Regardless of the project size, a larger percentage of the money budgeted is being spent on landscaping than in past years. Much of this money is allocated to hardscape, that is, the paved areas in the landscape plan. One of the easiest, most versatile, and cost-effective ways to upgrade hardscape projects is to use colored and textured concrete.

COLOR HIDES DRIVEWAY STAINS

Every landscaped project has a driveway. Most driveway concrete is light gray, in some areas almost light buff. Typically it becomes stained by grease and oil, black tire marks, and everyday dirt. Many creative builders now add a dark integral color to driveway concrete and expose the natural aggregate by using a surface retarder or by medium to heavy sandblasting.

CURING, AIR ENTRAINMENT IMPROVE QUALITY

Successful color work today is most often cured with compounds specially formulated for use with colored concrete and matched to the concrete color. Addition of an air-entraining admixture along with a color-conditioning admixture imparts freeze-thaw resistance to colored concrete.

IMPROVING CONCRETE IN HARDSCAPING

Using a color-conditioning admixture with a mix design based on local cement, sand, and coarse aggregate adds a relatively small cost with little additional labor cost. But the interest of the color greatly enhances the appearance of the hardscape and the overall landscape design.

Interesting effects can be achieved at little or no cost by treating the surface of the fresh concrete. Finishing techniques, sandblasting, scoring, or chemical stains can all produce a variety of surfaces from one type of concrete.