concrete raised beds


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Old 01-08-06, 01:40 PM
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concrete raised beds

Hi - I would like to build raised beds in my yard for planting. I chose concrete because I thought it would be fastest and most durable. The plan would be to put architectural stone on the outside.

The idea would be to have 3 foot tall wall, a few inches thick.

Anyway, my question is how hard or expensive is it to have concrete pumped to my yard, about 100 feet away. Is there a method for small jobs like this? I thought about mixing it my self, but it seems like it would take a long time to mix batches of concrete and then fill forms.

I'm also wondering what kind of footing I need for something like this. Would a shallow tench do, about a foot? The bed will have 4 walls, all connected.

Any suggestions appreciated.

thx,
Rob
 
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Old 01-08-06, 01:48 PM
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Depending on the size you could be talking about a lot of money to have it pumped in. My wife if an avid gardener and has plans for me to build her raised beds this late winter or early spring, and since it will have to be organically compatible, I have toyed with the idea of concrete block walls. I am a nail driver, not a mason, so it won't be pretty. It will be plumb and level, but pretty will have to be put on the outside later, such as rock. Think about the block rather than the monolith, purely for the cost factor.
 
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Old 01-08-06, 02:36 PM
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concrete raised beds

Consider retaining wall block. It is not necessary to pour concrete and you can build either straight or curved walls.

Google for Allan Block, Anchor Wall Systems, Keystone and Versalok for ideas. All are similar units and there should be a supplier or manufacturer near you.

Dick
 
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Old 01-08-06, 03:41 PM
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Oooh, I like that idea. It should save alot of mortaring, and will solve the finish question, too. Now, to sell the wife on it. What do you think, Rob?
 
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Old 01-08-06, 06:47 PM
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No, you don't want a pumper. The cost to rent a pumper is way too expensive for what you are doing.
Yes, I prefer Dick's idea. Looks much nicer and lots less work. You don't even mortar betweeen the blocks at all.
 
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Old 01-08-06, 09:43 PM
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Thanks for the ideas. I'm still interested in the architecural stone. I'm going to see how expensive it would be to have a small pumper come in.

The alternative is to get my own mixer, but it's still tough to get the material to the back yard, unless I get sacks, but that would be a lot of sacks.

The other idea I had was to build a wooden fence with treated posts and put on cement board.
 
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Old 01-09-06, 04:54 AM
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Around here (Indianapolis), I can get a pump truck for about a minimum of $400. This does not include a laborer to run the end of the hose, which is extra if they send one out. If not, then you run the hose yourself. The driver will run the pump. It also does not include travel time, concrete, cleanup, or extra time on the job if you don't get the concrete put down fast enough.
The cleanup is a killer. Consider that after all the concrete is in your forms, there is still a lot left in the hose and hopper, possibly as much as 1/2 cubic yard. They can't put this back in the truck, so they discharge it on site, and it is your responsibility to get rid of it. Also, they have to clean the pump before they leave so there is a LOT of slurry and cement-laden dirty water to deal with.
In addition, if you're not experienced at building concrete wall forms, you will almost certainly have a blowout. Concrete placed inside a three foot tall form contains a tremendous amount of lateral pressure, much more than you would think possible. If the forms are not braced properly, you will have an incredible mess on your hands, and in your yard. I'd go with the blocks.

Pecos
 
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Old 01-09-06, 08:59 AM
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Thanks Pecos - All good things to keep in mind. I'll have to price concrete blocks, although i still don't think it will change my mind. I think blocks is the best alternative, accept that I still need to pour a footing, and then putting the blocks together takes a while with all of the mixing up mortar and laying blocks. I guess price will be a big influence if it's really different.
 
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Old 01-09-06, 09:26 AM
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concrete raised beds

Rob -

You missed the big point.

With retaining wall block, you do not and should not use either mortar or a concrete footing. The use of the unit is based on NOT using a footing or mortar! THEY ARE NOT USED LIKE ORDINARY BLOCK AND DO NOT LOOK LIKE ORDINARY BLOCK.

The surface is an architectural face that is integrally colored unit usually with a split concrete face as shown on the sites suggested.

If you feel you need the actual stone look, cost (5x) and the problems with a rigid concrete wall then you should go the footing, formed and poured concrete wall and stone veneer attached with stainless ties.

There is no problem with the height. Gravity walls go to 4 or 5 feet high. The highest engineered wall without a footing or mortar that I have seen is 45 feet high.

Dick
 
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Old 01-09-06, 10:05 AM
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Hi Dick - When I was talking about blocks, I was talking about the cinder block type with mortar. I haven't seen any of the retaing wall type that I like. I think they are really functional and look easy to use, but it's not what I want in the yard. I mentioned the cinder block type because you can attach the stone to the outside.

When you mentioned problems with rigid concrete, did you mean potential cracking?

Rob
 
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Old 01-09-06, 10:53 AM
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concrete raised beds

Since you considering stone veneer I assumed you would be concerned with the appearance. A concrete retaining wall is a difficult thing to design and build if you will not accept some cracks.

The combination of shrinkage, exposure variations (moisture mainly), temperature variations (exposed versus unexposed) and the possibility of frost all can combine to cause cracks. Few residential concrete walls are built with all the controls of materials and construction to eliminate cracks. The cracks are usually cosmetic but can be distracting. This is one of the reasons the segmental retaining walls are so popular around the world.

If your stone selections and pattern can tolerate minor cracks then a stone veneer on a rigid wall is the way to go for the appearance you want. The are stone applications that have the appearance of dry stacked stone, but they usually take specialized hardware and some experience to install.

Good luck.

Dick
 
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Old 01-09-06, 01:21 PM
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have you looked at the manufactured stone products like eldorado ? you could frame with treated and apply a stone look at your own pace.
 
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Old 01-09-06, 06:47 PM
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If you want a stone look, do consider natural rock. I did a retaining wall using river rock. I used river rock because I, too, didn't like the look of manufactured retaining wall block.

There are other types of stones you can use. Visit a good nursery that also does landscaping to get ideas. And no, you can't get a good idea from a big box store.

Dry fitting the rocks is the way to go.

If you still want to go the cement block route, dig a footer below the frost line. In Fla, thats about one inch , in Wisc, its about 48 inches deep. Lay your block at your leasure.

If you really want a cement wall, have it done for you. The reasons outlined by Pecos and your obvious inexperience takes it out of the realm of diy.
 
 

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