We are in desperate need of repaving our backyard that serves as a parking lot in addition to redoing our driveway. After weighing the pros and cons and taking in aesthetics we are interested in doing concrete. We don't want a completely solid concrete look. We do not want to go with pavers because that seems a lot more involved with removing another 8 or more inches of soil below the existing ground line to install the appropriate layers of compacted aggregate before finally putting the pavers on top.

From what I've seen on YouTube videos, masonry pros who do this type of work all day remove existing cracked concrete, compact the soil, add rebar for support and then pour new concrete onto the ground into forms that are 4 to 6" deep. As it stands now we currently have a pretty thin layer of asphalt with tons of cracks all over that can be broken up and removed with a shovel.

What I'd like to know is if I can do this approach by pouring concrete into my forms, but I'd like to create a 'giant' paver look with minimal space in between. This is sort of the look I'm talking about:

enter image description here

The space in between my pavers will probably be the thickness of my 2x4's that I'll use to create my forms. I'd like to do this look for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it would make it a lot easier for me to work with such a large area as I can do a little bit at a time.

First, We share a property with another owner and there are three cars I'm going to have work around as I conquer this project.

Second, as it stands now since the parking lot is currently cracked and broken up asphalt rain doesn't accumulate and goes right into the ground beneath. The parking lot is approximately 36x60ft. It would not be smart to make this a solid concrete parking lot without a designated water drain. When it rains the water will have nowhere to go.

My question are: Can I lay concrete with my design idea in mind but approach it as if I were just laying concrete on freshly compacted ground? I'll use my forms and apply ether the appropriate gauge mesh or rebar for reinforcement. Or do I have to lay down an aggregate first like I would with smaller pavers; which is something I don't want to do.

I'd also want to use some landscape weed barrier fabric between the 2" spaces of my pavers to prevent weeds from growing through them. And instead of planting grass I'm just going to use garden mulch that will be extend into the planted landscaped areas along the sides of our parking lot.

Are my ideas doable?

  • 2
    What you are calling "aggregate" is really a compacted base material for the concrete. No it's not required as long as you don't mind having your concrete crack or move after it's poured. But if you want a nice looking and long-lasting concrete project, create a well compacted base to support it.
    – jwh20
    Mar 26, 2020 at 12:41
  • 2
    You are using the word cement to refer to concrete, cement is one component ( the binding agent ) of concrete. I edited you question to change that. Consider Stamped Concrete but you will still need a solid base, no way around that.
    – Alaska Man
    Mar 26, 2020 at 15:51
  • The preparation for concrete and pavers is very similar. You don't escape the need for a proper base by pouring concrete.
    – isherwood
    Mar 26, 2020 at 19:32
  • 1
    Sure. You might regret it when the new driveway fails soon, but you can do that, if you can stand the consequences.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jul 27, 2022 at 20:05
  • 1
    Does the one odd sized paver in the upper middle of that picture bother anyone else?
    – Glen Yates
    Jul 27, 2022 at 21:10

5 Answers 5


If this was just a patio I'd say you have a good chance of getting some satisfactory results except for the fact that it would be about 2.5" above grade and there's be the possibility of tripping over it. This is a parking lot and driveway. You'll have cars driving over these slabs and parking on them. They will be shifting and sinking because of the weight and cracking. Rain will probably erode the ground between the slabs causing further movement. Doing it piecemeal will also cause some problems establishing final grade as you proceed. I think you need to bite the bullet and remove the extra ground and install a proper base.

  • And that is not even considering that it might be necessary to drive a heavy truck on it one day. Mar 26, 2020 at 15:53

I mean there are plenty of driveway that get installed where they spend a lot of money prepping the ground and these driveways have failures. What makes you think that you have some special case?

If you do what you are saying, every single one of your pavers will be at a different height in 5 years. If you are lucky they will only be off by 1/8-1/4" but I doubt that. I am guessing you will have a few that will move greatly by the process of creating the pavers and weight and then you will have a few more impacted by trees/vegetation. I won't even get into parking cars. But just an example... if you park your cars about the same every day I bet the pavers that hold your front and back tires are push in and maybe even pushed in at an angle if you are parked on an edge of the pavers.

Overall this is just a terrible idea. I have seen jobs where they have made a similar look to your pictures. They ran rebar threads throughout the yard to get that look (meaning there is rebar exposed a few inches of dirt in between.


I'm going to get on the band wagon that this isn't a good idea. I'll add a bit of a new take to the why's already provided, and that this would be very hard to maintain to get the look that you see in the posted picture.

That picture is the ideal condition, the best they could make possible make it look. And therefore all the other times it will look less then that, often much less.

Do you mow it? Weed eat it? How does driving over the grass affect it? Etc. I have a strong hunch that what you will get is not what you expect

  • In the very last sentence of my question I stated I wasn't going to put actual grass in between them. I said I was going to use garden mulch. Also, the grass in the actual photo isn't real grass.
    – Adrien
    Mar 27, 2020 at 23:29
  • Ok, thanks, I scanned over that part. For clarity, in your question does "Can I lay concrete with my design idea in mind but approach it as if I were just laying concrete on freshly compacted ground? " mean that you are asking about pouring over the asphalt? Or are we to assume that you would remove the asphalt first?
    – Ack
    Mar 27, 2020 at 23:35
  • I thought I made it clear but looking back I guess I didn't. I plan on removing all of the cracked old asphalt. Then I'll compact the soil underneath before pouring concrete into forms.
    – Adrien
    Mar 27, 2020 at 23:45
  • Ok, that's what I thought. I have another answer that I will post in a bit
    – Ack
    Mar 28, 2020 at 0:15

You can get both, the reduced work of the concrete and the look of brick. This is done by modifying the surface of concrete to look like brick. There is more than one way to do this including those listed below.

This is not a good DIY project through, it takes a lot of skill, needs to be done quickly when the concrete is ready and before it dries too much, and it can't be 'fixed' in that you can't go back and touch something up. Only the finishing work needs to be done by a pro, so you could do all the demo and prep work to make it mostly a DIY project and also save money


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Rolling enter image description here


  • That looks really incredible. Thanks for sharing those videos.. But like I mentioned in my question. My parking lot is approximately 60x40. One of the reasons I wanted to have actual spaces between my giant pavers was so that rainwater can drain into the ground below. I can't make a solid parking lot without figuring out where all the rain water will go. I may have to just to let of my original plan and do a gravel driveway and parking lot.
    – Adrien
    Mar 28, 2020 at 5:01
  • 1
    The fact that a solid driveway will shed all the rainwater is actually a good thing. On your proposal, all the gaps allow the soil under the concrete to get (and possibly remain) wet, which leads to shifting concrete. Get a pro to do stamped concrete. It looks great and will shift less than the individual pavers. When planning, figure out what you want to do with runoff.
    – RetiredATC
    Jul 27, 2022 at 21:55
  • @RetiredATC Good point. If the OP lives in a place with regular freezing temps, the rain water under the concrete will also cause much faster and worse degree of cracking issues, than pouring a solid slab--whether he gets it stamped or not. It should not be a huge issue to have a small degree of slope to make the water run off to the curb/street.
    – peinal
    Jul 28, 2022 at 12:26

This is just a though, meaning I have never actually done it but I've watched my Dad do some amazing things with concrete. Suppose you were to prepare the area the same way you would for a regular driveway, and then section off the squares and apply the concrete to each section. Then once the individual forms are removed, fill in the gaps with your mulch, sand, or even pebbles. Cut scallops in the bottom side of your forms so it fits over the rebar. (the filler will cover up the rebar between the gaps.) This way all your slabs will be connected as one solid piece, but they will look like they are individual slabs. Don't get discouraged. There is always a way.


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