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The Best Landscaping Trends of 2016

Garden landscaping is subject to trends in just the same way that interiors are. Whilst 2015 was all about bold geometrically patterned pots, air plants, tropical foliage and Nordic finishes, 2016 has seen landscaping shift towards a natural, subdued aesthetic with relaxed outdoor living areas, monochrome garden beds, and heavier coloured hardscaping. In this article, we take a look at four of the best landscaping trends to emerge in 2016.

 

Moody paint colours

It’s not uncommon for design trends in Europe and the US to take a season or two before they hit our shores, and this is true of the dark outdoor paint palette. Bland pastel tones of white, grey and beige are being swapped out in favour of dramatic black or moody jewel tones of dark blue and green. These darker colours help accentuate the shape of plants, and make a very modern exterior statement.

 

Breakdown of the indoor/outdoor binary

Increasingly, homeowners are doing away with the idea of separate indoor and outdoor spaces. Instead, there is a growing trend towards embracing the indoors, outdoors and vice versa. Indoor plants, wicker furniture, windowsill herb gardens and terrariums have been popular interior trends for some time now, but outdoor ‘living spaces’ are quickly catching up in 2016. Alfresco lounge sets complete with fabric cushions, open fire pits, covered areas with heaters, rugs, and decorative patio surfacing are all popular as homeowners seek to get year round use from their outdoor area.

 

Monochrome plants

Landscapers are moving away from the harlequin coloured English garden aesthetic and are instead embracing subdued planting palettes that echo the natural landscape. Rather than going for the overwhelming visual effect of multi-coloured flowers, landscaping designers are choosing instead to focus on subtle details such as foliage textures and branch patterns. Sculptural plants in subdued colours such as Australian natives, grasses and succulents are all in vogue and as an added bonus, they’re all low maintenance.

 

Garden lighting

Whilst garden lighting has always been used in a functional capacity, 2016 has seen it evolve into a statement in it’s own right. Fairy light strings, lanterns, LED rope borders and illuminated trees are all being used to create ambient night gardens where plants and lights interact for a dramatic effect.

 

Icon Concrete is an established concrete company in Melbourne who specialise in decorative concrete surfacing solutions. To learn more about our capabilities, please don’t hesitate to get in touch by calling 0402 082 472.

 

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How to Make the Most of a Small Outdoor Space

 

As the population of Melbourne continues to expand, living space is at a premium and many inner city dwellers are having to settle for modest backyards and balconies. Happily, having limited outdoor space doesn’t mean you can’t have a beautiful green oasis and relaxing alfresco entertainment area, it simply means you need to be economic with your landscaping. This week, we take a look at how you can make the most of a small outdoor space.

Keep it simple

Whilst it might be tempting to jam as much design into your small garden space as is possible, this can actually make your space seem smaller. Try sticking to a single colour palette, and avoid geometric patterns as these tend to make spaces feel smaller. If you want to make a statement with paving, a decorative finish like exposed aggregate is perfect for Melbourne homes, as it is durable enough to endure the weather and provides both colour and texture without the shrinking qualities of a patterned design.

 

De-clutter

As simplicity is the key to giving the illusion of space, it’s important that the contents of your outdoor area is also carefully curated. Think carefully about the plants and furniture you want to have in your yard, and get rid of anything that doesn’t fit with your vision of and outdoor oasis.

 

Go vertical

Having limited square footage in an outdoor space forces you to become more creative in how you decorate it, and one of the biggest urban landscaping trends at the moment is vertical gardening. There are innumerable ways to utilise your garden fence, ranging from traditional options like vines and hanging baskets, through to more unorthodox ideas like living walls, pipe gardens, and kokedama.

 

Add depth

Putting a mirror in the back of a small room to make it seem larger is a classic interior design trick, but it also works in enclosed garden spaces. Try hanging a few vintage mirrors on your back fence to create a sense of continuation. If you have a larger budget to work with, installing French doors which connect your indoor and outdoor spaces is also a very effective way of opening up your garden space and creating a sense of flow.

 

Icon Concrete offer a range of paving solutions in Melbourne. To learn more about our capabilities, please don’t hesitate to get in touch by calling 0402 082 472.

 

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Practicing Driveway Safety

Driveway accidents involving children are a depressingly common news item and these terrible accidents often occur because we choose to conceptualise road safety as something to be practiced outside the home. In this article, we take a look at a few key ways you can ensure the safety of your children by practicing caution around the driveway.

Teach your children that the driveway is a dangerous place

Although we tend to think of car accidents in terms of on road collisions, the reality is that a lot of accidents occur before the car ever pulls out of the driveway. It’s important to emphasise to your children that the driveway is just as dangerous as the road, and that they are not to play on it. By avoiding normalising play around stationary cars, you reduce the likelihood of your child being involved in a driveway accident. Put up physical barriers like fences and gates that make it impossible for your child to access the driveway unsupervised.

 

Create a safe area to play

Designate a particular part of the yard as the children’s play area and encourage them to think of it as their own so that they are less inclined to play on the driveway. Installing a swing, cubby, or sandpit is a great way to pique a child’s interest and play desire to their desire to claim something as their own. Once you’ve established this area, make it a rule that they have to stand there whilst there are cars moving in the driveway.

 

Be vigilant and supervise children at all times

Always make sure you know where your children are when there are cars moving on your property. If you have younger children, make a point of holding their hand and guiding them around vehicles and if you yourself need to move a vehicle and there are no other adults around, put the child in the car with you. Finally, always take a few seconds to physically check your blind spots by walking around the car before you get in and drive off.

 

Icon Concrete specialise in concrete driveway construction around Melbourne. To learn more about our capabilities, please don’t hesitate to get in touch by calling 0402 082 472.

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5 Good Reasons Why You Should Ditch Your Lawn and Have a Patio Instead

 

Although the traditional European concept of a garden is a green space with lawn, garden beds, and perhaps an entertaining area, it doesn’t adapt well to the harsh Australian climate or the modern, eco conscious lifestyle. In fact, more and more home owners are choosing to do away with their lawns in favour of a patio area and in this article, we examine some of the reasons why.

It’s water smart

First and foremost, grass is a thirsty plant and takes a lot of water to keep alive. Keeping a lawn looking lush is requires a lot of water, so it’s unsurprising that come summer in an arid, drought prone climate like Australia that frequently deals with water restrictions, most lawns around the country take on a parched yellow look. Simply put, Australia does not have the rainfall necessary to keep lawns alive on their own, and because of this, households with a lawn consume an enormous amount of water.

 

You’ll use less pollutants

Lawns require a lot of human intervention to retain their manicured look, and things like herbicides, fertilisers, and petrol driven mowers mean having a lawn is actually detrimental to the environment. The meagre air cleaning capabilities of grass don’t outweigh the number of pollutants required to maintain it’s upkeep, so ultimately, replacing a lawn with a paved patio area decreases the size of your household carbon footprint.

 

It requires less maintenance

Lawns are one of the most demanding aspects of yard care and many homeowners simply do not have the time, equipment, or energy necessary to keep their lawn looking neat and tidy. An overgrown detracts, rather than enhances the appearance of a home, so it makes little sense to have one if you cannot maintain it’s upkeep. By contrast, a patio area paved in a material such as exposed aggregate will stay looking neat and elegant even if you neglect it.

 

It boosts your resale value

The low maintenance and increased living space that a paved outdoor area can offer is a big drawcard for homeowners and can ultimately help boost the sale value of your home should you ever choose to sell.

 

It creates a dynamic outdoor space

Perhaps the biggest advantage of doing away with your lawn in favour of a paved patio area is the added living space it creates. The possibilities with a patio area are endless, and it’s a great way to maximise the way you use your outdoor area.

 

Icon Concrete specialise in installing exposed aggregate around Melbourne. To learn more about our services, please don’t hesitate to get in touch by calling 0402 082 472.

 

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Essential Elements of a Garden Nook

2016 is the year of the nook. As more and more people seek solace from the unending stream of digital information infiltrating their lives, quiet places where one can ‘escape’ and ‘switch off’ are becoming more common both indoors and out. This week, we take a look at this garden landscaping phenomenon and run through the five essential ingredients of a garden nook.

1. Comfortable furniture
If you’re going to design a secluded spot where you can escape from the world for a few hours, then comfortable seating or lounging arrangements are a must. Nook seating can be as simple or as complex as you like; choose a simple timber lounge or create an elaborate little shelter that’s the adult equivalent of a tree house or cubby.
2. A ‘hidden’ feel
The definition of nook is ‘a secluded or sheltered place, a retreat’, so having it hidden away from the view of the main house is crucial to giving it that escapist feel. Screening such as a trellis covered in vines, or tall foliage which is layered to create a dense, living wall is the best way to achieve this.
3. A winding pathway
A nook is an extension of your outdoor living space, and it’s important to define it from the rest of the garden with paving and a path leading up to it. Aggregate concrete is ideal for this purpose as it’s subtle, natural appearance will easily integrate with the existing landscape of your yard.
4. A feature plant or ornament
All the best garden nooks have a central feature to define them, and make them feel special from other parts of the garden. Water features are a perennially popular option as they encourage contemplation and relaxation, but you might choose to express yourself with quirky garden ornaments, or a cluster of potted plants.
5. Shade and shelter
The Australian climate is harsh, but you’ll want to be able to enjoy your nook during all seasons, so some form of shade or shelter is a must. Plants are the easiest way to create shade, and the quickest and easiest way to to create a lush canopy of green is with a garden arch and some climbers.

Icon Concrete specialise in installing exposed aggregate surfaces around Melbourne. To learn more about our capabilities, please don’t hesitate to get in touch by calling 0402 082 472.

Basement Construction

Why You Should Never Cut Costs on Basement Construction

In the world of concrete construction, you get what you pay for. We are often asked by customers about why our basement construction services are costlier than other quotes that they have received, and the reason is simply that the quality of our work demands more time, effort, and skill compared with what other companies can offer. Concrete basements aren’t the place that you want to be cutting construction costs in your home, and in this article, we look at just a few of the problems that can arise from and improperly constructed basement.

Buckling or bowing floors

Uneven or sinking floors are a sign of structural problems and need to be addressed immediately. Rising foundations due to changes in the soil, soil erosion beneath the floor, or improper footing pad installation are all common causes of buckling and bowing walls. These types problems require professional intervention to remedy and can be quite costly.

Leaking and flooding

Groundwater is the most common cause of leaking or flooding in a basement. When groundwater rises, hydrostatic pressure will push it through any available crack or crevice, so any improperly sealed wall or floor joints will leave your basement vulnerable to flooding. Other common causes of flooding include penetrating pipes that are not properly sealed into the basement wall, as well as rotting or rusting windows. These issues all stem from improper installation and require professional intervention to remedy. The effects of leaking and flooding can include mould, staining, humidity and efflorescence.

Buckling or bowing walls

Walls that are caving in or becoming misshapen are indicative of a foundation problem and can even be indicative of a failed foundation.

Cracks

Although it’s not uncommon for cracks appear in well constructed basements, some types of cracks can be indicative of serious underlying problems. In new basements, vertical or diagonal cracks naturally occur as a result of the concrete curing whereas horizontal cracks are indicative of pressure on the sides of the wall and are often a sign that the foundation is failing. Cracks in the foundation flood are also problematic as they are a common entry point for water and can also leak radon gas into your home.

Icon Concrete are experienced concrete contractors in Melbourne specialising in basement construction services. To learn more about the range of services we offer, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us by calling 0402 082 472.

The advantages of concrete slabs

There are several different materials used in building foundations including brick, stone, timber and steel, however concrete slabs remain the most popular foundation choice for homes and other buildings. Here four benefits of building with concrete slabs.

Economical

Concrete slabs are generally cheaper than creating crawlspaces or basements beneath a building. If conditions allow, a concrete slab can be directly laid over undisturbed soil. This minimises labour and excavation costs, making concrete slabs an economical foundation choice.

Time efficient

Concrete slabs may reduce overall construction time, as they are relatively easy to install.
Concrete slabs can contribute to a smaller timeframe for project completion or accelerate a project that is already running behind schedule. A solid concrete slab also accurately lays out the dimensions of a building, meaning you can more easily plan for your building’s total area.

Stable

Concrete slabs are effective foundations as they are flat and solid. Unlike other foundations, they are not segmented, they sit at ground level and they do not rely on other beams or supports. A solid concrete slab will adequately bear the above structure’s weight and ensure the building is secure. A concrete slab can also be used to centre the rigidity of a building, making the structure on top more stable.

Protective

A concrete slab also acts as a protective barrier between the ground and the frame of a structure. Concrete slabs are particularly effective in protecting your home from moisture and burrowing insects, such as wood louse and termites. Additionally, concrete acts as an effective heat and fire insulator. Concrete is generally non-combustible, which means it is extremely fire resistant and reduces the spread of flames. Insulated concrete slabs also have the advantage of providing stable core temperatures to buildings.

If you are considering using concrete in your next construction project, contact the expertsat Icon Concrete. As professional concrete contractors in Melbourne, we can offer you high quality concrete slabs that meet your individual needs and budget.

Top 3 Benefits of Using Concrete Slabs in Melbourne

Concrete slabs are a popular choice for house foundations, flooring and other structures in Melbourne homes because they provide a number of benefits which are important to home owners in this city. Let’s explore 3 of the top benefits of using concrete slabs in your Melbourne home.

1. Thermal mass and energy efficiency

Thermal mass is the ability of a material absorb, store, and release heat. Thermal mass is sometimes referred to as ‘building conditioning’ because it is like inbuilt air conditioning, but more effective.

Concrete has a high thermal mass, which means that it absorbs excess heat (during the summer or on a hot day), and releases heat when the temperature drops (such as in winter or on a cold night).

Concrete is ideal for Melbourne’s highly variable climate as it provides good insulation which absorbs heat, keeping your house cool during the day and slowly releasing heat at night so you stay warm. As Melbourne often experiences a very high day-night temperature variance, this is an efficient mechanism for maintaining comfortable temperatures while conserving energy. House slabs can also be insulated underneath, so that less heat is required to maintain a comfortable temperature.

2. Durability

A reputable concrete company in Melbourne will know how to build a concrete structure that provides longevity and will display minimal cracking and shrinking over time. At iCon Concrete we know how important it is to choose the right concrete structure for your specific needs and provide the highest quality structures for all of our concrete services. Our highly trained team have vast experience in all types of residential concrete slab production including Raft Slabs, Waffle Pod Slabs, Concrete Footings, Basements, Bored Piers, Shortcreting, Retaining Walls and structures for Multi-Unit Sites.

With each type of slab production we take the necessary measures to ensure that the concrete structure will be as durable as possible. For example, Raft Slabs are steel reinforced concrete slabs, which we build with steel reinforced concrete beams forged into the soil for strength and stability.

3. Design

Concrete provides a great deal of flexibility as your slab can be built to suit the design of your home as well as the soil below it, and the type of environment in which your home is located. You can design your home to take advantage of thermal mass benefits, additional ventilation in hot climates with a low day-night variance, and insulation can be added in cooler climates to lower the required temperature for a comfortable interior climate (as is common practice in Melbourne).

If you are building a home and seeking a professional concrete company in Melbourne, call Icon Concrete on 0402 082 472to discuss how we can help with your home concreting project.

Why You Should Consider Concrete for Your Next Melbourne Project

The next time you have to plan a home renovation, make sure you consider including concrete in your list of building materials. Unlike wood and other surfaces, concrete is able to withstand Melbourne’s impulsive and vast weather systems. Melbourne is no stranger to natural disasters such as severe storms, floods and bushfires. When you utilise concrete as a building material, you are protecting your property from Melbourne’s wild weather while opting for a highly sustainable and versatile material.

Let’s consider 6 of the key benefits of using concrete to build a Melbourne home:

1. You will save money over the lifetime of your home.

You might assume that concrete is a costly building material compared to timber or other materials but in reality you may actually save money by building with concrete when you factor in life-cycle costs and maintenance requirements. You will save money on heating and cooling costs as concrete is a material with high thermal mass meaning it has a good ability to absorb and retain heat. For example, concrete house slabs used in flooring can be designed so that they can absorb heat from the sun and re-radiate it for several hours afterwards.

2. Concrete is a sustainable building material.

The raw materials used to make concrete are prevalent in most parts of the world. This means that builders can source them locally and reduce CO2 emissions resulting from transportation. Concrete is environmentally friendly as it is 100% recyclable. Concrete is one of the most recycled construction materials in the world.

3. Concrete is highly durable and weather-resistant.

If your reinforcement is correctly designed and placed, and the concrete is placed and compacted properly in such a way that there are no voids or porous areas, concrete slabs and other concrete structures have an almost unlimited life span.

Concrete is highly resistant to weathering action such as wind, hurricanes, floods and fire as well as chemical attack and abrasion.

4. Concrete reduces your homes vulnerability to pests

Insects are not drawn to concrete and rarely live in or on concrete, so you don’t have to worry about the financial or environmental costs of pesticides or pest control. Concrete barriers can be used to create termite barriers.

5. Concrete prevents air leakage

Air leakage from the uncontrolled movement of air through joints and gaps in building material can be a significant cause of heat loss. Appropriately designed and constructed concrete slabs and other structures will achieve low air leakage levels.

6. Concrete may be the world’s most versatile building material

Concrete is arguably the world’s most versatile building material, with an extremely wide range of applications around the home. Paths and driveways, foundations for buildings, flooring and walls, are just of few the practical residential applications of concrete.

Contact Icon Concrete today to discuss how concrete can be used effectively in your Melbourne home renovation project.

Four Ways to Renovate Using Concrete

Renovating is a great way to update and modernise your home without relocating. Home renovations add aesthetic appeal and versatility, while increasing the value of your property. There are many options to consider when renovating and many different materials that can be used. Concrete is an affordable, timeless material that can be used throughout many areas of the home.

Here are four of the most popular home renovations where concrete offers the best long-term value.

1. Kitchen

Kitchen renovations usually offer high return on investment, making them very popular. There are many ways that decorative concrete can spice up your kitchen. Concrete can be a good alternative to stone benchtops, with endless customisation opportunities. domain dns info . Concrete sinks and islands can create striking, streamlined aesthetics in your kitchen. If your old linoleum floor has seen better days, then consider replacing it with durable, timeless concrete. Concrete flooring can be stained or dyed for warmth, polished to create a luxurious finish, and can even feature multi-coloured designs.

2. Bathroom

Concrete is an ideal choice for bathroom renovations. It can be used for almost every surface, giving you access to completely customisable looks that create a consistent aesthetic.

Concrete is a fantastic low-maintenance choice for the bathroom as it is water resistant, preventing the build-up of mould and mildew. A luxurious bathroom is the ideal renovation for a savvy investor, as returns range from 75 to 100 per cent. Countertops are the most popular concrete bathroom installation.

3. Outdoor Deck

Sick of the maintenance on your old timber decking? Why not replace it with a low-maintenance material that will last a lifetime. Unlike wooden decking, a concrete patio will not buckle or require re-staining. Concrete also eliminates the risk of termite infestation, and prevents the growth of weeds. Exposed aggregate concrete is popular in Melbourne, and provides a stylish, natural looking finish to complement your outdoor space.

4. Resurfacing

Old, cracked concrete is unsightly and can sometimes be a sign of structural damage, however it is easily replaced or restored. Modern concrete has been designed to allow greater flexibility, and comes in a wide variety of styles and finishes. Overlays and coatings can be applied to your tired, old concrete, making it look brand new. Concrete driveways are often the first feature to need resurfacing, and can be completely upgraded with a new pattern or colour scheme to add a touch of finesse to your outdoor space.

Icon Concrete is a concrete contractor based in Melbourne. We offer a range of concrete services and are happy to help with your home renovations.