Think concrete only gives a utilitarian or industrial look? In fact, concrete is one of the most versatile materials. Contractors can stamp, stain, dye and even sculpt concrete. In fact, concrete can be used to mimic most other materials. Blend concrete with landscaping to create a beautiful backyard.

Stamped Concrete Patio

Contractors can stamp and stain concrete to resemble brick, natural stone or cobblestone. So all you have to do is start with one of your dream materials and build from there.

According to The Concrete Network worn stone is one of the most popular designs for stamped and stained concrete. Such a foundation works well with rustic décor, such as farm-style patio furniture and old-fashioned plants for landscaping. One option is to have a crabapple tree near the patio to create a transition between the two areas and plant daisies and black-eyed Susans nearby. Include a few flowers in containers around the patio or even in prints or patterns in the décor.

Worn stone also looks attractive as flooring for a Tuscan-style patio. For this design focus on a palette of gold, blue and green. For furniture, wrought iron or burnished copper is traditional for this kind of style. Include a juniper bush near the patio for transition, and even consider an herb garden. At the very least, dot herbs such as rosemary and basil in planters around the patio.

Concrete Walkway

Since concrete can be stamped and stained to resemble another material, this makes it optimal for creating a walkway as well. However, another option is using concrete pavers. These even more closely mimic the look of natural stone. Use a set of concrete pavers to create a charming pathway in your backyard.

Sunset Magazine suggests using focal points to create interest in your pathway. So, rather than laying a straight path between point A and B, set a few curves in the walkway. Reinforce the curves with landscaping by planting a border of flowers and even decorative grasses. In the center of the biggest curve, set a focal point such as a particularly lovely bush, a mini-garden or a beautiful piece of lawn art. This reminds you and your guests that sometimes it really is just about the journey.

Another way to use concrete pavers with landscaping is to create a living walkway. Certain groundcover plants such as Irish moss and creeping Jenny can withstand foot traffic, so you can use them between the pavers. If you fancy flowers, try blue star creeper or low-growing sedum. If you'd like a fragrant walk, plant thyme, mint or chamomile. A landscaping service, such as Master Landscape, could help you choose.

One of the most attractive design elements is blending the greenery of plants with the solidity of stone. Use a mixture of durable concrete and beautiful landscaping to replicate this effect.