Pages in this post
How paving protects timber buildings. How I modified and extended the pavers, and built a new concrete path at the back.
Paving around the shed
The day after the cladding was finished it rained. The rain splashed mud at least 2 ft (60cm) up the side of the cladding, at least, that is, where the shed is adjacent bare soil. Where paving abutted the shed there was almost far less dirt on the timber.
The microbes that cause decay live in the soil. Whenever soil is splashed up on to timber there is a chance that decay organisms get into the wood. This is why it is so successful to build timber buildings off a base of bricks, blocks or stones.
I decided to complete the paving around the shed to better protect it. I almost never require access to the far end of the shed, and simply created concrete launchings there again the Accoya boards. This causes falling rain to bounce off away from the building and thereby prevents soil splashing up.
The front of the woodshed faces the Woodland Garden: a small area of dappled shade underneath a cherry tree. The paving here has always been brick pavers, laid on sharp sand. Some of these had to come up to enable the new gravel boards and post bases to go in. One of the nice things about pavers is that you can easily lift and relay them when necessary as they are bedded and jointed with sand.
△ The pavers here have been lifted during the renovation. Afterwards they were relaid cutting in to the new Accoya gravel boards. I also took the opportunity to build a Fram for the bed containing the espalier apple that grows on the left (south-east) end of the shed, and extended the paving further towards the road-facing side of the shed. I cut down Accoya planks to make strips of timber to retain the edges of the block work. It is a nice clean finish.
The back of the shed has always been neglected: a narrow strip of land (5ft wide) between the shed and our boundary wall onto the lane that fronts our property. There is a large Japanese Cherry tree growing here, and its thick roots snake across the ground. I have made no attempt to develop the area sit is largely unseen by us or the public passer-by.
During the renovation of the woodshed, however, I found it necessary to use ladders in this space and realised that it could do with being levelled. Also, Realising the benefit of keeping dirt off the cladding I decided to create a concert path here. The path needed to be sweepable, as the Cherry tree drops a lot of blossom in spring and leaf litter in autumn. Being able to sweep this away from the building and into a lower planting bed would be advantageous.
One of the main problems is the cherry tree which will inevitably lift any paving placed here. I toyed with the idea of using various path materials such as consolidated gravel, tarmac, timber decking. In the end I went with concrete, but laid in sections like in-situ cast paving stones. The idea being that the tree roots might crack or lift one or two of them, but the majority would remain viable. Also, by casting them in situ, they could be made to ‘flow’ around the tree roots that stood proud in places.
First I had to dig the area out to get it roughly level. Then I created a framework of timber, I used a spare decking board to make the long edge, 75cm wide; The other side being the foot of the shed – specifically the Accoya gravel boards that ideally are rot proof. I then used tile battens to divide the path into 50cm sections, making each ‘paving stone’ 75cm x 50cm.
The boxes that were formed could be used to cast each of the slabs using ready-mix concrete. First, however, I part filled the holes with type 1 sub-base (MOT), and compacted it down to produce a level surface ~40 mm below the top of the framework. I then filled the remaining volume with ready-mix concrete and levelled it using a short length of wood. The framework acted as a level for scraping and tamping the concrete down.
After ten years or so, the timber will probably rot away, but I anticipate that the path will remain usable long after that as it is bedded on a solid base.
Here is the path after another four slabs have been cast. The total length so far is four metres. In the right hand photo you can see how the concrete cast in-situ can flow around roots. I’m sure they will lift in time.
Roots exert terrific forces as they grow. I’ll deal with that when it happens. As I have cast them in 50cm sections, if one lifts or breaks badly I can always recast just that section.
I plan to plant low-maintenance shade-loving plants in the soil between the path and the wall, so this utilitarian space may actually become quite beautiful in the end.
TO BE CONTINUED…