Whether you’re planning to extend your backyard, porch, build a new shed, lay a new driveway, or a flat surface for your basketball court, it is essential to prepare the ground before pouring concrete. In fact, if you pour concrete on uneven ground, it will most likely break apart or sink, which can cause major cracks.
Although pouring concrete is straightforward, prepping the ground and framing the area is a challenging task. Depending on the size of the slab you want to produce, the prep time can take several hours to do. That is why the key to a properly leveled surface is planning and efficient execution.
In fact, there are several steps you need to do to accomplish this task, and these will include the following:
Mark and measure the area where you want to pour the concrete, then dig to a depth of at least 3 to 5 inches with a shovel. If the ground you’re digging is mostly clay, then you need to add 2 inches of depth more to hold the gravel and will also serve as the drainage. After digging, use spray paint or stake to mark the area.
You should also remove all the vegetation within the area, especially the spot where concrete will be poured. You can always use the removed grass in other areas of your lawn or where there are bald spots.
It is also vital to dig a trench around the area’s perimeter for about 4 inches deep and 6 inches wide. This is done to make the concrete surface stronger and less likely to crack with time.
Another important thing to do is to smooth the ground with a rake using its flat side. Try to fill in any low spot with extra dirt and check the level of the ground by placing a level measuring tool.
The next important step is to tamp down the surface with a machine tamper or the manual hand tamper. You need to pack the soil until you no longer see a footprint when you walk on the surface. You also have the option to add gravel by pouring it on the surface and tamping it down tightly and ensuring the ground is leveled correctly.
You must also place stones at the base of the new slope to create a low wall and prevent erosion or loose soil. However, you’ll need concrete and other specialised techniques to build a larger retaining wall for more safety and stability.
Lastly, place a level on different parts of the ground to check how to level the surface is on all the areas. If you noticed that there are spots that aren’t level, you can fill those up with the removed dirt from other areas.
After doing the steps above, be sure to research whether or not you'll need to reinforce the concrete. This may be necessary depending on the project. You can now pour concrete on the ground and accomplish any of your backyard projects.