Mother’s Day is fast approaching and families are trying to find the perfect way to say “Thank You” to Mom. What better way to do that than an old-fashioned picnic? You don’t even need to go anywhere to do it. Simply grab your picnic basket and head to the backyard. This is a super easy and endearing way to show your appreciation for that one woman who has always been there for you. Unsure of what to pack in your basket? Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Her Favorite Things
Keep it simple. Think finger foods. Possibilities include tea sandwiches, antipasto plates, or whatever quick meal you know your mom will enjoy. This shouldn’t be hard; after all, think of all the times you came home from school and had a homemade snack from Mom waiting for you. Does your mom have a strong affinity for Chinese food? If so, go to the nearest Chinese restaurant and grab some of her favorites, like egg rolls or potstickers. Maybe she’s more into salads. Salads are quick and painless to make, and even quicker to find ready-made at your local health foods store. The point is that you will be spending a special afternoon with your mother.
Fun and Games
Pack a fun little game with you, such as a deck of cards or a travel-sized chess board. If your mother enjoys being active, plan on some fun yard games like badminton, croquet, or cornhole toss. These activities will be especially fun if you and your mom love to compete with each other, and they work well for both intimate and large gatherings. When in doubt, pick any fun activity that your mom loves to do and bring the necessary materials.
Are you a musician? Bring a guitar with you and play some songs for your mom. Maybe even write her a song. Any mother who says she wouldn’t like a song made just for her is either extremely humble or a liar, or both. Not musically inclined? That’s fine, too. Make a playlist with some of your mom’s favorite tunes and play them on a portable speaker.
No matter how you decide to plan your picnic, make it something that your mom will always remember. You should know your mother better than most people. Make it a unique experience for her. Fill it with items that you know your mother enjoys. Also, don’t forget to pack chocolate and flowers. But, that should go without saying.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Use splashes of color to create whimsical, eye-catching designs.
Dublin Cobble and Holland Stone
Dublin Cobble and Holland Stone
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Turn a patio into an outdoor living room with a faux rug.
Mega-Arbel, Mega-Lafitt, Urbana, Bergerac
Bergerac, Urbana, Dublin Cobble
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Create the illusion of separate rooms by using different pavers for different areas.
Bergerac, Mega-Lafitt, Old World, Mega-Arbel
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Use permeable hardscapes to build a fountain play area.
Subterra Permeable Pavers
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Add dimension to your design with built-in seating or planter boxes.
Weston Wall, Mega-Arbel, Dublin Cobble
Celtik Wall, Mega-Arbel
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Ready to create your own unique outdoor space?
Click here to find a contractor or dealer near you.
Showcase homes and idea houses are sponsored by various magazines, builders, design professionals, organizations and manufacturers across the country to illustrate the top design trends in today’s custom homes. In 2014, Southern Living Magazine looked to Belgard Hardscapes to create stunning designer looks for a total of nine showcase homes across the south. Here is a taste from some of these stylish homes.
Belgard Aqua-Bric permeable pavers not only add character to the parking areas and walkways of this airy coastal-style home, they also filter pollutants from stormwater to help protect the three rivers that surround the development. In a separate and unique interior application, Lafitt Grana Slab added a rustic touch to the mudroom, powder room, and multi-purpose “clutter room” off of the home’s kitchen.
patio and fire pit
front walk and porch
The hand-cobbled appearance of Bergerac pavers provided the perfect complement for the walkways and back patio of this English-style cottage, further enhanced by the rough-hewn texture of Celtik Wall on the fire pit and surrounding seat wall. Both the front and back porches were floored with the slate-like Lafitt Grana Slab in coordinating colors to add a contemporary touch.
Wayne Harbin Builder, Inc., Showcase Home – Ford’s Colony (Williamsburg, VA)
view from second floor
The random flagstone appearance of Mega-Arbel pavers creates a striking look for the back patio and sunken fire pit of this colonial-style home. Mega-Bergerac provides the step ledge and complements the patio trim of smaller Bergerac pavers. Weston Stone provides the ledge fascia, fire pit and surrounding seat wall and end caps in a texture, laying pattern, and color scheme that coordinates with the home’s brick accents.
When it comes to gift ideas, let’s face it, some folks are tough to shop for. If you’re looking for some unique gift ideas for the outdoor living enthusiast, we’ve compiled some of our favorites for you.
Enjoy your outdoor living spaces during the colder months with this attractive portable heater that operates with removable butane cylinders. With 11,000 BTUs of warmth and a stylish bronze coating, it not only adds to the functionality of your outdoor living spaces during this time of year, it’s adds character, as well.
Turn any countertop into a gourmet outdoor kitchen with this powerful, yet economical, brick oven. Available in either domed or pyramid styles in either bronze or silver vein, the countertop version of Belgard’s brick oven offers the flavor of wood-fired cooking with a small footprint and is available in classic wood-burning and hybrid wood/gas models.
No fireplace or fire pit? No problem! With this specialized roasting rack that includes marshmallow skewers and a graham cracker tray, you can make s’mores on a grill or in an oven. Ooey, gooey, melty goodness…either indoors or out.
For those who like to kick it up a notch, this pepper roasting rack also works with either a grill or an oven and allows you to create simple, zesty appetizers by stuffing jalapenos with various types of cheeses or other savory ingredients.
Light up the night with indoor/outdoor battery-operated candles, with the added convenience of a remote controller to turn them all on and off with ease. Mix and match various sizes and styles, including antique-style lanterns, to create an eclectic look.