Modular Design Makes Outdoor Living Easy

One of the fastest growing trends in the construction industry is the increased popularity of designer outdoor living spaces.  An outdoor kitchen or living room not only adds to the character, value, and functionality of a home, it increases the home’s useable square footage for considerably less cost than under-beam construction.

According to a recent nationwide survey of the top 10 “must haves” in new construction (conducted by AVID Ratings Co.), the outdoor living room ranks as number five.  In fact, the survey revealed that homeowners were willing to forgo a media room or a dining room in lieu of an outdoor living space.

When the trend first began to take shape, homeowners were limited due to cost restraints and a narrow number of contractors with the needed skill set and industry knowledge. However, recent innovations in prefabricated modular construction have eliminated some of those roadblocks and are paving the way for those ready to plunge into outdoor living.

One Plus One Equals Simplicity
Joint venture partnerships between supply manufacturers have greatly improved the ease and overall cost benefits of outdoor living construction. Belgard Hardscapes, manufacturer of concrete pavers and wall products, is one such company that has created these partnerships with a variety of other manufacturers, including purveyors of grills, fireplaces, fire pits, and brick ovens.

”We wanted to provide contractors a portfolio from which to create entire packages for their clients,” said Belgard Vice President Ken O’Neill. “Offering a one-stop-shop scenario plus color palettes that all work together makes designing each project so much easier.”

Belgard’s latest venture has taken this concept one step further by partnering with Harmony Outdoor Living to create prefabricated modules for outdoor kitchens and living rooms. These modules, or kits, are pre-assembled in Harmony’s factory, combining Harmony fireplaces, fire pits, and fire tables with Belgard pavers and wall products to make outdoor room construction a snap. Kitchen modules can even be ordered with grills, sinks, and stainless cabinetry included. These modules come shipped on a palette and are easily set in place with a Bobcat.

“Certain installations that once took days or weeks can now be done in minutes or hours once the foundation is ready,” says Joe Raboine, President of Harmony Outdoor Living, Inc.

The use of prefabricated modules also greatly reduces the incidence of buyer’s remorse. “There’s often a disconnect between the homeowner’s vision and the finish product,” says O’Neill. “But with the prefab modules, what you see is what you get. And because the fabrication is done in a controlled environment, you get a higher quality product that’s more resistant to settling and is covered under a warranty.”

An additional benefit to homeowners is the ability to phase out their dream design by adding one prefabricated element at a time. A homeowner can start with a patio and later add a kitchen, then a fireplace, then a seat wall, and so on.

Sample Design Project

The focal point of this outdoor dining room is the fireplace that was built using four modular units: fireplace, chimney, and two wine rack walls.  Ample patio space was allotted for additional gathering space and walking room. Incandescent lighting was added to the chimney to highlight the piece and provide additional exterior illumination.

Kitchen modules can be ordered with or without the grill, sink, and cabinetry, and depending on placement can include a bar extension for additional seating.  This particular kitchen was designed to flank the fireplace, define the dining space, and operate solely as a cooking and prep area. It includes three different patterns of wall and paving products to vary color and texture and coordinate with the patio pavers.

Check back next week for a step-by-step guide to creating a modular outdoor living area. In the meantime, visit the Belgard Backyard section of our website for more information!

Going Green with Belgard Hardscapes

Homeowners looking for beautiful and eco-friendly hardscapes for patios, driveways, and walkways are turning to Belgard Hardscapes’ permeable pavers due to their ability to outperform both traditional concrete and asphalt paving in all areas—durability, wear, drainage, aesthetics, and long-term cost.

Belgard permeable pavers are installed over a gradient bed of gravel, which acts as a temporary reservoir and filters impurities before percolating down and back into the community water aquifer.  A self-sustaining home irrigation system can be easily created with the addition of an underground cistern and a pump.

With the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day less than a month away, what better time to make a commitment to sustainability? Request a free copy of the 2010 Belgard Catalog to view the newest products in Belgard’s environmental collection and learn design tips from America’s premier brand of hardscape products.

Permeable Pavement Design and Life-Cycle Costing with David Hein

Storm water management is a key component of urban infrastructure design.  If properly designed and constructed, porous pavements can help rainwater infiltrate soil, decrease urban heating, replenish groundwater and reduce overall storm water runoff.  The construction of permeable pavement systems that can accommodate surface water runoff is gaining increasing attention through the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

In a 1999 storm water technology fact sheet on porous pavements, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indicated that porous pavements traditionally have a failure rate of over 75 percent.  Failure was generally attributed to poor design, inadequate construction quality, improper treatment of the subgrade soils and overloading of under designed pavements.  Recent studies in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia have shown the significant benefits of permeable pavement designs.

David Hein is one of the leading authorities on segmental and permeable pavements in North America and is the Principal Engineer and Vice-President of Transportation with the Applied Research Associates,Inc. (ARA) Toronto, Ontario office. He is the manager of the ARA Infrastructure Management Division and responsible for the civilian and military airport pavement evaluation groups in Toronto, Ontario, Madison, Wisconsin, Gainesville, Florida and Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. He is responsible for pavement design, evaluation, value engineering and pavement and highway and airport infrastructure management.

3 Locations/ Events To Choose From:

March 31st 2010

10:00 AM  to 3:00 PM

Vinny T’s
233 Elm Street
Dedham, MA 02026


9:30am  – Registration

10:00am – Welcome & Introductions

10:15am – Theory of Permeable Pavement Design

  • Hydrological design
  • Structural design

12:00pm – Lunch (lunch will be served)

1:00pm  –  Design Examples Demonstration and Workshop

1:45pm  – LEED Design Principles

2:15pm  –  Permeable Pavement Construction

3:00pm  – Concluding Remarks and Adjournment

Email to register for this event.


April 20th 2010

Bridgewater Marriott
700 Commons Way
Bridgewater, NJ 08807


8:00 am – Welcome, Introductions

8:15  am – Theory of Permeable Pavement Design

  • Hydrological design
  • Structural design

9:30 am – Design Examples Demonstration and Workshop

10:15 am – Coffee break

11:00 am – LEED Design Principles

11:15 am – Permeable Pavement Constrution

12:00 – Concluding Remarks

12:00 pm – Lunch

12:30 pm – Registration

1:00 pm – Segmental Retaining Wall Theory & Design

2:15 pm – Unique/Special Applications of Segmental Retaining Walls

3:30 pm – Concluding Remarks and Adjournment

Email to register for this event.

April 21st 2010

1:00 PM  to 5:00 PM

Doubletree Hotel Overland Park
10100 College Blvd
Overland Park, KS 66210


11:45am  – Registration

12:00pm – Lunch (lunch will be served)

1:00pm  –  Welcome, Introductions

1:15pm  –   Theory of Permeable Pavement Design

  • Hydrological design
  • Structural design

2:30pm  – Design Examples Demonstration and Workshop

3:15pm  –  Coffee break

4:00pm  – LEED Design Principles

4:15pm  –  Permeable Pavement Construction

5:00pm  – Concluding Remarks and Adjournment

Email or call: 913-667-1792 to register for this event.

Belgard Congratulates HGTV’s 2010 Dream Home Winner!

Belgard would like to congratulate Ms. Myra Lewis of New Orleans, Louisiana! Yesterday, HGTV announced Ms. Lewis as the winner of the 2010 Dream Home. In addition to winning the custom-designed 3,900 square-foot home, she will also receive a cash prize of $500,000, a 2010 GMC Terrian and several other housewarming gifts for a grand-prize package valued at more than $2 million. Ms. Lewis stated that she has entered the HGTV Dream Home Giveaway for years. This year she and her sister reminded each other to enter the contest every single day.  According to HGTV, Myra loves this year’s Dream Home and is already making plans to host many visitors.

The HGTV 2010 Dream Home is located in Sandia Park, New Mexico. When building the house, the goal was to combine southwestern architecture with modern design. In addition to a spacious, lavishly designed interior, this year’s home features a number of stunning outdoor spaces beautifully accented with Belgard pavers. Among the outdoor spaces featured in this year’s home are a motor court area (which doubles as a private outdoor dining room), a large grilling area accompanied by an outdoor entertaining area and a private patio with an outdoor fireplace. All of these areas will allow Ms. Lewis to entertain her guest outdoors while enjoying the breathtaking views of the San Pedro Mountains.

This year’s house features Belgard’s Mega Lafitt and BelAir WallTM pavers. These pavers were used for the driveway, walkways, patios and even the fire pit and grill surrounds. Mega Lafitt features the most natural-looking texture available in a modern paver – the perfect complement to the Dream Home’s natural scenery. Its larger proportions and modular shapes allow for ample design flexibility.  BelAir Wall offers designers, contractors and homeowners the ideal solution for residential and light commercial retaining and free-standing wall construction where pleasing aesthetics are a key consideration. Belgard pavers have a long history of successful applications on thousands of residential and commercial projects.

We wish Ms. Lewis many happy memories in her new HGTV Dream Home!

Visit our website for ideas on how you can create your own Outdoor Living Spaces!

Work Your Magic Guidelines

TRADE PROFESSIONALS — Show us how you Work Your Magic!

Send us before and after pictures of your recently completed Belgard projects for a chance to have YOUR project featured on the Outdoor Living by Belgard blog.

Any project (driveways, walkways, pool decks, patios, outdoor kitchens, retaining walls) large or small is welcome! We want to see how you use Belgard pavers to create beautiful, functional outdoor living spaces for your clients!

To Participate:

  • Send before and after snapshots of your projects to using the subject line “Work Your Magic”.
  • Please include the following information in your email:
  1. Company Name
  2. Project Location (city/state)
  3. Belgard products featured in project
  4. Name, email address and phone number of the person we should contact if your project is selected
  • All submissions must be received no later than March 26, 2010.

PLEASE NOTE: You MUST own the rights to all photos submitted. By submitting these photos, you are agreeing to allow Belgard to use these photos on the Belgard blog, the Outdoor Living by Belgard Facebook page and Belgard’s Twitter profile.

The selected project will be featured in an upcoming article on the Belgard blog.

A selection will be made by April 9th, 2010.

We look forward to seeing your projects! And, if you have any questions along the way — feel free to post them here on the blog or visit our discussion thread on the Outdoor Living by Belgard Facebook page.

Belgard Collections: Segmental Retaining Walls

Have You Considered Segmental Retaining Walls?

Segmental Retaining Walls, commonly referred to as SRWs, are walls composed of individual blocks. The word “segmental” describes the fact that they come in separate units or components, and are placed in the ground without the use of mortar. They are stacked dry, and primarily rely on their weight for stability. With the benefits that SRWs provide, including easy installation, low costs and design flexibility, it’s no surprise that these products are becoming increasingly more popular among homeowners and professionals.

One advantage Segmental Retaining Walls offer is ease of installation. Because SRWs are comprised of individual units, it is often possible for one person to do the job. In addition, the units are dry-stacked, so you do not have to wait for the mortar to set. Individual units fit together easily and will not crack due to being separate and not mortared together.

The same qualities that contribute to the ease of installing SRWs also provide cost savings to the homeowner. Savings are generated in part because no mortar is necessary. Labor and materials costs are typically lower because heavy-duty construction equipment is not required for installation and on-site soil can usually be used. According to the NCMA (National Concrete Masonry Association), segmental retaining walls offer the best value per dollar when considering landscape product alternatives.

Equally important to both homeowners and landscape professionals is the design flexibility offered by Segmental Retaining Walls. SRWs are available in units of various sizes and weights, making it possible to construct a retaining wall in even the most challenging terrain. If you have curves or other unique layouts, you’ll have no problem installing a Segmental Retaining Wall system. SRWs are so versatile that they are ideal for both heavy-duty walls in commercial projects and smaller installations in residential back yards.

When considering SRWs it is extremely important to work with professionals that are suitably educated on the product. Proper knowledge of the system and requirements associated with SRWs are key to a successful installation. To view our gallery of Free-Standing and Retaining Wall projects or to locate a Belgard Contractor in your area, please visit us online.

If you are a trade professional and would like the opportunity to expand your product knowledge, please visit Belgard University for information on upcoming classes in your area.