Built-In Planters That Add Dimension to Your Outdoor Living Designs

No matter how beautiful the construction materials, an outdoor living design can look dull and lifeless without pops of color or dimensional design elements. A built-in planter constructed with retaining wall block will provide a permanent receptacle for adding color, texture and dimension to your spaces and can coordinate with your pavers and landscape walls to tie the overall look together.

Add curb appeal

Make a statement as soon as visitors arrive with planters along the driveway or a sidewalk in front of your home.

Highland Stone®Built-in Planters Retaining Wall
Highland Stone®
Create a grand entrance

Planters along walkways and near doorways create a welcoming effect and add architectural interest to the front of your home.

Edge a terrace

Soften the look of an angular wall or add a buffer zone along the terrace edge with planters of various shapes and sizes.

Dress up a retaining wall

Large retaining walls are often necessary, but can be visually boring. Add dimension and visual interest to a large retaining wall with planters at the base or at higher points along the wall.

Create a focal point

Add drama to a patio, walkway or driveway with a large planter that can create a visual focal point for the design.

Belair Wall® Retaining Wall Blocks & Built-in Planters
Belair Wall®
Flank a fire feature

Add pops of color and foliage to soften the look of larger structures and help coordinate the space with the surrounding landscape.

Flank Stairs or Steps

Stair or step planters can take a variety of shapes and styles. Options can include symmetrical tiers, terraced landings, or a singular accent planter.

Emphasize a tree

A tree planter box or wall can add design elements to larger open spaces or provide an area for installing a flower garden.

Add dimension to a patio

Planter gardens are a great way to add dimension and visual interest to an open patio. In addition, locating a planter near an outdoor kitchen can provide an outdoor chef with a space to grow fresh herbs.

Soften the look of a column

Incorporating a planter into the top of a column or pillar softens the look and adds a natural textural design element to your outdoor living structures.

Introducing New Lamina Tandem™ Wall: Stacked Stone Look with Incredible Design Flexibility

Belgard is excited to announce the launch of a new face style to the revolutionary Tandem Wall® System. The new Lamina Tandem™ Wall features the look and feel of chiseled stacked stone and can be used to build a variety of outdoor living and landscaping structures.

The new Lamina Tandem™ face style can be used with all elements of the unique Tandem®  Wall System to build complete outdoor living designs. The Tandem® system offers more versatility than any other landscape wall product, allowing you to create distinctive outdoor living spaces that all coordinate and flow together as one cohesive design.

Lamina Tandem™ Wall

Use Lamina Tandem™ Wall to build curved and straight freestanding and retaining walls ideal for a variety of outdoor projects.

  • Control the slope of a yard.
  • Construct a terrace.
  • Build raised gardens.
  • Define the perimeter of an outdoor living space.
  • Create visual separation between outdoor rooms.

Lamina Tandem™ Column Kit

The easy-to-install Lamina Tandem™ Column Kit quickly creates columns for a variety of design uses.

  • Wrap around existing posts to enhance a porch or pavilion.
  • Build a mailbox.
  • Augment a freestanding wall with intermittent posts or end-caps.
  • Use freestanding columns to add visual interest or create a grand entrance.

Lamina Tandem™ Modular Grid

Because Lamina  Tandem™ Modular Grid can attach to virtually any wooden frame or surface, it can be used to construct just about any outdoor living structure up to 6 feet in height.

  • Skirt a deck or porch.
  • Build aesthetic walls for hiding utilities and garbage cans.
  • Build a variety of outdoor living structures including outdoor kitchens, fire features, built-in seating, planters and more.

The new Lamina Tandem™ Wall System is currently available throughout most of the Midwest, South and Central Plains regions. Distribution is expected to expand throughout the year.

The Best of 2017: Residential Hardscape Design Winners

At the 2017 Hardscape North America tradeshow held in Louisville, Kentucky, the U.S. and Canada hardscape industry judged residential and commercial hardscape designs from across North America for the 2017 HNA Awards. These awards are the industry’s top honors for contractors designing and installing projects using concrete pavers, segmental retaining walls, clay brick, porcelain, and combinations of these hardscapes. Belgard was pleased to have products showcased in 12 of the honored designs, placing in 10 of the 16 categories. Homeowners planning an outdoor living makeover in 2018 can pull inspiration from the award-winning and innovative designs from these residential categories. Click on the galleries below to view slideshows of photos from each project.


PROJECT CREDITS  Category: Concrete Pavers, less than 3,000 SF (WINNER). Contractor: Paver Designs, LLC. Designer: Justin Hampton. Product: Dublin Cobble®.

Tranquil Backyard Oasis

PROJECT CREDITS  Category: Porcelain Pavers (WINNER). Contractor: Pacific Outdoor Living. Designer: Terry Morrill. Product: Noon Porcelain Pavers

Dramatic Entrance

PROJECT CREDITS  Category: Concrete Pavers, more than 3,000 SF (Honorable Mention). Contractor: Mirror Lake Designs. Designer: Michael Shawn Kelly. Products: Urbana® Stone, Old Word Paver™.


PROJECT CREDITS:  Category: Combination of Hardscapes, less than 4,000 SF (Honorable Mention). Contractor: Precision Landscapes. Designer: Jeremy Rose. Products: Urbana® Stone concrete pavers (primary patio), Noon porcelain pavers (fire pit patio), Weston Stone® retaining wall (fire pit, garden walls, seat walls), Arbel® concrete pavers (seat wall backrest).

Eco-Friendly Walkway & Driveway

PROJECT CREDITS  Category: Permeable Pavers (Honorable Mention), Contractor: Dominion Pavers. Designer: Sasser Construction. Product: Aqualine Series™ pavers.

NEXT WEEK:  Despite the cold temperatures, now is the ideal time to start planning a pool installation to have it ready for the spring!

Terraced Design Adds Form and Function to a Sloped Yard

This home originally had a steeply sloped and mostly unusable yard. With the help of a multi-level terraced design, it was converted into a family backyard oasis.

Prior to purchasing this home, an Atlanta family of four saw the potential to create their dream backyard and consulted with a design/build contractor who had a terraced design in place before escrow closed on the home. Construction began immediately after the closing.

The existing backyard included a small terraced section held in place by 6’x6’ timber walls, with the remainder of the mostly unusable yard sloping down to a large wooded pond. The renovation design focused on increasing the functionality of the available space with the help of segmental retaining wall to create four terraced levels: a pool level, a sunken outdoor kitchen pavilion, a secluded fire pit terrace, and a recreational play level for the family’s two children. The project was constructed in four phases.

Phase 1: Structural Walls

Since the design included a pool, the first step of construction was to demolish the timber retaining walls (which weren’t capable of supporting the additional weight), remove a few trees to enlarge the main terraced level, and construct new walls capable of supporting the pool. Mega-Tandem™ Mass Segmental Retaining Wall® was selected for its strength and natural stone appearance and was used to create the structure of the two main terrace levels, as well as coordinating built-in planter boxes. Before the walls were capped, wiring was run for low-voltage hardscape lighting, which would be installed during the final phase.

Planter boxes on the second level were adorned with Azalea bushes. Transitions to each level were constructed with natural stone slab step treads. Hardscape lighting lines all walls to improve evening aesthetics and safety.
Phase 2: Poolscape

The second phase of construction was to dig and form the pool and shoot the gunite pool walls. The design of the kidney-shaped pool includes wedding cake steps, a submerged tanning ledge, swim-up bar stools, a raised eight-person spa, and a vanishing waterfall that overlooks the fire pit terrace below.

The vanishing edge waterfall creates a dramatic backdrop for the cozy fire pit terrace that overlooks the wooded landscape and pond. Wooden posts and handrails for the cable fencing were embedded inside the structure of the retaining walls for stability.

Next came the installation of the paver pool deck, tiered garden walls, and rectangular fire pit. The pool deck extends to walkways that continue around both sides of the home. For these projects, Lafitt® pavers and Tandem® Wall were selected, which both offer a modular ashlar pattern and have a natural stone look that coordinates with the Mega-Tandem retaining walls of the primary structure.

The false-jointed ashlar pattern of the garden walls mimics the look of the paver field. Low-voltage hardscape lighting lines the garden walls for ambiance and safety.
Phase 3: Pavilion
The outdoor kitchen offers multiple cooking spaces and includes an open cabinet under the brick oven for storing wood. The texture of the wall veneer and Lafitt® paver flooring complement the natural stone elements to create a cohesive design.

The next phase was to build the 18’x30’ outdoor kitchen pavilion, which includes an open gabled metal roof, exposed cedar-wrapped beams, and staggered cedar shake siding. The base of each outdoor kitchen counter is constructed with Tandem® Modular Grid and capped with a granite countertop. The Tandem wall units used on Modular Grid incorporate the same face texture and color palette as the Tandem Wall and the Mega-Tandem retaining walls, which allowed all of the walls throughout the outdoor living design to have a cohesive look and feel.

The well-appointed kitchen includes a double sink, double-door refrigerator, kegerator beer dispenser, and multiple cooking surfaces—including a gas grill, Big Green Egg® ceramic grill, and a wood-burning Chicago Brick Oven®. The kitchen also includes ample seating, including a countertop bar that overlooks the pool and faces the swim-up bar, for ultimate pool-side entertaining. Natural stone slab step treads were used to transition to each level—from the house to the pool, down into the outdoor kitchen, to the fire pit terrace, and down to the play structure.

The two-sided bar is capped with a granite countertop and offers dry seating under the pavilion and swim-up seating from inside the pool.
Phase 4: Final Touches & PLay Area

The final phase of the project began with landscaping and trimming out the pool with natural stone coping and pebbled tiling, including the 20-foot-wide vanishing waterfall edge that serves as a dramatic backdrop for the cozy fire pit area and overlooks the picturesque wooded pond. Each of the terraced levels were finished with protective cable fencing, outlined with wooden posts and handrails painted to match the color of the pavilion roof.

Next came the playground installation, which required a fourth level to be terraced. Timber wall was selected to terrace this level to coordinate with the wooden play structure and the surrounding natural wooded landscape.

The final task was to install all of the lighting, including low-voltage hardscape lighting that had been pre-wired during earlier phases, which both added an aesthetic element and improved the safety of the multi-level structure. All electrical elements of entire design—including the hardscape lighting, spa, waterfall, pavilion lighting, and sound system—can all be controlled by an app on the homeowner’s phone.

For a fly-through view of the entire multi-level terraced design, watch the drone video below.


Designer: Clint Tucker, PLA
Contractor: Sugar Hill Outdoors, LLC
Engineer: John R. Gehrlich, Jr., PE
Engineering Firm: GeoWerks Engineering, LLC
Pool Construction: Bennett Custom Pool Construction
Play Structure Design/Installation: PlayNation Play Systems, Inc., of Georgia

NEXT WEEK’S BLOG: Come back to the Outdoor Living by Belgard blog to get inspired by winning designs from the 2017 Hardscape North America Project Awards.

Seat Wall Design Ideas

According to annual national surveys conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects, built-in seating has regularly been among the top 10 trends in outdoor living design in recent years. The reason for this is simple…people are spending a lot more time in their outdoor living spaces, and they’re bringing friends. Plus, there’s only so much you can do with traditional furniture, and it typically needs to be replaced periodically due to exposure to sun, rain and critters. Whereas, built-in seating provides a more permanent solution and can perform multiple roles within the design. In addition to providing a place to sit, a seat wall can act as a functional design element to define the space itself. Whether you need to control the slope of your yard, or are just looking for a way to define the transition from one outdoor room to the next, a seat wall may be the design solution to your seating needs.

Fire pit seating

Seat walls provide an excellent design solution for fire pit patios. The wall itself helps to reflect the heat to provide a cozier environment. In addition, the bench-style seating can accommodate more people than traditional chairs. For additional comfort, add pillows or cushions.

Add definition to an open area with the addition of a seat wall. This design incorporates a curved seat wall to coordinate with the round fire pit and curved patio.
WALL PRODUCT: Castle Manor™ Wall.
A curved seat wall helped to create a cozy alcove adjacent to the porch of this home. Bullnose coping was used to soften the seating edge of the rustic wall. To tie the design together, the same coping was used to cap the fire pit.
WALL PRODUCT: Celtik® Wall
This fire pit patio incorporates an L-shaped seat wall to coordinate with the square fire pit and angular patio design. Built-in arm rests help provide a finished.
WALL PRODUCT: Weston Stone®
.   .  .

A retaining wall or perimeter wall can easily be embellished and converted into built-in seating to create a more functional space.

The slope of this yard presented a significant grade change, which required a retaining wall in order to build the pool. The designer took advantage of the grade change to create tiered seating around the fire pit, also creating the perfect built-in “movie night” setup.
WALL PRODUCT: Celtik® Wall
By adding a ledge to this perimeter wall, additional permanent seating was created to provide a conversation area for this patio.
WALL PRODUCT: Tandem® Wall.
This fire pit patio is adjacent to an outdoor bar area. The seat wall extends from the built-in bar to defines the perimeter of the space and provide seating for both the bar and the fire pit, creating a multi-purpose entertainment zone.
WALL PRODUCT: Weston Stone®
.    .   .
Incorporating Natural Elements

When using manufactured stone to build seat walls, natural materials can be incorporated into the design to add visual interest.

This seat wall incorporates natural wood into the design, using wooden posts for the seat ledge and back rest. Mitered edges and a stair-stepped design soften the look and create an intimate space.
WALL PRODUCT: Weston Stone®
This design uses natural stone for the seat ledges and the stair treads leading to the back porch. The designer also took advantage of the terraced design to construct a planter wall for a raised flower bed, creating the feel of a sunken outdoor living room.
WALL PRODUCT: Weston Stone®
.   .   .
Terraced Design

Terraced design lends itself well to the addition of seat walls, as a retaining wall is already being used to create the terrace and needs only to be embellished with a seat ledge.

A ledge wall is added to this terrace and continues along the wall of the house to create a curved seating area. The terrace and exterior wall of the home act as built-in back rests. Low-voltage lighting was installed under the seat ledge to provide ambiance during evening gatherings.
WALL PRODUCT: Belair® Wall
A curved ledge wall was added to this terraced retaining wall to create seating for the fire pit. The designer also took advantage of the multiple grade changes to add planters at every level and create a built-in vertical garden.
WALL PRODUCT: Celtik® Wall

Next week: The holidays are just around the corner! Come back to the Outdoor Living by Belgard blog for holiday backyard entertaining ideas.

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.


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.