Cemented backyard Photo:
Choose from budget-friendly hard surfaces for lasting landscaping.
Exterior paths, pool surrounds, side walkways, patios and courtyards should look good, be durable and practical to maintain. Along with softscape elements, including flowers, shrubs and water features, they connect the garden with outdoor and indoor living areas.
Concrete is made to look like natural stone, slate or timber using a stamping technique.
Pros and Cons Offers a natural finish at a fraction of the cost of the real thing (sandstone can cost $140 per m2) and is harder wearing. Not for sloping areas as the smooth finish makes it slippery.
Best for Driveways, paths, patios.
DIY It’s a fairly involved process and not recommended for DIYers.
Have it Done It takes three people about two days to lay an average-size drive, costing from $65 per m2 for product and labour.
The effect of paving is created using a stencil over concrete.
Pros and Cons Cheaper than paving and avoids risk of weeds, movement or sinking. There are many colours and patterns, but the finish isn’t as smooth as stamped concrete and it doesn’t look like real paving up close.
Best for Driveways, paths, patios.
DIY It takes skill, so novice DIYers should undertake only small areas. It costs around $35 per m2.
Have it Done To lay 50m2 on the first day takes three people, and another day to lay the stencil. Costs from $65 per m2 for product and labour.
Natural stone, such as sandstone, travertine and granite, is cut to size.
Pros and Cons Long-lasting and unique. Colour, texture and thickness varies within types, and cutting requires hiring a bricksaw (about $150 a day). Needs sealing after laying, and can be quite expensive.
Best for Pool surrounds, front entries.
DIY Unless you buy calibrated stone, thicknesses vary, so it’s necessary to sort pieces into similar thicknesses for an even surface. Costs from $60 per m2.
Have it Done Takes two people about two days to lay 50m2, costing from $110 per m2 for product and labour.
Provides an attractive, multicoloured, natural finish.
Pros and Cons It’s a hard-wearing surface with a permanent wet look when sealed. The effect can be patchy if too much paste is removed and the surface stone separates.
Best For Paths, driveways and pool surrounds.
DIY Pour small areas, such as paths or shed slabs, until you’re experienced at washing the surface paste off. It costs around $35 per m2.
Have it Done Three men take two days to lay 50m2. Costs from $70 per m2 for product and labour.
Concrete pavers can be wet-cast or pressed, and are from 40mm thick.
Pros and Cons Hard-wearing and easier to lay than clay pavers, but fade over time unless sealed. Broken or stained pavers are easily replaced.
Best for Driveways, pool surrounds and courtyards.
DIY Easy to lay on flat areas that don’t need drainage. Small-format pavers are trickier. Costs start at about $25 per m2.
Have it Done It takes two people about two days to lay 50m2, costing from $75 per m2 for product and labour, depending on excavation and basework.
Clay pavers are made from fired clay and can be reused and recycled.
Pros and Cons Low-maintenance and non-fading. Like concrete pavers, they require a sub-base of 100mm-thick concrete if laid around a pool or on a driveway.
Best for Driveways, paths, pools and courtyards.
DIY Easy to lay on flat areas, difficulty depends on pattern. Screeding a level base is the key. Small-format pavers can be trickier. Costs from $25 per m2.
Have it Done Takes two people about two days to lay 50m2, costing from $75 per m2 for product and labour.
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