Did you know that concrete is having a bit of a moment in landscape garden design? It’s one of the most widely used building materials in the world on account of its strength and durability, and at last year’s Chelsea Flower Show it could be seen everywhere.
Concrete featured strongly in Darren Hawkes’ gold medal winning ‘secret garden’ and Kate Gould’s City Living Garden, another gold medal winner and ‘Best in Category’ winner to boot, and it could be admired snaking, bench like, through Jo Whiley’s Scent Garden below.
Concrete is an easy building material to work with in the garden. Organic looking, it blends well with the surrounding nature and you can use different types of concrete in a variety of finishes to suit many shapes, styles and designs.
Compared to many other materials, concrete stands the test of time. It can endure even the most extreme weathers without cracking, won’t scratch easily and isn’t susceptible to moisture, mould or pests. A versatile and utterly practical substance, concrete can be used for walls and flooring, furniture and garden objects.
What’s more, this is not an expensive garden materials, and you can have it delivered direct to site either as ready mixed or on-site mixed concrete. Before you ask your local supplier for a quote, it’s a good idea to calculate the exact amount needed for your garden project. There’s a handy tool to help you do this on this website.
Here are 5 favourite ways to add a personal touch to your hard landscaping design by using concrete.
1. Concrete patio
Great for relaxing or entertaining, a patio allows you to enjoy the outdoors without actually stepping into the garden. A concrete patio is quick and easy to install, able to be poured in one solid piece in a single day if that is the design you’ve chosen. In terms of maintenance, it couldn’t be easier. A quick sweep with a broom or rinse with a garden hose now and again is all that’s needed, plus a good sealant applied every couple of years.
2. Concrete paths and steps
Whether you use it for small or large areas in your garden, concrete can be altered to produce many different aesthetic effects. From smooth to textured, coloured or patterned, there are plenty of options to get the desired look for garden paths, steps or stepping stones. The image below uses concrete slabs to create the look of floating stairs.
3. Concrete planters
Fill your garden with beautiful plants and flowers in containers and planters made of concrete. Position solid rectangular planters to line the edge of the patio, or use freestanding round or flowing shapes moulded from bowls or buckets for a softer aesthetic and to add interest. Why not try quirky shapes or stack several planters? The only limitation is your imagination.
4. Concrete furniture
Give your garden a few finishing touches by adding visually striking furniture. From concrete tables and chairs to benches, stools and side tables, you can furnish your seating area in an array of different styles. Concrete garden furniture is durable enough to withstand rain and storms – in fact anything the weather can throw at it – meaning you don’t have to store it indoors!
5. Water feature or fire pit
Concrete is a safe material for coming into contact with the elements such as water and fire. It’s the perfect material for a water feature, whether you’re designing a nature friendly environment to attract wildlife with a bird bath or pond, or styling a relaxing zen garden with a decorative fountain. In the evening, a concrete fire pit can look spectacular in a garden setting, while providing ultimate safety from the flames.
Dakota Murphey is an independent content writer who regularly contributes to the horticulture industry. She enjoys nothing more than pottering around her gardening in the sunshine. Find out what else Dakota has been up to on Twitter, @Dakota_Murphey.