When I tell people that I'm the landscaper who looks after our team's football field they are really impressed, and a little jealous. I don't think they know how much work it is though - it's definitely trickier than keeping your backyard looking green. Not only does my football field need to look lush, it also needs to be perfectly even so that the ball doesn't bounce at crazy angles, and not so soft that the players boots sink in. I need to keep up with all of the latest tricks that landscapers have, and I write these up here so that everyone can give them a try on their own fields.
Concrete is a popular choice of material for retaining walls within the garden. It's not surprising as concrete is inexpensive, versatile and incredibly durable. However, if your retaining wall is in a prominent place in your garden, such as an outdoor entertaining area, you may find a plain concrete finish isn't all that aesthetically pleasing. Fortunately, there are some simple ways that you can make concrete retaining walls much more attractive, and here are three of them.
1. Use exposed aggregate
Aggregate is the small pieces of stone or gravel that's used as a binder and filler in the concrete mix. A standard concrete mix usually uses material such as blue-stone or even crushed, recycled concrete as aggregate, which are practical but uninspiring choices.
Instead, opt for brightly coloured glass pebbles, polished river stones or shiny quartz pieces as an aggregate. The exposed pieces will give your retaining wall a decorative and eye-catching finish. You can enhance the look further by giving your retaining wall a coat of concrete sealant. This helps to give the concrete a more water- and stain-resistant finish and increases the vibrancy of the exposed aggregate.
2. Use concrete colourant
The standard finish colour of concrete is generally a dull, light grey. Unless you're embracing the industrial look in your garden, you may prefer a more colourful and lively hue for your concrete retaining wall. This is where using a specialised concrete colourant can be a fantastic option.
Concrete colourant is added to the concrete during the mixing process and will give your retaining wall a uniform colour and far more interesting finish. There is a wide selection of colours available to choose from. This means you can be as subtle or as bold as you like with the finish, depending on your taste and the overall look you want to achieve in your garden.
3. Use concrete stamps
Concrete stamps are more commonly used on driveways, patios and paths. However, they can be used just as effectively to dress up your concrete retaining wall. Concrete stamping needs to be done before the concrete has dried, so make sure you discuss the idea with your contractor during the planning phase.
There are many different styles available in concrete stamps. They can recreate the look of bricks, pavers, and natural stone. Some of these looks will be most successful when combined with exposed aggregate, concrete colourant,or both.
Retaining walls in the garden serve a functional and structural role in landscaping your garden. With these three ideas, they can become a striking and stylish feature as well.