The Rising Trend of
Vertical Gardens

The country is going green, in more ways than one! Everywhere you look, people are finding new and interesting ways to garden. One of the more recent trends is the rise of the what is called “vertical gardening”. Entire websites and companies are devoted to the trend. For those looking to add a little more dimension to their lives, vertical gardening is the way to go.

What exactly is a vertical garden?

A vertical garden can take any number of forms and is basically any vegetation that exists on a plane other than a flat horizontal surface. It can be as simple as a tier of stacked planters or as intricate as a high-rise wall completely covered in vegetation. Classic forms of vertical gardens include those created with trellises and arbors, but today’s modern vertical gardens have grown to incorporate a variety of ideas, techniques, and materials.

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A vertical garden like this could be constructed with curtain rods, t-shirts, and a glue gun.

How do I get started?

Wherever there is a blank wall or a bare fence, there is the potential for a vertical garden. There are companies that sell pre-made pockets and planters that are specifically designed to attach to walls or fence boards. However, the ideas are virtually endless for creating homemade versions. Unique ideas include converting rain gutters into vertical rows of horizontal planters, or constructing planter pockets out of heavy-duty fabrics.

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This sloped yard was terraced to create a meandering walkway with a tailored vertical garden.

What if my yard is sloped?

Well then, you have the perfect natural setting to create a vertical garden. Any gardening you do will already be multidimensional. But if you want to create something more structured and permanent, consider terracing the slope with pavers and retaining walls to create layers of built-in planters, which will define the garden areas and, at the same time, make the space more usable.

Boy Scout Helps Navy Widow Keep Husband’s Dream Alive

Future Eagle Scout Timothy Bedford displays the completed Warrior Fire Pit project her organized and help build for Landing Zone Grace Warriors Retreat.

Future Eagle Scout Timothy Bedford displays the completed Warrior Fire Pit project he organized and help build for Landing Zone Grace Warriors Retreat.

As one of the final qualifications for achieving the rank of Eagle Scout, a scout must organize and complete a community service project. For his project recipient, Timothy Bedford of Troop 996 in Virginia Beach chose to help the Landing Zone Grace Warriors Retreat (LZ-Grace) build a relaxation area for special operations forces veterans returning from deployment.

“I chose the project because our family has a great appreciation for military personnel,” said Bedford, whose father is a retired Navy senior chief. “We are aware of the effects of wartime deployments on service members and their families. I wanted a project that would help those who serve our nation and sacrifice to protect us.”

With Cambridge Cobble pavers donated by Belgard and local dealer Lancaster Farms, Timothy organized over 35 volunteers to build a fire pit and patio area as a relaxing gathering spot where veterans can help each other decompress from the tensions of deployment and transition back to life at home.

The dream for the LZ-Grace retreat center was originally conceived by 32-year veteran Navy SEAL, Steve Bukowski, who himself had trouble transitioning from each deployment. But before Bukowski could achieve his dream, he died of a massive heart attack only six months after his retirement.

A little over four years later, Bukowki’s widow, Lynette, and the Bukowski family have now brought this dream to life by converting a rundown horse farm into LZ-Grace where special operations forces veterans will benefit from peer mentoring, recreation-based therapy, life skills instruction, and post-transition planning.

LZGraceFirePit“Mrs. Bukowski shared her late husband’s vision of a place where service members could rest, heal, and reconnect,” Bedford said. “She told me recovery happens when people can talk over a meal or sitting around a fire. As a scout, I have always enjoyed campfires. I would have done whatever project she needed most, but my heart was to build the fire pit.”

Although, the retreat center is not scheduled to open until late summer or fall of this year, the Warrior Fire Pit, as it has been named, is already well used by the numerous volunteers working daily to renovate the property, many of whom are retired or former combat special operations forces, local firefighters or police officers, or SWAT team members.

“I often find many of the guys volunteering out here sitting around the fire talking after a full day of hard, dirty labor,” said Lynette Bukowski, LZ-Grace founder. “The comradery which naturally takes place around an outdoor fire opens a space for healing of hearts and minds and spirits in many. It’s easy to talk and tell stories around a fire. It’s also easy to sit quietly and listen and reflect.”

Stepping Up to the Next Level

One of the popular trends in today’s outdoor living design is the multi-level patio or poolscape. Often, a multi-level design is simply the solution to elevation grade issues. However, adding dimension to an outdoor living space can also be a personal choice, and quite often is.

When planning a multi-level outdoor living design, there is one element of the design that requires thought, but is often overlooked…the step. There are a lot of different ways of designing steps, and here are just a few ideas to help you step up to the next level.

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Many people like the look of large natural stone steps. An economical alternative is Granika Step, which offers the look of unpolished granite in a large-format step.

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This step design used Bullnose Coping, which provides a softer edge and can coordinate with existing pool coping. For additional personalized flare, a mosaic stone design was added to the fascia of each step.

Colorful ceramic tiles were used as accent pieces on the fascia of these steps. The steps themselves were left simple, with no additional edging, keeping the focus on the tiles.

Colorful ceramic tiles were used as accent pieces on the fascia of these steps. The steps themselves were left simple and clean, with no ledge or additional edging to the Mega-Lafitt patio pavers, creating a more natural look. Notice that the paver field was left untrimmed on the sides of the patio, as well, which adds to the natural effect.

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Sweeping arches of tumbled Weston Stone that mimic the shape and look of the fire pit were used to create the steps and walls of this multi-level design. Under-ledge hardscape lights were added to the steps and fire pit seat wall to help create ambiance and enhance visibility.

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Rough-hewn Celtik Wall provides a contrasting texture and shape to the Mega-Arbel pavers in this design. Using the same wall product for the pillars, steps, and water feature ties the whole design together.

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Anglia Edger, used for curbs and garden edging, can also be used to form natural steps into sloped terrain (as illustrated above) to create picturesque earthen paths.

For more ideas, visit our Pinterest “Step It Up” inspiration board.

New 2015 Idea Books
Hot Off the Presses

IdeaBookLooking for ideas to transform your backyard or create curb appeal that will be the envy of the neighborhood? Order your free Belgard Idea Book for ideas on how to use a variety of hardscape colors, patterns, and textures to enhance the beauty, functionality, and value of your home. From picturesque walkways and cozy outdoor fireplaces to gourmet outdoor kitchens and traffic-stopping driveways, the 2015 Belgard Idea Book will help you explore the possibilities.

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Click here to order your free Idea Book today!

Wow Your Neighbors with Unique Hardscape Designs

You put a lot of personal time and effort into decorating the interior of your home to create an environment that showcases your individual sense of style. Today’s outdoor living design is all about making your outdoor spaces function as a true extension of your home as an additional reflection of your personality. So, it’s time to take that sense of individuality outdoors and create some unique looks, and hardscapes give you the ability to do just that. Here are a few idea starters.

Idea #1

Use splashes of color to create whimsical, eye-catching designs.

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Idea #2

Turn a patio into an outdoor living room with a faux rug.

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Idea #3

Create the illusion of separate rooms by using different pavers for different areas.

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Idea #4

Use permeable hardscapes to build a fountain play area.

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Idea #5

Add dimension to your design with built-in seating or planter boxes.

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Ready to create your own unique outdoor space?

Click here to find a contractor or dealer near you.

Product Highlight: Belgard Walls for Fire Pits and Beyond

Not that long ago, it seemed like fire pits were primarily seen on campgrounds and were mostly enjoyed by scouts and rugged outdoor enthusiasts. Today, however, fire pits are one of the fastest growing trends in residential outdoor living and come in all sorts of shapes and types. Homeowners who don’t have one, likely want one. Let’s face it, fire pits are hot.

Belgard walls offer an excellent opportunity to build a gorgeous fire pit that not only serves as a favorite gathering spot, but is also a cohesive and permanent part of the overall outdoor living design. Not only can Belgard walls be used to construct the fire pit itself, but also coordinating design elements, such as steps, columns, and garden or seat walls.

Below are some ideas on how to use Belgard walls to construct fire pits that are not merely functional, but seamlessly integrate into the landscape to become the focal point of a cohesive outdoor living design.

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For this first design, Celtik® Wall was use for a variety of coordinating elements, including the fire pit, steps, seat walls, flower box, and retaining wall.

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The home below used Celtik® Wall to convert a severely sloped yard into an amphitheater. The graduated retaining wall doubles as seating for the coordinating fire pit.

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For the next design, a destination area was created overlooking the lake by using Weston Stone® for the fire pit, columns, and protective parapet wall.

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Weston Stone® was used in this design to create the fascia for step of the sunken fire pit, as well as for the fire pit itself, accent columns, and surrounding garden walls. In the area surrounding the fire pit, the garden wall also serves as a backrest for the seat wall.

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Wall products can also be used in combination to create an interesting look. For the gas fire pit below, the majority of the pit was constructed with Belair Wall®, which mimics the texture of the home’s masonry veneer. Weston Stone® was used for the base and as decorative accents.

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