When you have to lay cable across driveways or pathways you can either: go through the driveway (using either an existing expansion joint, or cutting a slot with a circular saw); laying wire on top of the driveway; or tunnel through the driveway. The first option is the most popular, because it hides the wire and is easy. Laying the wire on top of the driveway is more visible. And, tunnelling under is very time consuming, so we would reserve this method only for a narrow ornamental pathway that you just cannot cut through.
Expansion Joint Method
If you have a conveniently located expansion joint in your driveway you are in luck. You can just lay the wire in that joint, and caulk over to hold the wire in place.
First, Clean Out the Joint.
Clean out the expansion joint of accumulated debris so there is a nice deep trench for the boundary wire, and to help the caulk better adhere to the driveway. A screwdriver makes the ideal tool for this task. Then use a pressure hose or broom to clear away the remaining dirt.
Second, Lay the Wire.
Place the wire in the expansion joint, poking it down if necessary with that screwdriver, so that it is as near the bottom of the crack as you can get it.
Caulk over the wire with a waterproof caulk. Note that for most caulks to set, the temperature has to be above freezing. So either wait for a warm day, or warm the cement with a torch or similar.
Cutting a Slot with a Circular Saw Method
If you aren’t lucky enough to have a convenient expansion joint in the driveway, the circular saw method is the fastest and easiest way to get across a driveway. You should budget about an hour for a driveway and about half that time for a pathway. Professional installers usually do it this way, because you have more control over where you place the wire and it is fast.
- Circular Saw with concrete/masonry cutting blade
- concrete caulk
- caulking gun
Find and Mark the Location for your Cut.
Look for a seam that is already in the driveway or path. Cutting along seam will result in a much easier and neater cut. Clean out the seams, these joints often accumulated debris over time. A high pressure washer works great if you have one, otherwise you can use a stiff broom.
If there is no convenient seam, mark out a line across the driveway using chalk. The line will help you make a neat cut.
Second Cut Along your Line with a Circular Saw.
To make a neat cut, a circular saw will make life easy (a cheap $30 model is fine). You will also need a blade for cutting concrete. Cheap masonry blades are available for under $5 and will be good enough for most cuts – you will only need it for one small cut. For some tougher jobs, you may need a diamond tipped masonry blade which will set you back about $15. Now use the saw to make your cut. The cut only needs to be a half-inch deep. When cutting go slow letting the saw do all the work. If you are making a long cut, take a break every minute to prevent your saw from overheating. Always wear safety glasses when making the cuts as debris will be thrown up. If you need to make lots of cuts. consider renting a concrete cutter from you local home improvement store. (about $50 per day)
Third, Lay the Wire and Caulk.
Now clean out your cut with a broom. Next lay the wire in the slot you have cut. You may need to use a stick to poke the wire to the bottom of the slot – the warning flags that came with your dog fence work great for this task. Finally caulk over the wire with a concrete sealant. You can buy cans of quick drying concrete at your local home improvement store, they will cost about $3 a canister. We like using Liquid Nails brand Concrete Repair, and the DAP brand Concrete Sealer. Cheaper brands are available in the $1.50 range, but we think the Liquid Nails brand is worth the extra in this instance because it tends to be more durable. Most caulks require a caulking gun for use, if you don’t already have one then you can buy one for less than $5 home improvement store.
When caulking go slow and be neat as the caulk will be visible on your driveway. If you are not confident, use masking tape to cover the driveway on both sides of the cut and remove once you have finished caulking for a neater finish.
Protecting the Ends
The most common place for the dog fence to get a break is at the edge of the driveway where the wire goes from the driveway back to the lawn. This section of the wire is a prime target for your garden edger or weed-whacker. To protect that segment of wire there are easy things you can do:
Bury the Wire Deep. You only need to make a very shallow cut across the driveway. But it really helps if you make a deep cut on the edges of the driveway where the wire crosses over into the lawn. Set you circular saw to full depth and make a cut. This allows you to bury the wire deeper and hopefully keep it out of harms way.
Protect the Wire. Slipping the wire into a short length of PVC pipe will protect the wire against being hit by an edger. The noise will also alert anyone edging to stop edging in this area. Instead of PVC pipe you can also use a old hose pipe, or even put a rock on top of the wire.
Laying Wire Over the Driveway Method
You can simply lay the wire over the driveway. The wire is surprisingly resilient to being driven over. It does tend to wear down over time, but you will typically get 1-3 years of wear out of the wire before you need to replace the section over the driveway. Even better, protect the wire by placing it in an old hose pipe, or a section of soft tubing from an indoor sprinkler system. With this kind of protection the wire will last a lot longer.
One thing to be wary of is that if the wire is not tightly secured to the ground it can become a tripping hazard. So if possible staple it tight to the ground on either side of the driveway.
Tunnel Under Method
Tunneling under is tougher but neater. You will be creating a passage under the path or driveway. This avoids putting any cuts through the path and may be useful if you later decide to put in a sprinkler system or outdoor lighting. The downside is that it is time consuming, you will need to budget two hours for an average width pathway. Doing a driveway is a labor of love.
On the positive, tunneling under is something you would be unlikely to get if you hired professionals. If you are willing to put in the time, you can get a dog fence with no scarring of your driveway or pathways.
- PVC pipe (3/4 inch diameter)
- hack saw
Cut a length of PVC pipe the length of the required tunnel. Now cut the end of the pipe at a 45degree angle to make a sharp point. Dig a hole on one side of the driveway about a foot long and a bit deeper than you want the tunnel to be.
Use the PVC pipe to bore through the soil and create your tunnel. Go only half a foot at a time then remove the PVC pipe by twisting it and empty the soil inside the pipe.
One more thing to keep in mind, you will want to make sure that your tunnel is no deeper than 3 to 4 inches from the surface of your driveway. Any deeper than this and you run the risk of an inconsistent signal between the wire and the collar.