As the developer of a senior living housing project, balancing the need for beauty with the allotted budget for outdoor spaces can be a challenge. But with the public's increasing awareness that time spent outside has therapeutic benefits, you'll need to find a way to make the landscaping both practical and inviting. A plain, gray concrete slab with some outdoor patio furniture isn't going to be sufficient for the type of mental and physical stimulation the building's residents need. That doesn't mean using concrete is a bad idea. It does, however, mean that you should grant greater leeway for creative design and decorative finishes installed by your concrete contractors. Like the plants, lawn and other garden features, the hardscape surfaces can stimulate the senses while offering firm footing for outdoor activities.
A patio is typically the largest hardscaped space at a senior living residence. It serves as a gathering place and plays an important role in the community's social life. You can set the stage for healthy interactions by making the area pretty and peaceful. The surface underfoot is the foundation upon which the furnishings and surrounding plantings will all be based. These concrete design elements will make the patio surface both beautiful and safe:
- Avoid ordinary rectangular shaped patios. Instead, go for the softer visual appeal of a concrete slab that has curved edges.
- Add color to the concrete. Stains and dyes can be added to the cement mix when the slab is poured. Verify with your contractor that a UV-resistant colorant is used so that the surface remains vibrant instead of fading from sunlight exposure.
- Give the surface texture. With a stamped concrete finish, the contractor can emulate the look of a more expensive patio made of pavers or flagstones. Additionally, the flat concrete is safer than pavers and stone, which can buckle, settle and become uneven, causing the potential for trip and fall accidents.
Fully or partially enclosed by walls, screens or fencing, a small courtyard offers a protected outdoor environment for your senior residents. Typically used for small gatherings or by those who prefer to go solo when they relax outside, this space is ideal for bold, creative design. Popular courtyard styles can be enhanced with stamped, colored concrete as the base design element.
- Southwestern style. Colored with rust-red and brushes of black, a brick pattern brings the flavor of the Old West to the courtyard. Add planters filled with succulents, wood outdoor furniture, and hanging iron lanterns to complete the rustic look.
- Italianate style. A pattern that looks like fan-shaped, chiseled limestone blocks gives a sense of formality to the space. Add sturdy bistro tables and chairs, upright evergreens in large pots and several containers of vibrant, blooming flowers to create Continental pizzazz.
- English cottage style. A cobblestone pattern as the base of this design is reminiscent of a quaint English village. Patio furniture in soft pastel colors, big planter boxes filled with geraniums, and wood or wire obelisks covered with flowering vines give this setting whimsical appeal.
Paths and walkways that wind through a garden space beckon your residents to exercise in the great outdoors. Because of the age range your property serves, some may need walkers or wheelchairs to navigate the wide open spaces. Give your contractor specific measurements for walkways that are wide enough for mobility aids to pass. And make sure the design is in a loop or has ample space at the end to turn around. The walkways cover a lot of square footage, so make them visually attractive with classic stamped concrete patterns, such as
- interlocking pavers with their straight, geometric lines,
- natural stone that has a flat surface and worn-looking rounded edges,
- or textured tile in rich, earthy colors that complement the surrounding landscape.
Your decision to make the outdoors more attractive by using affordable products and techniques will have lasting benefit for your bottom line – and more importantly, for your residents' health.
For more information and options, contact concrete services, such as Claggett & Sons Inc, who can design appealing concrete patios and walkways.