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The Must-Have Feature for Every Australian Backyard and Garden

Making the most of your home means spending time outdoors too, so you want your backyard and garden to reflect your lifestyle.

There is one must-have feature that can help you create an outdoor space that is not only beautiful, but also functional, long-lasting and could even add value to your home.

The answer? Decorative concrete.

There are so many diverse ways to use concrete in any outdoor space, from the smallest courtyards and patios, to sprawling gardens and entertainer’s paradise backyards.

Let’s take a look at just some of the possibilities.

 

Assorted Custom Finishes

Homeowners are no longer restricted to a plain grey concrete slab. Concrete is now available in a wide variety of appealing finishes including exposed aggregate, coloured concrete and polished and honed concrete. Geostone’s decorative concrete range also features natural Australian stone, providing the natural materials and earthy tones that are so on trend in outdoor styling.

 

Garden Beds

Building and maintaining garden beds requires a lot of planning and hard work, so you want them to last. An article by Urban Agriculture co-founder Brian Barth discusses the many benefits of building garden beds with concrete, and he says no other material is as durable or suitable for the job as poured concrete. Concrete also absorbs the warmth of the sun, holding it in the soil overnight to aid plant growth. And the flexible nature of concrete allows you to create curved shapes and more artistic-styled vegetable gardens.

 

Patios and Alfresco Areas

The backyard barbecue is a much-loved Australian institution, making outdoor entertaining areas the key feature of backyards and gardens everywhere. Decorative concrete options such as coloured concrete and exposed aggregate concrete featuring natural stone help to create an attractive and inviting atmosphere for patios and alfresco areas. Various decorative concrete types can also be combined to create outdoor rooms and clearly defined spaces, from grand entertainment areas to the smallest patio designs.

 

Swimming Pools and Pool Surrounds

Decorative concrete is a popular choice for building swimming pools, swimming pool renovations and creating cool pool surrounds. Coloured concrete can be used to add a striking decorative border or pattern, while exposed and honed concrete offer slip-resistant properties. Other benefits include greater weed resistance, reduced mosquito breeding, and greater comfort underfoot.

 

Driveways, Footpaths and Pathways

There is something comforting about pulling into your own driveway at the end of a busy day. Using decorative concrete for driveways gives the entrance to your home a sense of individuality, and a differentiating look and texture to the rest of the street. Driveways and pathways can also be used to frame lawns and gardens.

 

Retaining Walls, Feature Walls, and Steps

Decorative concrete isn’t limited to ground coverage surfaces. It can also be used to build three-dimensional and functional structures, such as retaining walls and garden steps. Home improvement website Networx identifies the many benefits of decorative concrete retaining walls, including greater strength, durability, resistance, flexibility, ease of installation, low maintenance and affordability.

 

Garden Sheds, Garage and Shed Floors

Every serious outdoor area needs a shed, and every home needs a garage. Sheds and garages are best finished with a hardy and durable flooring surface that is both easy to clean and will last the test of time. Coloured concrete is becoming an increasingly popular option for sheds and garage floors, while honed and polished concrete can add another level of luxury to the garage space, ideal for showcasing a much-loved vehicle.

 

Decorative Features

There really are endless opportunities for using concrete in your outdoor space. As well as all of the above traditional purposes, concrete can be used to mould decorative and functional features for the outdoors including concrete fire pits, concrete seat walls, water features, or even an outdoor smoking room. With the wide range of decorative concrete colours, textures and finishes available from Geostone, you are only limited by your imagination.

 

For more information and inspiration on how to improve your backyard and garden with concrete, visit Geostone on Facebook or read more about decorative concrete.

The Seamlessness of a Concrete Pool Deck

Pool decks made from decorative concrete are growing in popularity for a number of reasons. For a start, exposed or honed concrete has skid resistant qualities in wet areas making it a naturally safer choice for pool surrounds, as well as driveways and walkways, and even laundries and bathrooms. Concrete pool decks are also UV-resistant, weeds are less likely to grow through them, and they’re relatively easy to maintain.

All this functionality should not overshadow the aesthetic appeal of decorative concrete around the pool, in particular its “seamless” qualities. In these modern times, where flow from one area of the home to another is often considered to be a highly desirable feature, decorative concrete stands out for being able to link one location to another. A concrete pool deck can, through colour and texture, perfectly reflect its surroundings including the house, other outdoor entertainment areas and garden.

This is achieved through the sheer versatility of decorative concrete. Exposed, honed and coloured concrete options can all be used in a pool deck to varying degrees. On their own, or in combination, they can create a mirror image of the environs outside of the pool area. For example, a pattern or strip of coloured concrete within a honed pool deck can match the colour palette of a nearby garden. A concrete pool deck can also lead onto any walkway that links the pool area to another outdoor entertainment space, or the home itself. With all the ways a concrete pool deck can make a connection between different outdoor areas or buildings, it is no surprise that the surface is now a common choice when pool areas are being built.

While other pool deck materials may provide a limited amount of exterior flow, few, if any, can match the versatility of decorative concrete. When colour, texture and finish combine in a concrete pool deck, it accentuates the feel of exterior flow. This degree of seamlessness might not be possible when using other surfaces. For example, timber decking may be available in a range of colours, but the texture and finish might not be as versatile: this is a major consideration if exterior flow is a desired look in an outdoor area. With decorative concrete, texture, finish and colour are used to striking effect in many applications.

Great looking driveways add much street appeal and value to a home so it is no surprise to see decorative concrete used quite often on new driveways, as well as accompanying walkways. Polished internal floors and honed concrete of the same colour in adjoining outdoor spaces allows for flow from one area to another. Why shouldn’t it be the same for pool decks? The use of decorative concrete certainly allows you to create an exterior where one area naturally flows or connects to another; such is the seamlessness of a concrete pool deck.

 

The Art of Colour Matching

When it comes to colour matching around your home, individual preferences probably play a large part in the hues and shades you select. Exterior and interior paint, curtains, bedding, and even the flowers you plant might be chosen with your favourite colours front of mind. So, are there any colour matching guidelines you should follow when using decorative concrete, especially coloured concrete? After all, it is probably going to be used in some of the largest and most eye catching features of your home: driveway, floors, pool surrounds, and outdoor entertainment areas. Are there some very general rules of thumb to follow when deciding on what colours to match in areas such as these?

Rules are made to be broken, but colour matching usually revolves around the following schemes:

Complementary – this refers to the use of two colours directly opposite each other on the colour wheel. Complementing colours generally enhance the vibrancy of each other e.g. yellow and purple are often used together for this very reason.

Analogous – analogous colours are next to each other on the colour wheel and are used when a more harmonious design effect is desired. E.g. red & orange, or yellow & green

Monochromatic – the use of the different tints and shades of one colour. Another popular way to achieve harmony when colour matching.

Primary colour matching – red, yellow and blue are the primary colours, and add energy when used together. With the colour range available these days, there’s no reason why concrete cannot be dyed in one of these primary colours.

Pastel – pastel shades are used for a softer, more subtle effect, Pastel colours are generally used with other pastel colours, and this is a very popular match in exterior settings. Decorative concrete is particularly well suited to colour matching along these lines.

 

You can’t always consult a colour wheel, or be expected to absorb the minute details of colour matching as it applies to exterior design. It can all be a little complicated. However, you can simplify things a little by following broad guidelines based on colour matching theory. Here’s an example: when colour matching, this very general rule can be applied – Conform or Contrast.

 

There are so many colour options now available when choosing decorative concrete that it is very easy to select a shade that conforms to its surroundings. For example, a concrete driveway and pathway can be dyed to match the colour palette of the front garden or the home’s exterior walls. Similarly, a honed concrete patio can mirror an interior polished concrete floor, in a classic example of indoor outdoor flow.

 

The other side of this colour matching rule is to contrast. On the surface, aColoured decorative concrete can help to highlight a bold and striking feature, rather than detract or distract from that feature.nd using basic definitions, the words “contrast” and “match” might not seem like a perfect fit. However, if you consider the bigger picture, contrasting can be a very effective part of the colour matching equation. For example, subtly coloured decorative concrete can help to highlight a bold and striking feature in near proximity, rather than detract or distract from that feature. In these circumstances, in the larger scheme of things, a contrasting colour is a great match for its environment.

 

 

The art of colour matching, as it applies to decorative concrete, is made easier thanks to the versatility of the product. Contrasts can be as sharp as you desire, and conforming colours can beautifully reflect their surroundings. When coloured concrete can be customised to match your vision, or satisfy your personal preference, or follow widely accepted colour matching guidelines, anything is possible.

 

Four Reasons Why Decorative Concrete Is Family Friendly

Decorative concrete is an increasingly popular surface, and it’s not hard to figure out why. It is extremely versatile, offering a wide variety of looks – exposed aggregate, coloured, multi-coloured, dyed, stained, honed, polished, stamped, trowel finished…you get the idea! But decorative concrete is also gaining popularity beyond its eye-catching qualities. For example, it can be considered a very family friendly surface. Here are four reasons why:

 

Decorative concrete is hypoallergenic – in other words, it is less likely to cause an allergic reaction. This makes a polished concrete floor potentially a better choice if you’re trying to create a healthier, low-allergen home where your family can breathe easily (obviously seek your own independent advice). You’d probably be surprised, and terrified, if you could see what could live in the average carpet – millions of dust mites and other tiny creatures that can trigger cold and hay fever-type reactions, and possibly even symptoms that resemble asthma. Vacuuming the carpet does little to alleviate the problem, so it can be an ongoing, if unseen, headache. This is less of an issue when decorative concrete is used as an easy-to-clean and hypoallergenic floor surface.

 

Decorative concrete is slip resistant – decorative concrete around the pool, on the driveway, or on the floor in internal areas like bathrooms and laundries, is not just there for its good looks. Decorative concrete, such as honed concrete or exposed aggregate, has skid-resistant qualities that can reduce the chance of falls in slippery places. Accidents are likely to happen in every family home, but reducing the risk of spills and tumbles on wet floors and pool decks will help to make that home a safer place.

 

Decorative concrete is stable – furniture situated on unstable or uneven surfaces can present a number of potential dangers. Assuming that it is correctly placed, the stability of concrete, and the ability to create an even surface when using it, can alleviate the risk of people toppling backwards in a chair, or items sliding off a table, or other mishaps. This is probably why concrete patios and floors are now a selling point, particularly in family homes. Not only do they look good, but they also add stability and safety.

 

Decorative concrete is a time saver – “quality time” is probably the most precious resource a family has. Because decorative concrete is a relatively low maintenance surface that is easy to clean, less time might be needed to look after it. Concrete’s renowned durability also means it should last longer, so money is saved on frequent repairs and replacements – and in this day and age, money is definitely another precious resource for any family.

 

Many other materials are nice to look at, and some are comparable to concrete in terms of practicality and safety. However in the decision making process it is wise to consider decorative concrete along with other materials. Throw in decorative concrete’s visual appeal, and you have a material that can be family friendly in a very good looking way.

Cool Pool Surrounds

Before the sun goes down and the barbecue is fired up, it’s your pool that is usually the centre of attention on a hot summer’s afternoon. It’s perfectly understandable that you want the pool to capture that attention in a very eye-catching way, and cool surrounds can help you make that desired impression.

 

One of the keys to creating beautiful pool surrounds is integration with the rest of the backyard. There’s nothing wrong with bold, contrasting touches here and there, such as a brightly coloured feature wall, or clever lighting effects, but the overall impression should be one of a pool area that fits in beautifully and naturally with its surroundings.

 

An intelligent selection of plants can help achieve this sense of integration. Plants similar to the ones already in the garden might strongly emphasise the flow from back yard to pool area. Similarly, furniture that reflects the architecture and age of the home can also help to form a seamless impression. Indoor outdoor flow is seen as a major selling point these days, and creating a similar feeling from back yard to pool area might be seen as just as desirable.

 

A pool’s immediate surrounds should have the biggest visual impact, so pay extra attention to the surface you choose. Timber decking might once have been the “go to” surface, a staple of many Australian pools. Today, however, decorative concrete seems to be leading the charge as people look for more innovative ways to combine looks with practicality. Decorative concrete can achieve this in many ways:

  • Exposed and honed concrete have slip-resistant properties that many other surfaces lack.
  • Coloured concrete can be used as a border or pattern amongst exposed or honed concrete. It can be customised to complement other features of the back yard and tie everything together.
  • Mosquitoes are less likely to breed under concrete surfaces.
  • Weeds cannot grow through concrete pool surrounds.
  • The raw texture of Australian stone in exposed concrete can create a striking visual effect around water.
  • Concrete is comfortable on bare feet, while honed concrete is smooth and very easy to walk on.
  • Decorative concrete is versatile with a wide range of design options.

 

For these, and other reasons, decorative concrete is a smart choice as the centrepiece of your cool pool surrounds. In conjunction with the right plants, furniture and accessories, it has the potential to give you a stunning yet easy-care surface.

One final note, the most important thing surrounding your pool should always be the fence. Safety must be a high priority, even as you’re trying to create great looking pool surrounds. By all means, go all out when designing your pool area, but keep in mind the safety of everyone who will use it. A good idea is to go to the Royal Lifesaving Society’s website for their Home Pool Safety Checklist. When you’re creating your cool pool surrounds, refer to this checklist as often as you refer to your wish list.

Can Concrete Really Be Beautiful?

The short answer is YES. Concrete really can be beautiful. The question of beauty could be a nagging one though, even if you’re sold on concrete’s other qualities, such as lower maintenance, durability and strength. Deep down however, you might see concrete as a big grey slab of functionality. Lots of functionality to be sure, but of little aesthetic value. If you’re thinking along those lines, it could be time to change your mind set and explore the world of decorative concrete.

Decorative concrete can be beautiful concrete in and of itself, but it can also enhance the rooms or outdoor areas where it is installed. The versatility of decorative concrete with its different colours, textures and finishes means it is able to be applied in many settings around the home, including:


The natural colours of Australia are captured in exposed aggregate concrete.Exposed aggregate concrete:
featuring the raw texture of Australian stone, exposed aggregate concrete can lend unique character to areas as diverse as driveways, pathways, pool surrounds and outdoor entertainment areas. The natural colours of Australia are captured in exposed aggregate concrete, with the additional benefit that its texture can help to create a skid resistant surface. These slip resistent qualities can make exposed aggregate a good-looking and safe choice for pool surrounds in particular.

 

Coloured concrete can enhance the area in which it is located.

Coloured concrete: there are now so many colours to choose from, that you can use this type of concrete to match many existing features around the property. By doing this, coloured concrete can enhance the area in which it is located. For example, coloured driveways and pathways can match the palette of a front garden, which should significantly add to a home’s street appeal. A qualified installer should seal coloured concrete at the pouring stage, and with regular resealing, the colours can stay vibrant for many years.

 


Polished concrete is becoming a popular choice as an interior flooring surface.Polished and honed concrete:  for a look of sheer luxury and indulgence, similar to marble, polished concrete is becoming a popular choice as an interior flooring surface. Meanwhile, honed concrete has had its top layer removed to reveal natural stone and a matt finish. In wet areas such as bathrooms, the laundry, and pool surrounds, honed concrete comes into its own. Its slip resistent properties help to make it a safer surface, but one that is also very eye-catching.
Decorative concrete might have changed the way we use concrete around our homes, but it should also  change the way we think about concrete. No longer should it be considered as just a functional surface. When you use decorative concrete, you can enjoy the benefits of its many practical qualities, with the added bonus of huge aesthetic appeal. Reconsider your opinion of concrete and take a new look at how decorative concrete can be used as an interior and exterior feature. You’ll probably be very pleasantly surprised by what you see.

 

Decorative Concrete: Seamless Perfection for Pool Surrounds

If you have a swimming pool or have decided to get one, there’s little doubt it will be the focal point of your yard. The look of what’s around your pool, and how well that area functions as a seamless transition to the rest of your home, is as important as the pool itself. Good fencing can prevent you being on visual display to neighbours when swimming, when entertaining friends or just reading a paper while relaxing around the pool. Good fences make good neighbours. The right plant choices will add charm and interest around a swimming pool and help facilitate a sense of space and soften the harsh lines of fencing. Tall shrubby varieties can create a privacy screen along the fence line and conceal electrical pump units and unsightly views. It’s best to avoid species that shed foliage, bark and pine needles everywhere or flowering varieties that attract a lot of bees. With the right pool surrounds, unobtrusive, functional furniture and a well-planned garden layout, any suburban swimming pool area can be transformed into a beautifully presented entertainment oasis – a place where you, family and friends will want to spend every minute of the day.

An ideal choice for your all-important pool surrounds is concrete. Today, decorative concrete production is versatile in design and composition; leaps and bounds ahead of the 50 shades of grey of yesteryear. It can be shaped into stylish curves or the regimental straight lines of premium tile work. The top layer of the concrete may have a brushed-through, or a stamped pattern effect, or can be even further honed to give decorative concrete for your pool surrounds is relatively cheap and requires low maintenance.the appeal of a premium polished floor.

Exposed aggregate is simply ideal for pool surrounds. Removal of the top cover delivers an attractive skid resistant surface that gives a glimpse of the natural stones underneath. There’s a vast range of colours and different compositions of crushed granite, earthy mixes of pebbles and sands – all to complement the sparkling blue water and style of your poolside landscape.

The Concrete Network Australia website for homeowners, contractors, builders and designers provides updates and professional tutorials on the latest concrete techniques and applications. The popular web service assesses that concrete excels when compared to other pool surround materials; it’s a comparably low cost material, is easy to maintain, has good thermal properties, slip-resistant and offers a multitude of customisation options.[2] Decorative concrete is a proven and popular choice when it comes to pool deck design and pool surround makeovers.

ECONOMY

Concrete presents great value for pool projects that take up a big chunk of the homeowner’s real estate. Pavers and bricks can be expensive due to the labour hours needed to position and cement the individual pieces. A concrete pour is generally far more economical and any desired colour, straight edges, tile shapes and tints can be created with stamping or inking finishes. Decorative concrete is an affordable solution for pool renovators on a budget.

LOW MAINTENANCE

Lots of other paving materials are tough and long lasting but most will require considerable more maintenance than decorative concrete. Joints between pavers may need to be weeded and re-grouted, long lengths of timber may warp, bricks and pavers that shift out of place due to heavy traffic and weathering will require replacing or repositioning. A well sealed and maintained concrete is relatively free of these problems and simply needs the occasional scrub and rinse and a possible periodic resealing to keep it as clean and fresh as the day it was installed.

HEAT RESISTANT

Surfaces of darkly toned bricks and tiles can become sizzling hot under a blaring son and unforgiving on bare feet. Decorative concrete can have finishes that significantly lower surface temperature.

GREAT GRIP

Pool surrounds are often high-traffic wet areas and with all the fun and fast activity bound to be happening there, slip-resistance is crucial. Many pool materials can become slippery when wet, especially tiles. The numerous grades of coarseness, grip and ruggedness of the textured overlay of decorative concrete means you can create fine looking pool floors with slip and skid resistance.

DESIGN OPTIONS

Stamped, stencilled, saw-cut, engraved and even toned concrete underlays with exposed pebbles… there is an almost limitless array of design options with decorative concrete. It gives you the ability to customise your pool decking designs – you decide the shape, size, colour and textured surface, and you’ll never have to compromise on walking comfort. With decorative concrete you can mix, match and experiment to your heart’s desire. You can even use decorative concrete to mimic the aesthetic features of other decking materials so that your pool surrounds have the appearance of having been made with tile or brick.

 

Dive In: Pool Renovation Tips

Decades ago, having a large swimming pool installed in the backyard would have made you the talk of the neighbourhood and everyone in your street keenly awaiting an invitation to pop over for a swim and barbecue. A swimming pool back then was such an exciting novelty that not much consideration was given to the décor of the pool’s surrounds. These days the backyard pool, its beautifully manicured decking and surrounding landscape, is seen as an extension of your home; a unique statement about the life you live. Australians love their swimming pools. A survey in 2015 found that more than 20 per cent of Australian families (with children aged 12 to 15) own a swimming pool. Renowned for sweltering summer temperatures that regularly surpass the 40-degree mark, Perth is Australia’s swimming-pool heartland.

Well-built swimming pools can last for years but gradually lose their lustre as the outer surrounds show signs of weathering, the coping edges begin to falter and tiles start to crack and lift. Often all that’s needed is a spruce and freshen up. A resurfacing of the surrounds or refitting of new waterline tiles can make your pool like new again. Sooner or later every pool needs some renewal work done, whether for practical reasons or purely cosmetic ones.

Keeping in mind that any swimming pool construction, renovation, alteration or repairs should only be carried out by certified contractors, here are some things to consider if you’re looking at giving your swimming pool area a makeover.

RENOVATE OR GET A NEW POOL

Do you need to renovate your pool and/or surrounds or would it be more practical to install a whole new one of different size and shape? A dramatic transformation is very much like installing a new pool, but without the added expense of removing the old one. Aesthetics aside, are you happy with the existing pool? Basically, there’s not much you can do in a new pool installation that you can’t do in a remodel, but of course the more extreme the makeover, the more it will cost. A quality renovation that goes beyond resurfacing the pool surrounds and garden landscape may not be much cheaper than the cost of a newly installed pool and landscape. You may need to consider if your pool’s operating mechanisms of pump, filter, plumbing and cleaning systems need an overhaul to bring up to current standards, or if your pool’s interior linings and waterline tiles have to be replaced.

PLAN YOUR POOL RENOVATIONS

So, the pool you once treated as your personal water gymnasium and a place to work out is now primarily a place of relaxation and entertainment. Be mindful of your current lifestyle and how you plan to use the pool. In the planning stages of your pool renovations, consider:

  • What your budget is – Does your budget allow for a major pool overhaul, fencing and new garden or are you limited to updating pool surrounds and adding some inexpensive decorative touches like new furniture and LED lights. A concrete pour presents great value for pool surrounds that cover an extensive area, whereas a layout made of pavers and bricks can be an expensive labour-intensive task.
  • What types of surrounds – Resurfacing pool surrounds provides excellent value for money in the way it can dramatically improve the look and function of your pool. There are several choices for the outer area of your pool: stone; imitation stone; wood decking; pavers and tiles. Safe skid resistant surfaces are the best choice for wet areas. Decorative concrete is an economically viable choice – it comes in a wide range of colours and textured finishes. Geostone’s wide range of exposed aggregate mixes highlights the raw texture of stone on a skid resistant surface.
  • Future maintenance – There are many tough and long-lasting pool paving materials available but most will require regular maintenance in order to keep your pool surrounds in mint condition. Timber decks require re-coatings of protective oils, cracked tiles will need replacing. A well sealed decorative concrete deck should only need the occasional scrub and rinse to keep it as clean and fresh as the day it was installed.


POOL LANDSCAPING

How much space do you need for the pool surrounds? What areas are going to get hot sun for most of the day? Avoid leaf-shedding plants and large trees that will need lopping to prevent them shading the water and dropping materials into the pool. Use plantings to conceal pumps and equipment or unattractive fencing. Your tall exotic palm may be better suited providing shade over your favourite deckchair where you like to lounge and read. Try to balance soft and hard finishes – use pot plants and planters to diminish the harshness of a rendered brick wall.

  • Water features – As well as upping the fun factor for you and the kids, pool features such as waterfalls and bubblers, a water slide or diving board are relatively easy to maintain and add to your pool’s visual appeal.
  • Pool lighting – Really bring your pool area to life after dark. A wide range of LED, flush-mounted and multi-coloured underwater lights can impact and complement as well as make your pool areas safer.