Rainwater Harvesting Now the Hottest Outdoor Design Trend

Permeable paver patios and driveways can be designed to collect and recycle rainwater. (Product shown: Eco-Dublin® pavers)

With last year’s annual survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), green practices began to dominate the list of top outdoor design trends like never before, with 8 of the top 10 trends all related to eco-friendly or sustainable practices. With the recently released 2016 survey results, make that number now 9 out of 10, with rainwater harvesting making a giant leap up to the top spot. Take a look at last year’s trends compared to this year’s.

2015 Top 10 2016 Top 10
1 Native plants Rainwater/graywater harvesting
2 Drought-tolerant plants Native plants
3 Edible gardens Drought-tolerant plants
4 Fire pits/fireplaces Low-maintenance landscaping
5 Low-maintenance landscapes Permeable paving
6 Permeable paving Fire pits/fireplaces
7 Water-efficient irrigation Edible gardens
8 Rain gardens Rain gardens
9 Lighting Water-efficient irrigation
10 Rainwater/graywater harvesting Reduced lawn area

These trends reflect consumers’ growing commitment to landscapes that reduce water use and stormwater runoff, says Nancy Somerville, Hon. ASLA, executive vice president and CEO of ASLA.

“Water issues are hot topics for many communities, and many people are turning to landscape architects for creative green infrastructure solutions,” said Somerville. “Sustainable residential landscape architecture, if part of a broader integrated site design, can dramatically reduce water usage and stormwater runoff over the long term while creating a healthy residential environment.”

With a combined rainwater harvesting permeable pavement system, Belgard offers a way to combine three of these top outdoor design trends with a single design element. With this type of pavement system, rainwater drains through the joints between pavers and percolates down through a bed of gravel into a collection cistern, where a pump can recycle the water for irrigation or water features. Pollutants are removed from the water as it drains through the gravel, which adds additional protection for the environment.

PICPstorage

Many municipalities and states offer grants and tax incentives for installing either permeable pavers or a rainwater harvesting system, which is likely a factor in the growing popularity of using permeable pavers for this purpose. With the variety of attractive Belgard permeable pavers available, homeowners can build stunning outdoor living areas, driveways and walkways that are as ecologically responsible as they are beautiful.

Tips for Keeping Your Cool

With triple-digit heat indexes spanning the lower half of the country, many people are now scurrying indoors to avoid the heat, forced to enjoy their beautiful outdoor living spaces from the comfort of the kitchen window. However, there are a number of design tips and tricks that can alleviate some of the heat and allow you to get more use from your outdoor living spaces during those dog days of summer.

Advantages of Pergolas

A pergola can provide multiple design benefits for an outdoor living space. The open-air aspect allows for unrestricted air movement while still defining the space to visually create the look of an “outdoor room”. Additionally, the structure itself both filters the direct sunlight and can provide the framework for a outdoor-rated ceiling fan. To provide additional shade and add to the visual interest, flowering vines — such as Wisteria or Morning Glory — can be trained to grow atop the pergola.

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Outdoor Living Structures

The benefit of a roofed structure, as opposed to an open-air pergola, is that it provides a little more protection from the elements, including both sun and rain. Although late afternoon sun and driving rain will still creep in, you’ll still have increased shelter, as well as additional opportunities for fans, lighting, audio/visual equipment and appliances.

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Made in the Shade

There are a variety of affordable products available that can help increase the amount of shade in your outdoor living space, particular during that unbearably hot time of the day when the sunlight comes in at just the right angle to make you feel like you can fry an egg right on the patio flooring. Attractive options include indoor/outdoor curtains, retractable solar shades, and colorful sun canopies.

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Permeable Paver Water Features

Particularly in hot climates with lower humidity, water mist can significantly reduce the ambient temperature of a localized outdoor area. An alternate option to a traditional water-misting system is to install a water-recycling permeable pavement system that incorporates a water feature. The paver system can collect and recycle rainwater and provide a fun activity for kids, all while releasing mist into the air that will help alleviate some of the oppressive heat.

Pretty Handy Girl
Backyard Transformation

By guest blogger Brittany Bailey of PrettyHandyGirl.com.

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Anyone who has children and/or dogs knows that muddy pathways around your home are a huge problem for the interior of your house. Muddy footprints (and paw prints) can make keeping your home clean a monumental task. As a mom of two boys and a dog, I can tell you that our yard was a big mess of bare pathways, and frequently that mess was tracked indoors.

Several homeowners before us installed rounded landscape timbers and pea gravel to stop the inflow of mud into the home. Unfortunately as the timbers rotted, the gravel spread outside the frames. In its place, a congregation of weeds sprang up. Frankly, I think the weeds were enjoying themselves more in our backyard than we were. It was embarrassing to invite friends to a weed-filled jungle with rotted timbers dotting the landscape. We longed for a backyard that was devoid of messy pathways, and was a usable space for entertaining. This past Autumn, we decided a plan needed to be implemented to solve our landscape woes.

dublin-cobble-front-walk2Several years ago, we had a Belgard pathway and circular patio installed near our front door. We love the look of those pavers. The Dublin Cobble® has an old world feel, and the color variation between the pavers gives them the look of old tumbled pavers. I watched the landscaping crew install the Universal Circle Kit and was amazed by how quickly and easily the pavers fit together. To us, Belgard has always stood for quality landscaping hardscapes.

After the plans were drawn for our backyard, choosing the brand to use for hardscapes was easy. Deciding on the pavers and wall blocks was more difficult because of the large variety of Belgard products to choose from. In the end, we were able to merge formal and informal areas easily. The hardscapes complement the style of our house and look like they’ve been here for decades.

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BEFORE & AFTER TRANSFORMATION

Now you see them, now you don't! Exposed trashcans now have a new hiding place and cleaner access, thanks to a new pergola and Dublin Cobble® walkway.

Now you see them, now you don’t! Previously exposed trashcans now have a new attractive hiding place and are more accessible, thanks to Brittany’s new pergola and Dublin Cobble® walkway.

Patio before and after

This previously unusable space is now Brittany’s favorite spot. The Mega-Arbel® paver patio created a dining area off of her deck, with a surrounding Keystone® Stonegate® wall to help define the space and add additional seating for company.

Dangerously decayed wooden steps were replaced with Granika steps and trimmed with Keystone Stonegate wall and Tandem Caps to tie in with the patio and seat wall.

Dangerous decayed timber steps were replaced with Granika Step™ units and trimmed with Keystone® Stonegate® wall and Tandem® Caps to tie in with the patio and seat wall, providing a safe and handsome walkway down into the lower yard.

Firepit before and after

Brittany’s rustic firepit area got an updated look with the help of a Mega-Arbel® landing and a custom walkway made of  Keystone® Stonegate® wall caps. The patio is trimmed with Tandem® Caps to coordinate with the upper patio.

To see more dramatic before and after images and take a complete visual tour of Brittany’s new beautiful outdoor living spaces, visit her backyard reveal blog.

Patio Design Ideas

The primary benefit of installing a hardscape patio is the lasting beauty. But precisely because it’s going to be there for a very long time, it’s important that you put a good bit of thought into the design. You want to make sure that the space will reflect your personality, as well as suit your functional needs. Below are some inspirational ideas for fabulous hardscape patios using Belgard pavers and wall products to reflect a wide variety of personal styles.

Cozy Rooms

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Fun & Funky Paver Patterns

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Fire Pit Patios

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Sleek & Contemporary

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Permeable Patios

For more patio design ideas, visit our Perfect Patios Pinterest Board.

Beyond the Water’s Edge

Trends in Modern Poolscapes

To create a modern poolscape, not only must you think about the design of the pool itself, but the surrounding environment as a whole. Modern pool designs incorporate a cohesive look that flows through the entire back yard—from the back door to the outdoor kitchen, garden retaining wall, outdoor fireplace, pool and the surrounding patio.

Belgard2011_ADMSNC_Dublin_Celtik_004_preview

Celtik® Wall and Dublin Cobble® pull this multi-level poolscape together into one cohesive design. The Dublin Cobble extends from the pool deck into the outdoor kitchen and outdoor living room. Celtik Wall is used for the pool coping, steps and surrounding retaining walls.

“Countless pool designers and contractors prefer our paver products for pool decking because of the versatility and ability to create an entire environment that all works together as one unified and gorgeous design,” says Ken O’Neill, Executive Vice President of Belgard.

The options for creating a cohesive pool design scheme are endless. Gone are the days of the standard blue rectangle with a wrap-around concrete deck. “I grew up in the pool business, and concrete decking was always a necessary evil. But, the durability and look of pavers has revolutionized how we do business,” said Danton Townsend, designer with Leisure Pools in New Braunfels, Texas. “Almost 100 percent of our pools now use paver decking. Customers love the look, the warranty and the maintenance-free aspect.”

In addition, the versatility of Belgard products enables multi-dimensional designs that are as unique as the individual owner. “Belgard’s products allow us to build a pool with a lot of different elevations with walls, steps, raised decks and multi-level seating areas,” said Townsend.

The same products used to create the pool decking and coping can also be used in the surrounding poolscape design to create that cohesive look. “A multi-step water feature can be built right from the decking into the pool, a fire box can be added at the edge of the water feature, and the same products can be used to build a retaining or garden wall,” added Curt Mansfield, hardscape designer with Stone Deck in Austin, Texas, who has often worked with Townsend on hardscape installations for his pool designs.

To continue the cohesive design to the rest of the outdoor living area, the same hardscape products used in the poolscape can also be used to build an outdoor kitchen, a custom fireplace, seat walls, patios, walkways, column wraps, and more. The end result is an elegant resort-like environment that is an extension of the homeowner’s personal sense of style, whether a classic tailored look or a backyard oasis.

HERO-PoolTrends

This poolscape uses a variation in paver style to help define separate rooms. Mega-Bergerac® defines the pool deck, and Mega-Arbel® defines the outdoor living room, but is also used as accents throughout the design to tie everything together. Weston Stone® is also a cohesive design element with its use for the column wraps, outdoor kitchen and surrounding garden walls.

“Many people today are trending towards a very natural look,” said Mansfield. “Belgard offers a number of products that look so natural, you get the look and feel of a lagoon that was chiseled out of European stone, but with the benefit of a manufactured product that has a lifetime warranty. Natural stones can get brittle or crack and just don’t hold up to a salt water system.”

Although creating a cohesive outdoor living environment and poolscape from scratch is a simpler process, there are also a number of techniques that can be used to keep a pool renovation or addition from looking like an afterthought to an existing design.

“Once the poolscape is designed, you can easily work the new hardscapes into the pre-existing living areas in the form of seat walls, planter boxes, trim, and various embellishments,” says O’Neill. “We also offer a number of products that can install over an existing concrete deck, like Lafitt™ Rustic Slab, Lafitt™ Grana Slab or Mirage® Porcelain Pavers.”

Bullnose Coping and Mega-Arbel® pavers were used in unique ways for this modern poolscape. Instead of a traditional wooden porch, the design uses Mega-Arbel to create a raised paver porch, which is tied into the look of the pool by edging it with Bullnose Coping to mirror the pool edging. To expand the design, Weston Stone®, used to build an outdoor kitchen could be used as another design element elsewhere in the poolscape, for example a fire pit or seatwall.

Instead of a traditional wooden porch, this design uses Mega-Arbel® to create a raised paver porch, which is tied into the look of the pool by edging it with Bullnose Coping to mirror the pool edging. To expand the design, Weston Stone®, used to build the outdoor kitchen could be used as another design element elsewhere in the poolscape, for example a fire pit or seatwall.

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Click the video image below to watch a dramatic poolscape makeover using Lafitt Rustic Slab.

PROMO1-PoolVideo

Belgard Rolls Out Additions to the Mirage Porcelain Paver Line

Spring is approaching, meaning that homeowners across the country are chomping at the bit to get outside and get their yards in shape for another season of outdoor living. Those looking to makeover an existing outdoor living space, or create a new one, now have new contemporary hardscape options with Belgard’s release of new additions to the Mirage® porcelain paver line.

NEW Na.Me Collection

NaMe

A synthesis of the words “NAtural” and “tiME”, the new Na.Me Collection offers the look of natural materials with Mediterranean and Nordic influences. Na.Me pavers are available in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. Check with your local Belgard dealer for availability.

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Additions to Ardesie Collection

ArdesieColors2

The Ardesie Collection offers the look and texture of natural cut slate. Two new colors of Ardesie slate-style pavers have be released: Shore and Black Reef.

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Additions to UNICO

The UNICO trim accessory, which can be used as a step or as pool coping, is now available in the Quarziti, Ardesie, Stones, and Sundeck styles to coordinate with the pavers in each of those collections. Availability varies by region.