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Instant upgrading of a utility area

Instant style

Upgrade unsightly garden spaces using ready-to-assemble kits, paving and plants

Utility areas no longer need to be hidden at the back of the garden behind a building, or screened off with plants, as they can now become stylish features thanks to easy-to-assemble products, good paving and plants. This is how we repurposed an unused section of garden to make it more user-friendly and useful.


The paving we used is a SmartStone Legogote cobble in sandstone. It comes in three sizes and fits together to make a pattern for a finished effect with a mottled colouring that blends well in any situation.

Shopping list
40 m2 SmartStone Legogote cobble in full, half and quarter sizes
(Contact SmartStone on 0861 SMART (76278) 1, www.smartstone.co.za)
3 m3 river sand
1 small bag cement
Builders’ line
Rubber mallet
Spirit level
Coarse broom

What you do

1. Mark out the area to be paved using builders’ line and pegs.
2. Cover the area with a 50 mm layer of river sand. Use a straight-edge to get the base level and then compact the soil. Check the levels.
3. Use the pattern supplied by Smartstone for the best effect and start laying the cobbles from the centre of the area. Each cobble has a ridge on the side that will give you an exact spacing between the cobbles when butted up against each other. Tap the cobbles into place with a rubber mallet and check as you go along that they are level.
4. Once the cobbles have been laid, mix a grouting of 4 parts river sand with 1 part cement and brush this dry mixture into the gaps with a stiff broom. A sprinkling of water will help it to set. Once the gaps are filled cover the area with river sand and then brush it off. The sand will soak up any excess water and cement from the tiles. Leave to dry and brush any loose sand off the cobbles.

Concrete slab

As a solid base for the metal shed, we laid a concrete slab.

Shopping list
Scrap wood (shutterboard)
River sand

What you do

1. Construct a box around the edge of the space to be slabbed with scrap wood.
2. Make a concrete mix using 4 parts stone, 2 parts river sand and 1 part cement and fill the area. Add water until it is the consistency of a thick, lumpy porridge.
3. Use a straight-edge to level the area and agitate the mix using a trowel. Allow it settle before using a float to smooth out the concrete. Leave for at least seven days to dry before removing the boards from the perimeter.

DIY products
First Dutch Brands supplies a variety of great products that come in flat-pack form with clear assembly instructions. Here are some of the products that will transform a boring utility area into a useful space that is also attractive.

Metal sheds

Duromax metal sheds are built to withstand our harsh South African conditions and they carry a full 15 year warranty. There are two models available, namely the Titan 8 x 6 (260 x 182 x 202 cm) and the Riverton 6 x 4 (200 x 122 x 190 cm). Both of these models are supplied flat-packed for easy home assembly and they fit into most family sedans. The powder-coated panels are beige with a green trim that adds aesthetic appeal. These are great products for the DIY enthusiast to assemble. Clear step-by-step instructions are provided, and the only tools required are an electric screwdriver and a small spanner. First Dutch Brands also offer a convenient installation service (charged separately) should you not wish to assemble the kit yourself.

An optional foundation kit is also available for both of these sheds, which is a recommended addition, as it allows you to install either a floating wooden floor, or fill it with concrete for a solid foundation. As the shed rests on the floor, without this foundation kit we suggest filling the inside of the shed with stones or bricks to raise the floor level inside the shed.


The Rainsaver Water Butt is imported from the UK and comes together with a handy Rain Diverter kit, which you install in your gutter downpipes around your home and then hook up to the Water Butt to harvest rain water. Rain water is best for watering indoor and specialty plants like orchids, African violets and cyclamens. Best of all, it’s free! The unique design of this diverter means that no leaves are diverted into the container and when the container is full, the water continues through the downpipe, preventing overflow or a muddy area around the unit. The Rainsaver Water Butt is made in part from recycled material and comes complete with the rain diverter, connectors, stand, tap and a childproof lid to prevent curious children from falling into the container. The lid is easily removed using a flat screwdriver to release the auto clip-lock mechanism. It holds 195 L of rain water and can be connected individually to a few downpipes around the home, or in series if you have a large roof surface area. This product connects perfectly to the Harmony Greenhouse, which is custom-made to take a water butt to channel water off the greenhouse roof. It also comes with a 10 year guarantee.

Harmony Greenhouse

This is the perfect hobby greenhouse for a keen gardener. Made from virtually indestructible crystal clear polycarbonate panels in an aluminium frame, this kit greenhouse is built to last. The greenhouse fits onto a galvanised metal base which can be anchored to the ground or to a concrete or paved surface.

Wattle Weave Screening

This highly decorative screening is just the thing to block off unsightly parts of the garden. In this case we used it to decorate a fence with ugly razor wire on the top. The result is a secure, yet private, space. The wattle weave screening comes in two sizes – 1.5 x 2 m and 2 x 2 m. This is a great, durable, dark brown screen, woven together with UV-stabilised nylon cord. It can be cut to size and is easily mounted onto any vertical surface to screen an unsightly view, fence or wall.

Outdoor sink

Wash anything outside comfortably without having to bend down under a tap or make a mess. These sinks are made of robust polypropylene and come complete with brackets, screws, plugs, as well as a gray water drain hose which allows you to direct the dirty water either into your garden, a Water Butt or down the drain.

Victoria Balcony Set

This patio set is perfect for a small balcony. It has two single chairs and a small coffee table. Made from durable, moulded, rattan-weave resin, it does not warp, fray or crack and is guaranteed for two years – it’s the perfect set to finish off our makeover.

Contact First Dutch Brands for more information on 0861 866 766, e-mail info@FirstDutchBrands.co.za
(These products are also available at selected Builders Warehouse and Builders Express stores.)

First Dutch Brands is one of the leading suppliers of functional and decor items for use in and around the home and garden. They identify and track the latest global design and product trends as well as source premium quality products from around the world. They are also the proud agents of the Keter brand in southern Africa – a global leaders in plastic products for home use with a wide range to choose from. These products are available at retail stores nationwide. See their comprehensive website for more: www.firstdutchbrands.co.za

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Comments (1) Comments
Comment by frank davids on Mon, Dec 2nd, 2013 at 12:23 PM
this is wonderful idea, i would not mind to have a sample for my clients. cant i have this one called rainsaver
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