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While concrete might be durable, affordable, and practical, it’s not always the most exciting landscaping material for a garden patio. But panic not, you can create a stylish outdoor space with our easy ideas and top design tips.
If you’ve inherited a concrete jungle, the first thing you might reach for is a sledgehammer or Kango. But before you don your hard hat, there might just be another way to revamp your concrete patio without the need for a skip and the expense of replacing the paving or slab.
Compared to lawned gardens, a concrete patio needs a lot less maintenance, apart from a little weed control and a clean once or twice a year (how to clean your concrete patio link ;)). In fact, you might even opt for concrete as the main material in your garden reno. From tradition to uber-contemporary, there’s a garden design that uses concrete for every style.
If you are laying a new concrete patio, then Victoria Wade, landscape architect and designer says to vary the size of paver. ‘Don’t feel you need to be constrained to your usual “patio pack mix” (where you may have three or four different sized slabs to make a pattern). We much prefer to use one sized unit, say 900 x 600mm slabs and lay them in a staggered bond.’ At the edges, Victoria suggests using a staggered edge of full slabs, with an abundance of planting to soften the hard landscaping.
Concrete patio ideas to inspire
Try these concrete patio design ideas, whatever size, or style of garden you’ve got
1. Turn up the cottage charm
Concrete paving doesn’t have to mean uniformed rows of the same size paver. A three-paver design echoes a farmhouse kitchen floor, which you can draw on for styling inspiration to create a cottage look. Choose light-coloured furniture, mixing table and chair styles, while textiles bring in pattern and warmth.
Try an outdoor rug to break up a large expanse of concrete paving. If you don’t want to cover the paving completely, then go for a runner, helping to draw the eye away from the concrete.
2. Keep things practical
Under a small potting area of your garden, concrete is a great choice. It’s practical as any seeds or tools dropped can be seen easily (there’s no gaps to drop down), plus you can hose or sweep the area quickly.
Concrete is made up of cement, aggregate and sharp sand. You can mix by hand or using a cement mixer, and while it will begin to harden after a few hours, it can take a few days to become strong. Section off your proposed concrete area with timber boards, which are removed once the concrete is cured.
3. Use to make spaces flow
Link inside with out by keeping the flooring similar. Echo a porcelain tile with a concrete version and mirror the tiling pattern to encourage the spaces to flow seamlessly into each other.
Concrete block walls give a garden a contemporary feel, especially when rendered and painted the same grey-blue as built-in furniture inside the house.
4. Brighten with paint
Update your little concrete corner with paint and planting. Choose a crisp white for brickwork, instantly brightening up the grey, while a sage green boosts plants until they are more established. We’ve plenty of ideas for patio ideas on a budget
You can also paint concrete, creating your own outdoor rug idea, just make sure you use an exterior floor paint as masonry paint is designed for vertical surfaces.
5. Disguise concrete crazy paving
If your garden has crazy paving, there are ways you can lessen its… well craziness, without reaching for the Kango. Use planting to soften the edges, allowing it to grow over, while planters and pots can lift your eye upwards. Likewise, a garden mirror that reflects a lawn or trees further down your garden will work wonders. Soften the lines of dining furniture with a linen cloth – choose a soft colour to pretty-up the concrete base.
6. Keep concrete looking smart
While you might be dreaming of sandstone, the reality is that concrete paving can be transformed with a good pressure wash. If you need advice on cleaning concrete, then read our top tips (link to go here).
While new-builds often come with standard 40 x 40cm concrete patio tiles, laid unimaginatively in straight rows, co-ordinating planting and decorative accessories will help create more a garden room and detract from the paving. We’ve plenty of paving ideas to help you make the most of your patio space.
7. Neaten up edging
Small touches will make your concrete patio look well-thought out – like edging your paving with sleepers and/or gravel. If you are laying your paving yourself and can’t get a whole paver next to the boundary, then this can be a great cut-free solution.
Try to vary the materials for less of a ‘concrete jungle’ effect. Mix sleepers, terracotta and galvanised metal, creating plenty of visual interest.
8. Play to concrete’s greys
For a cool garden (ideal if yours is south facing with little shade), try using the grey of your concrete paving as the basis for your colour palette. Go for black rattan-effect furniture and a cool blue paint for fencing panels, which works brilliantly with concrete fencing posts and kick boards. Try these patio décor ideas to find a look that works for your space.
Give your garden a hotel-terrace vibe with lollipop-style trees, planted in concrete-effect planters. Try bay, dwarf umbrella or azalea trees.
9. Make a feature of your jointing
The gaps between concrete paving can be as narrow or wide as you want. Why not use a coloured cement to make an unusual selection of concrete crazy paving pop?
Concrete can be a great way to zone even the smallest of gardens – it’s cheap and you can DIY. Try mixing paving with decorative stones and concrete slab.
10. Live on the edge
Cast concrete edging can provide a lovely decorative touch to slate, while helping to keep it where you want it. Look for a scalloped design, adding a sense of movement to uniformed beds.
Take the concrete look further with sculptural pieces for your garden, like orbs or even a water feature.
How can I make my patio look nice?
Victoria says to think about how you want to use the space and with who, rather than just the elements you want to include. ‘If you plan on popping out to your patio with your morning cuppa, then a bench in the sun would be lovely,’ she says. Around this, you can create clusters of planters and pots, softening the concrete.
Colour will instantly transform concrete paving and patios, whether that’s summer geraniums or a bold rug underfoot. Use the walls too, leading the eye up and away from the concrete.
How can I cover my concrete patio cheaply?
An outdoor rug can transform a concrete patio, adding colour and style without the need for any hard landscaping. ‘A garden rug is a great addition,’ says Victoria, ‘especially if you have young children as concrete can be harsh for little knees.’
Concrete patios can also be painted – if you have pavers, then you can use to create your own rug design. Take care to use a paint that’s designed for the job – puddles of standing water and some exterior paints don’t faire too well.
You can also lay decking over concrete. Use sleepers underneath the deck to allow for water drainage and material expansion/contraction.