Improving your yard with hardscaping
(Family Features) - Landscaping not only makes your home more beautiful it can also make it more valuable. In fact, a Michigan State University study found that, depending on where the house is located, high-quality landscaping adds between five and 11 percent to its price.
However, good landscaping is about more than just plants. Paths, benches, walls, water features - they're all part of hardscaping and can make or break the look of your yard and garden landscape.
In the competitive housing market, every feature of a home is crucial in attracting potential buyers. The home's exterior makes the first impression, and hardscapes, as important elements of landscaping, play a critical role gaining a return on value. Along with helping a property stand out in buyers' minds, a carefully thought-out landscape using hardscapes allows homeowners to express their creativity and personality through the variety of options available.
Create your own path
A well-made concrete walkway or garden path not only stands up to years of hard use, it enhances the natural landscape and complements a home's exterior features.
Traditional walkway materials such as brick and stone can be pricey and often difficult to install. As an easy and inexpensive alternative, you can build a new concrete path using manufactured molds, such as the Quikrete WalkMaker building forms. The result is a beautiful pathway that mirrors the texture and appearance of brick or natural stone with all the durability and economy of poured concrete.
Here is a simple, step-by-step process for making your own beautiful pathway. This is a weekend project one person can easily complete for a minimal cost. Typically, the cost to install a 10-foot-long concrete path is about $50 to $60 for materials.
- concrete mix or crack-resistant concrete mix
- liquid cement color
- polymer-modified jointing sand (optional)
- excavation and site preparation tools
- building form
- wheelbarrow or mixing box
- margin trowel or finishing trowel
- Prepare the project site by leveling the ground, removing sod or soil as needed.
- Mix a batch of concrete for the first section, following the product directions. Place the form at the start of your path and level it. Use a shovel or trowel to fill each cavity of the mold with wet concrete. Consolidate and smooth the surface of the form using a concrete margin trowel.
- Promptly remove the form and then smooth the edges of the section with a trowel to create the desired finish (it may help to wet the trowel in water). For a nonslip surface, broom the section or brush it with a stiff brush. Rotate the form one-quarter turn (90 degrees) with each section to vary the pattern. Place the form against the finished section and repeat steps 2 and 3 to complete the next section.
- Repeat until the path is finished.
With a variety of form patterns available (Basket Weave Brick, European Block Brick, Country Stone and Running Bond Brick), you can create a pathway, patio or walkway that matches your home's style.
When you're finished, damp cure concrete by spraying periodically with a fine water mister or cover with plastic sheeting for five to seven days. Curing concrete is a process that maintains ideal moisture and temperature conditions so that the concrete will be durable, stable and watertight. Allow 24 hours before foot traffic.
Coloring gives molded concrete a more natural looking finish and is great for blending your path or walkway into your landscape design. Adding colorant to the concrete mix is the easiest method and produces consistent results.
- For every two 60- or 80-pound bags of dry concrete mix, blend one 10-ounce bottle of liquid cement color with five quarts clean water. Mix the liquid into the dry concrete until the color is uniform. Add more clean water as needed to achieve the desired consistency.
- After placing and finishing the path sections, cure the concrete carefully to produce the best color quality. If curing conditions are less than ideal, apply concrete cure and seal to ensure even curing and consistent color.
For more project ideas, step-by-step instructions and a quantity calculator, visit www.quikrete.com.
Easy ways to add extra appeal
For other ways to add interest to your home's exterior, think about incorporating hardscaping elements such as stone, rock and sand in your yard and garden landscape. They're available in an almost limitless range of colors, sizes and textures. For example, the new HardScapes by Quikrete line includes an assortment of landscaping stones, pebbles, rocks and sands.
- For a natural look, create a pathway out of decorative pebbles and walks. They take on a whole new beauty when they get wet, either from the rain or a nearby water feature.
- Create a rock garden with different types of gravel, pebble and stone arrangements. Add a few foliage plants and a small water feature for interest.
- Give an overlooked area definition with crisp white marble chips or all-purpose stone and flowers in brightly colored planters.