When you only need to anchor a post or patch a patio, mixing small batches of concrete can give your project all the strength of ready-mixed products.
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Some things to consider before you shop for concrete:
For projects that don't require a lot of concrete, look for smaller, 10-pound bags of concrete mix. They're easier to manage than full-size bags and don't leave you with as much leftover material to store.
Place the concrete bag in the mixing trough or wheelbarrow and cut along the width of the bag. Stand upwind and lift both ends gradually to empty it into the trough.
Concrete mix reacts with water -- and that includes the moisture in your eyes, lungs, and skin. Keep safe by wearing waterproof gloves and splash-resistant goggles from the time you open the bags until the time you’ve poured the concrete in place. If conditions are windy, add a respirator to your safety precautions.
Scoop an indentation in the center of the powdered mix using your hoe and pour in two-thirds of the water specified in the instructions. Use the hoe to push and pull the mix until the water has been absorbed. Gradually add the remaining amount of water -- but no more -- and continue mixing the concrete until it’s at an even consistency.
Instead of adding more water to dry pockets, work the corners and sides of the trough into the mix to soak up excess moisture in the middle. Keep mixing until the concrete reaches the consistency of peanut butter and the dry pockets are gone. To test the mixture, grab a fistful of concrete in your gloved hand and give it a squeeze. The ball of concrete should retain its shape and not drip out between your fingers.