By Brad Priest, Designer at DG2 Design
Concrete makes up a large percentage of construction and demolition debris worldwide, and is often ultimately buried in landfills or generally treated as trash. While such treatment can sometimes be the most logical way to deal with concrete rubble, there are instances where recycling or re-use can make a lot of sense. For example, there is a growing trend in the industry of recycling concrete by crushing it into gravel for use as base courses for building roads and other construction projects – a logical process that extends its useful lifespan and reduces impacts on landfills. Expanding the idea of recycling concrete purely for functional purposes, however, there are many ways that concrete rubble can actually be re-used to serve a function as well as provide aesthetic value. This is obviously a win/win, as re-using concrete not only diverts it from landfills but also limits the need for the production of new concrete.
Below are a few ideas for re-using concrete rubble to provide functional beauty in the landscape in a range of ways:
Concrete rubble can be used exactly like flagstone paving for patios and walkways. Its typically irregular shape can make for a great substitute and provides interesting options for coordinating fill materials between slabs. Alternatively, sawcut concrete rubble (though it may be harder to find) can be used in the same way but can serve a more modern or industrial aesthetic with cleaner lines.
WALLS AND STAIRS
In a residential setting, concrete rubble can be used for low garden walls or stairs in place of stone or concrete block (NOTE: a structural engineer should always be consulted when applicable). A key to pulling this off successfully is in the execution – a skilled builder will be able to work with the material so that the implementation and design details are a success.
More than a hardscape material, concrete rubble can be used creatively to provide a little artistic whimsy in the landscape. Sculptural forms can evolve in the same way that they do from stone, and in the appropriate setting can even offer some thought provoking education on our built environment versus the natural world!