Q: I'm putting in a 50-foot-long, three-foot-wide, ready-mix concrete walkway in my backyard. What's the best way to prep the yard? Should I use gravel underneath? How long should each section be?
– Nick, East Mckeesport, Pennsylvania

A: Roger Cook replies: Excavate all loamy or organic material from under the walk. Since you may want to install irrigation or electric lines underneath the walk someday, you should dig down two feet deep and install a 7-foot length of four-inch diameter plastic. Next add 6 to 12 inches of gravel — compacted so that it doesn't settle — under the walkway. I like to make the sections of a concrete walk equal in length, so I would probably put a joint in every five feet.

Remember, before doing any digging, contact Dig Safe or your local utility locator company to pinpoint gas and utility lines and save yourself potential headaches and harm. (If you don't know where to call, use the national referral line — 888-258-0808 — to get your local number.)
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