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Old 07-07-2019, 11:10 AM   #1
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Taking up concrete to put down grass - best way forward?


Hi all. I posted about this as a prospective project a few years ago. Now it's actually happening! My back yard is actually the end of a driveway. Kind of hard to explain, but basically this means that the 13'x13'-ish back yard of our house is currently covered in concrete. I am in the process of taking up that concrete to put down grass.

The issue: holy hell, so much concrete. Over the last 100 years, owner after owner have just added one layer on top of another. Altogether, there might be as many as five distinct pours. All told, there are parts of the space that are around 7" thick. I was really hoping for a nice breakable layer of blacktop of top of dirt, but here we are.

I purchased a (11316EVS) Bosch demolition hammer a year or so ago for this purpose. I COULD probably use that to finish the job, but it's really a mid-duty hammer that might not be the best way to go about breaking through so much concrete. So far, one three-hour morning was enough to get up most of the blacktop. See photos.

Now I'm just a bit intimidated at the amount of concrete still left to break up and dispose of. A landscaper who helped me dump the concrete I've already broken up explained that I don't necessarily NEED to go all the way down to soil if my goal is to put down sod. He explains that I could lay 4" of topsoil on top of whatever is there for sod to take. This would kind of make for some weird alignment with steps and whatnot that already exist, but it's a possible solution that would just require taking up the rest of the concrete.

So, to summarize, my questions are this:
1) Do you have any thoughts about putting 4" of soil, then sod, on top of a layer of concrete? Pro is that it involves less demo, what are the cons?
2) If I did want to go all the way down to soil, what is the most efficient way of doing this kind of heavy demo? Rent two stand-up demo hammers from my hardware store, get a friend involved? I've seen videos of Bobcat-looking things with giant demo hammers on the front. Are those available to rent? What are they called?

Thanks in advance. Any perspective, experience, is helpful! Photos below.









Finally, the bottom two layers!
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Old 07-07-2019, 11:23 AM   #2
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Re: Taking up concrete to put down grass - best way forward?


That looks more like asphalt than concrete, You start on the outside and work your way to the center. You may want to rent a jack hammer.
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Old 07-07-2019, 11:26 AM   #3
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Re: Taking up concrete to put down grass - best way forward?


I would sawcut a clean line at the new driveway transition, and rent a bobcat with a demo bit - do it right the first time. Or you could possibly get away with just sawcutting 24" or so square pieces to remove by hand as your energy allows.

I wouldn't put soil over the existing driveway, washout or if it doesn't, a mudbath or soggy sod you can't use for days. But I'm sure some people do it.
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Old 07-07-2019, 11:27 AM   #4
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Re: Taking up concrete to put down grass - best way forward?


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Old 07-11-2019, 10:42 AM   #5
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Re: Taking up concrete to put down grass - best way forward?


Quote:
Originally Posted by 3onthetree View Post
I would sawcut a clean line at the new driveway transition, and rent a bobcat with a demo bit - do it right the first time. Or you could possibly get away with just sawcutting 24" or so square pieces to remove by hand as your energy allows.

I wouldn't put soil over the existing driveway, washout or if it doesn't, a mudbath or soggy sod you can't use for days. But I'm sure some people do it.
Hi all. Sorry for the delayed response, super busy right now. Thank you both for your help.

Yes, I'm using "asphalt" and "concrete" interchangably here. I believe the bottom layer is concrete whereas the top layers are asphalt.

3onthetree - love your suggestion of a concrete saw and cutting squares. This sounds like the smart way to go about this.

My question for you is this - can I use a concerete saw on this uneven surface? I'm sure they are simple enough to use on smooth slabs, but will it work in this instance? I've never used one before, so I'd have to do a bit of research before I felt comfortable in renting one.
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Old 07-11-2019, 11:00 AM   #6
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Re: Taking up concrete to put down grass - best way forward?


I like the walk behinds (much safer), I think it will cut around 5"-6" for either a 12"or14" blade or maybe a little more for an 18". If it's a wavy surface it just won't be a consistent deep. You may not get through the total thickness with one pass, but the asphalt layer should pry up real easy and quick while you have the sawcutter then you can go back over the concrete.
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Old 07-11-2019, 11:05 AM   #7
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Re: Taking up concrete to put down grass - best way forward?


Your suggestion gave me a thought - could I alternatively use the demo hammer that I already own to cut an outlines of larges pieces that could be pried up with a crowbar? You suggested 24"x24", but perhaps I could even go up to 36" x 36". I have friends to help lift, so I'm not as concerned about that part.

I think I'm going to experiment with this approach tomorrow.
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Old 07-11-2019, 12:23 PM   #8
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Re: Taking up concrete to put down grass - best way forward?


Whatever works, when I've lifted asphalt I just pry under (with a lever fulcrum) and it breaks in chunks anyway, some big some little. Concrete different story.
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Old 07-11-2019, 02:06 PM   #9
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Re: Taking up concrete to put down grass - best way forward?


I strongly suggest renting a skid steer/mini excavator with attachments. You can get a hydraulic breaker for concrete to break it up in chunks. Then switch to a bucket with a grapple hook to pick up the pieces and put it in a pile to transfer it into a dump trailer.

It will go a lot faster, save you and your buddies backs, hands and arms, and cause a few fights as to who gets to go next.

Plus, with the mini excavator, there is a blade in front to help smooth things out. With the skid steer, you have the bucket to smooth things out.

For tight areas, use your demolition tool.
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Old 07-11-2019, 07:32 PM   #10
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Re: Taking up concrete to put down grass - best way forward?


I would just rent a backhoe and a hydraulic dump trailer.

Make sure you can get rid of it first.
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Old 07-11-2019, 10:36 PM   #11
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Re: Taking up concrete to put down grass - best way forward?


I got roped into something similar a few years back. I did the sawcuts to get clean lines on the parts of the concrete we were keeping, then started jackhammering down on the rest of it. Hours later we chipped our way three pours deep and had little progress to show for it. We threw in the towel and went down the street to where a landscape contractor was wrapping up a paver patio install and still had his mini excavator on site. $300 and less than an hour later all that concrete was gone. Without that guy I think I'd still be there breaking concrete in the hot sun.
I love a good DIY project, and I do love to operate some machinery, but sometimes you're just better off handing it over to the guys who already have the equipment.
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