For more than 20 years, the Belgard name has been synonymous with stunning, durable pavers and retaining walls that professional landscapers and designers can trust. Now, Belgard has partnered with Lowe’s® Home Improvement stores to make beautiful outdoor living even more accessible to homeowners by bringing these professional grade products to over 1,100 locations nationwide with a new do-it-yourself collection sold exclusively at Lowe’s.
The new product line includes three featured paver systems and a wall system that are all a reflection of the premium Belgard offerings that have historically only been available to contractors and dealers.
The above featured lines will be in-stock items available nationwide*. In addition to these featured product lines, there will also be a variety of special-order Belgard pavers and wall products available online for in-store pickup. Each of the featured and special-order product lines come in multiple color options that will vary by location due to localized manufacturing, which utilizes local aggregates.
For over a decade, the gradual trend has been for homeowners to transform the formerly open backyards of existing homes into definable “outdoor living” spaces. In new home construction, however, this phenomenon has grown exponentially in more recent years to the point that outdoor living has becoming a standard feature at just about any price level. Although upgraded outdoor living spaces are more common at higher price levels, new construction home buyers at all levels want to know that they’ll be able to live in and enjoy their outdoor spaces. According to builders, realtors and landscape architects, some definable trends have emerged as being “highly desirable” to potential buyers.
Indoor/Outdoor Convergence: For several years, the trend has been to create outdoor living areas that mimic indoor living. This has evolved in a way that with many new home designs, there is no distinct separation between the indoor and outdoor spaces, but more of a fluid separation between the two areas. These types of designs might incorporate floor-to-ceiling retractable glass walls, stackable doors or floor materials that contribute to that sense of flow. For example, Belgard Porcelain Pavers were designed for outdoor use, but coordinate with a line of interior porcelain tile, which allows for the same flooring aesthetic to be used both inside and outside of the home.
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Fully Functioning Kitchens: Although this trend is more typically seen in higher priced homes, smaller homes are jumping on the outdoor kitchen bandwagon, even if on a smaller scale — like with a simple built-in grill. But for mid-level homes and above, buyers want an outdoor kitchen with all the conveniences of an indoor kitchen, and then some. In luxury homes, the outdoor kitchen often costs more than the indoor kitchen, with amenities that incorporate everything from dishwashers to brick ovens. In many cases, the outdoor kitchen also functions as an outdoor bar and includes items like roll-top beverage coolers, kegerators and wine refrigerators.
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Integrated Audio/Visual and Lighting: New homes of every price range are incorporating outdoor televisions and sound systems, even if on the smaller scale of an outdoor-rated bluetooth speaker system. Mid-level homes and above are taking the trend to the next level with outdoor sound systems that are integrated with the interior of the home so that the same music can be played inside the home as outside, which follows the indoor/outdoor convergence trend. With the rapid advance of smart phone technology, this can be taken to an even higher level with systems that can operate off of a mobile app to control every electronic aspect of the outdoor living space, including TVs, sound systems, lighting, fire features and pool equipment.
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Intimate Outdoor Spaces: Home buyers are interested in having a relaxing outdoor living area where they can socialize and unwind, creating a trend towards more cozy seating areas, often incorporating a fireplace or fire pit. Some experts relate this trend to the fact that there’s typically a TV in every room of the house, so a cozy outdoor space away from a TV can be a place to escape. Unlike expansive outdoor kitchen spaces, which may be limited to luxury homes, an “outdoor retreat” can be created on a smaller budget and appeals to buyers at all levels. In fact, a cozy outdoor space can easily be created by adding a freestanding wall or two. With the help of a few staged furnishing, potential buyers can get a feel for how they would live in the outdoor space.
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Sustainable Design: According to the American Society of Landscape Architects, this year’s top trends in landscape design include both rainwater harvesting and the use of permeable pavers. Although a standard permeable paver installation simply allows water to filter through the paver joints into the ground below, a permeable paver system can be designed to also harvest and recycle rainwater, converging these two trends into one and allowing the reclaimed water to be used for garden irrigation and other uses. Current top landscape trends also include native plants and low-maintenance landscaping.
What happens when kids get involved in the design of a playground? Amazing things! Just ask the community surrounding Atlanta’s Chastain Park. The only public playground serving the 85,000 school-age children within a 5-mile radius, the park’s playground had not been renovated since 2000 and was in dire need of an upgrade. The existing playground had a lot of deficiencies, primarily in that it really only appealed to a small demographic (ages 5-12). The majority of the play structures were too dangerous for smaller children, yet not challenging enough for older children.
Enter play specialist consultant Cynthia Gentry, an expert in childhood development who met with school children from the surrounding community to begin the design concepts. Kids were asked to imagine what they’d like to see on the playground and put that imagery into drawings, which became the inspiration for the all of the designs.
Gentry then enlisted the help of another consultant, Robin Moore, who specializes in nature-based play, currently a strong movement in childhood development circles. Together, Gentry and Moore conducted a charrette, or meeting of the minds, with representatives from the private school located inside the park’s grounds, local public schools and pre-schools, civic associations, the Parks Commission, and various members of the community. At the charrette, the group reviewed all of the children’s drawings and synthesized them into rough design concepts. A second charrette was held at NC State to compound all of the concepts into one overall design.
Landscape Architect Bill Caldwell took the ball from there, handling permits and turning the master plan into design documents for drainage, utilities, elevation, landscaping, hardscaping, and construction of the restroom pavilion. Caldwell contracted renown water resources engineer consultant, Bill Jorden, to develop the stormwater management plan to meet all of Atlanta’s ordinances for stormwater runoff quality and quantity.
“Our goal was to not create a detention pond on a beautiful site of rolling hills and historic oak trees. I also didn’t want to have to convert the flat spaces currently used for open play. Belgard products helped us to avoid these traditional stormwater management strategies,” Caldwell said.
“Because the playground was being built into a hillside, the project required substantial retaining walls, which initially called for poured concrete. We got two Mega-Tandem Walls for the price of one poured concrete wall. Also, using the Mega-Tandem allowed us to value-engineer the pavilion and reduce the amount of poured concrete needed for the foundation. Overall, we saved over $200,000 on the project, factoring the cost savings on the pavilion and the site walls,” Caldwell said.
In addition, the 9,000 square feet of permeable paver walkways controls the amount of rainwater runoff that rolls downhill, which alleviates erosion problems. “An impervious system would have caused a concentration of water flow to the lower elevations, which would have generated more runoff than the original site,” Caldwell said.
Caldwell also notes that the Belgard permable pavers and retaining walls allowed him to create the playground out of what was formerly unusable space. “I love the fact that we took a hillside with a 12-15 degree slope that was basically non-functional and turned it into a 1-acre parkland that is a highly functional and usable space and has become a high-value component of the park,” he said. “We created something out of nothing.”
And what Caldwell considers the best part…this playgound was designed by kids for kids, regardless of age or abilities. The entire playground is ADA compliant, with multiple handicap accessible play elements. “Even the texture of the permeable paver walkway adds a sensory element for children with sensory disabilities, which is not something they would get with a smooth poured concrete sidewalk. Addressing disabilities of multiple spectrums was always part of the discussion from the beginning,” Caldwell said.
Belgard has a long-standing reputation for innovation in the hardscapes industry. The newest line in the Belgard evolution is the most versatile to date: The Tandem® line of wall products, which offers the natural look of chiseled stone and includes a range of specific products that together can accomplish more outdoor living design goals and site solutions than any other hardscape product on the market.
The flagship of the Tandem line, the patented installation system of Mega-Tandem Mass Segmental Retaining Wall allows it to be quickly and efficiently installed for a variety of uses that range from residential to heavy commercial, including use as gravity walls and flood walls, and in most cases reduce excavation.
Capable of building straight or curved retaining walls, seat walls, or freestanding walls for lighter residential and commercial use, Tandem Wall also utilizes a patented installation system and includes an optional ashlar pattern, as well as the larger block pattern — for a total of 24 distinct aesthetic options.
The incredibly versatile Tandem Modular Grid can be used to enhance the face of a porch or deck or to create outdoor kitchens, built-in seating, furniture, and more. With the use of galvanized grids, Tandem veneer units affix to a wooden frame or existing structure to create limitless outdoor living designs.
The Tandem Column Kit and coordinating Tandem Cap unit can be used to complement other Tandem outdoor living designs or as stand-alone structures. Build a mailbox, create a driveway entrance, embellish existing posts, or add a column to a freestanding wall. You won’t believe how quickly these kits install.
Both Mega-Tandem Wall (pictured below) and Tandem Wall are installed using three basic components: textured concrete panels, polypropylene connectors, and aggregate.
Tandem Modular Grid and Tandem Column Kit also include three basic components: textured veneer units, galvanized grids, and specialized connectors. The textured face of all Tandem products are designed to work together to create coordinated outdoor living designs.
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.