Research shows that fire pits have been among the top five outdoor living design trends for the last several years. As this trend continues to grow hotter with each passing season, design ideas for fire pits have evolved and taken many different forms. Whether a gas-burning, wood-burning or hybrid version, fire pit designs continue to become more unique and individualized in nature.
In-Ground Fire Pits
The appeal of an in-ground fire pit is that it creates the beautiful, primal effect of flames erupting from the ground. In terms of fire safety, there is the added benefit of lower flames that are kept more contained. However, there’s a safety drawback, as well, as there are no protective walls around the fire.
Nau Porcelain Pavers
Belair Wall 2.0
Highland Stone Wall
Gas Fire Tables
Gas fire tables offer a contemporary look and appeal to homeowners who prefer the ease of gas — always ready to light, no wood or ash to worry about. An added benefit of a fire table is that it has a larger surface area and can actually be used as a table, creating more of an outdoor living room aesthetic than a traditional fire pit. Fire tables can also be built at varying heights, including bar height.
Multi-Level Fire Pit Patios
A multi-level fire pit patio offers a dimensional element to the design and separates the fire pit area into a distinct outdoor room, making the fire pit more of destination spot in the backyard.
Fire Pits with Built-in Seat Walls
Built-in seating often holds a spot in the top 10 outdoor living design elements as well, so it’s only natural that seat walls would become a popular aspect of fire pit patio design. After all, where does everyone want to sit and gather? By the fire, of course.
COMING SOON: Interested in winning a free wood-burning fire pit for your back yard? Come back to the blog on August 10, when we’ll celebrate National S’mores Day by kicking off our Fire Pit Giveaway Contest!
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.
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.
Anchor® Diamond Pro
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.
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.
Lamina Tandem™ Wall
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.
Weston Stone™, trimmed with Mega-Arbel® pavers
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.
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.
Freestanding Walls & Columns
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.
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.
WHIMSICAL PAVER PATIO
PROJECT CREDITS Category: Concrete Pavers, less than 3,000 SF (WINNER). Contractor: Paver Designs, LLC. Designer: Justin Hampton. Product: Dublin Cobble®.
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.
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.
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.
Phase 3: Pavilion
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.
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.
The classic seat wall design is becoming more and more popular, and for good reason. 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 seat walls provide a more permanent solution and can perform multiple roles within the design.
In addition to providing a place to sit, seat walls can act as functional design elements 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.
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ADDING FORM AND FUNCTION
A retaining wall or perimeter wall can easily be embellished and converted into built-in seating to create a more functional space.
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Incorporating Natural Elements
When using manufactured stone to build seat walls, natural materials can be incorporated into the design to add visual interest.
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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.
Nextweek: The holidays are just around the corner! Come back to the Outdoor Living by Belgard blog for holiday backyard entertaining ideas.