‘I’m So excited, And I just can’t hide it. I’m about to lose control and I think I like it.’ Hey, that’s pretty catchy (note to self: write that down it could be the hook to a great song). Sorry, I just am really excited. If you have been following us here religiously (as if there is any other way), you probably have stumbled across my article on getting rid of unwanted concrete in your backyard, courtesy of Craigslist. And while that did help get rid of about half my concrete mess, I would like to strike the suggestion of getting rid of old concrete from the Internet’s collective head. I stumbled upon something even better than giving it away – reusing it. It’s called urbanite, and I am about to blow your mind (well, maybe just open your mind to new landscaping possibilities).
So what’s in a name? As it turns out not a whole lot. Urbanite is simply broken concrete slabs that have been reused and repurposed. However, in a world of baristas, specialists and technicians of every ilk imaginable, it appears we can create names for things ex nihilo. Urbanite is slab concrete that has been broken up, on purpose or not, into manageable pieces. These pieces are then used for other things.
For example, one might make a raised bed out of the concrete, or a retaining wall. You could also make a patio or walkway… Wait a minute are walkways and some patios made of concrete in the first place? Sure they are, but there is a benefit to installing urbanite instead of poured concrete; drainage. A concrete slab is impervious to water while an urbanite walkway or patio allows the water to drain into the ground; thus preventing water from running off and saturating low spots.
There is an added benefit to using urbanite; cost. I read somewhere recently that concrete is the second most used compound in the world after water, and so there is an abundance. A quick look at craigslist will generally list a number of ‘free concrete – u haul’ ads. Just like mine did. Breaking the concrete up will probably be your job but hey free is free. When doing raised beds or walls you can either dry stack or use mortar (traditional or not). Walkways and patios are laid like pavers with a well-established bed and either mortar (negating that whole pervious surface thing) or with sand brushed in. Recycled concrete can even be stained to give it a different texture and finish than plain gray concrete.
The downside is that you will usually have to break the concrete into reasonable sizes and the underside is generally uneven, which can make it tricky to set pavers or get nice even lines when dry stacking. Other than that, it could be great way to do some hardscaping on the cheap while being a bit more sustainable in the process.