Has anyone had any experience with removing a slab from their front garden?
I was preparing to plant a hedge and discovered a slab under a layer of stones; I'm unsure of its thickness but wondered if anyone has done this themselves or had to get someone more experienced in? I'd prefer to remove the whole lot but depending on the effort involved, might just remove a space at the front for a hedge. I thought I could use a sledge hammer and pick axe or if it's too thick hire a concrete breaker. I am a little concerned about damaging any services etc lying under the concrete.
Any thoughts and advice much appreciated, and if you have any tools I could borrow, I'd be very grateful.
I have removed both paving slabs and set concrete from my garden and it's fairly easy do to. Have a go at the concrete with a sledgehammer first, (WEAR GOGGLES, it chips into very sharp fragments). It may take a bit of work but it will probably do it, once it starts to crack a little the rest follows more easily. If this still doesn't work, get a breaker.
You will need to be very careful about services though, I have put a fork through the gas pipe in my front garden and it cost £400 to repair, 98p of which was the bit to fix the pipe, the rest was labour, which took about 20 minutes to fix!Locate the gas, electricity and water pipes first. The gas pipe is easier to locate as it will run from the meter to the street. The water probably under the path to the front door, there may be a little access flap in the pavement which will help locate it. The electric is hardest to find and the most dangerous, if you're not sure about that, get a pro in.
If your on the Ladder there is usually a sewer/drain pit with a cast Iron or Galvanized Lid in front of the bay,
if you have access to see where the Gas and Water pipes are running out from under the house that will indicate the area the pipes might run out to the street, also check where the meter/juntion box is on the footpath for Thames Water.
A steel chisel and a hand sledge hammer should indicate how sturdy your slab is, do sample excavation, take it easy until your sure what your dealing with, wear protective glasses, your eyes are expensive to fix, and you will need ruble bags. Don't overfill as you'll do your back moving the bags, and don't overload your car, the Hornsey dump should accept the ruble, if your in their catchment, but take a few trips. If its a tough job take your time you may need to do the job over a few days, you could ask for further advise by posting pictures, ask neighbors if they had similar slabs. If you're stil concerned ring or email building control at Haringey.
I have to remove a pathway slab, I took it easy to reveal an original flag stone, and the coal hole, so I chiseled horizontally creating cracks levering as I went, separating pieces of the slab.
If you only need to take away enough to bed the hedge or make enough room for the roots then do that,
is it going to be a small low hedge? you'' need to anticipate its growth, the concrete may provide a barrier to resist the roots spreading, cover with pea shingle gravel if the slab is low enough at ground level, and it will keep the weeds down. Remember once you remove the slab you'll have have leveling issues.
Nicholas, I've edited your second tag. Try it now and you'll find some relevant conversations if not necessarily and answer to your question.
Many thanks to you all for your replies.
Initially I intended to remove all of the concrete as I wanted to plant the whole front garden but perhaps as Matthew suggests, I should simply make enough room for the hedge. I'm thinking about planting privet to grow around 5 feet. I want quite a tight hedge so maybe I'll only need to remove say two feet of concrete? The slab is low so I'll be able to cover with some new gravel as you suggest.
In terms of services there is a broken sewer vent (just a terracotta pipe with no metal cover) in the centre and I also think there is a metal cover under a large pot plant, also in the centre of the garden. My gas metre is under the stair case and my electrics is in the hall, so hopefully these services are running under the footpath. The water definitely is as the access flap is in front of our front gate.
I'll give it a go and take it very slowly to avoid any nasty surprises.
You may find that the second metal cover in the front garden is the original tap for mains water (the access flap outside is probably more recent).
Our house in the gardens has a central drain with terracotta plug over a pipe that goes (quite deep) down to the sewer, and a second metal round cover near the gate which has a metal tap deep down at the bottom, which is the mains water (we think).
I wonder if it would be useful to create a wiki on the victorian houses around here - there are a lot of similar features, and it's hard to keep track of all the different discussions answering questions about them?
I ended up removing the concrete using a club hammer and bolster chisel. A little effort was required at first but once going the concrete began to crack and I used the hammer to help break up and lift it. It was no thicker than 4 inches and I only removed an area to plant the hedge at the front of the garden. Hornsey dump accepted the rubble without issue.