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Creative Cement Garden DIYs


for your

and Tanya Visser

Build a concrete bench Make your own pavers Build a concrete pond Hypertufo Installing cobbled edging Lay pebble paving Building floating steps Grouted outdoor paving

Build a concrete bench

A secluded spot, out of direct sunlight, is the perfect place for a garden bench. A wellplaced bench invites you to sit and admire your garden and it also acts as a focal point.

What you need:

Shutterboard (22 mm thick) to build the moulds, as follows: 1 m BRC mesh Seat (5 pieces) 2.8mm gauge Base: 1220 x 400 mm (x 1), (190 x 210 mm) Long sides: 1220 x 90 mm (x 2) 80 grit Short sides: 440 x 90 mm (x 2) sandpaper Legs (8 pieces) Wide sides: 200 x 400 mm (x 4), Tools Narrow sides: 300 x 400 mm (x 4) mitre box wood screws ( 60) float, wood or 3 x 3-m quadrants plastic 35 mm flat head wire nails ( 30) drill 1 bag PPC cement saw 3 bags river sand paintbrush 2 bags 19 mm crushed stone

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Step 1. Build the boxes that will form the moulds. Start with the seat, joining the sides and the base by first drilling holes and then screwing them together. Make two identical boxes for the legs as above. The boxes for the legs dont have a base; you should place them on a flat board to fill them. Step 2. The lengths of quadrant must be sawn to size so that they can be used to line all the inside corners of the three boxes. Cut the ends of the quadrant for the seat at a 45 angle, using the mitre box. Now fit these pieces into the corners of the boxes (curved side outwards) and nail them in place. This completes the moulds. Now cut the BRC mesh to size you need a layer for the seat and a piece for each of the legs. Step 3. Mix the cement, using 1 part cement, 1 part stone and 1 part river sand (this 1:1:1 ratio ensures strength). Add enough water to get the mix to a yoghurt-like consistency. You need the mixture to be fairly sloppy because you will be pouring the concrete into the moulds. Step 4. For the seat: fill the box three quarters with concrete, put down the layer of BRC mesh, then fill the remainder of the box with concrete. Use the float to agitate the mixture so that there are no air pockets left in the concrete. For the legs: make sure the boxes are standing on a level piece of board then place the BRC mesh inside them and fill them with concrete. Step 5. Wait! The concrete must cure for 14 days. Thereafter unscrew the boxes to reveal your handiwork. Any sharp bits and rough places can be gently sanded smooth with sandpaper. Brush off the resulting powder with a dry paintbrush. (Keep the moulds they can be reused.) Step 6. Place the legs in position and lower the seat onto them, and your bench is ready to use.

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Make your own pavers

This is a great way to get young children to go out and play in the garden. Creating this permanent hopscotch court with custommade pavers was quick, easy and a lot of fun. Of course, you dont have to stop at hopscotch, they can also be used anywhere else you would use bought pavers.

What you need

Moulds round, square or both. (We made all the pavers at one time, and used 5 round and 6 square moulds) 1 bag PPC cement 3 bags river sand 3 bags small stone (no larger than 13 mm in size) cooking oil oxide 500 g is enough for 2 pavers. This is not essential, but means you can vary the colour of the pavers

bucket spirit level plastic sheet trowel spade rubber mallet

Numbers: This is where your children can get involved. Create the numbers, using anything appropriate lying around the house, including shells, stones, glass beads, old coins, broken tiles and mosaic tiles. Form the numbers on wax paper, using a silicon-based glue. Be generous with the glue on the bases of the bits and pieces because it stops the concrete from covering the numbers. NB: Make sure the numbers are formed BACKWARDS on the paper so that they will be the correct way around when the pavers are removed from the moulds. Step 1. Coat the inside of each mould generously with cooking oil. This makes the concrete easy to unmould when dry. Place the moulds on a flat surface and put the numbers, still attached to the paper and with the paper side down, in the moulds. Step 2. Mix the cement, sand and stone together in this ratio: 1 part cement to 2 parts river sand to 3 parts stone. Add enough water to form a workable concrete mixture. For coloured pavers divide the concrete and mix in the oxide/s (if you are colouring them all in a single colour then add the oxide to the cement powder before adding water). Step 3. Fill each mould and use a trowel to smooth the concrete. Cover the moulds with plastic and leave for 24 hours before turning out. Remove the wax paper and the silicon to reveal the numbers. For the first three days ensure the pavers remain wet so they do not crack, thereafter ensure that they are handled carefully until fully cured, which will take about two weeks. Step 4. The moulds can be reused; wash them with dishwashing liquid and dry them before storing.

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Build a concrete pond

Water features are one of the most soughtafter of landscaping elements, not least because they lend such a calming atmosphere to a garden. This in-ground pond is perfect it is simple to build and can take any shape you like.

What you need:

2 bags PPC cement 20 bags river sand 2 kg powdered waterproofing agent 15 m x 4mm galvanised wire 1.5 m thinner wire for tying galvanised wire

trowel or float wire cutters pliers

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Step 1. After choosing where to site the pond, dig a hole to these dimensions: 1500mm long x 700 mm wide x 500 mm deep. Step 2. Mix 5 parts of river sand with 1 part cement, add the waterproofing agent and mix well. Add water, bit by bit, until the mixture reaches a stiff porridge-like consistency. It should be able to form a ball and hold together. Step 3. Start at the base of the hole and, using a trowel, pack the concrete mixture into the sand to a thickness of 50 mm. Move from one end to the other and up the sides. Make sure the concrete is packed tight to prevent air pockets and make it as smooth as possible. This should take about 3 hours to complete. Step 4. Using strips of galvanised wire tied together with the thinner wire, create a basket-shaped wire form to reinforce the pond. Put the form in the hole and, if necessary, tack to the cement base using 10 mm long Ushaped nails. Step 5. Mix a second batch of concrete and lay another 50 mm layer over the entire pond, making sure the wire reinforcing is covered completely. Step 6. Leave the pond to cure for at least a week. From time to time use water to dampen the concrete; this will reduce cracking as it cures or simply fill the pond with water once the concrete has hardened enough. Step 7. Once the concrete is cured place a layer of slate (or pavers) around the edge, interspersed with pebbles. Water loving plants in and around the pond will complete the look, and a bubbling pump will help circulate and aerate the water.

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Hypertufa, which was invented for use in alpine gardens, is a manufactured substitute for tufa the porous rock that forms around mineral water springs. Alpine gardeners traditionally used antique animal water troughs as planters, but there was obviously a limited supply of these. Containers made with hypertufa are more porous and much lighter than the water troughs, so they are ideal alternatives. Hypertufa planters in the original trough shape are still popular, however, it is possible to use it to make many shapes.

What you need:

PPC cement Peat (the finer the better) Plastic basin and loose plastic Step 1. Mix 1 part cement to 2 parts peat and add water until the mixture can hold its shape. Step 2. Line the basin with the plastic it does not have to be smooth as the creases give the pots surface extra texture. Pack a layer of the cement mixture into the basin, covering the bottom and sides to a depth of 2 to 3 cm. Step 3. Make a drainage hole in the centre of the base. Leave to dry, at least overnight, then remove the pot from the basin. Add more character: After youve placed the plastic inside the mould (and before you pack in the cement) line the sides with some dried sphagnum moss.


You will find peat and dried sphagnum moss at garden centres.

Installing cobbled edging

It is attention to detail that makes a good garden great, and well-laid edging is certainly a prerequisite. Cobbles are easy to install and come in a variety of colours use them to edge a pathway or a bed and take it from good to great.

What you need

5 kg PPC cement 1 bag river sand Cobbles

spade trowel rubber mallet Step 1. Prepare the area: remove any grass in a strip slightly wider that the width of the cobbles, then dig a small furrow, making its depth a little more than the height of the cobbles. Step 2. Mix 4 parts river sand to 1 part cement and add enough water to form a mixture with the consistency of thick whipped cream. Step 3. Using a trowel, place a layer of the mortar along the base of the furrow. Place your first cobble on the mortar and tap it gently with the mallet to seat it in the mixture. Make sure that it does not stick out above the adjoining lawn (especially when the lawn is at its ideal height). Slide the next cobble flush against the first one so that there is no gap between them. After laying 4 or 5 cobbles test their levels with the spirit level and tap them into place with the mallet where necessary. Proceed in this manner until all the cobbles are in place.

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Lay pebble paving

Different textures in a garden make it more interesting. Pebble paving is an intriguing way to incorporate a new texture into the hard landscaping there are so many different colours and sizes of pebbles available that the skys the limit.

What you need

PPC cement Pebbles (round or egg shaped) you will need 40 kg for every square metre to be covered River sand

plastic float or wood block rubber gloves rubber mallet trowel and bucket


Step 1. The area to be paved must be enclosed by a border. If you are not laying the pebbles within an existing frame then prepare the border first cobbles and pavers are good options. Next, prepare the area to be pebble-paved by digging out the soil to a depth of 50 mm and then making sure the new surface is level. Step 2. Mix 4 parts sand to 1 part cement and add enough water to make a dryish mixture. Pour it into the dug out area, filling it almost to the top. Level and compact it with a float or block of wood. If you intend placing the pebbles in a particular pattern then draw or trace the pattern into the mortar at this point. Step 3. Start putting the pebbles in place, working from the centre of the design outwards, and ensuring each pebble is embedded in the mortar. When the area is filled with the pebbles ensure they are level by placing a plank across them and tapping it with a rubber mallet. Step 4. For the grouting make a slurry of cement and water (it should be the consistency of runny yoghurt). Pour it over the pebbles so that it fills all the spaces between them and then leave it to set for one hour. (If the mixture has splashed onto the surrounding pavers or cobbles then clean it off immediately.) Step 5. Use a hose with very fine spray to wash the cement off the pebbles, taking care not to wash the mix out from between them. Use a sponge to clean left over cement off the pebbles and dab up the excess moisture.


Building floating steps

A front entrance should be the most welcoming part of a garden and floating steps leading up to the front door certainly lend maximum appeal. Make sure the size of the steps is in scale with the size of the door a double door requires wide rectangles that make a bold statement.

What you need (per step)

Shutterboard (22 mm thick), 5 pieces, as follows: 1800 mm x 100 mm (x 2) 750 mm x 100 mm (x 2) 800 mm x 100 mm (x 1) brace nails 2 bags PPC cement 4 bags river sand 4 bags stone (19 mm crushed) 1 bag plaster sand


plastic float corner trowel Step 1. Floating steps should be made in situ, especially when they are long rectangles. Start by compacting and levelling the area. Step 2. Make a box mould using the shutterboard. Ensure it is perfectly straight and measure the inside to make sure the size is correct for the finished step. Nail the brace in position across the top of the box in the centre. This stops the mould bulging when the concrete is poured in. Step 3. Mix together 4 parts stone, 4 parts sand and 2 parts cement. Add water until the mixture reaches a pouring consistency. Pour it into the mould and pack it down using the float. Make sure that the corners are filled. As you work the cement will rise to the top and form a smooth layer. Step 4. Tap the edges of the box with a rubber mallet to remove any air pockets. Leave to cure for at least a week (preferably longer) before removing the mould. Step 5. Plaster the step using 3 parts plaster sand and 1 part cement mixed with water. Use a float to make a smooth 10 mm layer on the top and sides of the step. Use a corner trowel dipped in water to neaten the edges. When the plaster finish is nearly dry, smooth it over using a float in circular motions. Seal with a concrete sealer if necessary.

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outdoor paving

Using cement to grout the pavers for an outdoor entertainment area makes it long lasting and gives it that finishing touch we all strive for.

What you need

5 kg PPC cement river sand for base 1 bag plaster sand Sandstone pavers

trowel rubber mallet spirit level spacer cut from off-cuts of wood straight edge (2.2 m) squeegee sponge


Step 1. Prepare the area for the pavers by removing grass and plants, then put down a layer of river sand, compact it and level it. Step 2. If there is no straight edge from which you can work then set up a builders line. Next, decide how big the gaps between the pavers must be and cut a piece of wood to this size to use as a spacer. Start putting down the pavers, checking their levels as you work, and using the mallet to tap them down when necessary. Use the straight edge to ensure each row is straight before starting the next row. Step 3. For the grouting use 3 parts plaster sand to 1 part cement and enough water to form a mixture that is the consistency of runny yoghurt. Use a trowel to pack the mixture into the gaps and use a squeegee to smooth it over. Do a maximum of 4 linear metres at a time then use a trowel to remove the excess grouting and use a sponge and water to clean off the pavers, otherwise they may be permanently stained. Once completed, leave for 48 hours to dry. If it is very hot during this time then wet the grouting occasionally, using a hose with a fine spray, to help prevent cracks forming.


For more advice on cement please ask your PPC Cement stockist or call the PPC toll-free help line 0800 023 470 (SA only) Visit the website on
While all information in this brochure is supplied in good faith, no responsibility can be accepted by PPC or the stockist for claims arising from its use