Gareth Davies, Technical Advisor at Tarmac’s Cement Business:
The garden industry is expected to rise by 22% to reach £7 billion by 2021, partly due to the growing trend to use the garden for leisure and outdoor living (Mintel, 2018). Therefore, it seems that now, more than ever, a good dose of garden innovation could provide a sure-fire way for builders to add value to their customers’ outdoor spaces.
Paving the way
Big or small, an area of paving – stone, concrete, brick, geometric or even modern irregular layouts – can look great and provide an excellent centerpiece for an outdoor area. However, as always, the devil is in the detail which is why it’s important to use the most appropriate products and materials. Doing your homework before work starts will help ensure a strong, sound and level patio that can take the extra foot traffic and provide resistance to weathers year-round.
For many builders a pre-packed ready to use cement such as Tarmac Blue Circle Slablayer is suitable choice for bedding and grounding slabs, since it overcomes many problems relating to site mixing. These include the use of excess water and the addition of other inappropriate materials, that can result in reduced strength, increased permeability and reduced durability of the hardened mortar.
With improved quality and consistency, high quality products such as Tarmac Blue Circle Slablayer contain specially selected sand and cement for use under patio paving slabs. It also comes in 20kg weatherproof, tear resistant packaging to reduce wastage on site.
Of course, no patio is complete without pointing in between the paving slabs. Often, these joints can be the first casualty of ground movement and external pressure, so it’s crucial to use a weather resistant and durable mortar such as Tarmac Blue Circle Quality Assured Mortar. It also comes in 20kg weatherproof bags, and importantly for smaller projects, the product is also available in conveniently sized 5kg and 10kg re-sealable tubs.
Wonder walls – board marked concrete
However, it’s not just patio’s that distinguish a good garden from a great garden. Using poured high strength concrete for exterior walls can give your customers one of the most enduring, fire-resistant, thermally retentive and maintenance-free solutions. A concrete wall can last without decay for many years, protecting both the reputation and standards of your work.
Importantly for design, concrete takes on the shape and texture of the forms into which it is poured, making it possible to enrich its surface character by using textured forms. Often, timber is used in combination with concrete walls to add warmth to the overall composition. For example, if the concrete has been formed with horizontal, rough-board forms, the concrete’s surface is imprinted with wooden texture and the two materials work well to create a stylish looking wall for any outdoor area.
The brick barbeque
The classic brick barbeque is a firm favourite in the summertime, yet it doesn’t need to come with a hefty price tag. Simple to build and use, a brick barbeque can be an attractive addition to any patio area, without the added worry of rusting or breakage to metals.
Simply build a solid foundation, mark out the brickwork area and prepare a mortar to lay the bricks. Using a pre-bagged, ready to use mortar mix such as Tarmac Blue Circle Quality Assured Mortar, simplifies the task even further, requiring only the addition of clean water.
Of course, not all landscaping projects are determined by the bigger jobs. Something as simple as checking for unstable fence posts or empty joints between paving slabs can keep a garden in shape during summer.
For unbalanced fence posts, use a quick setting, no mix concrete product, such as Tarmac Blue Circle Postcrete. Bury the post below the ground, then simply fill the hole one third with clean water and pour in the Postcrete evenly around the post until dry powder is visible on the surface. The Postcrete will set in as little as 10 minutes.