Concrete and cement are not normally materials we immediately associate with DIY home improvement projects, but they can actually accomplish a lot in terms of stabilization, fortification, and aesthetics. Below are simple DIY projects involving concrete and cement for your consideration.
Retaining Wall for Landscaping
Retaining walls are a great addition to any landscape—not only are they great for soil stabilization, they can also add dimension to a front yard or backyard. Unfortunately, hiring a retaining wall contractor to build a retaining wall costs thousands of dollars; with dedication and effort, you can do the same thing for much less money. To do so, you’ll first need to carefully measure the area where you need the retaining wall to know how many concrete masonry units—a fancy term for concrete blocks—you’ll need. Also keep in mind that you’ll need a good foundation and proper retaining wall drainage so that moisture doesn’t keep building up. See our “Build Your Retaining Wall” article for more details!
Other Retaining Wall Formats
Beyond your basic block-style retaining walls, you can also build several other types of retaining walls. There are crib walls, made of precast, interlocking concrete; these walls can fortify a large area, have large gaps to allow drainage, and are both easily erected and aesthetically pleasing. If you need to manage groundwater, you can build a cutoff wall to restrict the area where the water can flow. Or you might just need temporary walls that will only be erected for the short-term but which will help in larger projects. Regardless of what you need, concrete and cement retaining walls can provide a great solution.
Concrete fences are stronger than normal wooden ones, but they can still look very attractive! As with any fence, you’ll need posts to stabilize the fence in the ground and panels to cover the spaces between the poles. You’ll need to first create each of these components separately, using molds that you can also make yourself or purchase from somewhere else. Oftentimes, it will be easier to purchase the concrete components and then just install the fence yourself. When you install your fence, take careful measurements so you know that your foundations will be equidistant from each other—fill the foundations with concrete, using a level to make sure that they are even. Set up the panels first and then follow with the posts, making sure that the post is centered. This is a labor-intensive job that will require multiple people.
Today, concrete stamps are popular in many home gardens. Because concrete is so moldable, it can be made to look like stones or be imprinted with any number of patterns, making for beautiful landscapes. Professional concrete stamp work can be very expensive, so why not try doing it yourself? To do so, you’ll need to create some rubber stamps (polyurethane rubber is a good material with the correct hardness). For a stone pattern, you can pour liquid rubber over the stone pattern you would like to imitate, and then peel it off when it has hardened. This rubber stamp can then be pressed into semi-hardened concrete to create stone-like patterns.