Since ancient times, the column has long been an architectural element used for both decorative and structural purposes. Usage of this ancient design technique continues to evolve in the world of modern outdoor living design. Whether a freestanding or a structural element, columns of varying sizes, textures and designs can add a dimensional aspect or a finished look to an outdoor living space.
Freestanding columns are a distinctive way to indicate the entrance to a terrace, porch, walkway or driveway. They can also mark the transition from one outdoor room to the next. By incorporating lights on the tops or sides of columns, you can add both ambiance and a safety element.
Weston Stone® & Bullnose Coping
Arbors, pavilions and outdoor kitchens
Masonry columns make an excellent decorative structural element to support a pavilion or the covering for an outdoor kitchen. When utilizing a masonry column to support a post, using the same masonry material to construct the outdoor kitchen will create a cohesive look, as well as a durable outdoor living space that can withstand the elements.
Weston Stone® & Bullnose
Using a column for an endcap adds a finished look to a retaining wall, landscape wall or seat wall. Finishing touches can include a light fixture, low voltage hardscape lighting, or a built-in planter.
Weston Stone® Seat Wall
Country Manor® Wall
Columns can enhance the look of a porch and add curb appeal to a home. Retaining wall block or other masonry materials can even be used to wrap existing posts to create the look of an architectural column or coordinate with other hardscape design elements.
Weston Stone® and Bullnose Coping
sTEPS AND STAIRS
Whether simple or elaborate, columns can add an elegant touch to steps and stairways. Options can include placing the columns at the top, the base, or both.
Anchor® Highland Wall
Tandem® Column and Wall
Fences and gates
Columns make an attractive addition to fences and gates and can work either as a structural or decorative element with masonry, wooden or iron fencing.
AB Courtyard Collection
Columns can be used to define an outdoor space or as integrated elements of an outdoor living feature. The masonry column’s use as a decorative element is only limited by the imagination.
The Tunnel to Towers foundation honors both firefighter Stephen Siller, who laid down his life to save others on September 11th, and our nation’s military and first responders who continue to make the supreme sacrifice of life and limb for our country. One of the organization’s programs, Building for America’s Bravest, builds single-family housing for disabled veterans across the country.
Belgard has partnered with Tunnel to Towers and Building for America’s Bravest by providing all materials and installation of backyard patios on the 12-15 homes scheduled for construction this year.
“Belgard is incredibly honored to lend our backyard living expertise to the men and women who have given back so much for our country, so they can fully enjoy their new homes,” stated Wade Ficklin, President APG West/Canada and Tunnel to Towers project coordinator.
The first patio was completed in Virginia in March, with pavers donated by Anchor South, an Oldcastle company, and installed by a group of Belgard representatives with assistance from contractor Chris Ianndrelli with All Seasons Landscaping and Irrigation, who installed the base. The 425 square foot patio was constructed with Lafitt® pavers (Bella color) installed in a running bond pattern and bordered with Old York™ pavers (Charcoal color). The design for the patio was created by the Belgard Design Studio, who made recommendations on the products and installation pattern and provided design renderings and materials estimates to help facilitate and expedite the project.
“I was proud of how everyone pulled the project together on such a short turnaround,” said Sam Bond, who coordinated the volunteer effort on behalf of Belgard.
Paver installation was led by Ben Hulvey and Brandon Ford of the Belgard sales team for Anchor South, along with additional volunteers from Anchor South and the Belgard retail team.
The group installed their second patio this month, this time for a newly constructed home in Sumerduck, Virginia, with the project led by Belgard sales team members Ben Hulvey and Todd Stiffler. Assistance on this project was provided by Marc Salafia of The Stone Center of Fredericksburg, who provided all of the base materials, and Jim Mauro of M&M Hardscaping who assisted with hardscape installation.
“Jim Mauro was especially excited to have the opportunity to be part of this charity installation because he has a brother who is a firefighter and other family members who are servicemen,” said Hulvey.
This second patio also included a retaining wall to control the slope of the backyard. The project included 940 square feet of pavers: Lafitt® Grana Slab (Bella color) trimmed with Old York™ Pavers (Charcoal color). Bordering the project is an attractive 272 square foot Celtik® Wall (Bella color).
This same group plans to install three more Building for America’s Bravest patios in the Maryland and Virginia area this year. The remainder of the projects will be installed by other Belgard teams in various locations across the country. The Belgard Design Studio will continue to work with each group to provide designs and materials needs.
The next patio installation is currently in progress in Pompey, New York, with two additional patios currently in the design phase in Texas. Additional locations planned through the end of the year include sites in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Washington, Maryland, Florida, Boston, Upstate New York and Southern California.
Get cooking with some of our favorite grilling station design ideas, from simple grill islands to gourmet outdoor kitchens.
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The Angular Look
These outdoor kitchens use multiple angles and countertops galore to create expansive grilling stations with ample prep and serving space, as well as bar-style seating, which allows the guests to keep the outdoor chef company.
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The Classic L-Shape
With a classic L-shaped grilling station, everything you need is within arm’s reach, which makes cooking and clean-up a breeze.
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Multiple Cooking Surfaces
Gourmet outdoor chefs can’t settle for just one cooking method.
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Outdoor kitchens and grilling stations don’t have to follow the limited linear rules of an indoor cooking space. Get creative with curvy designs.
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You can’t go wrong with the classic look of brick.
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For a unique design, sometimes you have to think outside of the box.
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Even when space is at a premium, you can still have an eye-catching grill.
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Some folks want an outdoor kitchen that offers all of the convenience and “creature comforts” of the indoors.
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Wood & Stone
There’s just something earthy and fabulous about combining the looks of wood and stone together. An excellent way to do that is by adding an arbor to your outdoor kitchen space, which not only helps filter the sunlight, but adds pop to your outdoor living design.
Fire pits continue to rise in popularity, and it’s no wonder. There’s just something about gathering around a fire that’s inherently human. A fire pit instantly becomes everyone’s favorite gathering spot. It’s the ideal place to relax, unwind, tell stories, and get to know one another on a deeper level. If you’re thinking of adding a fire pit to your backyard, there are a lot of options to consider before you begin.
Decision 1: Mobile or Built-In
Many people opt for a mobile fire pit that can be moved around to various locations. Movable fire pits are certainly less expensive than a built-in pit, come in a wide variety of designs, and have the added benefit of portability. The primary drawback, however, is that a movable fire pit tends to only last a season or two before the materials begin to deteriorate.
Decision 2: In-Ground or Above-Ground
An in-ground fire pit can be cost-effective, however above-ground pits are more common. One trend is to create a “sunken living room” design for an above-ground fire pit. This offers the added benefit of built-in seating. In addition, the surrounding wall can act either as a wind barrier or a heat reflector, creating a warm and cozy room.
Decision 3: Gas, Wood or Hybrid
There are a number of benefits to a gas fire pit. It’s easy to start, there’s no mess, there’s no smoke, and it can be placed closer to the house. For purists, however, burning wood is one of the primal reasons to even have a fire pit. For the best of both worlds, consider a wood-burning fire pit with a gas starter. One popular trend is to install a gas starter with a switch that can be operated either locally, from inside the house, or with a mobile app.
Decision 4: Placement
An above-ground pit becomes a focal point of your outdoor living design. Be sure and place it where it balances with other large design elements. A gas fire pit can be placed just about anywhere, but a wood-burning pit will need to be at least 10 feet away from any structure. Before putting in a permanent fire pit, check for wind patterns that may cause potential smoke issues. Also, remember to leave ample room for seating around the pit.
Decision 5: Materials and Shape
Above-ground fire pits can be constructed from a variety of materials. The most popular options are brick, natural stone and concrete blocks, such as Belgard retaining wall products. Although design options are endless, most fire pits are either round or square. One reason has to do with the shape of standard fire pit liners. Fire pit liners are highly recommended and may be required by your local municipality. In addition to adding a finished look, a steel liner keeps excessive amounts of heat from absorbing into the surrounding stone. By reflecting the heat up and out, it adds to the life of the stone and creates a safer environment. It also increases the feeling of warmth for those around the fire.
Decision 6: Seating Options
Built-in seating is currently one of the top trends in outdoor living and makes an excellent addition to a fire pit design. Some people like to place seat walls four feet away from the fire pit, which allows for walking room. Others prefer a three-foot distance, which can allow you to prop your feet on the ledge of the pit. If using seat walls, consider leaving one or two sides open. This will allow for the option of furniture placement, which softens the look and adds interest to the design. To add comfort and color to seat walls, use a variety of throws and outdoor pillows.
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.
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
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Steps and Columns
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Dimensional Gardens and Planters
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Built-in Seating, Water Features and Fire Features