Now is the Time to Plan Spring Outdoor Living Projects

Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow this year, meaning spring is predicted to come early. Although America’s most famous weather-forecasting rodent is often wrong, one thing is sure… If you want to update or augment your outdoor living spaces in time for that first beautiful weekend, now is the time to get started.

Top 5 Project Planning Tips

  1. Develop a clear vision of your project goals: Before you get started, it’s important to consider how you will use the space. Why do you want to do this project? Are you looking to resolving a problem, add functionality or improve aesthetics? Be sure to communicate this information to your contractor so you’re both on the same page.
  2. Determine your budget: For larger projects, you may want to consider building in phases or talking to a Belgard Authorized Contractor about financing options. If you do decide to build in phases, be sure to plan the entire project upfront so that you can place footings or run utility lines for future phases.
  3. Prioritize: In order to stay within budget, decide which items you’re willing to compromise on and which are the most important to achieving your project goals. Plan your dream scenario and then trim back where needed.
  4. Research code restrictions: Your municipality or HOA may have rules that prohibit certain items. It’s important to know guidelines and approval requirements upfront to avoid costly mistakes. Don’t assume your contractor will have the information.
  5. Get inspiration: Check out the Spring Outdoor Living Project Ideas section below. You can also visit the Belgard Inspiration Gallery and Pinterest boards for more ideas.
For more planning tips, including tips on choosing a contractor, download our comprehensive Project Guide.

Spring Outdoor Living Project Ideas

Landscape Accent Walls

Landscape accent walls add definition, dimension and visual interest to your outdoor living spaces. Whether edging a patio, lining a walkway or simply adding a freestanding landscape element, accent walls can be purely aesthetic or can also function as additional seating, depending upon the design. For a tailored look, include landscape columns as an end cap or accent along the wall. You can also incorporate lighting into the column for both aesthetics and functionality.

Driveway and Driveway Overlays

Nothing brings new life to the front of your home like a new paver driveway. If your existing concrete is sound enough, you can overlay a cracked driveway with thin overlay pavers. An overlay saves a great deal of time and money from having to demolish and remove existing concrete.

stone Edgers and curbing

Dress up your existing hardscapes and landscapes with stone edgers or curbing, which can add a finished look to walkways, driveways and patios. They can also be used alone to add a touch of elegance and definition to gardens and flower beds.

Stone Grill Islands

On that first gorgeous spring day, who wants to cook indoors? Just drive through your neighborhood with the windows down, and you’ll smell that everyone is outside grilling. This year, it’s time to ditch the portable grill and build something that will last. A custom build will allow you to create exactly the dimensions and configuration that you want. Belgard also has a line of prebuilt stone grill islands that save on installation time and costs.

Stone Outdoor Kitchens

When a simple grill island won’t satisfy the calling of your inner outdoor chef, it’s time to plan a full-blown outdoor kitchen. For more ideas, check out our blog on 5 Tips for Better Outdoor Kitchen Designs.

Patios and SunDecks

Ah, to see the sun again, bask in its rays and soak up some much-needed vitamin D. Spring evenings can still be a bit chilly, so if plan to include a fire pit, be sure to read 5 Tips for Designing a Patio around a Fire Pit. And, if you have little ones, check out our blog on Family-Friendly Patio Design Ideas.

Built-in Planters and Raised Flower Beds

Big box stores and plant nurseries are about to start beefing up their inventory of flowering plants and vegetation. Be ready for that first planting by constructing your built-in planters now. Planters and raised beds add dimension and organic warmth to patios and walkways. They can also add to the curb appeal of your home and create a more welcoming entrance.

seating walls

Permanent seating has been one of the leading trends in outdoor living design in recent years. Seat walls can help define the perimeter of an outdoor room and are particular effective in a dining area or adjacent to a fire feature. You can either build a freestanding seating wall or add functionality to a retaining wall with the addition of a seat ledge.


Improve access to an area of your yard or add character to the front of your home with a picturesque walkway. When building a large paver patio, a faux walkway paver pattern within the patio design can be an excellent way to visually define the transition from one outdoor room to the next.

Stone Water Features

The look and sound of running water adds a natural relaxing aesthetic to an outdoor living space. For tips on designing a stone water feature, read our blog on The Latest Trends in Water Features.

Behind the Build with the Hardscape Contractor of the HGTV® Dream Home 2020

In this fifth year of being the exclusive hardscapes sponsor of the HGTV Dream Home program, Belgard relies heavily on local sales team members near each HGTV Dream Home location. They help facilitate the build of each hardscaped outdoor living space by working in tandem with the HGTV team, the home’s designers, the Belgard Design Studio, and local dealers and contractors. Part of the role of the local sales team is to recommend the right contractor to properly bring each dream outdoor living vision to life.

The South Carolina Belgard sales team worked closely with contractor Wesley Shaw throughout the planning and hardscape installations of the HGTV Dream Home 2020. Pictured are Kyle Rogalski , Matt Bennett, Wesley Shaw, Scott Robinson and Brian Koellner.

When Hilton Head Island was selected as the location for the HGTV Dream Home 2020 location, South Carolina Belgard sales representative Brian Koellner knew that he had the perfect candidate in mind. Wesley Shaw of ELP Landscape Inc. had been installing hardscapes in Savannah and the surrounding area for over 20 years and had been working closely with Brian for several years as a Belgard Authorized Contractor.

“We wanted to have a local Belgard Authorized Contractor to ensure familiarity with the local materials and Belgard programs. Wesley is talented, reliable and reputable within the community and is a great representative of our contractor program,” Brian said.

In fact, Brian had also recommended Wesley for the hardscape installations of another high-profile Idea House in 2018 in the nearby waterfront community of Habersham, South Carolina. The outdoor spaces of that home included a permeable paver driveway, stepping-stone walkway, fire pit patio, and paver terrace with a built-in grill. The success of that project led Brian to wholeheartedly recommend Wesley to the HGTV team.

For the project at hand, Brian noted that it also helped to have a Belgard Authorized Dealer on the island. “Having Courtyard Landscape Supply so close by facilitated easy delivery of the materials. They’re also great to work with and were a tremendous help on the project,” he said.

Overcoming Site Challenges
Since synthetic turf is not porous, ELP Landscape adjusted the grade and slope of the design and added a micro-drain along the planter wall for drainage. Photo: © 2019 Scripps Networks, LLC.

Wesley proved immediately that he was the right choice for the job. Upon first inspection of the initial design, he noticed a potential drainage issue due to the use of synthetic turf on the stepping-stone patio. With the uptick in use of synthetic turf installations in the area, he was familiar with the challenges and believed the original design could result in a buildup of algae and mildew.

“The slope and grade of the design was more ideal for a standard paver installation and would take too long to drain,” Wesley explained. He suggested a slight change to the slope and grade and the addition of a micro-drain along the planter wall to facilitate proper drainage.

Wesley also noticed a potential complication with the original driveway design. “The location of the trees on the property would have eventually caused issues with the root systems and their sustainability, so we had to move the whole driveway,” he explained.

2020 HGTV Dream Home Driveway Pavers
By changing the placement of the driveway, ELP Landscape was able to protect tree root systems and create an eye-catching diagonal layout of the plank pavers for contemporary curb appeal. Photo: © 2019 Scripps Networks, LLC.

The resulting driveway design also allowed for a more visually interesting lay of the Melville™ Plank pavers. The pavers were still laid in a single direction in a standard running bond pattern, per the original design. However, the new curve of the driveway allowed for the pavers to lay parallel with the home for the parking pad, with a striking diagonal lay at the driveway’s entrance from the street, adding to the home’s curb appeal.

The fact that the project was incorporated into television programing also added to the difficulty level of the installation. “Things had to be installed in a different order for filming purposes,” Wesley explained. “I usually do vertical elements first, then horizontal. We had to do the opposite, which made the grades a little more challenging.”

CONTRACTOR’S Behind-the-Design Insights

Although Wesley was given some freedom in suggesting design changes as needed, the majority of the outdoor living design was done through a collaboration of the HGTV Dream Home 2020 design team and the Belgard Design Studio.

With any high-profile project like this, designers often choose newer trend-forward materials, and this outdoor living project was no exception.

Overhead image of the multi-level backyard outdoor living area. Photo: © 2019 Scripps Networks, LLC.

The multi-level stepping-stone patio is a combination of Turin Porcelain Pavers and laser-cut synthetic turf. With pre-cut turf and very few paver cuts to the design, the installation was quick and simple, despite the learning curve of working with porcelain for the first time. “I’m about to renovate my own backyard and will likely choose to go with the porcelain,” Wesley said, who was impressed with the upscale look and low-maintenance aspect of the porcelain product.

HGTV Dream Home 2020 Outdoor Living Space Built-in Planter Walls
Built-in planter walls helped define the seating areas and soften the overall look. Photo: © 2019 Scripps Networks, LLC.

The row of built-in planters along the edge of the patio’s top level was a familiar design technique for Wesley, who often includes the biophilic design elements of greenery and stone textures into his outdoor living designs. “It adds dimension and texture and softens the look,” he explained. “It also created a nice backdrop for the poolside seating area.”

HGTV Dream Home Outdoor Living Space Pool Pavers & Coping
The mixed-materials design of the multi-level pool deck includes Turin Porcelain Pavers, synthetic turf, Turin Unico Coping, Landings™ Step units and Melville™ Plank pavers. Photo: © 2019 Scripps Networks, LLC.

The multi-level mixed-materials pool deck added a level of difficulty to the installation, but not one that was unfamiliar to Wesley’s team. “We do numerous patios with different levels, textures and layouts to dress up the design. It adds nice contrast,” he said.

Abutting the planter wall, the grill island provides ample space for meal prep, dining and serving. Photo: © 2019 Scripps Networks, LLC.

The oversized L-shaped grill island was designed using the Tandem® Modular Grid system for the structure. The Modular Grid wall system is unique in that a wooden frame is constructed to act as a base for attaching a wire grid. Stone veneer is then clipped to the grid to create the finished look. “I’ve used the Modular Grid product on quite a few projects, but not to this scale. It’s much larger than most grill islands,” Wesley said.

Once the base structure of the island was completed, the countertop was constructed of Turin porcelain pavers and matching Unico coping to mirror the poolscape. “Installing the countertop was a bit of a challenge, getting everything to line up correctly. But I’m pleased with how it came out,” he continued.

The larger piece system and smooth face of Melville™ Tandem® Wall allowed the fire pit to stand out from the other walls within the design, yet used the same color blend to maintain an overall cohesive feel. Photo: © 2019 Scripps Networks, LLC.

Both the fire pit and built-in planters were constructed with the Tandem® Wall System. The only difference was that the fire pit used the Melville™ face, which features a smooth and linear look, and the planters (and adjacent kitchen island) were designed with the Ashlar face, which has a modular chiseled-stone look. Wesley liked the contrast of using different faces for the different outdoor rooms. “I’ve used the Ashlar Tandem on several projects but personally prefer the Melville,” Wesley said. “The ends are all square, so the corners come together real tight and provide a pristine look. It also worked better with the smooth pavers and was far enough away from the other walls to provide contrast without making it look out of place.”

Reaping the Rewards

Although working with film crews on site added to the complexity, Wesley says he is grateful for the opportunity to work on such a prestigious project, noting that the rewards are multifaceted.

“We get to work more closely with the Belgard team members on projects like this. I like working closely with my vendors. They see everyone’s projects, and getting that feedback is helpful in terms of how others are doing things. I can take that info and improve my own work,” Wesley said. He added, “Working on something that gets a lot of attention definitely adds credibility with future customers. I don’t like to boast to them, but the casual mention makes a difference. I also enjoyed working with the HGTV folks. They were easy-going and open-minded about design changes.”

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HGTV, HGTV Dream Home, HGTV Dream Home Giveaway and their associated logos are trademarks of Scripps Networks, LLC. Photos © 2019 Scripps Networks, LLC. Used with permission; all rights reserved.

Take a Virtual Walk Through the HGTV® Dream Home 2020 Outdoor Spaces

Nestled amidst the stately oaks and sleepy marshes of South Carolina’s Hilton Head Island, the HGTV Dream Home 2020 was designed with relaxation in mind. Sprawling porches open to an expansive backyard poolscape that’s equally ideal for both large and intimate gatherings. As the exclusive hardscapes sponsor of the HGTV Dream Home 2020, we’re excited to offer this exclusive in-depth look at each of the home’s outdoor spaces, from a welcoming paver driveway to an outdoor entertainment space with spectacular marshfront views. Get design tips and insights on how you can recreate some of these looks for your own dream outdoor living spaces, then enter for your chance to win this amazing home.

Enter Now for Your Chance to Win

. . .

HGTV, HGTV Dream Home, HGTV Dream Home Giveaway and their associated logos are trademarks of Scripps Networks, LLC. No purchase necessary. Open to legal residents of the U.S., age 21 or older. Void where prohibited. Sweepstakes ends at 5 p.m. ET on 2/19/20. Odds of winning depend on number of entries received. For full official rules, prize disclosures, and to enter, visit Main Sponsor: Scripps Networks, LLC d/b/a Home & Garden Television 9721 Sherrill Boulevard, Knoxville, Tennessee 37932. Photos © 2019 Scripps Networks, LLC. Used with permission; all rights reserved.

Learn more about the Belgard backyards from our five years of sponsoring the dream:

Sweepstakes is Now Open!
Enter for Your Chance to Win the HGTV® Dream Home 2020

Belgard takes pride in creating dream outdoor living spaces that allow home life to be enjoyed to its fullest. That’s why we’ve been a proud sponsor of the HGTV Dream Home since 2016. As the exclusive hardscape sponsor of each home, we enjoy helping to create unique outdoor living spaces that work in harmony with the surrounding landscape and bring each designer’s creative vision to life. Set on Hilton Head Island, the HGTV Dream Home 2020 is the personification of the South Carolina Lowcountry lifestyle. With ample porches and a mixture of coastal blues and rustic neutral tones, the home is an idyllic retreat with an expansive backyard living space that embraces the lazy marshland backdrop.


HGTV Dream Home 2020 outdoor living gallery:

  • HGTV Dream Home 2020 Paver Driveway
  • HGTV Dream Home 2020 Outdoor Living Space
  • HGTV Dream Home 2020 Contemporary Paver Poolscape
  • HGTV Dream Home 2020 Porcelain Paver Trends
  • HGTV Dream Home 2020 Built-in Planter Beds Outdoor Living
  • HGTV Dream Home 2020 Outdoor Living Space Fire Pit
  • HGTV Dream Home 2020 Grill Kitchen Outdoor Living Space

Over the next few weeks, we look forward to bringing special behind-the-scene looks at the Belgard spaces of this charming southern home.

Learn more about the Belgard backyards from our five years of sponsoring the dream:

. . .

HGTV, HGTV Dream Home, HGTV Dream Home Giveaway and their associated logos are trademarks of Scripps Networks, LLC. No purchase necessary. Open to legal residents of the U.S., age 21 or older. Void where prohibited. Sweepstakes ends at 5 p.m. ET on 2/19/20. Odds of winning depend on number of entries received. For full official rules, prize disclosures, and to enter, visit Main Sponsor: Scripps Networks, LLC d/b/a Home & Garden Television 9721 Sherrill Boulevard, Knoxville, Tennessee 37932. Photos © 2019 Scripps Networks, LLC. Used with permission; all rights reserved.

2020 Vision:
Outdoor Living Design Trend Watch

The life of the average American homeowner seems to get more hectic with every passing year. The home, itself, has come to represent a personal sanctuary–a welcome respite from the stresses of daily life outside the home. It’s no longer just the place where we eat dinner, watch a little TV and then rest our heads until getting on the merry-go-round again the next morning. It’s now the place where we go to enjoy life to its fullest or to tune out the rest of the world for a little while.

This evolution began in the 90s with the trend of home theaters, where families could host movie nights or game-watching parties. Following the real estate crash of 2008, we saw a sharp rise in families investing in outdoor living spaces where they could enjoy a “staycation” versus spending money on travel. This trend continued to develop to the point where outdoor kitchens practically became standard for custom new home construction. As the outdoor living trend continued to evolve, we gradually saw more sophisticated thought going into outdoor design, creating spaces intended to be a true extension of the interior home instead of a mere afterthought.

Peering into the coming year, here are our top five predictions of how trends will continue to evolve.

Nature’s Influence + Material Combinations

As our lives become more entwined with technology, a natural human response has been an increased need for what is known in the design world as biophilic design elements. This can include natural elements (such as wood, plant life, rocks, water or fire) or design elements that mimic natural elements. Biophilic design allows us to maintain our connection with nature within the built environment. At the same time, however, there has been an increased demand for low-maintenance landscaping, whether due to water-conservation demands, environmental consciousness, or simply a lack of free time to devote to yardwork. Expect to see this translate into an increase in mixed-material designs and hardscape designs that are intertwined with landscaping or artificial turf. The rising trend of smooth, contemporary patios will also be “softened” with the integration of textural design elements like gravel or a textured paver border.

  • Mixed Materials Fire Pit Patio Paver Design Trends
  • Porcelain pavers and artificial turf design
  • Porcelain pavers and rock garden design
  • Wood grain porcelain pavers entangled with garden design

A Bridge Between Living and Working Spaces

The boon of technology has blurred the lines between work and home. People who work remotely, whether occasionally or full-time, want comfortable spaces to both work and relax. The need to be mobile and able to “take your work with you” has resulted in an increase in laptop usage, making the traditional “home office” a gradually disappearing element of the past. Although there will continue to be dedicated indoor work spaces, outdoor spaces often offer a change in scenery for the work-at-home crowd, creating a need for WiFi connectivity, comfortable seating, tabletop or bartop workspace, adequate lighting, and charging outlets in the outdoor space. We’ll also see more retaining walls that double as seating and a continued increase in fire features that make spaces livable year-round.

  • Outdoor Paver kitchen design and kitchen table
  • Comfy lounge chairs are a relaxing spot for responding to email.
  • Outdoor bartop seating can be a change of pace for the at-home worker.
  • Paver Fire Pit with Seat Wall

Unique Shapes and Patterns

As interior design trends continue to make their way outdoors, expect to see the shapes and patterns of outdoor design mimic interior trends to bring a retro feel and playfulness to outdoor spaces. Geometric shapes like hexagons and trapezoids make a statement in features like paver shapes, pillows and textiles, rugs and more. In addition, large format shapes and asymmetrical, almost jagged edges will continue as popular styles. Also expect to see a continued rise in faux rug paver patterns, which reinforce the “outdoor room” concept and also help to create a visual separation from one space to the next.

Warmer and Muted Tones Making a Comeback

While cool grays made a splash in residential design and edged out tans and beiges in recent years, 2020 is expected to bring a shift back to warmer hues and softer muted colors. These tones will make their way back into outdoor design as a way to create sanctuary spaces for rest and relaxation. Also expect to see a decline in strict monochromatic design with pops of color that liven up the space or add a touch of whimsy.

Curb Appeal and Front Porch Living

For several years, homeowners had retreated from the front yard, preferring the privacy of backyard living. However, front-of-the-home outdoor living spaces appeared as a design trend in 2019 and will continue to become a focal point in 2020. As lot sizes continue to get smaller, we’ll see more front porches and paver patios that are not only a greeting area, but also used as gathering and living space. Picturesque driveways and welcoming paver walkways are also rising in popularity as homeowners seek out “Instagrammable” curb appeal.

5 Tips for Merging Indoor and Outdoor Spaces

There was a time when a simple patio or deck was the height of backyard outdoor living. Today, we have transcended to a place where our outdoor spaces rival and often surpass the look and livability of our indoor spaces. The latest trend on this design journey is to merge our outdoor and indoor living spaces in a way that allows the backyard to be a true extension of the home. Here are some ideas on how to accomplish this.

1 – Use Complementary Architecture

When designing an outdoor living space, use materials and architectural touches that mirror the interior space. For example, if the interior includes arches, transoms or large beams, similar touches can be incorporated in the exterior spaces. You can also mirror architectural materials such as light fixtures, countertops and flooring in your exterior spaces. Just remember to buy the outdoor-rated versions for durability in the harsher environment.

outdoor and indoor living space complementary architecture
Belgard Porcelain Pavers and coordinating Porcelain Wall Veneers are a great tool for connecting outdoor spaces with interior spaces. The veneers can be used for both interior and exterior applications, and Porcelain Pavers mimic the look of interior flooring and often have coordinating indoor tile styles.

2 – Create Seamless Transitions

For climates that allow this as an option, collapsible doors provide the perfect opportunity to create a seamless transition between the indoor and outdoor environment. This is not realistic in some climates due to excessive temperatures, mosquitoes and other factors. For these scenarios, the look can be accomplished with large windows, sliding doors or screened enclosures. It also helps to have the initial zone of the outdoor space at the same floor height so there’s not a step up or down when going in or out.

connecting outdoor and indoor living spaces
The HGTV® Dream Home 2019 created the perfect example of indoor/outdoor living with folding doors and windows on first floor room facing the backyard. (photo: HGTV, used with permission)

3 – Incorporate Cohesive Design Schemes

If you’re limited by architecture or climate and want to create a sense of flow to the outdoors, continue the same decorating motif used in the adjoining room. Use similar color schemes, furniture styles, rugs, lamps, vases and other accessories.

outdoor and indoor living space design
The use of wingback outdoor chairs and homey accessories makes this Mega-Bergerac® patio feel more like a continuation of the indoor environment.

4 – Make the Space More Functional

If you really want your outdoor space to be cohesive with your indoor space, it needs to be a place where people want to hang out. That means adding functional elements like a bar, outdoor kitchen or fire feature.

functional indoor and outdoor living space
This Tandem® Modular Grid outdoor kitchen is a fully functional cooking and entertainment space, complete with multiple cooking surfaces, full-sized sink, outdoor-rated appliances and built-in television. The half wall also serves to enclose the space to make it feel more connected with the home’s interior.

5 – Link Entertainment Zones

Adding a television is a no-brainer, which is easy enough to link with your home’s system. But you’ll also want to add WiFi extenders to improve internet connectivity. To really enhance the sense of flow from the indoors out, add audio speakers and connect them with your home’s entertainment system. That way, you can hear the same background sounds when walking from one space to the next.

connecting outdoor and indoor living spaces
This outdoor living room already feels like an interior space, thanks to the roof pitch and the Bordeaux Series™ outdoor fireplace. To make a space like this even more connected with the interior, place outdoor speakers at the four corners and connect them to the interior sound system. Be sure to include the ability to adjust volume by zone, either with a phone app or with manual volume knobs.
HGTV, HGTV Dream Home, HGTV Dream Home Giveaway and their associated logos are trademarks of Scripps Networks, LLC.; Photos © 2018 Scripps Networks, LLC.; Used with permission; all rights reserved.