Product Spotlight: Brighton Fireplace Series

Summer is winding down, which means fall is quickly approaching. Crisp leaves, shorter days, and cool nights are on the horizon.

But colder weather doesn’t have to sentence you to an eternity cooped up inside. In fact, there’s no better time to grab the family and lounge next to a warm fire! Our Brighton Fireplace Series is just what you need to make sure your outdoor nights don’t end.

Belgard fire 3

We know money doesn’t grow on trees, so we created the Brighton Series to address the need for a lower-priced fireplace set. Featuring the same 36’’ firebox as the other fireplace collections, the Brighton is a great option for those who want to enjoy an outdoor fire without breaking the bank.

Belgard Fireplace1

The Brighton Fireplace is available in wood-burning, natural gas, and liquid propane configurations, and can come with or without a chimney/top. Measurements vary depending on installation, but you can plan for your fireplace to be approximately 3.3’D X 4.3’W X 8.5’H.

The series also includes beautiful wood boxes sold in units of two that measure approximately 2.3’D X 3’W X 2.9’H. Don’t worry about fetching wood from another storage area when you’re running low—keep it right next to your Brighton fireplace!

Belgard Fire2

When planning for your fireplace, make sure you keep the rest of your hardscape in mind. We have a multitude of brick hues like tan, slate, mist, or haze to match your current outdoor theme. Or, use a variety of shades to give your fireplace added dimension! We have everything you need to be sure your fireplace complements your hardscape.

Fall is on its way, and you don’t want to miss out on those crisp nights next to a warm fire. So, make sure you’re ahead of the game and order your Brighton Fireplace today!

What You Need to Know Before Installing Your Hardscape

So, you’ve decided to install a hardscape. We don’t blame you—they’re great! Hardscapes can add beauty and value to your home, not to mention more enjoyment. They’re versatile, convenient, and fun!

While hardscapes are a great addition to any home, the installation process can be a doozy – especially during the planning phase. With those early first steps in mind, we have some tips for planning your hardscape, as well as some questions you should consider. So take a deep breath… soon you’ll be enjoying your new outdoor living space!

Make a Plan

First things first- you need to have a plan. When designing your hardscape, make sure you plan for the entire area, even if you’re not hardscaping all of it immediately. If you sketch out the whole yard, you’ll have less to do when you want to add on projects.

Planning in full also helps with consistency. Say you’re putting in a pool. Down the road you may want to install a porch. If you don’t plan for this space, you’re going to run into issues… the porch may not be possible with the pool’s location and size, or may look funny if the pool isn’t properly placed.

In your sketch, be sure to mark off major features, like your house or that favorite tree you just can’t live without. Be aware of view lines. Your hardscape isn’t enjoyed only from the outside, but also from the inside! You don’t want to look out your window and be staring at the back of your grill…. so be aware of where you place utilities and other features.

Keep greenery in mind, too. Gardens and yard patches provide a nice balance to hardscapes. Grass gives a respite from hot surfaces in the summer, a place for pets, and a play area for children. Gardens can provide a pop of color and are a good way to implement nature into your hardscape. If you need gardening ideas, check out our gardening tips to beautify your hardscape.

Determine Your Budget

This one might seem like a no-brainer, but sitting down and determining your budget helps you make a lot of decisions about how to proceed with your hardscape. For example, can you build out the whole area? Or, would it be wiser for you to break your hardscape endeavor into smaller projects? Will you do the work yourself, or will you hire a contractor? Budget can also help you determine which materials to use.

Having trouble justifying your budget? Keep in mind that a beautiful hardscape can easily raise the value of your home. Get an appraiser to estimate the value added to your house by installing a hardscape, and you’ll be surprised! You might just find that you want to budget a bit more for that patio than you thought you did.

Choose Your Materials

Budget helps with this decision, but shouldn’t be the only consideration when choosing your materials! You should also consider durability and style. Are you going for a natural look? If so, consider incorporating wood into your design. Be sure to note that wood will require upkeep and is prone to weathering. If you’re looking for a more hands-off approach to your hardscape, you might want to choose a more durable material.

You should also be mindful of your home. Do the pavers you love match your house? Do you want to use brick, stone, or something else? If you’re not hardscaping everything at once, this might not be your only project. Choose materials that compliment your home and can be continued through other hardscaping endeavors.

Remember, hardscapes are a permanent fixture. Take your time in choosing your materials. You want to love your new space, and you want it to last. You also don’t want to break the bank!

Prepare Your Yard

Preparing your land for hardscaping is the biggest part of the installation process. If you don’t feel 100% comfortable doing this on your own, we recommend hiring a professional to help with excavation and installation (find a Belgard Authorized Contractor near you).

Excavation will be dependent on the size of the project. However, there are some general principals to focus on, such as foundation. A good foundation is needed for any hardscape project, and can ensure longevity of your hardscape design. Proper compaction of soil gives your foundation stability, and helps prevent settlement and runoff damage.

Be aware of where utility and plumbing lines are if deeper excavation is necessary. Knowing this before you start digging can help you avoid a massive headache (and a large bill)!

Finally, be sure to consider drainage issues. Planning for runoff early will help avoid a myriad of issues down the road. Runoff should be contained for site use, instead of being allowed to flow all over your concrete or other hard surfaces. Consider building swales (think shallow ditches) to collect surface runoff and provide irrigation for your soil and yard.

Relax

The installation process might not be the most glamorous part of your new hardscape, but with proper preparation, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying your backyard paradise!

Have more questions about the installation process, or tips for DIY-ers? Share them in the comments! We’d love to hear from you.

How to Throw the Ultimate Back-to-School Bash

Belgard Aug 13

(image source)

August is upon us once more. For many of us, that means the kids are heading back to school. Doesn’t it seem like June was just kicking off a season of family adventure? Time flies when you’re having fun in the sun!

After months of warm weather and long summer nights, why not take one more chance to celebrate the season and send the kids off in style? Just because school is starting, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the last of summer. Make August your time to throw the ultimate back-to-school bash!

A lot goes into planning a party, but thankfully, we’ve got all you need to make the process easy, quick, and fun! Check out these five steps and have the best back-to-school party on the block.

1. Center on summer

When planning your back-to-school bash, make sure you channel the season. Summer might not be over, but for the kids, heading back to school pretty much marks the end of summer fun. So, make this no ordinary outdoor party… you’re celebrating the end of summer, the kids starting another year of school, and all of the wonderful fun you’ve had together these past few months.

Emphasize the best parts of the season, like the warm weather, long nights and of course, the perfect time to be outside. You know what that means…. get outdoors! Put your yard to use and center the party around your landscape’s best features—whether that be the pool, the patio, or the yard. There’s no better way to say goodbye to summer than making it the focal point of your party. Get everyone out of the house and enjoy the sun!

2. Choose your theme

Every great party starts with a great theme, and back-to-school parties are no different. In order to make decorating easy, choose a theme and stick to it.

Do you want to have a barbeque? Grab some checkered tablecloths and mason jars. Or maybe you’d rather pretend you’re at the beach and have a luau around the pool. In that case, think Hawaii– leis, tiki torches, the whole deal. Don’t really feel like going all out on decorations? No problem! Check out our tips for lighting up your hardscape for an easy way to add some flair to your backyard!

3. Make a menu

It isn’t a party until you break out the food and drinks, so take time developing your menu. Highlight your family’s summer favorites: BBQ chicken, burgers, fruit salad, and more. There’s no need to hide inside while everyone else is enjoying the sun… put your grill to use and cook outdoors with your family and friends!

Make sure you consult the kids about kid-friendly options—it is their last hurrah, after all. Get them involved and come up with “kid-cook” options that they can prepare too. And of course, don’t forget dessert. Need some inspiration? Check out our Salted Caramel Ice Cream recipe, or whip up some s’mores!

4. Plan activities

One of the best parts of summer is the endless list of outdoor activities you can do. Plan some fun summer games for your back-to-school bash. Want to get an expert’s opinion? Ask the kids! They are the masters of fun.

In the mean time, here are a few suggestions for you: If you’re having a pool party, enjoy a game of Marco Polo or set up water races. Winners get a prize, like a piece of candy! If a luau strikes your fancy, do the limbo or have a hula contest. Cornhole (bag toss) is great for barbeques, and water balloons are guaranteed fun for any theme. Be creative, and remember, get outside!

5. Have a blast

Planning and hosting a party can be overwhelming. Make sure to take a deep breath and enjoy your time with your family and friends. After all, that’s what this celebration is all about!

Remember that going back to school marks a big time for the kids. New teachers, new classmates and new subjects can be a lot of exciting changes all at once! So soak in the sun, reminisce with them about your favorite summer memories, and cherish your time together. Summer only comes once a year, and this is it for the kids. Send them off with a bang, and get ready for the fun the school year brings!

What to Know About Lighting Up Your Hardscape

Your patio looks great. Your furniture is spiffy and your outdoor cushions compliment each other. Your garden has grown into a green goddess of gardening perfection.

The only thing missing? The lights!

Belgard Light Post

What good is your outdoor paradise if you can’t enjoy it on a beautiful summer night? With so many big features to focus on—brick layout, grill options, fireplace structure—many outdoor enthusiasts forget that lighting is a key feature in creating the ultimate backyard living experience.

Why are lights so important? Well, besides making sure you don’t trip on your way to your Belgard Brick Oven, lighting can enhance your hardscape. It’s all about what you’re in the mood to do. Do you want to show off your perfectly pruned garden? Are you having an evening soiree with friends and family?

Don’t worry. Whatever your desire, we’ve got all you need to know about setting the mood in your hardscape.

If you’re in the mood to… Highlight Your Garden

Just because it’s dark outside, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t show off your garden! Canopy lights are a perfect way to illuminate your plants and flowers once the sun goes down. These lights sit on an 18-24 inch post and can add a decorative element to your garden. Use low voltage lights, which are easy to install. You can even bury the cable beneath the dirt! Don’t want to deal with cables? Use solar lights!

If you’re in the mood to… Highlight Your Hardscape

Your garden isn’t the only thing that needs showing off! What about that great patio? For general landscape and hardscape lighting, spotlights can be very useful. Spotlights are used for a number of lighting techniques, including highlighting and uplighting. Highlighting is often used to illuminate trees by placing a spotlight near the base. Uplighting involves placing spotlights close to the base of a fixture (like a home or special hardscape feature) and creates a dramatic yet welcoming effect.

If you’re in the mood to… Light the Way

Lighting up your pathway is both a practical and aesthetic way to enhance your hardscape. The good news about path lighting? There are so many options. The bad news about path lighting? There are so many options! Perhaps you’d like to create a backyard beach paradise with tiki torches. Or maybe you’re more into the rustic, medieval look with lanterns. Or you love the traditional, tried and true canopy path lights. Whatever your style is, think about the mood you’re trying to create and use variety. For example, if your pathway is lined primarily with green, try using a bamboo path light to add some contrast. Avoid placing lights in a straight line or too close together. You wouldn’t want your path to look like a runway!

If you’re in the mood to… Have a Party

Who isn’t in the mood to have a party when the weather is warm? Don’t fret about complicated decorations – use lights instead! Lighting is an easy way to give your hardscape a festive atmosphere. Once again, it’s all about your mood. Use paper lanterns for a pop of color and a fun loving, youthful vibe. Or, have a southern soiree by placing candles or twinkling lights in mason jars for your backyard barbeque. Use your tiki torch path lights for a Luau! Want to take the romantic route? Candles are the way to go. Also, string lights can spruce up your hardscape, too. They come in several designs—butterflies, twinkling, standard Christmas style—and can be used for a variety of occasions.

If you’re in the mood to… Feel the Fire

We can’t talk about lighting without talking about fireplaces! What better way to light up the night than basking in the warm, natural glow of your fireplace? Fireplaces go with every occasion – pool parties, romantic dinners, family barbeques, or just relaxing and enjoying the outdoors! Cuddle up with your honey, tell ghost stories with the kids, and indulge in some s’mores, all the while taking in your landscape in the firelight. Don’t have a fireplace? See what we have to offer!

As you can see, lighting is all about your mood. What’s the occasion? The theme? The energy? Whatever you’re trying to accomplish with lighting decor, have fun when using this versatile method to set the mood in your landscape!

Have more hardscape lighting questions or suggestions? Share them in the comments! We’d love to chat about it with you.

The Ultimate Battle Plan for a Pest Free Garden

garden pests

(image source)

You’ve worked and worked under the hot summer sun to have a garden worthy of your friends’ oohs and aahs. There’s just one problem: pests.

Whether you have deer, rabbits, slugs, mice, birds, or another garden bully, these animals can wreak havoc on your meticulously planted masterpiece.

But before you rage an all out war on nature, check out our easy tips for keeping your garden pest free. These could save you a headache, and a battle with wildlife conservationists!

Know your enemy

The first step in any defense plan is knowing who, or what, you’re up against. Take some time to do research about the pests in your garden. Are you dealing with deer, who graze on everything? Or maybe you have rabbits eating your beans. Perhaps slugs are chomping the leaves of your beautiful plants. The point is, different pests call for different strategies. Unfortunately, there isn’t a set, cure-all plan in keeping your garden pest free. But once you figure out the main source of the problem, there are several defenses to keep critters away.

Use repellents

Repellents are a highly suggested way to keep your garden free from pests. Once you’ve figured out which animal is your priority, choose a specific repellent to address the problem. Garden-pros advise against using harsh chemicals and poisons, especially for gardeners with children and pets. However, there are several, less severe options for a pest free garden (besides ordinary insect repellent). Fox urine may sound gross, but it’s quite effective in keeping rabbits away and can be purchased from your local gardening or hardware store. Try using visual repellents for birds (such as a fake owl or foil strips that wave in the wind), who are known for their flighty nature. The flashing of the foil in the sunlight and the movement will scare off your winged foes. If you need a more blanket approach to this issue, pepper-based sprays are also a popular method for deterring several types of pests, such as rabbits, squirrels, deer, and even insects or pets. Remember, repellents are not permanent. If you choose to go this route, you will have to reapply them frequently to keep pests away for good.

Make your garden ugly

Ugly to pests, that is! Your garden should be beautiful for visitors, but that doesn’t mean it needs to look great for garden foes. Thankfully, the two have different definitions of a “good” garden. Make your plant paradise unattractive to critters by eliminating food supplies such as excess birdseed and compost areas. Also, clear out brush and other hiding places. Make sure there aren’t any potential nesting areas for long-term residents. Maintaining a well-groomed garden can be an additional assurance that pests are not hiding somewhere in your shrubs.

Make the area difficult to reach

 If the thought of surrounding your masterpiece with a fence doesn’t make you cringe, then this can be one of the sure-fire ways to keep pests out. Once again, it is important to know what kind of critter you are dealing with before you take steps to block off your plants. Deer can jump pretty high, so fencing will have to accommodate for this trait. If putting up a fence does sound horrible, there are other barriers you can put in place instead. For rabbits, consider elevating your plant beds; these critters can burrow under fences anyways! Netting can provide a more universal defense, deterring rabbits, deer, and even birds. Some garden experts also suggest placing thorny plants around enticing areas to keep pests and pets away.

If you have pests in your garden, don’t fret. Take a deep breath, put the BB gun down, and try out one of these tips first. Soon, your masterpiece will be pest free, and you’ll be telling friends about how you won the Battle of the Shrubs as they fawn over your gardenias. Carry on soldier, and good luck!

Do you have more suggestions for keeping pests out of the garden? Share them in the comments, and help a fellow gardener out!

Product Spotlight: Aqua Bric Pavers

Ah, the rectangle. So simple at first glance, but trust us, this seemingly plain shape offers much more than meets the eye.

Take our Aqua Bric pavers, for example. The stones feature clean lines, subtle yet attractive colors, and superior ease of use. But it’s our Aqua Bric’s surprising versatility that makes it such a popular choice with our customers.

Its basic shape allows it to adapt to an incredibly diverse range of design styles and patterns. Lay them in running bond, herringbone, basket weave, or a pattern of your choosing for a totally unique look!

aquabric1

And did we mention that these are some of our most durable and environmentally friendly pavers? Meticulously engineered to reduce water run-off, our Aqua Bric pavers are ADA compliant for Floor or Ground Surface Standards. So you’ll never have to worry about wear and tear on your hardscape or yard.

aquabric2

The bottom line? Aqua Bric pavers are a perfect fit for any hardscape. They’re versatile, durable, environmentally friendly, and ready to help bring your dream design to life.

To get some inspiration for your next project, download your free Idea Book today!