Belgard Provides Charm, Improved Function and Cost Savings for Playground

Every play element of the new Chastain Park playground is designed for group play, from multi-person swings to “racing” slides and harmony stations. (photo: Chastain Park Conservancy)

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.

A Mega-Tandem™ retaining wall provides an acoustic backdrop for one of the park's harmony stations. (Photo: Carson Matthews)

A Mega-Tandem™ retaining wall provides an acoustic backdrop for one of the park’s harmony stations. (photo: Carson Matthews)

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.

Urbana Stone® permeable pavers throughout the playground manage stormwater, reducing water runoff and reducing pollution. (photo: Chastain Park Conservancy)

Urbana Stone® permeable pavers throughout the playground manage stormwater, reducing both stormwater runoff and pollution. (photo: Chastain Park Conservancy)

“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.

With the help of Belgard Urbana Stone® permeable pavers and Mega-Tandem™ Mass Segmental Retaining Wall™, the team was able to conserve land, meet the stormwater requirements, and save a significant amount of money in the process.

“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 off 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.

Photos courtesy Carson MattHews and the Chastain Park Conservancy.

The Unmatched Versatility of the Tandem Platform

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.

ANCHOR_S_BEL2015_COM_Walls_MegaTandem_005_previewMega-Tandem™ Wall

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.

•    •    •

HERO-Tandem

Tandem® Wall

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.

•    •    •

TandemGridTandem® Modular Grid

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.

•    •    •

TandemColumnKit

Tandem® Column Kit and Tandem® Cap

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.

What makes the Tandem platform so unique?

Both Mega-Tandem Wall (pictured below) and Tandem Wall are installed using three basic components: textured concrete panels, polypropylene connectors, and aggregate.

Mega-Tandem3

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.

Grid and Column Kit2

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

.   .   .

Fun & Funky Paver Patterns

.   .   .

Fire Pit Patios

.   .   .

Sleek & Contemporary

.   .   .

Permeable Patios

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

Utilizing Retaining Walls in Poolscape Design

Dimensional multi-level design is one of the hottest trends in modern poolscapes. Belgard segmental retaining wall products make an outstanding medium for dimensional poolscape design. Here are some inspirational ideas of how segmental retaining walls can be used to enhance a poolscape:

Multi-Level Decks and Sunken Rooms

.   .   .

Steps and Columns

.   .   .

Dimensional Gardens and Planters

.   .   .

Built-in Seating, Water Features and Fire Features

.   .   .

Adjoining Kitchens and Bars

.   .   .

Parapet Walls and Fencing

Planters and Seating and More…Oh My!

TandemGrid

Tandem Column Kit

The Tandem Column Kit coordinates with Tandem Modular Grid and is specifically design to quickly and easily install around existing posts or construct independent columns to enhance driveways, entrances and outdoor living spaces.

Designer outdoor living spaces are literally a “snap” with the versatile new Tandem Modular Grid system, which can be used to enhance existing structures or construct an unlimited number of outdoor living design elements — such as planters, built-in furniture, outdoor kitchens, garden walls, benches and more. The textured Tandem veneer creates the look of natural chiseled stone to coordinate with Belgard pavers and create striking designs that compliment any architectural style.

Dress up an existing deck or patio with an eye-catching skirt, hide unsightly garbage cans or air conditioning units with a privacy wall, or enhance your outdoor living space with an inviting gas fire pit. Construct virtually any structure up to 6 ft. tall, or higher with proper engineering support.

TandemGrid2

Tandem Modular Grid Components

GridComponents

123The Tandem Modular Grid system consists of three basic components: modular galvanized grids, connectors, and textured stone-faced veneer units.

Creating beautiful outdoor living structures with Tandem Modular Grid is as easy as 1-2-3!

1 – Build a wooden frame. Tandem Modular Grid can also be used to dress up existing structures, like a porch, new wood deck or existing concrete deck. The system can be affixed to nearly any wood, concrete or metal structure.

2 – Attach the Modular Grid to the frame with provided hardware. The Grid can be installed either horizontally or vertically. Simply cut the grid as needed and affix to your frame or existing structure.

3 – Attach Tandem Veneer units to the grid with the provided Connectors. Veneer units are available in three sizes for ultimate design flexibility. Color options vary by region.

Column kits are even easier to install and do not require a wooden frame, but are instead filled with crushed 3/4″ aggregate during the installation process.

Using Walls to Create Intimacy

Whether working with a large open space or a diminutive courtyard, creating a sense of intimacy in outdoor design can often be illusive due to the inherent openness of the outdoors. However, through the use of dimensional design elements, such as Belgard retaining and freestanding walls, an intimate outdoor nook can be merely a garden wall away.

Belair Wall® was used as a retaining wall for erosion control on this sloping landscape, but also provided an element of privacy and a backdrop for a cozy outdoor living room. Wall sconces were affixed to the wall in a random pattern to soften the look of the stone and awash the conversation area in candlelight.

Create a Feeling of Closeness

Adding walls to an outdoor design, whether an 18 inch seat wall or an 8 foot retaining wall, will help to develop a feeling of closeness, which is the first step to creating an intimate nook. It works well to design with walls around 18-20 inches in height. This size wall offers multiple uses and can define an area without creating a boxed-in feel, while at the same time offering additional seating for large gatherings.

BergeracCeltikSunkenKitchen

Celtik® Wall provides the structure for this sunken kitchen that was installed below the water table of the adjacent in-ground swimming pool. The wooden arbor adds an organic feel, affording both shade for the sitting area and open venting for the fireplace and grill.

The Organic Rule of Thumb

If an outdoor space looks cold and uninviting, odds are there are not enough organic materials mixed into the design. Elements like wooden arbors or various levels of vegetation can add texture, provide shade, soften the space, and add to the feeling of closeness. Wood, either painted or natural, makes a space more inviting. Stone adds richness, but organic materials add comfort.

The ultimate in organic design includes incorporating the elements of water or fire. There’s nothing more intimate than a fire pit. It touches people of all ages. Place a 6-year-old girl, a teenage boy, and a 70-year-old man around a fire pit, and they’ll sit and tell stories to each other for hours. And in the summer, you can add a plastic liner, fill the pit with ice, and use it as a drink station. No matter what time of year, it will be everyone’s favorite spot.

Use Elevation and Dimension to Your Advantage

A sloping landscape, although attractive, can typically be unusable space. Belgard products can be used to create a terracing effect. By combining steps, pavers, planters, and retaining walls, you can create a series of planes at various elevations that now become areas of usable space with walls that can be used as a backdrop for an intimate nook. And, you can do all of this without concrete footers, which eliminates a lot of the costs, code issues, and headaches of masonry.

Even consider how pattern integration in your paver design can complete the look. By varying color, texture, or pattern, pavers can further define the perimeter of the nook or create a rug-like design to add to the cozy feel.

By adding a Brighton Elements outdoor fireplace with water features to this bare wall, a nondescript patio became an intimate outdoor living room. Laying the Bergerac® and Urbana Stone® pavers in a rug configuration added to the cozy feel of the room.

Lighting is Key

Whether your intimate nook is next to the back door or at a destination location across the property, proper lighting is a key component to completing the design. Lighting should be bright enough to allow for visual comfort in the darkness without overpowering the space and ruining the mood.

Texture creates intimacy, and proper lighting will enhance texture at night. If you uplight a stone wall, the texture is incredible. It gives a warm feel and draws you out into the space. But, even some low voltage lighting can be too intense if placed improperly. You want to bathe the space in gentle light without blowing it out.

By enclosing this exposed firepit with a Weston Stone wall,

Enclosing the exposed firepit with a Weston Stone® wall created a sense of intimacy for this remote space. Low voltage hardscape and landscape lighting adds ambiance and safely leads guests to the fire nook.