How Do You Prepare the Ground For a Concrete Driveway? Gravel? Wire Mesh?

I live in Northeast TN, with rather clay soil. I’m thinking of pouring a driveway myself (in very thin slab portions so I can manage it myself). I’d like to make it about Four 5 inches thick with wire mesh in it.

I’m just curious about what the ground needs to be prepared? Do I need to put gravel as a base? If so, how thick and what kind? Do I need to put anything else down to get it prepped?

I’m a newbie to any concrete work, but I’m a very fast learner so if I could’ve some tips that’d be great.


5 Comments on “How Do You Prepare the Ground For a Concrete Driveway? Gravel? Wire Mesh?

  1. You should get some tips from the DIY network. We watch it alot and notice when someone needs a brand new driveway…they always; dig up the existing driveway material and haul this stuff away. Dig down Eight 10, even it out, built forms, lay down Two 4 gravel (compact it down), lay down rebar (join them together with wire) and pour 6 of cement on top. After cement is poured…you must work fast, get out all the air bubbles and level it.
    You noticed I stated 6 of cement…………… live in Northeast Tennessee and get snow in the winter…..4-5 thick cement will only crack… need it to be thicker.
    The best thing to do …… go to a home improvement center and ask if they’ve a book to help you with this. Most of them have books for all types of ‘home improvement’ projects….including driveways, etc.

  2. What you want to do is the followings:
    1. set your area using 2×4 and place the top part of them at the finish elevation of the planned concrete slab.
    2. remove some dirt according to your proposed driveway elevtion.
    3. you can either rent an electric dirt compactor or use a hand 1 from home depot, compact the dirt in stages, then you can pour some water, wait few hours and re do it.
    4. pouring a thin layer of pea gravel will be a good idea, then you can re compact again.
    5. place the # three rebars at 16 off center above the ground use small adobes.
    6. pour your concrete.

    Good luck.

  3. Which ever way you choose to do the job, Do not forget to cut expansion joints across the driveway when finished or another way is lay some strips of hardboard vertically which do the same thing. So if it does snow in your neighbourhood the concrete can shrink if need be.

    Ideally it’s better to have say four to six inches of concrete as a driveway, in-case heavy vehicles drive over it at some stage. If you feel the urge then place some reinforcing mesh in the driveway, keeping it up off the ground as your pouring the concrete. As a suggestion; place the mesh on a piece of broken concrete to keep it away from the earth. Placing mesh on the earth solves nothing other than in time it will rust away, giving absolutely no strength to the concrete! In my country there are available plastic blocks to sit the mesh onto, so as to keep the mesh within the concrete. Ask around @ your local building merchant & I’m sure you will find lots of useful Information to assist with your project along with giving you ideas for your next project.


  4. This is not a DIY project for a newbie. If you want a driveway that will hold up, it needs to be a continuous pour. You can do the prep work yourself, but get a professional to handle the pour.

    In Middle Tennessee we have a thick gravel base, around 6, wire mesh held by rebar, and a form. Make sure the base is tamped down well or your concrete may/will crack.

    Being in Northeast TN, you may need a thicker base because of the temperatures and ground heave.

  5. This is not a DIY project. For the time and energy you spend on this it is really more practical to hire someone to do it. The largest cost is the concrete itself so your savings by DIY is not that great. If you do it you will just end up with a mess. Do yourself a favor and find some other project you can do.