Top Trends in Outdoor Decorative Concrete
Decorative trends that help create an outdoor retreat
by Anne Balogh, ConcreteNetwork.com Columnist
Do you want to be on the cutting edge when it comes to using decorative concrete outdoors, and dare to go beyond a simple ho-hum driveway or patio slab? Creative contractors are always experimenting with new looks and applications for outdoor concrete, often in response to the desires and changing lifestyles of their customers. Here are some of the hottest trends we've been noticing at The Concrete Network, based on recent outdoor projects concrete contractors have shared with us. Hopefully, they will spark your imagination and embolden you to take on projects that rise above the ordinary and break new ground.
Creating Backyard Adventures
More people are taking "staycations" in their own backyards and using concrete to create mini theme parks, complete with faux-rock water features, concrete garden bridges, firepits, a sculpted concrete pool with water slides, and even a ship-wrecked concrete boat.
Going Back to Nature
With the growing concerns about our environment and preserving our natural resources, more homeowners are using concrete because it's a sustainable, eco-friendly building material. Plus, it also has an organic look and feel that can enhance and even mimic the surrounding environment. See these projects for ideas.
Concrete Mimics Natural Stone
Natural Pool Designs Brought to Life
Concrete Lava Rock Driveway
Custom Concrete Furniture
With its year-round weather resistance and ability to be molded into any shape, concrete is being used to create permanent backyard furniture, from patio tables and benches to outdoor concrete pool tables. This custom concrete furniture offers lasts a lifetime and never needs to be painted or refinished. See more examples.
Outdoor fireplaces continue to grow in popularity, with the trend in outdoor rooms fueling the fire. According to Scott Cohen of The Green Scene, homeowners are catching on to the fact that concrete fireplaces and other outdoor enhancements are a great way to add value to a home. And the cost of this outdoor ambiance is often more affordable than most people think. Learn more.
Videos: Outdoor Fireplaces and Fire Pits
In this series of 7 videos, landscape designer Scott Cohen of The Green Scene explores all the options with outdoor concrete fireplaces and fire pits, including precast fireplaces for small spaces, custom fireplaces that coordinate with the existing landscaping, fire pit design choices, and even combining a concrete hearth with a waterfall for the ultimate backyard showpiece.
Should you build a porch or a patio?
Do you need to build a porch? Maybe a patio will suffice.
Are you thinking of hiring a deck builder to build a new porch or deck for your house? While it could be a good investment, it might not be the most effective expenditure. If you need to landscape your yard as well as create an outdoor living space for yourself, a patio built into your landscaping might be a more efficient use of resources. Building a patio into your yard also is time efficient. If you are considering building an outdoor living space to improve your house's curb value and you want to start showing your house as soon as possible, then bypass the deck and go right to building a patio.
A good landscaper or landscape designer should be able to guide you through the process of building a patio into your existing landscape. Before you hire the landscaper or landscape designer, be sure to check his or her references. Go to see patios that he or she has built or designed before, to see if the work is durable and up to your standards. If all is a go, then have some fun choosing materials with the landscaper.
Flagstone or slate tiles are a classic material for a backyard patio floor. Also look into cement pavers. Cement pavers come in many different shapes and sizes, and can give you some flexibility with design. Another option is to create a gravel or rock-covered patio ground covering. Solid stone slabs are pricey, but look luxe. Another option for a patio floor material is brick, which is durable and classic.
The way that you edge around the patio will help to create a patio that rivals a deck's independence from the rest of the yard. Shrubs, flower beds, rocks, or pathways are options for edging around a patio. You can also erect trellises, arbors, or fences, or build a pergola over your patio for shade. A raised garden bed or a small wall in the center or near the edge of a patio can help to define the space. To make your patio really stand out, be sure to add dimensionality with built structures and edging.
For patio inspiration, I recommend looking at Minneapolis-area landscaper Switzer's Nursery & Landscaping's photos of patio alternatives to decks on Hometalk.com. It's a great inspirational starting point for building a patio as an alternative to a deck.
Great article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on this increasingly-popular alternative to traditional wood decking:
Have you ever considered composite decking but disregarded the idea because you felt like you didn't know enough about it? Maybe you've wondered how composite decking is made? Or what kinds of materials make up composite decking?
Although composite decking is not new, lack of familiarity with the product may lead you to be confused when making a decision about the type of product you should choose for your deck. To make this decision-making process easier, it often helps to go back to the basics.
So what is composite decking anyway?
Discover the Best Firepit Design for Your Backyard Landscape
Outdoor firepits add both sizzle and style to backyard living spaces and come in an array of shapes and materials to match any setting. Take a look at the 10 designs below to find the best firepit for your backyard setting and decor.
Check out these 10 unique firepit designs from the Pool & Spa Outdoor Blog
Gardens Tap Into Rill Water Features
Rooted in ancient design, this water feature is popular again as a way to help contemporary landscapes flow
Of all the water features we use in our gardens, the rill perhaps has the most interesting history. The rill is a man-made garden canal that creates garden ambience through the pleasant sound of moving water. The earliest style of rill was found in ancient Persian gardens, but perhaps the most famous are in the Moorish Alhambra gardens in Granada, Spain. The rill was a popular water feature of Edwardian garden design and often used by Gertrude Jeckyll, one of Englands most famous garden designers.
H2O My Goodness! Beautiful Designs for Outdoor Spaces
Oh how I love the work of H2O Designs–a Melbourne company that specializes in the custom design and production of dynamically designed water features, planter boxes, and outdoor seating for rooftop gardens, balconies, and courtyards.
According to the Pantone Fashion Color Report for Spring 2012, the hottest colors this season are a mix of vibrant brights, soft naturals, and lovely pastels. Take a look at the different ways you can add the top 10 color trends to your outdoor space.
What are you supposed to do with your patio besides sit on it outside? There are a lot of things you can do to transform your boring patio into another functional room of the house! Take a look at these top 8 tips for a functional patio and get ready for a patio makeover!
From Patio to Paradise
As we welcome spring and warmer weather, we all look forward to spending more time outdoors. But your patio may not be in outdoor living condition after a long winter. Don't worry; there are numerous ways you can quickly spruce up your patio. You'll go from patio to paradise in no time; just take a look at the following patio makeover tips:
March 28, 2012 by patiohearthblog
There are many ways to spice up an outdoor-kitchen experience. By combining the right appliances and accessories, it's possible to create a vacation atmosphere right at home. Everything from colorful umbrellas and outdoor rugs to entertainment centers and fireplaces will enhance the outdoor-living experience. With so many options available, deciding how to spruce up a backyard or patio kitchen can be daunting. Here are a couple of products that will liven up any outdoor space.