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Reshaping Landscapes

New concrete product can be molded without forms

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A new product is revolutionizing everything from retaining walls to backyard water features to stone-flanked signs for a community.

StoneMakers resembles traditional concrete in that it arrives in a cement truck. But it has a proprietary secret ingredient that renders the concrete product malleable without the use of wooden forms.

“When it comes out of the truck, it’s like Play Doh,” explains Bill Akehurst, vice president of Akehurst Landscape Service Inc. in Baltimore, which is certified by StoneMakers to install the product. JT Masonry in Ephrata, owned by Jason Texter, is also certified to install StoneMakers.

Says Akehurst: “You can take a shovel and stack it up a foot wide and six feet high and make a wall – it stands on its own. It breaks all understanding of concrete.”

Akehurst expects a brisk demand for StoneMakers landscapes, which cost a third to a half less than stone.

Unlike traditional concrete, which dries from the outside in, StoneMakers dries from the inside out, allowing installers to sculpt it and work the surface.

The natural-looking colors are created with the use of acrylics that bond to the cement.

“We build the wall first and smooth it out and carve and texture it,” explains Akehurst. “Then we sprinkle and splash an acrylic, which gives it a different consistency as you trowel it across. The bonding of acrylic to acrylic actually draws the color in. As you draw a brush across, it will be dark and light, like natural stone.”

For one client, Akehurst created a 400-foot-long, 4-foot-high retaining wall that was sculpted to look like it was built from boulders; for another, a wall was made to look like sheer cliff rock, complete with cracks running through it. Akehurst also created a staircase that looked like boulders and an 18-foot waterfall that dropped in six-foot increments into three pools.

“It’s an amazing process,” Akehurst says.