As homeowners move towards water-wise and low maintenance gardening, concrete offers a sustainable way to add outdoor living spaces, walkways and hardscaping to modern gardens. While many tend to think of concrete as drab and plain, decorative concrete options can add a layer of colour and texture to any garden and provides decades of use when properly installed and maintained.
What makes concrete a popular option is that it is a sustainable building product, it is affordable when compared to alternatives and the fact that any homeowner with a bit of knowledge of working with cement can be creative outdoors.
If you are looking to add hardscaping to your outdoors, here are a few ideas to keep in mind:
Today’s concrete is anything but plain. There are various methods of imprinting or stamping patterns in freshly laid concrete – either to replicate the look of stone or tiles – to allow any homeowner to add a unique touch to their garden without the cost and hassle of using alternative materials. Modern concrete products are ideal for a patio or entertainment area, especially when tinted with pigments or with added textures.
Adding stamped patterns to freshly laid concrete can be done in various ways, the most common method being the use of stamping moulds that produce a basic shape, or a rubber-moulded stamp impregnated with a pattern that resembles stone or tile.
For the DIY enthusiasts, custom stamps for cement can be made using polyurethane rubber that is poured over the texture that you want to reproduce, which is then mounted into a rigid steel stamping frame. You will find plenty of ideas for making your own custom cement stamps on the Internet.
Adding colour to concrete
No more plain grey for concrete, there are now products that can be used to add colour to concrete. Pigment powders come in a selection of tints that are floated into the surface to provide a single or multi-colour finish to concrete.
Concrete stains are applied to freshly cured concrete or cement screed and provide a subtle colour tint. Both products can be found at your local specialist hardware store.
With the addition of aggregates such as coarse sand and stone, concrete can be given a touch of flair. Aggregates can be introduced into the concrete during the mixing and laying phase, or pressed into the concrete after installation. The former method requires that the top layer of cement be removed via a pressure washer and this is best left to a professional installer. The latter option is an easy alternative for the DIY enthusiast and materials such as coloured glass, pebbles, mosaic or coloured gravel add a wonderful decorative effect.
For any homeowner thinking about using concrete to add hardscaping, take the time to research your options beforehand. You will find plenty of ideas and inspiration on the Internet to help you make the right choice for your particular situation.
Online information for concrete products: