Smart Irrigation Tips for Eco-Friendly Gardens

Benefits of Smart Irrigation Eco-friendly Garden
Water-harvesting Eco-Dublin® permeable paver system.

Across the nation, people in the irrigation industry have been celebrating July as “Smart Irrigation Month” and showcasing various technologies that improve the efficiency of outdoor water usage. According to the EPA, the average family uses 320 gallons of water per day, about 30 percent of which is outdoors. It is estimated that as much as half of that water used outdoors is wasted due to inefficient irrigation.

Indeed, even this blogger has vivid memories of growing up in a home with lush outdoor gardens that were constantly being watered by my mother, who simply moved hoses around all day (or instructed me and my siblings to do it). “Time to move the hoses,” was a constant call from one side of the house to the other. In the hot Louisiana climate, this was a near-daily occurrence throughout the majority of the year. Many of our neighbors had similar habits. Practices like this are likely what drove the industry to find a better way.

Benefits of Smart Irrigation

Smart irrigation techniques not only protect the community water supply, but offer multiple additional benefits to individuals. First of all, depending upon your municipality and water source, reducing your water usage can have a major affect on your utility bill. You can also improve the look of your yard by watering at the right times — not to mention the added convenience of automation.

Do-It-Yourself Smart Irrigation Techniques

Here are some simple ideas on improving your home irrigation.

  • Break your yard into zones that have different irrigation needs due to shade, slope or sun exposure.
  • Make sure the water is always aimed at the plants — never a driveway, walkway, building or deck.
  • Water in the early morning and/or late evening, when the most water will be absorbed without evaporating.
  • Water plants more often for shorter periods of time, which will allow the soil to better absorb the water.
  • Adjust water times and amounts to seasonal conditions.

Smart Irrigation Technology

Smart Irrigation Technology
A permeable paver system can be outfitted with water-harvesting technology for irrigation or interactive fountains.

The official term “smart irrigation” typically relates to underground sprinkler systems that incorporate computerized technologies like soil moisture sensors, rain sensors, fertilizer injectors, programmable timers and smartphone apps. However, there are multiple other technologies on the market today that can improve both efficiency and ecological responsibility.

  • Water-Harvesting Permeable Paver Systems – Providing multiple ecological benefits, permeable pavers reduce flooding and pooling, filter rainwater to reduce pollution and can be outfitted with an underground cistern to capture and reuse rainwater. Some municipalities offer tax incentives or rebates for installing these types of permeable paver driveways or paver patios.
  • Rain Barrels – Many municipalities offer tax incentives or even offer free rain barrel programs. These barrels capture the water from your gutter downspouts for you to reuse for irrigation. Many big box stores, like Lowe’s and Walmart, offer a wide variety of barrels to choose from.
  • Solar-Powered Sprinkler Timers – Reduce both water and electricity usage by using renewal solar power to irrigate your gardens. These systems are available from numerous retailers like Home Depot and Lowe’s.

Introducing New ‘Collections by Belgard’ for Coordinated Outdoor Design

Designing a well-coordinated outdoor living space just got easier! Say hello to Collections by Belgard, launching in the Southwest, Midwest, and Southeast regions for this year’s building season with a nationwide rollout to follow. Collections combines complementary products in a way to more effortlessly pair hardscapes with a home’s style or design aesthetic, simplifying the design and planning process. Collections by Belgard features six unique looks, each related to architecture trends and styles across North America.

Legacy Collection

Belgard Legacy Collection

Perfect for evoking old-world charm or providing a timeless accent, the Legacy Collection represents the traditional aesthetic and classic spirit of Belgard. With soft edges and ground or split-face textures, the Legacy Collection creates a time-honored look that never goes out of style. You can also look here for border inspiration and accents to enhance the look of any design.

Heritage Collection

Belgard Heritage Collection

Where traditional style meets modern convenience, the Heritage Collection allows for a time-worn aesthetic without the wait. Antiqued and tumbled so that every piece is unique, this collection adds charm and warmth to neutral palettes.

Natural Collection

Belgard Natural Collection

The Natural Collection embraces the casual spirit of life without borders, featuring natural stone textures with organic warmth. With laid-back, design-forward products, this collection is perfect for combining old and new, living in harmony with its natural surroundings.

Metropolitan Collection

Belgard Metropolitan Collection

Strong lines paired with smooth textures give the Metropolitan Collection a bold, modern look. This streamlined, contemporary aesthetic emphasizes natural light and neutral tones with wood accents to give a modern flair that is cozy, not cold.

Porcelain Collection

Belgard Porcelain Collection

Versatile and ultra-contemporary, the Porcelain Collection is stunning with a streamlined, upscale appearance and superior performance. Compact, resistant and virtually non-porous, this collection provides a modern aesthetic best complemented by blacks, whites and other pale neutrals.

Environmental Collection

Belgard Environmental Collection

A true marriage of form and function, the Environmental Collection ensures that homeowners can be water wise and house proud. Classic lines and smooth finishes complement the traditional and the modern, providing a stunning solution to standing water and irrigation needs.

To find more information on Collections by Belgard, visit Belgard.com/locator to find a Belgard Authorized Contractor near you.

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.

HGTV® Dream Home 2018 Winner Announced

HGTV Dream Home 2018 Winner

As a proud sponsor of the HGTV® Dream Home 2018, we congratulate this year’s winner of the fabulous waterfront retreat in Gig Harbor, Washington, overlooking the picturesque Henderson Bay, an inlet of Puget Sound.

Emily Muniz HGTV Dream Home Giveaway 2018 Winner
Emily Muniz, middle, is surprised by HGTV designer and host Tiffany Brooks with the news that she is the winner of the HGTV Dream Home Giveaway 2018. (photo courtesy HGTV)

Emily Muniz, a 29-year-old from suburban Nashville was randomly selected from over 123 million entries to win the grand prize package valued at more than $1.8 million. The giveaway includes the completely remodeled and fully furnished home, a new Honda Accord and $250,000 from national mortgage lender Quicken Loans®.

This formerly outdated home was selected by HGTV and completely renovated into a contemporary maritime retreat. Belgard was honored to be a part of this renovation as the exclusive hardscape sponsor. Belgard products were used to help facilitate complete front and backyard transformations, adding contemporary curb appeal and providing multiple entertaining zones for taking in the spectacular views of Henderson Bay.

Aerial view of the outdoor living areas of the HGTV Dream Home 2018. (Photo: Robert Peterson, Rustic White Photography)

“The outdoor space at the HGTV Dream Home 2018 in Gig Harbor made it truly our dream home,” Muniz said. “From the back porches overlooking the sound, to the gathering area around the fire pit and the ‎grilling area for summer cookout, it’s a gorgeous property that has multiple spaces that are perfect for gathering with family and friends.”

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

In addition to providing upgraded aesthetics and functionality to the home, the new paver driveway, walkways, and fire pit patio are also environmentally friendly. Paved with Belgard Urbana® Stone permeable pavers, these areas filter any rainwater or other runoff of impurities before absorbing it into the ground below and returning it to local receiving waters.

To view before and after images of the outdoor renovation, read our transformation blog.

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.

Take a Look Inside the Philadelphia Flower Show and Enter to Win a Bordeaux™ Grill Island

We are now midway through the incredible 2018 Philadelphia Flower Show and wanted to share some images from the show and give you an opportunity to register for a chance to win a Bordeaux Elements™ Grill Island.

Attendance at the show has been incredible. This year’s theme, “Wonders of Water” includes fantastic displays of waterscapes and landscapes integrated with Belgard hardscapes. To view a slideshow of the Belgard Feature Exhibit, click on any of the images below.

Belgard FEATURE EXHIBIT

Fly-Through Video

Belgard at the 2018 Philadelphia Flower Show

The Belgard Booth at this year's Philly Flower Show puts an array of tranquil water features on display bringing the theme, Wonders of Water, to life: http://bit.ly/2oFXzFS

Posted by Outdoor Living by Belgard on Wednesday, March 7, 2018

 

As the exclusive hardscapes sponsor, Belgard is also excited to see our products incorporated into many other displays throughout the show. As part of the “Wonders of Water” theme, multiple organizations took the opportunity to educate attendees on the benefits of permeable pavers. See some examples below.

Philadelphia Water Department
and their “Rain Check” Program

Mercer County Community College

If you don’t intend to check out the show in person, don’t miss out on your opportunity to win a Bordeaux Elements™ Grill Island. Click on the link below to enter for your chance to win!

Enter the Bordeaux™ Grill Island Sweepstakes

The 2018 Philadelphia Flower Show will continue through Sunday, March 11. For tickets, visit TheFlowerShow.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.