Project Planning: Pool Decks

With less than six weeks of winter remaining, it’s a good time to start planning outdoor projects for the spring. And, what better way to enjoy the warmer weather among family and friends than relaxing by a new or newly renovated outdoor swimming pool. Whether hosting a low-key pool party for the neighbors’ kids or an extravagant dinner for a group of 20, a beautiful pool is not only the centerpiece of a well-appointed backyard, but the natural “life” of any successful outdoor gathering.

Just as important as the swimming pool, if not more, is the pool deck. It’s likely you will spend more time relaxing around the pool than you do actually swimming in it.  You will need plenty of extra space for sunbathing, entertaining or just socializing. Depending on your preferences, you may want to design a deck that is large enough to accommodate a hot tub, an outdoor kitchen or a fireplace.

Belgard pavers, with their incredible range of colors and textures, work hand-in-hand with unique pool shapes to create a stunning and inviting centerpiece to your backyard landscape. Pavers around pools are the perfect performer, providing a comfortable walking path or even an elaborate area for entertaining, all designed with a coarse texture for a safe, non-slip walking surface even when wet. Belgard pavers allow for maximum drainage, and their very dense structure also works to minimize penetrating moisture and reduce damage caused by freeze conditions.

Although pools are clearly more popular for summer gatherings, Belgard’s recent partnerships with Harmony Elements, Chicago Brick Oven and MediumRare offer easy, affordable opportunities to transform your poolscape into an outdoor living room you can enjoy year-round. Harmony offers pre-built modular hardscape elements, such as fire pits and fireplaces, which can be installed quickly and in phases to fit any budget. Chicago Brick Oven and MediumRare allow the consumer the ability to enjoy cooking outdoors, while creating a unique focal point.

Belgard Sales Manager, Nate Gish and Sales Representative, Doug Porter, offer a few suggestions for incorporating these elements into your backyard to maximize your poolscape’s functionality year-round:

Outdoor Kitchens

An outdoor kitchen integrated into your hardscape design takes entertaining to a whole new level. Imagine having everything you need for cooking, right at your fingertips. No more leaving your guests to run inside.

Fire Pits and Fireplaces

Your backyard swimming pool is sure to become a gathering spot for your family and friends.  So install a fireplace and enjoy a roaring blaze on chilly nights. Or, surround a fire pit with a seating wall or a set of armchairs so guests can be comfortable while they enjoy the ambiance and warmth.

Planning Suggestion

Be careful when adding one of these outdoor elements.  When one of these units is placed in the landscape, it will easily make that area a focal point and draw attention to that particular area.  Please allow at least 3 times the unit dimension around the element as people will be sure to gather or place their chairs in that area.

To learn more tips and tricks and to interact directly with trade professionals, visit our discussion thread on the Outdoor Living by Belgard Facebook fan page.

Belgard Presents: Belgard University

In today’s economy, staying ahead of the learning curve is absolutely essential to growing your business. Belgard has introduced Belgard University to offer trade professionals a unique opportunity to expand their hardscapes knowledge. Both new and existing Belgard customers can benefit from the basic and advanced levels of classroom and hands-on industry training provided at Belgard University. Our focused classes supply the resources needed to help grow your business.

Belgard is part of the international building company CRH, the second largest manufacturer and distributor of building products in the world. While Belgard has been a brand for Oldcastle APG since 1995, some of our European companies have manufactured pavers since the 1950s. In 2001 we created Belgard University as a forum for sharing our 50 years of industry knowledge with our valued trade professionals. Contractors, dealers and design professionals are all important to Belgard; we train more trade professionals about the hardscapes business than anyone in the industry. Due to the overwhelming success of last year’s classes, we will host over 40 Belgard University classes across the U.S. in 2010.

Belgard University provides the latest tools, techniques and programs in the market today. Here are just a few of the advantages BU has to offer:

  • Receive new 2010 Belgard literature
  • Be the first to see our new 2010 product launches
  • Network with other trade professionals
  • Learn valuable tips your competitor is not
  • Earn ICPI and NCMA certification

This year’s curriculum also includes exclusive presentations from Belgard product partners including Chicago Brick Oven, Harmony Outdoors and Medium Rare.

Tim Loy of Water and Rock in Spring, Texas recently attended a BU event held in Houston. Here’s what Tim had to say, “Just writing to tell you how much I appreciated the Belgard University Class. The class had lots of real life application that has really helped out in the field. Sure is nice to know that a company is willing to invest in its contractors like Belgard does. Thanks for the opportunity.”  Join Tim and hundreds of other trade professionals that are staying ahead of the learning curve by taking advantage of the Belgard University program.

Visit for information about upcoming events in your area. To register, simply click on the class you would like to attend and complete the registration form. If you would like additional information on a particular class, please call the contact listed for that event.

We hope to see you there!

A Welcome Message from Belgard’s Vice President, Ken O’Neill

At Belgard, we pride ourselves on doing things differently. Over the last 20 years we have quite literally changed the way people look at hardscapes, offering homeowners an unparalleled world of possibilities with a myriad of style, texture and design options. By dedicating ourselves to innovation and improvement in both the technical and aesthetic aspects of our products, we’ve set a new standard of quality, and we’re quite proud it. But, the most impressive thing about our innovation is the future. We feel our best ideas are yet to come. As we prepare for the future, we continue to actively solicit the advice and feedback of our customers, making this a truly collaborative effort. We’re excited to share our future with you.

I’d like to welcome you to Outdoor Living by Belgard, the place for homeowners, contractors, designers, and dealers to share ideas, tips, how-tos, and the latest information on products, hosted by America’s leader in outdoor hardscapes. This year our focus is to improve overall communication with our internal and external customers. We are excited to share up-to-the-minute information with you including new programs and events, market trends, featured projects and more! Check back with us each week for informative, inspirational messages from the Belgard Hardscapes team! And, don’t be shy — your participation is necessary to our success.

Our professional staff is committed to providing the tools and solutions you need to assist with your toughest landscaping challenges. Belgard sets the standard for landscape design ideas and innovation. See for yourself; here are a few resources to get you started:

New Belgard Website: We have organized our new website to assist the homeowner throughout the planning process – using the elements of Color, Shape, Texture and Pattern. We have also added an impressive collection of inspirational images – categorized by collection and application to simplify your search. Lastly, our new site is easy to navigate and designed to serve as a tool to help contractors guide clients through the design and purchasing process

Belgard Product Catalog: Packed with fresh ideas, our catalogs show you numerous ways Belgard hardscapes deliver added value. In addition to creating your ideal outdoor entertaining environment, our products improve resale value and boast an impressive return on investment. Request your free catalog today!

Belgard University Website: This website serves as a one-stop shop for our contractors, design professionals and dealers to locate and register to earn certification in ICPI and NCMA classes and expand their hardscapes knowledge with classes like “Building Success from Failures” and “LEED Training”

Belgard Design Pro: Designers, whether at your computer or on-the-go Belgard offers you instant access to case studies, construction diagrams, patterns and technical data – all categorized for ease of reference.

We look forward to hearing from you!