Polished concrete floors inside a home are popular with modern units and are well suited to the busy live in the city or near the beach.
Likewise concrete has a strong following in outdoor landscaping. Driveways, walkways, large concrete pavers and concrete entertainment areas are the stable for many gardens.
However, if the simple concrete square paver is too dull, then an alternative is decorative concrete.
Similarly budget limitations may necessitate concrete, although the desire is for textured stone or slate outdoor entertainment areas. Decorative concrete can offer the ideal solution.
Stamped concrete patterns can recreate tiling effects, paver patterns and natural stone lays at a fraction of the cost.
Natural colour tones of slate, stone, cobblestone or even wood planks can be fashioned in concrete through appropriate treatment and staining without the high price of authentic materials.
Stamped and press concrete over comes common problems like weeds and grasses growing up between the ‘paver’ and ‘stone pieces’; as well as paver movement.
Apparent at many home renovation and garden exhibitions, stenciled pavers can be sprayed directly onto driveways and concrete entertainment areas. For safety a non-slip spray can be used for wet areas around pools and children play zones.
To achieve an aged and more aesthetic appeal desired in high quality landscape jobs, different techniques can be used to achieve various hues. For example integral colours would be mixed directly in with the concrete, base colours broadcasted over the concrete and a release powder is spread over the top. This final powder allows the stamps to 'release' from the concrete and gives a finishing antique effect to the concrete.
Adding even more character to concrete is acid staining that can highlight individual 'stones'. The acid penetrates into the cement to create natural colours and tones similar to that of stone or marble. However acid treatment effects can be inconsistent from one job to another and should therefore only be done by a well experienced specialist.
Decorative edging patterns can also be pressed into concrete around areas like swimming pools to emphasis a theme within a space. For example starfish pressings near the pool or grape vine pressings near a Mediterranean styled pergola.
Another option for large areas that need concreting is coloured concrete. Plain grey may in the future make way for charcoal, aubergine or other modern colours.
Stamped concrete can be cost effective for many landscapes while adding the benefit of durability when compared to real stone and pavers.
written by Paul Plant, freelance horticultural writer.