Steps by Ed
Do you have an interlocking paver driveway? Then you understand my frustration. Do you have a brick patio? Then you can feel my pain. Weeds. The little SOBs are pervasive and persistent.
We were fortunate enough to buy a house with an interlocking brick driveway. A great feature for any home. But, often I would find myself envying neighbors with asphalt driveways. They weren't out there for hours on the weekend weeding their driveway. About once a year I'd get fed up with the weeds and sit on the driveway and weed until my hands throbbed. I'd feel satisfied with my hard work, until less than a week later the weeds returned with a vengeance. They wanted revenge.
So, as you can see so clearly in the Before shot above, I'd give up. The weed gangsters could loiter as they pleased in our driveway. We'd avert our eyes and mind our own business. We had coping strategies:
- Ed would run the mower over the driveway when he did the lawn.
- I'd park the van in such a way to hide the worst of them.
Four years ago, after we renovated, we needed to build a new walkway to our front door. It was then we discovered Polymeric Sand. I describe it as sand that glues itself together and makes no room for weeds to infiltrate. We used this product on our walkway and have had little to no problem with weeds. We needed to use this to take our driveway back from the weed mob.
You can find lots of instructions and advice for using polymeric sand on a brand new install of bricks. I could find nothing for how to change your sand over to polymeric. So we improvised. What follows is Ed's description of what we did and what we do differently if we had to do it again. (Which we won't because polymeric sand is da bomb.)
We had full intentions of tearing it all up this summer, leveling the bed and relaying the bricks. We had blocked off some time for this. Summer rolled along. Time grew short and we started to realize that the time we had for it was likely not enough to get it all done.
Robin devised a plan whereby we remove the weeds and sand and re-lay new, polymeric sand without actually moving the bricks. Genius! But could it be done on time and without us dying of sunstroke?
OK, let's just have a good look at how bad the driveway/our maintenance of it was:
Here's where Robin had started edging with our lawn edger. You can see how far the lawn had crept in over the bricks:
Just Brutal. Here is what we did, in the order we did it. At the end, I have a suggested sequence that I would likely do if we had to try it again.
What we actually did:
1. Used an edging tool to find and cut the driveway edge. Pulled up the clumps of grass and tossed them in the composter.
2. Rented a 36" Sweepster for the day.
|As a random aside, being able to transport a 36" Sweepster is reason #429 |
why mini-vans are wicked awesome.
We lowered the brush as low as it would go and swept back and forth, up and down over a dozen times each way. It was crazy hot and dry and it made the area very dusty, but it cleared most of the sand out of the accessible joints (see step 2 for what made a lot of the area inaccessible).
3. Hand weeded.
We purchased what we initially thought was a crack weeder but discovered was actually a "garden knife" (you know, for dividing clumps of perennials and stuff). Never mind what it was called, it was perfect for getting weeds out from between bricks. We used, and broke three.
The Sweepster was a rock star at removing the existing sand/brick dust mixture, but wherever a weed had dug its roots in, there were issues. And you saw how many weeds there were, right?
Anyhow, we hack attacked the cracks for the better part of 4+ hours in the afternoon. We have no pictures of this, as we were worried that if either one of us stopped, we would never start again. It sucked. No, really, it did.
|After shot of weeded and Sweepstered (sp?) driveway. |
It is tough to see, but most joints have 1"+ of sand removed.
4. ReSweepstered the weeded driveway to take care of all the last bits.
5. Polymeric Sand the Joints.
I could give you the rundown, but Techniseal has this video that does it so much better and faster than I could. We didn't do the plate compaction part, mostly because we just topping up the existing joints and we didn't want to rent another big "thing" to add to the cost of this project.
Anyhow, that video is basically what we did, only substitute these tools and Permacon Polymeric for all the stuff you saw in the video.
|I also used a shop-vac on blower setting in place of the leaf blower and silent swearing in place of helpful narration.|
We guesstimated the number of bags to buy, based on square footage in our driveway, minus the fact that we were only topping up, plus the fact that most estimates are based on larger pavers (fewer joints per square foot) vs bricks.
We ended up buying 3 bags too many but are keeping them for future projects (and have already used one on a back walkway).
If you have never used Polymeric Sand, it is a wonderful product. On new construction, if you follow all the steps in the video, you are buying yourself 4-5 years of completely maintenance free patio/walkway. Even after that time frame, the weeding and upkeep are much less than regular sand, which means less time/ nasty sprays will have to be employed.
We cannot report on how long our driveway will go - but for now, here is how it looks:
|Edge closest to the sidewalk|
|Final shot again in large size.|
I didn't do as thorough a job as I should have when blowing, so some haze is evident in some areas. I have decided to call those spots, "extra traction zones" for winter. You can't argue the improvement in appearance, though.
We're very happy and total time was a little over 2 days versus the unrealistic week we thought we could tear the whole thing up and re-lay it in.
To do it again, I think we would:
- Weed everything thoroughly first - we thought the sweepster would tackle the weeds better than it did.
- Pressure wash the sand out of the joints. If that didn't work, then rent the Sweepster (more people likely own pressure washers than Sweepsters.)
- Finish as above with polymeric.
1. Rental of Sweepster (whole day) = $180.00 (having never used one before, I bought the extra insurance)
2. Weed crack tools (aka. garden knives) = $6 X 3 = $18
3. Polymeric sand = $5 bags at $20/bag = $100
Total cost = $ 298.00
Not cheap, but here's some perspective:
Four years ago, after we did our walkway, our neighbour called around to see if she could get her sand driveway converted to polymeric sand. She was given a quote of $4,000! Her driveway is a similar size to ours.
So we figure we've saved ourselves thousands by doing two days of hard work.
Anyways, like I said, we're happy for now and our neighbours can make eye contact with us again.
Have you had any projects where you scaled them back and were still happy with the results? Any questions we can help you with?