D’ya loike dhaaaggs?

After months of winter rain the place where we normally park had become a swamp and was no longer fit for purpose (excuse the picture of the dumper and septic tank but it is the best one I could find to demonstrate the morass).

We had been parking on the neighbours hard standing (they are in Paris for the winter) and decided that we can’t put up with the mud each year nor can we keep using the neighbours space, so we decided we had to create a hard standing of our own.
If you like ‘we had to make a stand’. 8)

We toyed with the idea of gravel but it just squashes into the ground after a while, gets caught in the tyres of the truck and ends up all over the lane, makes a horrible scrunching sound and is difficult for people to park motor bikes on (and we get several visitors who ride them) so we dismissed that line of thought.

We also dismissed concrete as (in our opinion) it looks a bit nasty and would look out of place so we decide on “tarmac” which is what has been used elsewhere nearby.

I have never been involved in tarmac-ing anything but I have watched them build enough roads and seen it done on drives a few times to get the general gist of it.

I hired a tipper truck, a digger, and a big whacker plate, and then over the course of a day dug down (fairly level) to the sort of depth I thought I would need and then dumped the spoil on on our other bit of land about 5 miles away).

That evening when light had faded the laser level confirmed my “eye” was nearly all right and I used a spray paint to identify any high or low areas which I tried to scrape level in the morning.

We then put in a sort of boundary to give straight (sort of) edges to the finished product that we could then re-enforce and blend into the garden to make it look lovely.

Then off to the local yard that not only sold tarmac but also scalpings, but unfortunately they seemed to be a bit “stiff” when it came to adhering to the rules of how much scalpings they would load in my truck and would only put in a piddley little bit equivalent to about 4 or 5 wheelbarrow loads.
Luckily the quarry a bit further out in the sticks and had no such qualms and loaded me up to the gunnels and three large loads later we had out scalping base which we leveled as best we could with the digger then ran the whacker over it.

Here it is after a whackering or two after we had tried to fill in any dips

Here we created the run-off down into the drain.

And here is the preparation finished and ready for the tarmac.(you can also see how the lean-to works on the shed in the background)

Now before we go any further I must say that at this time it is absolutely important that you have a smooth level surface. It doesn’t matter if it slopes one way or another (the water will run off) but it mustn’t have any undulations, and so another proper leveling at this time is absolutely the thing to do or else you will end up with a rubbish finished product that looks awful and always has bloody great puddles in it.
Remember the adage of the 7 P’s p!zz poor preparation precedes p!zz poor performance.

Of course you could just get a contractor in to do it but where is the fun and the challenge in that??? 😯 😯 😆

After that it is a case of get prepared for the hot tarmac arrival.
Two Rakes
One Vibrating Roller
One digger to spread the tarmac about evenly
Two people clad in boots and gloves and T shirts as it gets very very hot.
Cover all rakes and digger buckets in a liberal coating of old diesel.

Get tarmac delivered and dropped in the most convenient spot.
It is recommended that to give a 5 to 6 cm covering you need one ton for every 10 M2. We had 65 M2 so 7 tons of tarmac arrived (944 euros) and this is what 7 tons of hot tarmac looks like.

Spread about and rake as smooth as you can, as fast as you can, because you want to work it when it is still hot or else you are f@#ked and will be left with an ugly tarmac sculpture of a blob.
Trust me when I say that this is a hot and sweaty job and you have to just get stuck right in and keep going till its done. It doesn’t take long but you need to be on it and stay on it till its done and ready for rolling.
Trust your eye to get the levels.

Rake it neatly as you can using both sides of the rake ie the top bar and the prongy bit to spread and even it out

Then get the roller on it.

Now the roller is a vibrating double roller with a gert big long handle on the end with the controls on it for forwards backwards and vibrate. There is no steering. 😯 😯

You have to get it trundling at just the right speed then yank it the way you want it to go. It is like wrestling 5 bags of moving cement and was very hard to get the hang of. Eventually cracked it but wished I had hired a small sit on one with steering instead.
I guess, like with many of these things, if you practice a lot you will get used to it and eventually master it but to be honest life’s a bit short to be fannying about huffing and puffing trying to drag a bloody great roller about.
That said I was fairly happy with the end result of our tarmac-ing experience (do ya loike daaags??) , which after a few months will blend in around the edges and look like it has always been there.

and here it is with with the side boards gone

Here you can see the natural slope left in down to the drain and also the diesel in the wheelbarrow for the rakes. If it doesn’t all wash off the rakes and barrow just chuck some petrol on the diesel (just a bit) and set fire to it in the barrow and let the metal bits of the rakes dangle in the flames for a while. It cleans the barrow up a treat as well and gets rid of the dirty diesel.

We have trimmed down the edges and laid concrete to give a hard edge and plomped soil and turf on that.
I will pop another photo up at the end of the summer so you can see how it would have blended in properly.

Love and peace


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