How to mix concrete by hand

Updated April 17, 2017

Mixing concrete by hand is a convenient DIY skill for jobs like fence post footings, deck footings and small concrete pads. Mixing can be done in a tub or a wheelbarrow, but it is easiest to move around and pour from a wheelbarrow. For large concreting jobs, hire a cement mixer or even have ready-mix concrete delivered.

Place the wheelbarrow on a flat stable surface. Use a shovel to put the cement, sand and gravel in the wheelbarrow using the ratio of one part cement, two parts sand and three parts gravel. Mix the dry components together using a sturdy hoe.

Add water a little at a time and continue to mix with the hoe as you add the water. You want a firm consistency for maximum strength as runny concrete will be weaker and more likely to crack. If you add too much water you can add more dry mix in the correct ration to obtain a stiffer consistency.

Work quickly and make sure everything in the wheelbarrow has the same consistency before you pour your hand-mixed concrete where it is required.

Clean the wheelbarrow and tools with a stiff-bristled brush and water before the concrete hardens


You can buy bags of pre-mixed concrete which only require you to add water and mix.

Hand-mixing is only suitable for small jobs.


Wear gloves and safety goggles to protect your skin and eyes from the concrete.

Things You'll Need

  • Wheelbarrow
  • Shovel
  • Hoe
  • Portland cement
  • Sand
  • Gravel
  • Water/hose
  • Stiff bristled scrubbing brush
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