Making a patio out of torn-up concrete

NyQuillama(z3 WI)February 18, 2004

Hello Rock-loving friends!

I've searched around the Internet and gradenweb extensively but I've never found anyone doing precisely what it is I'm trying to do. I'm hoping for a bit of advice/experience.

Here is what I'm doing. Last Fall I tore up my old concrete sidewalk (paved in the 50's) and thought about what I could use it for. A few of the slabs were intact but they were pretty broken up. I decided to make the 2.5'x30' sidewalk into a flagstone-ish patio in the heavy shade of my garage. the spot is nice because right behind the garage is my pond and creek. It would be a great spot to grill and sit on the patio having a beer break in the shade.

I measured how big the patio would be by calculating the size of the slabs and rearranging them on paper. Then I staked off the proposed patio and dug up the sod (which was nice for filling some low spots in my yard).

One at a time, I hauled the intact slabs over to the spot and eventually laid them out in three rows, in the same order they once were in when they were a sidewalk. I then used a sledge hammer to break them into neatly shaped smaller "flagstones." Each slab turned into about six pieces. I have sandy loam soil, so the blocks needed minimal adjusting. I then packed the cracks with black dirt and trampled a lot. the patio ended up level with the surrounding lawn. It actually looked pretty good.

Now, the look I'm going for is more like an ancient rune street style. I want to stain my concrete "flagstones" rust red with Iron Sulfate, and have moss growing in the cracks. Unfortunately I've read that my choice of dye is actually used to kill moss, I just donÂt know how long it effects surfaces and soil habitat. I am set on using Iron Sulfate as I plan to dye several matching items in this fashion and Iron Sulfate is ultra-cheap compared to commercial concrete dyes.

I am planning on using some moss from a HUGE moss bed in my woods. I will try using the buttermilk method of propagation this spring and attempt get some moss growing in those cracks after dying the concrete.

Here are some of my questions:

1) Anyone have experience dyeing concrete with Iron Sulfate (intentional or otherwise)? What can I expect? What is the best method of application. When can I plant?

2) How can I best prepare the soil and concrete for habitat for the moss after soaking them in Iron Sulfate. I have lime to balance out the pH, what else can I do?

3) The moss I am planning on using is in heavy shade in the woods, it's good news that it's in heavy shade behind my garage right? I've heard that moss found growing on rock is best for placing on rock, even if the same moss also does well on trees. Is this true? Do I need to find moss on rocks?

I'll be checking this thread and will respond to any posts, thank you for reading this long-winded question.

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I might use a concrete stain rather than the iron solution, just in case.

mosses like a mildly acidic soil, but doens't need RICH soil, so I've foind that either buttermilk or vinegar can be used to change the PH... testing it with litmus strips is easy. and test if fairly regularly, since concrete tends to leach alkyline into the soil (not as much of a prblem with 50 year old stuff, but never hurts to test)

it's always best to put moss into as identical a situation as you can from whence you took it...from rock to rock, from dirt to dirt, from bark to bark...

but the regulars at the moss board might have other hints.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2004 at 12:59PM
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I personally would lay down the concrete without filling in the cracks the do your iron wash. After the stain has taken its toll water very well, this will wash the iron out of the mosses reach. Then cover your slabs and sweep the soil back into the cracks. Then plant your moss. You should have success with this leaching method! Good luck!


    Bookmark   February 26, 2004 at 6:41PM
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sheryl_ontario(Muncho Lake, BC z2)

You could remove the stones to dye them in another location. Let the dye set and dry,rinse the stones well, then replace them in their permanent location. Then fill with dirt and plant the moss. This way there's no danger of contaminating the surrounding soil with the iron sulfate.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2004 at 3:45PM
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