I recently received an email from Denny Marsh who had seen my Garden Box Plans on Handihelp. A number of people have asked about making the ground around the boxes more wheelchair friendly. The simple solution was in his letter. This pavement has many other applications beside the area around garden boxes.
In your article on raised beds box plans, you mentioned this: “Short of locating them on pavement I don't know what the solution is.”
So I thought I would pass on a little tip I learned from my father who learned it from his, and so on.
1. Pick your area to be surfaced and remove all plant material.
2. Till as deep as your tiller will allow and keep tilling until it results in a fine “compost/topsoil/loam” consistency.
3. Roll the surface, now keep in mind that this is more for grading as you want a slight slope to the surface for runoff.
4. Now sprinkle straight Portland Cement over the top of the surface at a rate of 2-3 pounds per square foot. Wear gloves!
5. Using a rake and a raking motion, mix the Cement with the top one to six inches of soil depending on your finished pavement depth, re-grading the soil/cement mix as you go.
6. OPTIONAL: Depending on the appearance you prefer you can roll it now before wetting (most common), or leave it natural for a non-slip surface.
7. Don’t soak and don’t high-pressure spray the surface as it will disturb/move the soil. But lightly mist and moisten the surface repeatedly for the next few days.
Once it cures, this type of surface has been known to last easily for ten years with limited maintenance. Patching is done by removing broken material and replacing the area with more soil/cement mix. Or the broken material can be left in place and mixed with some new soil/cement mix similar to putting gravel in sand and cement. As for your crushed stone surface, using this method with a stone dust/cement mix will make for a surface smoother than soil, but rougher then concrete. I’ve personally used this method for a three-inch “slab” as a sidewalk and a four-inch “slab” for a parking area along side my driveway. They both worked great. The sidewalk was a dozen years old when I moved!
One thing I might warn you about though and that is if you get a lot of snow to shovel, the rough, non-skid surface is great but snow shovels and snow blowers will shorten the life of this kind of surface. Smoother is better. I’ll probably be wheel-chair bound myself before long and as I like gardening also, I really appreciate your ideas. I hope this method will be of some use around your raised beds! So good luck with this and May God Bless You!
Handihelp has no experience with soil-Cement. Since receiving the email I have read about it and downloaded pictures from both Google and the YouTube video you can see below. Yesterday, February 8 we received over a foot of snow in the storm that blanketed the Northeast. I took the picture at the right February 9 out one of the windows in our computer room. I'm planning on enclosing my vegetable box area in soil cement as soon as the weather allows. Meanwhile, I thought this was such a useful application for all of us I have placed it on my website.
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