Balancing Urban Development and Water Conservation

Posted Under: News Letter

The Garage Apron/Driveway Joint. What the heck happens there?

Posted April 16, 2020 @ 4:22pm | by Victorian

The Garage Apron/Driveway Joint. What the heck happens there?

One of the most common repairs is the joint between the garage and the driveway.  If you’ve experienced this, repaired it, to only have it happen again you’re probably not a happy camper. 


Frustrating? A waste of money? 


Absolutely. We’d rather you spend money on other pleasures in life than fixing a pavement collapse situation at your garage over and over again.


We’d like to elaborate why this happens and what can be done to permanently fix the issue.


First, garage construction. To be clear, this is not our expertise. :)

During construction of the garage foundation work, there are concrete blocks placed around the entire perimeter. 


Certainly there are many particulars beyond our scope of expertise, we’ll only expound on what we experience. 


Each concrete block contains two large holes. Generally the corner blocks of a structure are filled with concrete but the center ones are left open. 


This is where issues can happen years later. 


Initially soils and base aggregate for the driveway are moved around and fill these holes (to some extent) but those materials are neither compacted or filled in a way that ensures any permanent stability. So then...


The power of water.

As time passes and the joint between the garage floor and the driveway are exposed to water from rainfall events, the power of the water will move soil with it. 


If there’s a place for it to go. It will go. 


Once any of the top layers of soil move through those open holes of the concrete block the surface of the driveway will start to collapse. If you have a concrete driveway, you won’t notice as much of a collapse? Why? 


Concrete is a rigid pavement and will create a “bridge” over an unsupported area. 


We actually have seen some major wash-out under garage floors, up to 6’ deep because of concrete’s amazing bridging abilities.


Why asphalt why?

One of the many pros of asphalt is that it’s considered a flexible surface. And deemed self-healing meaning

that as it expands and contracts with swings of temperature the oils in the asphalt will become rejuvenated and self repair where concrete’s rigidity is not as forgiving.


Here’s where the con doesn’t work in our favor. 


When the pavement surface of asphalt is unsupported, it begins to collapse, especially in areas where it’s exposed to loads (your car driving over). The adjacent pavement will join in and collapse as well.


The fix.

For these circumstances, it’s imperative to expose the concrete block, fill with sand or other self-compacting materials, and then cap with concrete.


Then the driveway joint can be reconstructed with compacting base aggregate and new asphalt. 


There! You’re good to go not having to revisit that issue any longer. Now you have the time and energy to focus on all those other household projects!


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The Crack Effect

Posted March 4, 2020 @ 12:33pm | by Victorian

The Crack Effect

March Newsletter/Blog


The Crack Effect


Now that we are seeing glimpses of non-winter ahead, we get excited for green grass, beautiful flowers and warm sunlight rays. Unfortunately before the goodness happens we get the remnants that are left behind with winter; the ugliness. Dirty sediment, dormant vegetation and the reminder that it’s clean-up time. Time to get to work.


Winter takes a toll on pavements too 

Over the winter you may have noticed cracks in your driveway, sidewalk or patio a bit more than you usually do. Where the frost is most active is where the most movement occurs. That movement then translates to where the pavement is most susceptible. With concrete, after installation, cuts are placed in the surface with the intent that the movement will translate to those weakened areas (but that isn’t always the case). For asphalt, the surface is laid as one continuous mat so the expansion cracks form more “organically,” shall we say. 


Freeze/thaw cycle

Cold temperatures cause surfaces to contract which in turn makes those cracks look bigger. Conversely, warmer temperatures cause expansion, making the cracks smaller. What worsens cracks and diminishes pavement integrity? 

  • freeze/thaw cycles; 
  • severity of temperatures during those cycles; 
  • frequency of those cycles;
  • the quality and depth of base aggregate - provides a buffer to underlying earth movement; and,
  • existing subsoils - clay soils retain moisture which exacerbates the expansion/contraction process.


Thawing and moisture

Moisture becomes the biggest culprit.  As moisture enters into the crack it will get into the underlying base and potentially subsoils that will compromise the foundational support of the surface. When a substantial amount of force is applied, i.e. driving/parking a car over that spot, the surface is no longer supported properly and is prone to “caving” in. This is why you see potholes in the city street go from small to large quickly. In a driveway, generally you won’t see potholes but you’ll notice hairline cracks in the pavement around the crack beginning to form.


When should I pay attention to cracks?

With springtimes bringing more chances of rain, it’s a good time to think about crackfilling. Cracks up to 1/2” generally aren’t substantial enough to merit filling but you can still do so - it just is more difficult to get the material in. You can either continue to watch those smaller cracks until they’re at a point to fill or you can choose to route (widen) the crack to get an ample amount of material in. This is usually done by a contractor. 

Cracks over 1/2” generally should be filled. There are various materials on the market, whether you have an asphalt or concrete surface which can be purchased at your local hardware store or if you want a better commercial-grade product we recommend SealMaster in St. Paul (asphalt) or Brock White (concrete). 


If you’d like some assistance with getting this work done, give us a call/email and we can send our team out to get it done for you!  (763) 784-3833 or


If I don’t fill the cracks now what can happen?

Over time, when pavement is exposed to underlying moisture issues that cause the surface to be unsupported, more cracking will appear and can become more extensive. Once these areas begin to spread with cracks, generally termed “alligatoring,” it’s time to do something. Whether it’s a surface patch, infrared repair or a full dig-out and replacement our estimating team of Shelly, Derek and Gary can provide you the information you need to make an informed choice.


What is infrared technology and what repairs are appropriate?

Infrared is a heating system that penetrates deeper into the asphalt surface and allows a solid bond of the new asphalt to the existing. Repairs that can be fixed with infrared are; areas of porosity (“rocky”) that is unsightly,“birdbaths,” minor surface imperfections, oil spot removals and wide crack repairs. 


Earth Wizards has this technology on hand for any small areas! 


If you’d like more information on these topics and remedies for repairing asphalt and concrete surfaces, click on the following links or feel free to reach out to us directly:



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I have already recommended you! Our consultant, Shelly, was extremely knowledgeable. She explained (the process) in technical detail. She is the reason I chose Earth Wizards over the other 5 bidders. Installation crew was terrific and exceeded my expectations.

- Don P.
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