Backyard Transformation

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With the help of Belgard, the Stolnacke family transformed both their backyard and their lives.

Stolnacke Before

The Stolnacke backyard before Belgard.

Jennifer and Carl Stolnacke lived on five acres of rugged terrain that sloped down to a pond on the back of the property. Their backyard was basically unusable, except for a small concrete patio. With this blank slate, they carved out their own personal backyard oasis. After living in their northern California home for a couple of years with their two dogs, Maverick and Goose, Jennifer and Carl were ready to create a permanent, more useable outdoor living space that fit with their lifestyle. They enjoyed walking the grounds and especially enjoyed looking at the pond, but with the exception of a couple of lawn chairs and a small concrete slab behind the house, their space was not ideal for backyard gatherings

“We love to barbecue with friends, but the dirt and leaves just were not conducive to that. When friends came over, it seemed more like a camp out,” Jennifer explained.

With the help of the experts at The Paver Company, the Stolnackes now have an expansive multi-level outdoor living space that incorporates multiple gathering areas – including a pool, outdoor fireplace, fire pit, and brick oven – that are all tied together with walkways and garden walls that work together to create a harmonious, cohesive look.

Working with the existing elements.

Outdoor enthusiasts, the Stolnackes wanted to keep the pond as the focal point of the yard, without blocking their scenic view, and incorporate natural design elements to keep the setting rustic and earthy. They also wanted to make use of the existing concrete slabs on the back porch and driveway, but desired a way tie everything together without having these elements clash with each other.

The final cohesive design flanked out to the sides with the fireplace and brick oven acting as visual anchors on either side, with a terraced patio that led down to the fire pit and pool in the center, overlooking the pond. The design incorporated natural boulders, as well as Belgard Hardscapes that mimic those natural textures. Patio areas were paved with Mega-Lafitt™ pavers, which offer the look and feel of natural cut flagstone, with Bergerac® pavers adding a hand-cobbled look to the borders and walkways. Garden walls were built with the Tandem™ Wall retaining wall system, which creates the appearance of large blocks of chiseled stone.

“By skirting the existing concrete pads and fire pit with the Bergerac pavers used in the walkway, we were able to tie the whole design together and make everything work,” said installation contractor John Brightenstine of The Paver Company.

How life has changed for the Stolnackes.

Jennifer loves the fact that she can now walk around the perimeter of her backyard barefoot or in slippers. Her favorite pastime is relaxing on the upper patio, just taking in the view. With their wonderful new entertaining space, the couple now regularly holds gatherings of all kinds.

“The multiple patio areas are great for entertaining; we have so many options,” Jennifer said. “We’ll have pizza parties by the brick oven, where everyone makes their own pizza, or we’ll sit around the fire pit or fireplace and roast marshmallows or just catch up and talk. We now use the outside of our house more than the inside of our house.”

To anyone contemplating their own backyard makeover, Jennifer says, “The most important thing is to know your space. Know how you use it now and how you envision using it afterwards.”

Watch the Backyard Transformation Video

Serene Walkways

This time of year can be quite hectic, with lots of end-of-school activities, vacation planning, and community events. Sometimes you just need to take a moment, take a deep breath, and relax. Shut off the world for a few minutes and take a walk through some of our favorite serene Belgard walkways.

Welcome Home: Imagine driving up to this entrance. The curving Urbana® Stone walkway and friendly, colorful garden says, “Come on in, take your shoes off and unwind.”

Belgard 2010 ~ Northfield Minnesota & WisconsinWalkabout: The park-like setting created by this Mega-Arbel® walkway and natural garden would be the perfect place to breathe in the fresh air and clear your head.

2520333f18ff8fb76cac19e5a47415cfNature Trail: By leaving the paver edges in their flagstone shape, the Mega-Arbel® walkway below takes on the look of a woodland path. You can almost hear the crickets chirping.

7f49f675cb863267f535984fee82de39The Wind and the Waves: Summer is almost here! You can practically feel the sand between your toes and the wind in your hair just looking at this tailored Catalina Slate™ walkway.

Old World Charm: With mature gardens and the clean lines of Urbana® Stone, this walkway takes you to another time and place.

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Upgrade Your Curb Appeal

Research shows that one of the top ways of increasing the value of your home is to boost your home’s curb appeal. Anything that can make a home stand out in a positive way will automatically increase the perceived value by others, but can also affect the homeowner’s own personal sense of fulfillment, creating value for the homeowner as well. Even simple changes can make a big difference. Dramatic changes can be a bit more costly, but can also pay bigger dividends in the long run.

A World of Color

MLRS_RES_BEL2013_Edger_AngliaEdger_Patios_LafittRusticSlab_001One of the easiest ways to add character is to add color. Landscaping, whether do-it-yourself or professionally installed, is a quick and easy way to add curb appeal. The options are literally endless and can range from simple flower gardens to multidimensional vertical gardens. Pathways and walkways also add a charming element. The photo to the right shows a simple, yet colorful flower garden with a stone Anglia Edger border that coordinates with the Lafitt Rustic Slab pavers of the walkway. The clean lines and sweeping curve of the hardscapes combine with the tasteful flower selections to create an understated, elegant look. Other garden ideas that will boost your curb appeal include container gardens and built-in planters.

Show Your Personality

When guests arrive at your home, they should immediately get a sense of the type of person who lives there. Are you carefree or conservative? Whimsical or stylish? From clay pots to antique doorknobs, every element you choose can combine to illustrate your personal sense of style. The following image shows a home with a unique sense of curb appeal. All of the elements of the design combine to create an earthy feel, including the natural wood shutters and door, the stacked stone veneer, and the man-made creek. The eclectic plant and flower selections in the garden create a random look that appears both natural and manicured. The Bergerac pavers of the walkway and Celtik Wall of the steps both emulate stone textures that combine with the landscaping and architecture to create a country-cottage atmosphere.

Belgard 2010 ~ AmcorSmall Touches Can Make a Big Difference

The right accent item can go a long way in upgrading your curb appeal. The objective of using an accent piece is to create a focal point to your landscape design that will draw the eye and add dimension and character. This accent item doesn’t need to be grandiose, like a fountain or gazebo. Inexpensive ideas include building a stone mailbox, picket fence, or wooden arbor.

 

Gardening Tips to Beautify Your Hardscape

We hope you’ve all enjoyed the first official month of spring! Regardless of how the weather has behaved in your area so far, you can rest assured that sunshine is on its way – and with it, plenty of time to relax and entertain in the yard.

But first, we all have work to do to get our outdoor living areas ready for extended use. Time to wipe down the tables and chairs, sweep off the patio and most importantly, whip your garden into shape so you can blow away your guests.

This year, consider taking a fresh approach to your garden; one that works in tandem with the design of your hardscape to create a truly unbelievable getaway.

Here are a few tips to help you knock off the winter rust and beautify your outdoor living space with some natural beauty.

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Bring walkways to life. Pleasant walkways are one of the key elements of the perfect hardscape. Not only do they provide a safe and comfortable walking path for you and your guests, they also guide the eye toward your yard’s best features and add visual interest to the landscape. This year, make your walkways even more magical by surrounding them with Irish mosh or thyme. This type of greenery will add character to your pavers and make your yard feel more a part of the natural environment.

Add vertical interest. Is your hardscape feeling a little one-dimensional lately? Try giving it a more robust and enchanting flavor with some clever layering. Make us of both short and tall greenery. Use ground level flowerbeds as well as elevated platforms and pots to create the illusion of a more diverse landscape. Consider adding a sunken garden that can serve as a little hidden getaway for you on warm summer evenings.

Make the most of your surroundings. If you have beautiful naturally occurring bushes or trees in your yard, use them as focal points rather than trying to fight against them. After all, the point of outdoor living is to bring you closer to nature in a way that gives you all the comfort and convenience of being indoors — not to isolate you from its beauty.

Make your garden pop with neutral pavers. If you want to draw visitors’ eyes to your meticulously manicured garden, try a more unassuming color stone in your hardscape so as not to distract. Our Lafitt pavers come in natural-looking stone colors that allow your gardening skills to shine and embellish the design of your hardscape.

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Keep it fresh. Change up your look with seasonal updates so you never get bored of your outdoor living space! Try pansies, bloodroot or lilacs in the spring. Switch things up deeper in the summer with fresh aster, daisies or dahlia.

Smart gardening can do wonders for the mood of your hardscape. Depending on your style, you can use flowers, bushes, trees and other plants to give your outdoor living space a bright, airy feel, or a secluded, mysterious one. Whatever your personal preference, use these tips to spur your creativity and don’t be afraid to think outside the box.

Happy Gardening!

Walk This Way: A Look at Some Unique Walkways and Pathways

While we love telling you about the new outdoor room and sharing ideas for patios that take the indoors out, we can’t forget about classic walkways and pathways. This week, we’re taking a look at some unique designs that take this landscape design feature to the next level.

Let us know in the comments section which one is your favorite.


The Bergerac pathway to this home’s front entrance is also a bridge to help visitors navigate over the serene water feature.


This walkway combines Belgard Mega Lafitt pavers with pebbles to create a contemporary, natural look and feel.


We love the way these homeowners used two different paver styles (Mega Arbel and Urbana) and shades for a walkway with a border.


This pathway also utilizes the border effect with Mega Arbel and Mega Begerac. The addition of lighting helps guide walkers as the sun goes down.


This unconventional walkway uses natural textured Mega Arbel pavers with rocks to blend this contemporary home with its surrounding environment.

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