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!

How to Host a Great Easter Egg Hunt

Flowers are blooming, the trees are gearing up to provide us with shade and both spring and summer holidays are right around the corner. As you’re preparing for outdoor celebrations, don’t overlook Easter as a great opportunity to invite guests over for an afternoon Easter Egg hunt!

Here’s a tip: after you figure out how many little hunters you’ll have, multiply that number by ten or twelve. That will give the kids plenty of treats to feast upon as well as trinkets to play with (especially for those concerned about inadvertently creating a legion of sugar-crazed children, substitute small toys or coins for candy).

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Now for the actual hunt. Here are some fun alternatives to the traditional egg hunt:

Make it feel like a mission. Have each participating kid find one or two of each color egg and once they complete their mission, they can turn in their eggs to the host for a prize, like a sweet 401k (just kidding, go for something like a coloring book and some markers or crayons, or a fun game that they can play with their whole family).

Along with candy, trinkets and coins, feel free to put messages with something inspirational or kind written on them! If you want to tailor the notes to specific kids, assign each kid a specific color. Or, if you’re feeling ambitious, use different colors of yarn for each kid to weave a treasure map around the yard. That way, they’ll get exactly what they’re meant to and each kid will feel as important as they truly are (and there won’t be any brawls over who found the egg first).

Who says kids get to have all of the fun? Have an adult team up with each kid (it can be a parent, aunt, uncle, cousin or older sibling) and search together. Hide some of the eggs in hard-to-reach places and when the little ones spot a bright color in a strange spot, their grownup sidekick can put the kid on their shoulders so they can reach it. Plus, they get to feel like they’re seven feet tall for a few seconds, which is nothing short of exhilarating.

Great news: you don’t have to break the bank to have a successful, thoroughly enjoyable hunt in your outdoor living space. When it comes to having fun, kids are certified professionals, and with fun adults to facilitate these kinds of adventures, they’re bound to have an unforgettable time.

 

Product Spotlight: Country Manor Wall

The castle estate aesthetic isn’t just for nobility and royalty anymore. If you’ve ever wished to live in a regal manor on the rolling hills of the English countryside, we have a solution that will meet you where are.

Country Manor is one of our eight styles of retaining wall stone that comes in a wide range of shapes and colors. It’s perfect for freestanding landscape walls, columns and moderately tall reinforced retaining walls. Country Manor stone makes a stunning addition as a fireplace…

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…an enclosure for an outdoor dining area…

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…or a walkway fit for royalty.

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Country Manor uses patented pin technology, giving your fireplace or column extra strength – and it’s easy to install, too! If you have a vision for your home, we can make it a reality without any hassle.

The possibilities are endless. Be sure to scan through the Belgard Idea Books tailored to your region and check out the combinations of Country Manor and pavers like Dublin or London Cobble. Once you find something you want, give us a call and we’ll be happy to help you figure out how to give your home some rustic old world flavor.

Recipe of the Month: Smoked Salmon Dip

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Our recipe of the month is back, and this month it’s a savory smoked salmon dip! This dip takes a mere five minutes to whip up and makes a great party appetizer or a decadent snack.

Here’s what you need and how to make it:

  • 16 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 12 ounces smoked salmon, chopped
  • 3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill weed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onion

In a medium-sized bowl, stir the cream cheese until it’s pliable and yielding. Add the salmon, Worcestershire sauce, dill and green onion and stir well until the ingredients are distributed evenly throughout the cream cheese. And that’s it!

If you want to add a bit of kick to it, add a few drops of hot pepper sauce into the mix. If you’re not a fan of smoked salmon, you can substitute smoked rainbow trout or another smoked fish. If you’re watching calories, substitute some of the cream cheese (though no more than half) with fat free or 2% milkfat plain Greek yogurt (it sounds weird, but it’s basically sour cream without the fat and it’s loaded with protein!).

Serve with crackers and if you still have leftovers and you’re feeling adventurous, spread some on a bagel.

And there you have it. Now you’ve got something new to bring to a party or to debut at a get-together of your own.

Celebrate the First Day of Spring!

Springtime has returned (it becomes official tomorrow!), and with it your ability to spend more time outside. Now that the sun isn’t setting as early and the nights aren’t as cold, what can you do with all of this extra great weather? Here are some of our ideas for celebrating the first day of spring:

Plant a garden! You don’t have to have a highly sophisticated green thumb to have your own garden. If you’ve got fertile ground where you live, you’ve got options. If you’re intimidated by the idea of growing your own food, you can just start with herbs – rosemary, basil, parsley and mint are all easy to grow and show off to your guests. Plus, you can always share with neighbors and friends if you have too much — a great way to break out of the winter season hibernation ennui! And a garden doesn’t just add color to your outdoor space – it adds character.

Invite over some friends, family or neighbors for a backyard barbecue potluck. Set out coolers with drinks and popsicles. Having a party outside has a twofold benefit: you get to reconnect with your loved ones and the great outdoors.

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Celebrate the new season by going someplace that’s new to you! Springtime is a prime travel time because as winter thaws out, more destinations become accessible to those of us who are accustomed to warmer weather. When spring is in the air, it’s hard not to feel inspired watching everything be reborn around you. Take your family or some pals out for an adventure through nature, taking photographs as you go, then share them at the end of the trip. If you’ve got some artsy folks in your troupe, let them know they’re more than welcome to bring their gear and draw or paint anything that piques their interest.

We hope you have a marvelous time inaugurating the new season. If you’re one of those fancy people who are already on the ball and has a whole shebang planned, we’d love to hear your special plans! Here’s to a wonderful spring for everyone.

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Spotlight: Belgard Idea Books

Everybody wants a beautiful home, and everyone knows that it is your own personal style and taste that turn a house into a haven. But it’s intimidating to start from scratch, which is why we’ve put together the 2014 Belgard Idea Books. There are seven, each tailored to your own geographical region, and they are all brimming with ideas for how to transform your outdoor living space!

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No two homes are alike because no two individuals who live in them are completely alike. The purpose of these idea books is not to prescribe a particular ambiance for your home but rather to give you a large enough palette so you can take what you like and create a space that is suited to your individual taste. They’re also designed to let you see what your living space is capable of and how seamlessly it can flow into your surroundings, whether you live in a close-knit neighborhood or on hundreds of acres on the tranquil frontier.

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One of the advantages of the Idea Books is that since they are arranged by geographical area, you won’t have to waste time finding something you absolutely adore only to find out that the nearest distributor is 1,000 miles away. Each idea book is relevant to the landscape, climate and idiosyncrasies of your region. Our Idea Books feature all different types of homes, showing you that there are innumerable ways to customize a hardscape to make your space truly one of a kind.

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There are thousands of ways to transform your outdoor living space. Maybe you don’t have a pool that’s dying for a new paver in your backyard, but that doesn’t mean the pavers you see wouldn’t look great as a backyard party area or even as a driveway. These Idea Books are here to provide inspiration so you can take the best of all possible worlds and make your own. Design is a collaborative effort and the Idea Books provide enough possibilities to give you the confidence for manifesting your own personal, original vision of what a sanctuary your backyard can become.