Garden makeover: when to splurge or save

Here at Centenary Outlet, we specialise in stretching your gardening dollar just that little bit further. That being said, in a garden makeover, not every element can or should come from the bargain bin.

The Great Australian Dream is a belief that in Australia, home-ownership can lead to a better life. Add to that, the fact that a great garden can improve both your mental and physical health, it’s no surprise that a landscaped garden is at the top of most people’s shopping list when on the house hunt. Not to mention, a garden makeover is one of the first things many couples look to tackle when starting out on the renovation trail.

With such an aspiration for a beautiful outdoor space, it’s no surprise that it’s easy to get carried away. The good news is, well planned and executed landscape design can add between 5-11 percent to the perceived home value. A Michigan University study found that homeowners achieved a 109 percent return on every landscaping dollar spent – higher than any other home improvement.

The key is to keep your garden makeover under control. Check out the following recommendations for where you should save and where you should splurge in your next garden makeover project.

Save on plants

Now this doesn’t mean buying the dead or dying plants over in the corner, or planting so sparsely your garden looks like a barren wasteland. Simply design your planting scheme for maximum impact on a shoestring. Buy small and save. The price difference between a 140mm plant to a 250mm shrub can be up to 500 percent. Sure, planting larger plants give’s an instant impact, but often, older more established plants can be root bound and take a long time to establish and grow when planting in the ground. Compare that to freshly potted stock that is primed for luscious and exponential growth. After 12-months of growth your won’t know the difference. In the long run, the smaller plants will develop deeper and stronger roots.

Splurge on garden soil & mulch

Your new plants need nurture and nutrition to thrive. So often we spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on plants only to go cheap on soil. To parody a well-used clichè, soils ain’t soils and commercially available soils range in quality and intended use. If you’re planting natives shop accordingly, likewise, acid lovers, alkali lovers, plants that need good drainage and so on. Stretch the budget to the best quality soils you can afford, it will pay off in the long run, saving you money on fertilisers and maintenance.

When it comes to bark and mulch, splurge by actually using it! So many people just don’t bother assuming its function is purely aesthetic. A layer of bark and mulch aids in moisture retention protects your plants, prevents weed germination and feeds your soil. Mulch continues working to improve your garden while your back in the house with your feet up. Don’t skip it!

Save on the hard surfaces

Most landscape designs incorporate some hard surfaces be it paving or concrete and this is somewhere you can definitely find some savings. Decorative concrete surfaces can cost upward of $100 per square metre fully installed and usually have to be left to the professionals. Playing with wet concrete yourself can be messy and is a time sensitive trade. Not to mention, some decorative surfaces which require exposing require acids and other specialty gear.

The solutions? Paved surfaces! Paving is an easy DIY project and even the most expensive of paving options usually comes in below decorative concrete surfaces. Better still, shop for the bargains. Just like scratch and dent stores with white goods, Centenary Outlet offers a great range of factory seconds building and construction materials. You don’t have to buy damaged goods, it’s  just a way to stretch your budget a little bit further. Pick up end-of-line gear, old stock or factory clearance lines as good as new for up to half the price. From pavers to tiles, blocks to pots, even timber sleepers and palings, There’s a bargain to be had!

Splurge on turf

With so many species of turf available, it’s easy to get bamboozled. Some good in shade, other good with animals or kids (what’s the difference?). Some keep their winter colour, other are better in drought conditions. Sir Walter DNA Certified Buffalo Grass is Australia’s favourite lawn for good reason. When all turf requirements are put on the table, more often than not, Sir Walter lands on top of the grass heap.

When it comes to Sir Walter, make sure you are buying DNA Certified. There are plenty of less than honest wholesalers out there passing uncertified buffalos off as the real deal. Insist on the best and your investment will give you years of joy. Just ask Phil!

Save on garden edging

Functionally, garden edging simply holds your garden in the garden and it doesn’t need to redefine design. Forget the fancy Cor-TEN steel or hand cut stone blocks, the most effective and still the most popular product used by Landscapers country wide is a simple brick paver. Installed end on end with mortar, a 100mm wide edge is the perfect functional width stopping turf runners and acting as a level mowing strip. Brick pavers such as this sell for as little as $15 per square metre (38-50 pavers) which will reach a length of up to 10 metres of edging. That’s only $1.50 a metre!

Splurge on shade

Extending your living space outdoors is one of the best investments you can make in your backyard. Spending money designing and installing covered areas such as pergolas will allow your garden to be utilised year round and add value to your home. Further, if the budget can stretch, invest in the link between the two. Bifold doors and windows allow the indoors to flow seamlessly out and extends the usable living area.

Originally article by The Home Edition Blog: Garden makeover: when to splurge or save


‘Landscape plant material, size and design sophistication increase perceived home value.’ Department of Horticulture, Michigan State University, East Lansing.


Protect Your Investment – Sealer Application

Preparation and Application

Once you have decided on the type and style of sealer you wish to use on your new pavers, you can start preparing the area for application. If the pavers are brand new, and freshly laid, it is important to allow time for them to completely dry out. Many of the concrete manufacturers make pavers to order, and therefore come off the production line, packed onto pallets and delivered to your house all in a 10 day period. Concrete can take up to 28 days to cure and if possible, you should allow them that time before sealer is applied. During this time it is important to take extra special care as they are at their most vulnerable in an unsealed state. Tend to any dirt, leaves and footprints as soon as possible to ensure they are in tip top shape when it is time to seal.

Once allowed to fully dry out, they will no doubt require a light clean. Once again, there are many paver cleaners on the market, ranging from Alkali (detergent like), chlorine based and highly acidic cleaners (such as Hydrochloric Acid). Pavers should NEVER be cleaned with Hydrochloric Acid and in most cases you will void any Warranty offered by both the paver manufacturer and the Sealers manufacturer if used. Hydrochloric Acid was not designed to be used as a paver cleaner but has been over the years for its highly corrosive characteristics, making light work of most stains or grout deposits (and the decorative finish). However, it is extremely easy to damage the decorative surface of the paver and is highly advised against!

If you have taken reasonable care through the unsealed period, a light clean is most likely all that is required with a Heavy Duty Alkali Cleaner (such at Environex HD Cleaner). Once again, allow to fully dry out after cleaning (a day or so). If you have some more severe and specific staining, have a chat with one of our sales staff and they will recommend the correct product to use.

It is always recommended, regardless of sealer type, to apply with a Lambs Wool Applicator or for finer detail areas, a brush. Never use a paint roller as this will apply the sealer too thick and push it around the area. A Lambs wool applicator will apply the sealer far more evenly and allows the pavers to suck the sealer up and absorb it.

Before undertaking the whole area, test the sealer on a leftover paver or on an inconspicuous area. Once satisfied with the results the whole area can be undertaken. Most sealers will require a minimum of at least 2 coats, which is generally allowed for in the coverage estimates. As a general rule, you will get 4-5m2 per litre of sealer with 2 coats depending on the porosity of the surface. Most sealers have a re-coat time of approximately 8 hours. It is recommended not to undertake any sealing during the heat of the day, on days where rain is forecast, or when the surface temperature is greater the 30 degrees. The best time would be a dry day, first thing in the morning when the temperature is cool and the space is shaded. The second coat can then be applied at the end of the day, or the following morning.

Tools Required

• Surface cleaner (dependant upon type and severity of soiling)
• Lambs Wool Applicator
• Chosen Sealer
• Paint tray (sized suitably for applicator)
• Brush for finer detail areas
• Solvent for cleanup

In most cases, sealing is as simple as painting a wall. The keys to any successful sealing job is quite simply: make sure the area is clean and dust free, apply with the appropriate applicator, complete at least 2 coats (apply each coat at 90 degrees to the previous coat).


Protect your investment – Sealer selection

What Sealer?

With so many sealers on the market, it’s hard to know which one is right for you. Will it make them glossy, slippery or change the colour? All concerns which need considerations when protection is important.

A number of hardware stores sell a variety of brands including Environex, Mapei, Commelins, Sikkens and Bondall. Each manufacturer will offer an array of options for your paving project ranging in ingredients, absorption, application method and appearance.

Below is a simple table for your reference showing the active ingredients of a number of commercially available sealers, their durability and suitability. Make sure you check the manufacturers recommended application methods and suitability before making your final purchase decision.

Base Coats  Type Duty Rating  Price  Suitability
Alcohol 2-3 Natural II II Clay, Coarse Concrete,
Natural Stone, Slate & Porcelain
Water 1 Natural, Penetrating I I Clay, All Concrete,
Natural Stone
Solvent 2-3 High Gloss, Darkening I I Clay, Concrete,
Natural Stone
Solvent 2+ Natural, Penetrating II I Clay, Coarse Concrete,
Natural Stone
Alcohol 2-4 Natural, Penetrating III III Suitable for most surfaces (not porcelain)
Water 1 Low Gloss, Darkening,
II I Clay, Coarse Concrete,
Natural Stone
Solvent 1-6 Natural, Penetrating II II Suitable for most surfaces (not porcelain)

If you are still unsure on what sealer will work best for your project, below is a few common paving products with our recommended product type:

Adbri Quadro Pavers – A topical solvent-based sealer such as Endure from Environex. As Quadro Pavers are a very coarse and porous paver, the sealer will be absorbed nicely with a very slight sheen. It will slightly deepen the paver colour.

Wetcast Concrete, such as Edenstone or Boral – A penetrating solvent-based sealer such as Tuscan from Environex. Tuscan will absorb into the dense concrete finish leaving an unaltered appearance. If a sealer like Endure is used, the finish would be hight gloss.

Natural Himalayan Sandstone – A water-based stone sealer works great on natural stone with colour variation.  The sealer will enhance the natural colours of stone and really make it “pop” and will darken the colour overall.

Check out our next blog here Protect Your Investment – Sealer Application for a step-by-step guide on getting the job done right!


Protect your investment – Seal your pavers

Protect Your Investment
The Australian lifestyle is all about the outdoors and more and more people are investing their money in creating amazing outdoor spaces where they can make the most of it. Gone from the days where the backyard was just for the shed and a Hills Hoist, it has now become an extension of the home living space, with large expanses of luscious green lawns, pools, spas, landscaped and designer gardens and modern, small and large format natural stone and concrete pavers.

For many singles, couples and families, their home is the single largest investment they will ever make, so it is important to take the best possible care of it. Home upkeep can be a ginormous task without even factoring in the time spent in the garden on your weekend’s mowing, pruning, cleaning, and hosing. In a new home or extension, you would never leave the gyprock unpainted or the hardwood floors varnish free, as they would end up looking horrid after a very short time, and the same goes for your outdoor pavers. Concrete and stone are very porous materials and without the proper finishing treatment, they will end up looking just as sad and sorry in no time.

Unfortunately, many of us forget to seal our pavers at the end of a job almost guaranteeing dissatisfaction with the results sooner or later. The fact is, for most, the gardens and landscaping is the last project on the list, and paver sealing is usually the last job to be done and often overlooked due to time or budget constraints. However, it doesn’t take long and it doesn’t have to be a costly exercise and will always be proportional to the overall size and cost of your initial job.

Sealers Ain’t Sealers

To steal a line from a famous oil advertising campaign, the same is true for sealers. It’s the same old adage, you definitely get what you pay for and always be prepared for that. If you choose a cheaper water-based sealer you will need to replace it sooner, and a more expensive solvent based sealer will last much longer. But if you choose neither of these, ultimately, this will always be the most costly!

Choosing the Right Sealer

There are many sealer manufacturers out there, offering similar products for similar applications. Take the time to read to can and the ingredients to help you make a better decision. As a general rule, water based sealers are a cheaper alternative but have the shortest lifespan. Solvent based acrylic resin and alcohol based sealers will tend to last much longer and are more suitable for heavy duty and high use areas. These are often a more expensive option, but higher quality option.

Check out our next blog here Protect Your Investment – Sealer Selection for advice on selecting the right sealer for your job.


What’s Your Paving Style?

Our friends over at Centenary Landscaping Supplies have been a leading supplier of bricks and pavers to the Brisbane community for close to 30 years! So we think they know a thing or two about it… So here’s a great article they have produced to help you choose what paving design would suit you home best!

When you hear the words herringbone or stack bond what jumps to mind? An expensive clothing store or some liquid adhesive? If you’re planning a paving project, you would be familiar with the multitude of paving styles available. Selecting the way a paver is laid, or the pattern is essential in the planning process as different patterns can alter the look and feel of an area dramatically. Add to this the huge array of paving manufacturers producing quality products in every shade of the rainbow; some hard decisions will have to be made. Unlike paint colours, tiles and pavers are permanent and changing your mind after laying or in some cases, once they are delivered can be costly.

Before You Start

In today’s modern lifestyle, we treat our outdoor areas as an extension of the indoor space. When planning an outdoor renovation project, you’ll need to consider more than just the colour of the roof or gutters. Below are a few considerations for such decisions:

  • The period of the house (e.g. old QLD’er or modern rendered home)
  • Your current decorating style (e.g. country cottage or ultra modern)
  • Gutter, fascia and roof colour (e.g. colorbond roof colours)
  • House material and colour (e.g. clay brick, rendered or weatherboard)
  • The size of the space.
  • Amount of natural light available (e.g. covered area or exposed to bright natural daylight)
  • Other horizontal surfaces that the area will meet (e.g. turf, garden beds, retaining wall products, other paved areas or your internal flooring choice)
  • Internal colour scheme of flooring (e.g. white porcelain tiles)
  • Planned use of the space (e.g. BBQ area)
  • Current colour trends (check out designer magazines and television shows)
  • Future expansion plans (will you be adding on to this later, or changing its use in a future extension)
Design Sample Board Example

Design Sample Board Example

We recommend that you treat your planned paving or tiling project as a serious edition to your home which in turn will add value. Put together a colour and style board as a starting point (there’s no need to attach everything to a board, but this does help with visualisation). The board should include paint swatches, colorbond colours, an off cut of internal flooring, a sample of your retaining wall, perhaps a chip of laminate or timber from some furniture, pictures of your outdoor setting or feature pots you wish to incorporate. When presented together it makes visualising your space a whole lot easier!

Small or Large Format

After some of the initial design decisions have been made, choosing a paver size should become much easier. Internal tiles or the size of the space may dictate your paving size. As a general rule of thumb, small pavers with more joints make an area feel smaller and large pavers with fewer joints simplify the space and create a more open feel.

The current trend in paving is large format squares or rectangles from 400x400mm right up to 800x400mm. Larger pavers such as these mean less product to shift and lay, but make sure you consider the weight of each paver. An 800×400 can weigh up to 35kg each, and if you or your tradesman need to move these by hand, there might be a few extra zero’s on your bill. More traditional designs tend to incorporate a more traditional paver, such as small clay pavers sized at 230x115mm. These smaller pavers allow for more scope in laying patterns. This size paver can also be useful to create curves around pool coping or garden edges.

Colour Choice

Warm neutrals such as whites, creams, light and dark greys are all popular colour choices. Carefully consider the colour, as it will play a large role in the temperature of the area. Stark whites and greys if in direct sunlight can be quite bright through the peak of the day. Likewise, deep heavy colours like charcoals and black create and hold heat, increasing the surface temperature to over 60 degrees on a hot summers day. Also as a general rule, the small sample you see on display, whether it be in our yard or another will always appear lighter once laid, don’t ask us why! The colour can also alter the apparent size of a space. Lighter pavers make a space look larger, and darker colours make it look smaller and more intimate. If you plan to move soon or just can’t decide what colour works best, go neutral! It’s much easier to match future enhancements in a space with neutral colours.

Paving Patterns

Once the colour and size have been determined it is now time to look at patterns. Below is some examples of possible paving styles available:


Stackbond Pattern

Stack bond is a very “current” style trend with pavers and is great when using large format square pavers. This is visually the simplest style with clean and straight lines creating a very modern and contemporary feel.


Diamond Pattern

A variation of Stack bond, Diamond is installe45-degree45 degree angle of the line of sight. The diamond pattern is great for small and medium sized areas to create a sense of difference and interest.


Stretcherbond Pattern

Stretcher bond is a traditional pattern which replicates the classic look and feel of brickwork or cobble stone pavements. Typically used with small format rectangular pavers, it can also be implemented with square pavers as depicted here.


Basket Weave Pattern

Reserved for the smaller rectangular pavers, the basket weave pattern adds character and dimension to small areas.


Herringbone Pattern

A visually pleasing brick paver pattern. Perfect for driveways where strength is required. The interlocking style of the pattern makes herringbone the strongest paving pattern available.

Armed with this information you are now placed in a strong position to thoughtfully plan your paving job. Remember, we are here to help and with our help and the resources available through the internet with sites such as Pinterest or Houzz at your disposal, design inspiration is never more than a few clicks away.

If you are planning a landscaping job, drop into our yard today and see all the latest trends in paving, retaining and landscape design in our Landscape Display and Selection Centre. The centre is always changing and full of fresh paving and retaining displays, a mini turf farm, water features, green walls and more. We look forward to seeing you in the garden this weekend!


8 Reasons Pavers are the Superior Surface Treatment

Our friends over at Centenary Landscaping Supplies have been a leading supplier of bricks and pavers to the Brisbane community for close to 30 years! So we think they know a thing or two about them… So here’s Centenary Landscaping Supplies 8 reasons paver should be your first flooring choice in the backyard!

8 Reasons Pavers are the Superior Surface Treatment

There are many reasons why concrete or clay pavers should be your first choice when it comes to surface finishes in the home garden! Here are just eight reasons to switch to pavers for your next hard surface.

DIY Friendly

Unlike other finishes such as solid concrete and exposed aggregate, paving is a job you can easily tackle yourself with the right tools and know how. Check out our fantastic DIY area for easy to follow guides taking you step by step through the paver laying process. There are even video’s to help you tackle the tricky spots.

Extensive Range

Paving patterns, colours, finishes and styles are endless in possibility. Whether you’re looking for modern industrial tones or more traditional hues, you’ll be sure to find the perfect fit for your design. Pavers come in a range of sizes from 100x100mm right up to 1000x1000mm, yes that big! There are countless textures in masonry, concrete, clay and natural stone coupled with hundreds of colour options. All the choice makes for unlimited opportunities! Take a look at this fantastic article to give you some great ideas on picking your design and style.

Pavers are Repairable

You’d be hard pressed to walk around any Brisbane neighbourhood and find a crack free piece of concrete. Much of our fair city is built on or around reactive clay soils which means ground movement. Couple that with large landscaping trees bordering properties and driveways with invasive roots, high seasonal rainfall and long periods of drought, it’s inevitable your freshly laid concrete will crack in no time!

Pavers are much more forgiving with ground movement, small changes that would typically crack a concrete slab go unnoticed in a paved area. Fortunately, any issues that do arise can be spot repaired in a flash, by pulling up a few of the offending pavers, adding some more bedding material and re-installing.


Drop a glass of wine on your new pavers or have a stain from a greasy BBQ? No worries. Simply swap them out for new ones! We always recommend you keep a couple of spares in the shed, keep them protected and swap them in when required, bob’s your uncle!


When laid in the correct manner as recommended by the manufacturer and kept clean and tidy in line with the rest of your home, your paved area will look great.  In fact, with about an hours maintenance every 3-5 years your pavers should stay in top knick for years to come.

Free Draining

When laid to the Australian Standards which recommends a solid base of Road Base and a bedding layer of River Sand, pavers remain a permeable layer which will allow water and moisture to flow freely over the surface and drain through when needed. Take a little extra time to get your falls right and your paved area can help deal with ground water around your home.

Cost Effective

At Centenary Landscaping Supplies we have the right paver to suit every style and budget from under the wheelie bin to the grand front entrance. When compared to the cost of installing the alternatives like concrete, pavers will always come in on top! Just remember, the preparation for each option is 75% the same. The area will need to be excavated, cleared or levelled and filled with a bedding material. In fact, many concrete contractors will use river sand under a new slab, exactly what you need under pavers!


Have you ever tried removing a concrete slab? Did you use a sledgehammer, demolition saw, jackhammer or some other punishing hand tool? Larger areas will need specialist equipment such as excavators and bobcats. Crazy! When the time does finally come, and you decide an update is in order, it can be as simple as re-stacking your pavers back onto a pallet. You could even sell your pavers second hand to recoup some costs to reinvest into your next design! In most cases, the original base and bedding layer are reusable with minimal work.

Well, there you have it, eight great reasons you should use pavers over concrete in your next garden renovation!


Seconds & Efflorescence

Quite often downgraded or seconds bricks, blocks and pavers suffer from the unsightly issue of efflorescence and sometimes that may be their only fault. What this means is you could pick up a product at a bargain basement price and with some simple treatment have them looking a million bucks!

Take a read of this great article from our friends over at Centenary Landscaping Supplies which explains what efflorescence is as well as how to identify and treat a problem area.

What is Efflorescence?

One inherent problem when using masonry and concrete products around the home is efflorescence and no we are not referring to a fizzy drink!

From a scientific standpoint, there are a few different types of efflorescence and the one most likely to cause worry around the home is primary efflorescence.

Efflorescence is the loss of water of crystallisation from a hydrated salt to the atmosphere on exposure to air. Sounds complex right? Essentially, around the home or job site, efflorescence typically occurs during the initial cure of a cementitious product and mostly will present in masonry products, bricks, blocks and pavers.

When pavers are first laid, a block or brick wall is built there is often latent water present in the product. This water may be present due to the manufacturing process, product sweating from long-term packaging, water being added to the product during or after the installation or site moisture. Concrete and masonry products, being porous, will naturally absorb surrounding moisture as they are highly porous materials.

When water moves through a brick, block or paver, quite often drawn to the surface by heat, it brings with it salts that are not commonly bound as part of the cement product. As the water evaporates, it leaves the salt behind, which forms a white crystal-like deposit.

In some case’s, particularly on vertical brickwork, this deposit can be brushed away with no further treatment required. But on many horizontal surfaces like pavers, particularly dark coloured products a white stain will remain and need specialty cleaning products to rejuvenate.

One of the most common complaints we hear is regarding a freshly laid charcoal (or similarly dark coloured paver) developing white marks or discolouring over the first few weeks and more often than not it is the occurrence of efflorescence.

How Efflorescence occurs in Pavers

Efflorescence can be cause by moisture and soluble salts in either the paver itself or the surrounding environment.

As mentioned previously, efflorescence is caused by the presence of water in masonry products and as explained, masonry and concrete products are manufactured using water and also love to absorb and hold that water! So naturally, your fresh off the production line pavers will have latent moisture present.

In the case where moisture is present in the product, or water was present before, during or after the installation process (rain, wet sand, hosing to clean) occasionally efflorescence can occur. In these cases, the hot sun will begin to dry them out once they have been laid. This could happen as quickly as a few days if laid in the middle of summer or over a few months if in a shaded courtyard during the winter months. Once the water moves through the paver and hits the surface, the sun will evaporate the water leaving the salt crystal.

Efflorescence in pavers may also be caused by other external influences, such as your laying technique, other products used on the job (like sand) or even the presence of a swimming pool (salt in the water). When a masonry paver is direct stuck to a concrete slab using mortar adhesive or laid on a wet bed, the “drier” paver will suck up the moisture present below beginning the cycle mentioned above and bringing with it salts present in the wet adhesives.

Similarly, if you lay your pavers on inferior unwashed sands, Crusher Dust or Cracker Dust you may also experience salt absorption when moisture is present. Most bedding sand products are of a river origin and should be cyclone washed before arriving in a landscape yard, if not there may be soluble salts present. Likewise, Crusher Dust or Cracker Dust, being a crushed rock is full of minerals including salt which again can cause long term problems.

We recommend all masonry and clay pavers be laid on a layer of clean washed bedding sand (30mm) over a firmly compact layer of CBR45 (min) Roadbase (100mm). This will ensure none or minimal efflorescence will be caused by the external materials.

How to Minimise Efflorescence Occurrence

Most cases of efflorescence will naturally take care of themselves, as your pavers will eventually dry out and the salt deposits that may be present will become depleted. Make sure you follow the manufactures recommended laying technique (which in most cases will match the above process using sand and roadbase). Lastly, seal your pavers! Sealing your pavers essentially blocks out any chance of new water entering through the top and starting the drying process over. Although, we do recommend waiting a few weeks after laying to allow your pavers the chance to fully dry-out. You don’t want to seal the efflorescence in!

One thing to remember is, although unsightly, efflorescence is treatable! If it happens to you, allow your pavers to dry out fully, giving every chance to bring as much efflorescence to the surface as possible. Then treat the area using a specialist product such as Anti-Eff from Environex. Anti-Eft is a special formulation utilising the reactive quality between acid and mineral deposits. Make sure you follow the recommended concentration, allow to dry out once again and treat the entire area with a high quality penetrating solvent sealer. This will lock out the moisture and ensure your pavers stay in good nick for longer!

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