In a well-maintained home, everything has its proper place — including garbage cans and condenser units. And for both these backyard fixtures, your lawn isn’t that place!
Beauty and Necessity
I recently moved into a new home and have spent a lot of time making it beautiful and functional for our family.
Design is all about the details, so the second I saw there was no place for the garbage cans, I knew I wanted a concrete slab. Sitting our garbage cans on a slab makes them more sightly, and that makes me breathe easily!
This is a small cosmetic change, but it will have a big impact every time I turn into my driveway.
Pouring a slab for my heating and cooling system’s condenser unit, on the other hand, was not optional. Your condenser unit needs to sit on a stable, level surface for optimal efficiency!
Do you want to balance beauty and necessity? Here’s a tip: if you’ve got a bare spot on the lawn where you store stuff — whether it’s a garbage can, condenser or freestanding hose reel — put a slab on it!
What You’ll Need
If your garbage cans or condenser unit need a home, pouring a pad for them is quick and easy.
You’ll need these materials:
- Quikrete All-Purpose Gravel
- Quikrete High-Strength Concrete Mix (or Quikrete Fast-Setting Concrete Mix)
- 2-by-4s, cut to size
- Safety glasses
- Wood stakes
- Scrap wood
Safety first: Wear rubber boots, pants, a long-sleeve shirt and rubber gloves whenever you work with concrete.
You’ll also need splash-proof, chemical-safe glasses to protect your eyes, and an N95 respirator to prevent you from inhaling concrete dust.
Now that you’ve got everything you need, let’s pour this pad!
How to Pour a Concrete Pad
Pick a spot. Decide where you want the slab. Our garbage can pad sits beside our concrete driveway and in front of a masonry wall.
Start digging. Use a shovel to excavate the area. We have a nearby driveway, so I wanted it to be level with that. Your pad might recess into the ground so it’s level with the lawn and easy to mow around — your call!
Pro Tip: Call the Common Ground Alliance at 811 before you dig anywhere! A member company will mark areas that have underground utility lines — so you can ‘dig in’ with peace of mind!
Create a form. Drill screws into 2-by-4s, cut to size. This form isn’t a permanent structure, so it’s fine to use drywall screws. My form just has two 2-by-4s since I’ve got a masonry wall behind the project area and a driveway to the side of it.
Pro Tip: Protect your knees! You’ll kneel a lot while assembling the form and inserting it into the ground — head to the home center and buy an inexpensive foam kneeling pad. It will make future home improvements and repairs much easier.
Stake it in. Drive stakes into the ground, just outside the form, and attach those with screws to the 2-by-4s. This will hold the form in position.
Slant the form. Use a level to make sure the form is slightly slanted. That way, rainwater will flow away from nearby structures.
Pour in the gravel. I used Quikrete All-Purpose Gravel as a base layer and I tamped it down. This strong base won’t erode, over time, with the ground around it. My slab is 32 inches by 6 feet, so I needed at least two bags of gravel.
Pro Tip: Not sure how many bags of gravel your project requires? Use our handy cubic yard calculator. Or check the bag. It should have a chart that helps you determine the exact amount!
Mix the concrete. I used a standard wheelbarrow and poured in two bags of concrete at a time. Then, I mixed in water with a garden hoe and poured the mixture into the form. I used six 80-pound bags of Quikrete High-Strength Concrete Mix. So, I mixed three batches of concrete and poured each one into the form.
Pro Tip: You can use Quikrete Fast-Setting Concrete Mix for this project, depending on the climate and the slab’s size. I worked in hot weather and didn’t want the concrete to set too quickly or the slab would separate from itself!
Screed the concrete. Grab some scrap wood and drag it over the form — the concrete should be flush with the tops of the boards. Move any excess concrete to low spots to ensure everything is even and smooth.
Remove the form. Once the concrete hardens, grab a drill and loosen the screws that attach the form boards. You can do this after about 24 hours, but wait for the concrete to cure before you use your garbage can pad.
Curing — continuously watering concrete with soaker hoses or sprinklers to strengthen its construction — takes about five days during warm weather (70 degrees Fahrenheit) and up to seven days in cold weather (50 degrees Fahrenheit).
Dress it up! You can’t have an undressed garbage can pad, right? I threw down some pine straw around my pad to make it even more pleasant to look at and give it a finished look.
How to Pour a Condenser Unit Pad
I love when Today’s Homeowner fans write in and share projects they’ve tackled — especially when they find solutions to common problems!
Here’s another great use for a concrete slab — a pad for your air conditioner condenser unit. Check out the project below, which one of our TH fans submitted.
This is a great DIY-friendly project — tried and tested!
Denise Kline says she and her husband faced a challenge after their air conditioner unit was installed.
“When our new A/C unit was installed, they failed to tell us beforehand that it required a larger slab,” Denise says.
It’s common for condenser manufacturers to place a small concrete slab under the unit before shipment, but a shallow slab doesn’t offer enough protection from the elements!
So, Denise’s handy husband took matters into his own hands and poured a concrete slab.
First, he dug an area for a new slab and drilled three holes into the existing slab under the condenser.
Then, he framed a new slab with 2-by-6s, poured crushed stone into the form, and inserted rebar into the existing slab.
Next, he placed rebar across the frame to support the condenser.
After that, he mixed Quikrete Concrete Mix, as directed on the yellow bag, and placed it in the new slab area, ensuring it’s smooth and level with the form.
Finally, he waited two days for the concrete to harden, removed the frames, and added topsoil around the new slab.
Now, the Klines have a beautiful concrete slab that’s worthy of their condenser unit!
Most important is the slab’s beauty matches its necessity, providing optimal protection for the condenser.
Are you ready to give your garbage cans or condenser unit a proper home? Let me know in the comments!