When you're making any kind of concrete structure in your yard, the first step is making sure that you've got the mix right. Mixing concrete isn't overly complicated, but you'll need the right consistency for it to harden and last as long as possible. Adding too little water will result in concrete that doesn't adhere. When you add too much water, you'll get a soupy mess that doesn't set up. Here are some tips to help you mix concrete that will set and last for years to come.
Dump the Concrete Powder
Empty the bag of concrete powder into one end of a large tub or wheelbarrow. By putting it into one end of the container, you can put water in the opposite end and control how much is worked in as you go. Use a wheelbarrow or something similar so that you can work with it easily.
Add the Right Amount of Water
Measure the water precisely according to the directions on the concrete product you chose. Reserve four to five cups of the water for the final mixing stages and pour the rest into the opposite end of the container.
One of the most common issues with concrete mixing is adding too much water. It may be tempting to just turn on the hose and add water until it looks wet, but the lack of control from a hose will increase your chances of adding too much water. Instead, measuring the water and adding it in stages helps you to monitor the condition of the concrete and regulate the amount of water it contains.
Mix the Concrete
Use a hoe or a flat shovel to mix the concrete powder with the water. You'll want something that you can easily use to pull the concrete powder into the water. Gradually work the powder in toward the water, mixing it thoroughly with each pull. This will help you work in all of the particles and ensure that everything is moistened.
Once all of the water is absorbed, keep mixing for several minutes. The concrete will get a bit soupier as you mix it, so taking that extra few minutes before you add more water can help you to prevent getting runny concrete. It's also a good idea to keep some concrete powder aside just in case you add too much water.
Spotting Dry Mix
Once you're done mixing, there's an easy way to tell if the mixture is too dry. Drag the shovel or hoe through the center to create a valley. If the sides of the valley are crumbling and falling in chunks, that's a sign that you need more water. Add water a cup or so at a time, mixing well between each addition.
Mixing concrete requires a bit of attention to detail, but when you know what to look for, you can create a solution that will form and set just the way you need it. If you're working with a large area, you may prefer to work with a concrete contractor (such as one from Van Doren Red-E-Mix) who can help you deal with the volume.