Designing a Sustainable Outdoor Space

By Joe Raboine, Director of Residential Hardscapes

Product: Eco Dublin® permeable pavers.

The intent of outdoor and landscape design has always been to create beautiful, functional spaces for clients and homeowners. However, the industry is seeing a shift in the mindset of consumers, as more individuals learn about sustainable spaces and seek a more balanced lifestyle with nature. As the environment is spurring conversations about sustainable practices, homeowners are looking for ways to make a positive impact on both their immediate surroundings and the world as a whole.

In addition, individuals are focused on creating spaces that allow them to spend more time outdoors, which has a positive impact on their lives and overall wellness. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans spend 90 percent of their time indoors, which equates to less than one hour per day outside, directly impacting stress, anxiety and mental health. By creating a functional and sustainable outdoor space, we can improve our own lives, the lives of our family, friends and our local communities.

These eco-friendly and beneficial spaces can be created by considering three key elements: materials, design and plants.

Materials

Materials and products used in a project play a significant role in the overall sustainability of an outdoor space. Though they might not immediately come to mind, concrete pavers offer a number of benefits and should be considered as landscape architects and designers plan projects. The first benefit to consider is lifespan; most hardscaped outdoor spaces boasting concrete pavers can last 60 to 80 years, if installed properly. Compared to other materials, such as a wooden deck that may last 20 years, hardscapes offer longevity and reduce waste. In addition, concrete pavers are often locally sourced, which reduces transportation costs and environmental impact.

Concrete pavers are also being designed for the specific purpose of offering a sustainable design to contractors and clients. Permeable pavers hit the market decades ago, but have been used mostly in commercial applications up until recently. Now, residential builders, architects and contractors are beginning to realize the benefits for their for residential applications as well, including patios, driveways and walkways.

Permeable interlocking concrete pavers (PICP) are a system of concrete pavers with layers of varying-sized stone – or aggregate – underneath that filter and direct stormwater to underground aquifers. These pavers mimic the way natural land absorbs water; any rain that falls on the patio or walkway seeps back into the ground, reducing the burden on storm drains. Water filtration is also a benefit that many are not aware of – as rainwater hits a normal surface such as concrete or asphalt, it picks up pollution elements such as oil or gas, which in turn enters the ground water. With permeable pavers, bacteria grow within the aggregate below, which helps break down those materials and harmful toxins, filtering them out before the water goes back into the ground.

Lighting is also considered as part of a larger outdoor project, which has also made strides toward eco-friendly options. LED lighting offers a huge reduction in electricity usage. Contractors can light a typical outdoor living space for less than 100 watts of power, whereas less than 10 years ago, the same space would have required 500 watts or more.

Design

The design of a permeable paver system also lends itself to creating a more sustainable space. With enhanced techniques, a permeable paver system can be designed and installed to harvest and recycle rainwater. The collected water can then be used to water plants, wash cars or for other landscaping maintenance.

On a larger scale, biophilic design is another trend that is growing in both the commercial and residential space, as an innovative way of designing spaces where we live, work and learn. Though the concept applies more immediately to interior design – as employers seek to reconnect people with nature, which has proven health benefits – it naturally expands to a landscaped space. By including a living wall, pergola or covered patio that incorporates more greenery, the designed space creates a natural, blended transition into the outdoors. Overall, landscape design should incorporate a mix of natural and modern materials throughout a landscaped space.

Though a larger outdoor space may offer more options for creating a sustainable environment, eco-friendly design is not limited to an expansive space. For those who have smaller real estate or are perhaps restricted by homeowner’s associations, raised beds and vertical gardens are a great option. In addition, community gardens that might incorporate any of these elements are increasingly popular.

Plants

When considering a sustainable design, native plants are always a safe selection for helping the environment. As they are accustomed to the local environmental conditions, they require less water, and are easy to maintain. In addition, the local wildlife benefits from having their native plants available to support the local ecosystem. Each state’s landscape and nursery associations and university system has information readily available on ideal plants for each area of the state.

As homeowners become more educated on the benefits of creating an eco-friendly outdoor space, there are many training and educational resources available to contractors. The Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute (ICPI) offers courses on permeable pavers and design. In addition, certain manufacturers of permeable pavers will staff engineers and experts in-house that are available for consultation while a project is being designed. Though it might be overwhelming at first to explore a new product and installation process, the educational tools needed are available, which will allow contractors to design outdoor spaces that benefit both the homeowner and the local environment.

This article was originally published on LandscapeBusiness.com. Reprinted with permission.

Belgard Featured in Makeover Project with Home Improvement Gurus, The Carey Bros.

Belgard is excited to partner with The Carey Bros., award-winning nationally syndicated experts on home building and renovation, on their period renovation of a 111-year-old bungalow in charming Old Town Brentwood, California, in the San Francisco Bay area.

604 Second Street Home
Front view of the 604 Second Street home. (Photo courtesy The Carey Bros.)

This project, located at 604 Second Street, was in dire straits and in need of a complete overhaul, inside and out. The primary goal was to add comfort, efficiency and value while maintaining the architectural integrity and historical look of the home. While the 1,177 square foot home itself required a great deal of architectural restoration, the project also called for replacement of all landscaping and hardscaping of the corner lot surrounding the home.

Landscape designers Dave and Susie Garcia of DPG Design selected Belgard Mega-Lafitt® pavers for the front walkway, rear driveway and side patio of the home.

“(Mega-Lafitt) offered natural modular pavers that combined the look and feel of an aged, rough-cut flagstone with superior strength and long-term durability…along with a thick 80mm height…and the modular shapes allowed for both creativity and flexibility in our design and installation,” Susie Garcia stated.

The Carey Bros Home Improvement Project Belgard
View of the front walkway from the porch. (Photo courtesy The Carey Bros.)

Contractor James Carey noted that Belgard pavers were the perfect solution. “They are extremely durable and very attractive with a rich natural color and aged texture that gives them the desired ‘Old World’ feel that adheres to both the antiquity and charm of the home.”

Second-generation homeowners Robin and Mike McClellan added, “The rustic look of natural stone is absolutely beautiful. While totally new, one could easily believe it has been there as long as our home’s original century-old heritage.”

In addition to historical preservation, the project also took a sustainability approach, repurposing materials and choosing environmentally sound options whenever possible. In line with these goals, the Mega-Lafitt pavers were installed as an environmentally-friendly permeable paver system, which allows water to infiltrate the joints and percolate into the ground below instead of running off into the street. In addition to the Belgard pavers, the project also uses fellow Oldcastle brand MoistureShield® composite decking for the porches, which is manufactured using 95% recycled content.

Read the full story here: Belgard Pavers the Way to Success 

To learn more about this historic renovation project, visit 604secondstreet.onthehouse.com

Why Permeable Pavers are a Growing Trend in Outdoor Design

The HGTV® Dream Home 2018 is outfitted with Urbana® Stone permeable pavers on the walkways, fire pit patio and driveway to help protect neighboring Henderson Bay from potential pollution from stormwater runoff. (Photo: Robert Peterson, Rustic White Photography)

Words like “sustainable” and “responsible” continue to grow in importance with today’s consumers as we collectively become more conscientious about how our actions affect the world around us and the legacy we leave behind. However, we still wish to enjoy our time on this planet.

Enter the permeable paver. Permeable pavers give homeowners the opportunity to create eye-catching, livable outdoor spaces that actually improve the environment and allow us to leave the world better and more beautiful than we found it.

The technology is ingeniously simple. Permeable pavers are laid on multiple layers of crushed stone, and the joints between each paver are filled with smaller aggregate. This design allows water to instantly drain through the joints and percolate through the layers of aggregate below, where any impurities are trapped before water seeps into the ground and returns to local waterways. To create the ultimate sustainable patio, driveway or walkway, the system can be designed to collect and recycle rainwater for irrigation and other purposes.

And here’s the best part…in many states and municipalities with water conservation and stormwater management initiatives, there are often grants or tax incentives available for installing permeable pavers or a water harvesting system, which makes the idea of installing a permeable patio, walkway or driveway all the more attractive.

permeable patio design ideas

permeable walkway design ideas

permeable driveway design ideas

For more permeable paver design ideas, visit the Belgard Permeable Paver Pinterest board.

Front and Backyard Transformations of the HGTV® Dream Home 2018

Again this year, Belgard is proud to be a sponsor of the HGTV® Dream Home 2018. Located in Gig Harbor, Washington, this year’s home is a contemporary waterfront retreat overlooking the picturesque Henderson Bay, an inlet of Puget Sound.

As the official hardscapes sponsor, Belgard is excited to walk you through the dramatic transformation of the home’s outdoor living areas, which now includes multiple entertaining zones overlooking the spectacular view.

Front Yard – Before

Front Yard – After

The home received a tremendous upgrade to its curb appeal. The disjointed driveway and entryway landing were demolished and replaced with an an attractive, eco-friendly permeable paver system. Urbana® Stone permeable pavers were laid in a modular ashlar pattern to complement the contemporary architecture. The new permeable paver system will allow rainwater to infiltrate through the joints and percolate through a bed of aggregate and into the ground below. This will not only provide a safer environment by keeping water from pooling on the surface, it will also help remove impurities from any infiltrated water to help reduce pollution to the local receiving waterways. To add even more curb appeal, the driveway was trimmed with a border of Avalon Slate pavers in a contrasting darker color. Both Urbana Stone and Avalon Slate pavers have a natural stone texture, which coordinates well with the surrounding wooded landscape.

Photo: David A. Land

The design team also removed the aging raised planter bed and constructed a new planter bed using Belair Wall® 2.0 retaining wall, which features a rustic chiseled stone texture. Quarziti 2.0 porcelain pavers were used to add an elegant, finished look to the entryway landing to complement the new glass doorway and angular portico.

Photo: Thomas Espinoza Photography

backyard before

Backyard after

The deteriorating retaining walls and wooden deck were demolished and replaced. Belair Wall® 2.0 provided the structure for a low-maintenance vertical garden of native plants, and a new covered composite deck was built, which includes a waterfront dining area and a stairway down to a lower landing on the water’s edge.

Photo: Robert Peterson, Rustic White Photography

Urbana® Stone walkways now lead from the deck and back patio to a newly constructed fire pit paver patio. The fire pit, as well as a nearby seat wall, were constructed with rustic Belair Wall® 2.0. The paver patio and walkways are trimmed with an Avalon Slate border to provide a cohesive look that ties in with the color of the deck and the look of the driveway, thus creating a continuous design throughout the entirety of the home’s exterior.

Photo: Robert Peterson, Rustic White Photography

Back patio before

back patio after

The existing concrete of the back patio was overlaid with Quartziti 2.0 porcelain pavers to coordinate with the entryway and provide an elegant transition from the interior spaces to the outdoor living spaces. Belair Wall® 2.0 provided the structure for a built-in stainless grill.

Photo: David A. Land

For more information on the HGTV Dream Home 2018, including an aerial video of the exterior, design videos, and photos of the interior transformation of the home, click here.

To enter for a chance to win this spectacular home, click here.

Project Profile:
Heated Permeable Pavers

In colder climates, it’s not uncommon for driveways, walkways or patios to be installed with either a heated pavement system or a permeable pavement system to help control ice buildup. This homeowner, however, chose to combine the two systems into one to create the ultimate ice-management pavement system.

The heated permeable paver driveway immediately melts and drains snow and ice. A heating coil is hidden beneath Belgard Eco-Dublin® permeable pavers, which are laid at a 45-degree angle to the house to add visual interest to the elegant design. Decorative poured concrete curbing coordinates with the charcoal paver accents and sits atop edge restraints, adding both stability and a finished look to the pavement system. Matching curbing also lines the landscape beds throughout the property.

Benefits of a Combined Heated/Permeable Pavement System

With a heated pavement system, snow and ice melt immediately to prevent accumulation, but if the surface is not graded properly, or if the pavement settles or degrades over time, there can be pooling or other issues. In comparison, a permeable system allows melting snow to drain into the joints and down into the subsurface rather than remaining on the surface and refreezing into ice. Typically, a plow clears the bulk of the snow, ice melt is applied, and the water goes away. However, with a combined heated permeable pavement system, plowing or ice melt is typically not needed. All snow or freezing rain that hits the surface melts and drains immediately. Plus, concrete pavers are more durable than poured concrete or asphalt, ensuring increased longevity of a properly working system. After two winters, the homeowners report that the system is performing beautifully, with no water or snow accumulation whatsoever.

How Does It Work?

Heating cables are laid out in the bedding layer, beneath the pavers. Two heat/moisture sensors, each about the size of a tennis ball, are installed in the pavement to automatically turn the heating cables on when there is both precipitation and a below-freezing temperature. When the system is on, it takes a lot of electricity to heat the 4,300 SF drive and walkway, necessitating the addition of a 400-amp pedestal to operate the system. However, because the sensors require both moisture and freezing temperatures, the system is rarely on.

The pavers are seated on a bedding layer of aggregate that protects the cables.

Installing the System

Although, the system was planned to include only 18” of excavation, abnormal site conditions required 36” of excavation. A variable base of aggregate was then installed – 27” of #2 stone, 4” of #57, and 2” of #89. A heating cable was installed within the #89 stone layer. In order to maximize the amount of heat transferred from the heating cable to the pavers, the stone separating the cable and pavers needs as much contact with both as possible. Crushed stone with fines transfers the most heat, but doesn’t drain, so it isn’t used in a permeable installation. Instead, the heating cable manufacturer, Warmzone Radiant, recommended smaller drainage stone (#89) because it has more contact with the cable and transfers more heat than larger stone. The crew also took extra care during the handling and installation of the cable to safeguard the protective coating and ensure long-term functionality of the system.

walkway
A heated permeable paver walkway coordinates with the driveway to create a dramatic entrance to the front of the home. The heated Eco-Dublin pavers provide a safe environment for guests and can eliminate the need for snow shoveling and deicing agents.

.   .   .

2014 HNA Project Award Winner – Residential Concrete Permeable Pavers

Design/build Contractor: Grindstone Hardscapes, Josh & Kristen Graczyk, Owners
Location: Grand Island, Nebraska

Outdoor Living Trends in New Home Construction

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.

Superlite_RES_BEL2015_24x24_Mirage_Quartziti_Ardesie_6_preview
Multiple floor-to-ceiling glass doors and Ardesie porcelain pavers make this porch feel like a continuation of the home’s interior living spaces.

•   •   •

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.

This well-appointed outdoor kitchen and bar includes seating, outdoor refrigerator, kegerator, Bristol Brick Oven, built-in grill, sink and storage.
This well-appointed outdoor kitchen and bar includes seating, outdoor refrigerator, kegerator, Bristol Brick Oven, built-in grill, sink and storage.

•   •   •

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.

Every electronic aspect of this outdoor living area is controlled by the homeowner's mobile app, including the fan, lighting, TV and the gas starter on the fireplace.
Every electronic aspect of this outdoor living area is controlled by the homeowner’s mobile app, including the fan, lighting, TV and the gas starter on the fireplace.

•   •   •

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.

The Bristol Fireplace serves as focal point for this intimate gathering spot.
The Bristol Fireplace serves as focal point for this intimate gathering spot. This same sense of intimacy can also be created with the use of a freestanding wall, which can help define the space and create the illusion of an interior room.

•   •   •

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.

A permeable paver system, like this Subterra Stone® patio, can be designed to include a collection cistern and a pump to harvest water for reuse with water features, irrigation or other greywater uses.
A permeable paver system, like this Subterra Stone® patio, can be designed to include a collection cistern and a pump to harvest water for reuse with water features, irrigation or other greywater uses.