. Make sure to use your tools to level its surface and flatten the edges accordingly until it is smooth.
Step 9: Wait for the curing process
Once you are done pouring, the curing of the concrete will need to be checked regularly. This is to ensure that you can fix any imperfections before the mix completely hardens.
And there you have it! All you need to do is wait for the concrete to cure and the results will be a long-lasting, smooth, surface.
Tip: Wait at least two days before removing the forms to avoid damaging the concrete.
“We have a strategic plan. It’s called doing things.” - Herb Kelleher
When it comes to many construction projects, preparing the soil for the base part is essentially one of the first phases that need to happen to get it started. However, although it may look like a fairly straightforward job, it is easy to make mistakes that will also affect the construction process greatly.
It is possible to pour concrete directly on the dirt. As long as you do the tips we mentioned earlier, the end result will be stable, compact, and ready for your next steps.
If you are not confident with your skills or do not have the necessary equipment, contact the Springs Excavation Pros today.
- How to Pour Concrete | Family Handyman