Trends in Landscaping Walls

Landscaping walls add dimension and definition to your outdoor living spaces. Whether utilizing a retaining wall to control the slope of your yard, or simply to add dimensional embellishments to an outdoor living space, landscape wall products represent an important element of contemporary outdoor living design.

Terraced Design

Retaining walls present a way to convert a sloped yard into usable space through the creation of terraces. Terraced design can also be used to create a raised or sunken outdoor room.

Vertical Gardens

A rising trend in outdoor design, vertical gardens take landscaping to new heights and add a tremendous amount of visual interest and dimension to an outdoor living area.

Defining a Room

Landscaping and seating walls can help define an outdoor living area or create a transition from one outdoor room to the next.

Fire & Water Features

Walls can be used to incorporate the elements of fire or water into an outdoor design in a variety of creative ways. These types of features become a visual anchor point and add to the ambiance of a design.

Outdoor Kitchens

Outdoor kitchens are one of the fastest growing segments of the outdoor living industry, and for good reason. An outdoor kitchen exponentially improves the functionality of an outdoor space, as well as the aesthetics.

Embellishments

Landscaping and retaining walls can be used to add any number of coordinating embellishments to an outdoor design — including columns, planters, mailboxes and more — which can help tie an outdoor design together.

Built-In Seating

According to the American Society of Landscape Architects, built-in seating has been one of the top 10 trends for the last few years. In addition to providing permanent seating, a seat wall can also help to define an outdoor living space.

Next week:  Come back to the Outdoor Living by Belgard blog for more seat wall design and placement ideas.

Hosting the Ultimate Backyard Tailgate Party

For many people across the nation, the season of Fall is synonymous with football season. And although we don’t always agree on which team to cheer for, we can typically agree that gathering with friends and family is one of the best aspects of the football-watching experience. Whether your next backyard tailgating party is in preparation for your son’s high school game, or whether it’s a viewing party for your local college or pro team, take your tailgating game to the next level with these backyard tailgating tips.

Setting the Scene

To efficiently host gatherings throughout football season, some upfront planning and organization will go a long way. Set aside a “party box” where you can keep all of your tailgating supplies in one place. That way, you’re not recreating the wheel each week. And since you’ll be getting a lot of use out of everything, splurge on higher quality decorations and color-coordinated serving bowls, trays and utensils. You’ll end up saving money in the long run versus buying throw-away items for each event. Also, go ahead and string festive lighting around the yard that will work just as well for holiday gatherings as it will for tailgating, and you’ll be ahead of the game come December.

Feeding the Masses

Tailgate parties have a tendency to grow…after all, the more the merrier. The best meal plan is one that incorporates a lot of small bites that go a long way. Light the pit, and prepare to keep it going. Brats, of course, are always a good choice. You can also grill a variety of sausages and serve them sliced on a platter with an assortment of dipping sauces. Gilled pizza and sliders are also typical tailgating hits. Consider setting up a  make-your-own slider bar, which can add to the festive atmosphere. To feed large groups, racks of BBQ ribs or smoked brisket work really well and can be partially cooked ahead of time to shorten game-day grill time.

Game-Day Drinks

Let’s face it, beer is the standard beverage of choice in most tailgating scenarios, but to take your tailgating up a notch, have a little fun with your selections. For example, have everyone bring their favorite six-pack of micro-brewed beer and setup a tasting table. And since game day is all about competition, get a contest going that allows everyone to vote on their favorite. For the non-beer drinkers, Southern Living offers some fun game-day cocktail recipes in quantities that will keep your guests sipping through all four quarters.

Pre-Game Activities

The best tailgate parties include lots of entertaining backyard activities like cornhole and washer pitching games, giant jenga, or a good old-fashioned game of horseshoes. If you have an outdoor fireplace or a fire pit, set up a s’mores bar where everyone can roast marshmallows and make fun and interesting s’mores with ingredients like cookies, ginger snaps, Nutella, peanut butter cups and, of course, graham crackers and chocolate.

Seating Arrangements

For larger parties, you may want to consider investing in an outdoor projection screen. Or, you can setup up multiple viewing areas with the help of multiple TVs and a cable splitter.  One way to create more viewing space around a single TV or screen is to arrange stadium-style seating by placing chairs in rows according to chair height, with bar stools in the rear row. An additional row can be created in the front by placing pillows on the ground for the kids.

NEXT WEEK:  Come back to the blog next week for the latest trends in outdoor living design using retaining and garden walls.

How to Smoke Barbecue Brisket

(photo courtesy Southern Living magazine)

Brisket is a lean cut of beef that presents a way to inexpensively feed a crowd, making it an ideal choice for tailgating season. Because it is a tough cut of meat, it requires extended cooking (about 6 hours) — which is perfect for an all-day tailgating session. You can also do some precooking in an oven, if you need to reduce the amount of grill time. For perfect brisket every time, follow these steps.

Step 1: Trimming the meat

Buy a brisket between 10 and 12 pounds. If possible, have the butcher trim off any excess fat. If not, trim it yourself. Leave any marbling that is within the muscle itself. Marbling will add flavor and moisture to the meat. But there’s typically a patch of fat that runs the length of one side of the cut, and you’ll want to remove that.

Step 2: the marinade

Marinade your brisket overnight in your favorite marinade. If you don’t have a favorite, try a simple marinade of Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and red wine, topped with a liberal coating of garlic powder and onion powder. Cover with foil and refrigerate for 12-24 hours.

Step 3: The smoke

Select your favorite wood (this blogger prefers cherry), and soak the chunks in water prior to cooking. The key is to cook the brisket over indirect heat. Never put your meat directly over the coals. Keep the temperature of the pit around 225 degrees for about 6 hours. Aim for an internal meat temp of 195 degrees. Try to avoid unnecessarily opening the lid while it’s cooking, or you’ll cause the temperature to fluctuate too much.

Step 4: Enjoy!

Let the finished meat rest for 10 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute. For that typical sliced brisket look, slice on the bias in the direction of the muscle grain. Have some barbecue sauce ready, for those who like to dip. To make your brisket feed more people, serve with slider buns.

NEXT WEEK:  Now that you have part of the menu planned, come back to the blog next week for ideas on hosting the ultimate backyard tailgate party.

Design Ideas:
Accenting with Paver Patterns

Various paver patterns can be used as an accent to accomplish a number of outdoor living design goals. From simple borders to elaborate inlaid designs, incorporating an accent of a differing paver style, texture, shape or color can add a creative touch to your outdoor spaces to improve both the form and function.

Borders

Whether an outer border or an inlaid border, bordering a paver field with a contrasting shape, color and/or texture can really make your pavers pop.

Circle Kits

Several Belgard paver styles have coordinating circle kits that can be used to create simple or complex designs.

Driveway Accents

Create a dramatic entrance to your home through the use of design accents. You can do this by using multiple paver styles, or simply by using contrasting colors, shapes and/or laying patterns of the same paver style.

Inlaid Paver Rug Designs

Creating an inlaid faux rug design reinforces the outdoor room concept and helps define the space.

Transitions

Paver patterns and borders can be used to indicate the transition from one outdoor room to another.

Creative Touches

Borders and varying patterns can be used to interject creative touches here and there, which can add visual interest to a hardscape design.

Intricate Designs

Paver patterns can also be used to create intricate and creative designs. Keep in mind, however, that these types of designs require additional cutting and a highly skilled contractor.

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For more on paver patterns, read our Trends in Paver Laying Patterns blog.

Next week’s blog:  Fall is the perfect time for cooking outdoors, especially when you have this foolproof recipe for smoked brisket.

Outdoor Design Tips: Accenting with Columns

Since ancient times, the column has long been an architectural element used for both decorative and structural purposes. Usage of this ancient design technique continues to evolve in the world of modern outdoor living design. Whether a freestanding or a structural element, columns of varying sizes, textures and designs can add a dimensional aspect or a finished look to an outdoor living space.

Freestanding columns

Freestanding columns are a distinctive way to indicate the entrance to a terrace, porch, walkway or driveway. They can also mark the transition from one outdoor room to the next. By incorporating lights on the tops or sides of columns, you can add both ambiance and a safety element.

Arbors, pavilions and outdoor kitchens

Masonry columns make an excellent decorative structural element to support a pavilion or the covering for an outdoor kitchen. When utilizing a masonry column to support a post, using the same masonry material to construct the outdoor kitchen will create a cohesive look, as well as a durable outdoor living space that can withstand the elements.

wall endcaps

Using a column for an endcap adds a finished look to a retaining wall, landscape wall or seat wall. Finishing touches can include a light fixture, low voltage hardscape lighting, or a built-in planter.

Porches

Columns can enhance the look of a porch and add curb appeal to a home. Retaining wall block or other masonry materials can even be used to wrap existing posts to create the look of an architectural column or coordinate with other hardscape design elements.

sTEPS AND STAIRS

Whether simple or elaborate, columns can add an elegant touch to steps and stairways. Options can include placing the columns at the top, the base, or both.

Fences and gates

Columns make an attractive addition to fences and gates and can work either as a structural or decorative element with masonry, wooden or iron fencing.

Creative Touches

Columns can be used to define an outdoor space or as integrated elements of an outdoor living feature. The masonry column’s use as a decorative element is only limited by the imagination.

Fireside Memories & S’mores Recipes

Last month, we reached out to our audience and asked them to share their fireside memories and favorite s’mores recipes with us as part of our National S’mores Day Fire Pit Giveway. We had an incredible response and received nearly 1,500 stories and over 600 recipes from all across the nation. It’s clear that spending time with loved ones around a fire is a heartwarming activity for people from all walks of life. Below are some of our favorite submissions. For more stories and recipes, be sure to visit the Outdoor Living by Belgard Facebook page, where we’ll be sharing more of these throughout the month.

Fireside Memories

The only time we got with my dad when we were children was camping. Being around the campfire making s’mores and telling stories was the best because we got a sweet treat, and we got my dad’s undivided attention finally. And mine were always the gooiest!   – Douglasville, GA

Sitting around a fire is one of the few great things I can still remember about my childhood with my grandparents.   -Algonquin, IL

I remember the kids being little and me running around to make sure they didn’t poke anyone or create little fireballs. Kids, now adults, still have fun making fireside s’mores, and I STILL run around trying to make sure they don’t poke each other and create little fireballs!  -Reston, VA

We made s’mores with my grandson on a makeshift fire pit just before my husband was diagnosed with cancer. My grandson’s response was so amazing. He was three.  It was really special to have that first experience with him.  -Trinity, FL

Every year we have a family reunion at our home. Family members fly in from all around the United States for a one-week event where we have a few nights of cookouts in our backyard. And s’mores are part of that on our homemade fire pit.    -North Oaks, MN

My first s’mores experience was when I was nine years old. I was camping with friends and was introduced by my friend’s family. I’ll never forget the incredible taste and experience. It is something that I plan to one day pass on to my children as well.   -Joliet, IL

My favorite memory is making s’mores around the campfire as a Camp Fire Girl, fifty years ago. S’mores have been the best campfire treat for a long long time. So glad they get a special day each year. Now that’s getting your just desserts.  -Pleasant Valley, OR

Our family was in the backyard, around our store-bought fire pit, making s’mores. Our youngest son decided he had enough and told us that he was “going home.” In his mind, we were on a grand adventure, even though we were just in our backyard.   -Jacksonville, FL

S’mores Recipes

A lot of folks suggested augmenting a classic s’more by trading out the milk chocolate bar for other candy bars: Andes® mints, peanut butter cups, Heath® bars, Mr. Goodbar®, et cetera — all of which sound delicious! But here were some recipes that had a little extra creativity.

This is a Trader Joe’s s’more! Take a large marshmallow, carve a small hole and put in these items from Trader Joe’s (whatever amount fits): choc chunks, dried blueberries, dried coconut chips. After toasting that, put between two graham crackers or lemon shortbread cookies.    -Cumberland, ME

This is an adult s’mores recipe that I created and is amazing: Grand Marnier® marshmallows, milk chocolate bar, waffle cookies. The combination makes wonderful s’mores that are not overly sweet.     -N.Mandelke,  Los Gatos, CA

Vanilla graham crackers, chocolate, peanut butter and marshmallow. -Cary, IL

We line up four vanilla wafers on a plate, add a small Heath® bar and two toasted marshmallows. We then top it with four more vanilla wafers and press down. Delish!!  –T. Karnowski, Andover, MN

Shortbread cookies, dark chocolate squares, raspberries and marshmallows!  -Grandville, MI

We like to make s’mores cones — Ingredients: Sugar cones, mini marshmallows, crumbled graham crackers, chocolate chips. Directions: fill cones with remainder of ingredients to the top. Wrap in foil and lay on grate above coals for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool.  -S. Miller, Homer, LA

Our favorite way to make s’mores is with chewy ginger cookies instead of graham crackers. Two chewy ginger cookies (homemade or store bought) with a little Nutella® then add a toasted marshmallow. A delicious classic with a little extra ginger twist.  -Ventura, CA

Enjoy!

Next week’s blog: Come back to the blog next week to learn about using columns as an accent in outdoor living design.