With outdoor living becoming a huge feature of our lives in 2020, many homeowners will be thinking about getting their garden ready for the spring and the warmer weather ahead — not to mention the likelihood of ongoing outdoor entertaining once again. Paul Lees at Tarmac Cement looks at the top landscaping trends for 2021 and what advice merchants can offer customers.
This last year has seen many changes in how we live and use the space around us, but one of the biggest shifts was, of course, the amount of time we spent at home. And the garden in particular proved to be something of a sanctuary for many in these tumultuous times.
Rather unsurprisingly, the time spent doing DIY or gardening rose by 147% last March and April, according to the Office for National Statistics. And the trend for spending time outdoors is set to stay, with the impact of lockdowns marking a very clear shift in how many of us perceive the garden space.
With this in mind, merchants can use this as an opportunity to understand what trends could be set to influence homeowners and, in turn, what useful tips they can offer customers in the branch.
People talk about bringing the outside in, but when deciding on garden furniture and layout, bringing the inside out is the newest trend. This means ensuring a seamless flow from the inside space to the garden by transforming the garden into a stylish entertaining hub for friends and family. More than just adding a garden sofa, your customers can explore the different ways their customers can add value to alfresco aspirations with concrete worktops, furniture and accessories.
With the UK’s love of BBQs, installing a concrete worktop is an effective way to bring the kitchen outside — and adding other warmer, natural textures like fabric or wood can prevent it feeling too austere. Be sure to advise your customers that, as concrete worktops are generally long and thin beams, it’s critical to use a product with sufficient workability, aggregate grading and strength such as Tarmac Blue Circle High Strength concrete (40N).
In addition, a brick barbeque is simple to build and use just by using a pre-bagged, ready to use mortar mix such as Tarmac Blue Circle Quality Assured Mortar which requires only the addition of clean water.
Adding the perception of space can be achieved by creating a path in the garden. Some designers advise avoiding a straight path, instead incorporating diagonals into the line to trick the eye into making the space appear larger. In addition, laying a paved border is another solution for a small garden — here, a pre-packed ready to use product will overcome many problems relating to site mixing.
Less is more
The trend for more scaled back design in favour of finishing and attention to detail is set to be big this year — and grey looks like it will continue to be a go-to colour in garden design. For landscaping projects, polished concrete is a versatile and durable solution for garden elements such as planters, pathways and patios. To further enhance the design, adding unique elements such as coloured glass can further complement its simplicity.
The polishing process involves using progressively finer grinding tools until the desired texture is reached. For high traffic areas such as walkways or patios, it’s best to use a high-strength concrete and you should suggest only polishing these areas up to three times to maintain a safe slip rating of R10. For decorative planters, you can grind up to nine times to achieve a completely smooth and polished finish.
Working from the garden
Finally, with home working set to continue in some form, garden workspaces will undoubtedly continue their boom. Even before coronavirus, ONS statistics showed the number of home workers rose by 75% between 2008 and 2018. With average UK house sizes decreasing, the value of a garden office space is all the greater, with experts suggesting that most garden rooms will add around 5% to the value of a property.
One of the biggest opportunities for merchants with garden buildings lies in a growing army of competent DIYers, willing to take on the job of laying a suitable base on which the structure will be built. The process here is no different to laying a patio area. We recommend 200-300mm for a crushed, granular Mot Type 1 material — and remind customers to compact it down with a wacker plate or heavy garden roller too. Follow this with a slab base on top of the sub-base.
The value of the outdoor space
The significance of the garden space in our lives is only going to increase this year. Taking the time to understand the trends set to influence your customers’ purchasing decisions can help boost your business and reputation — and ensure you remain a step ahead of the competition.
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