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California is going green, in more ways than one! Everywhere you look, people are finding new and interesting ways to garden. One of the more recent trends is the rise of the what is called “vertical gardening”. Entire websites and companies are devoted to the trend. For those looking to add a little more dimension to their lives, vertical gardening is the way to go.
What exactly is a vertical garden?
A vertical garden can take any number of forms and is basically any vegetation that exists on a plane other than a flat horizontal surface. It can be as simple as a tier of stacked planters or as intricate as a high-rise wall completely covered in vegetation. Classic forms of vertical gardens include those created with trellises and arbors, but today’s modern vertical gardens have grown to incorporate a variety of ideas, techniques, and materials.
A vertical garden like this could be constructed with curtain rods, t-shirts, and a glue gun.
How do I get started?
Wherever there is a blank wall or a bare fence, there is the potential for a vertical garden. There are companies that sell pre-made pockets and planters that are specifically designed to attach to walls or fence boards. However, the ideas are virtually endless for creating homemade versions. Unique ideas include converting rain gutters into vertical rows of horizontal planters, or constructing planter pockets out of heavy-duty fabrics.
This sloped yard was terraced to create a meandering walkway with a tailored vertical garden.
What if my yard is sloped?
Well then, you have the perfect natural setting to create a vertical garden. Any gardening you do will already be multidimensional. But if you want to create something more structured and permanent, consider terracing the slope with pavers and retaining walls to create layers of built-in planters, which will define the garden areas and, at the same time, make the space more usable.
Article by Belgard Hardscapes
One of the popular trends in today’s outdoor living design is the multi-level patio or poolscape. Often, a multi-level design is simply the solution to elevation grade issues. However, adding dimension to an outdoor living space can also be a personal choice, and quite often is.
When planning a multi-level outdoor living design, there is one element of the design that requires thought, but is often overlooked…the step. There are a lot of different ways of designing steps, and here are just a few ideas to help you step up to the next level.
Many people like the look of large natural stone steps. An economical alternative is Granika Step, which offers the look of unpolished granite in a large-format step.
This step design used Bullnose Coping, which provides a softer edge and can coordinate with existing pool coping. For additional personalized flare, a mosaic stone design was added to the fascia of each step.
Colorful ceramic tiles were used as accent pieces on the fascia of these steps. The steps themselves were left simple and clean, with no ledge or additional edging to the Mega-Lafitt patio pavers, creating a more natural look. Notice that the paver field was left untrimmed on the sides of the patio, as well, which adds to the natural effect.
Sweeping arches of tumbled Weston Stone that mimic the shape and look of the fire pit were used to create the steps and walls of this multi-level design. Under-ledge hardscape lights were added to the steps and fire pit seat wall to help create ambiance and enhance visibility.
Rough-hewn Celtik Wall provides a contrasting texture and shape to the Mega-Arbel pavers in this design. Using the same wall product for the pillars, steps, and water feature ties the whole design together.
Anglia Edger, used for curbs and garden edging, can also be used to form natural steps into sloped terrain (as illustrated above) to create picturesque earthen paths.
Looking for ideas to transform your backyard or create curb appeal that will be the envy of the neighborhood? Order your free Belgard Idea Book for hardscape ideas on how to use a variety of hardscape colors, patterns, and textures to enhance the beauty, functionality, and value of your home. From picturesque walkways and cozy outdoor fireplaces to gourmet outdoor kitchens and traffic-stopping driveways, the 2015 Belgard Idea Book will help you explore the possibilities.
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Click here to order your free Idea Book today!
Not that long ago, it seemed like fire pits were primarily seen on campgrounds and were mostly enjoyed by scouts and rugged outdoor enthusiasts. Today, however, fire pits are one of the fastest growing trends in residential outdoor living and come in all sorts of shapes and types. Homeowners who don’t have one, likely want one. Let’s face it, fire pits are hot.
Belgard walls offer an excellent opportunity to build a gorgeous fire pit that not only serves as a favorite gathering spot, but is also a cohesive and permanent part of the overall outdoor living design. Not only can Belgard walls be used to construct the fire pit itself, but also coordinating design elements, such as steps, columns, and garden or seat walls.
Below are some ideas on how to use Belgard walls to construct fire pits that are not merely functional, but seamlessly integrate into the landscape to become the focal point of a cohesive outdoor living design.
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For this first design, Celtik® Wall was use for a variety of coordinating elements, including the fire pit, steps, seat walls, flower box, and retaining wall.
The home below used Celtik® Wall to convert a severely sloped yard into an amphitheater. The graduated retaining wall doubles as seating for the coordinating fire pit.
For the next design, a destination area was created overlooking the lake by using Weston Stone® for the fire pit, columns, and protective parapet wall.
Weston Stone® was used in this design to create the fascia for step of the sunken fire pit, as well as for the fire pit itself, accent columns, and surrounding garden walls. In the area surrounding the fire pit, the garden wall also serves as a backrest for the seat wall.
Wall products can also be used in combination to create an interesting look. For the gas fire pit below, the majority of the pit was constructed with Belair Wall®, which mimics the texture of the home’s masonry veneer. Weston Stone® was used for the base and as decorative accents.
Article by Belgard Hardscapes
Pool & backyard remodel using stained concrete in Orange, Ca.
Now is the time to dive head first into planning mode if you want to have everything ready for that end-of-school pool party.
Start thinking about what type of design you want. Gone are the days of the boring rectangle surrounded by a simple concrete pad. With all of the colors, textures, and multidimensional design elements available today, the possibilities are literally endless. So grab your mouse, head to our pool deck Pinterest board or our pool gallery, and start working on working on some ideas.
Is the pool the only missing element in your long-term outdoor living plan for your home? If not, think ahead to save yourself some major headaches. For example, if you intend to add a cabana, outdoor fireplace, or outdoor kitchen later on, plan to discuss that with your contractor so you can address the need for future utilities or footings, which could save you a lot of time and money in the long run.
This is definitely a situation when you do NOT want to make a choice solely on cost. There are a lot of bad pool contractors out there who can put in a cheap pool and disappear. Then, when it cracks and leaks into the yard or the pump dies due to faulty materials or wiring, you could find yourself in a remediation situation that’s much more costly than putting the pool in correctly the first time.
Now the fun part…making decisions. An experienced contractor will be able to guide you through this process. The most important thing to remember during the design phase is to pick what YOU like. Forget what Aunt Tilda and your carpool friends say. If you like it, do it. You’re the one paying for it and the one who will be swimming in it. Trust your contractor’s experience regarding what works well and what doesn’t. In the end, stick to your guns on a design feature that you really love, or you’ll regret it later.
Most of these details can be worked out with your contractor. Your start date will typically depend on mother nature and the permit office. The construction time can take anywhere from 3 to 8 weeks, depending on the type of pool, complexity of design, and weather. Be prepared for a muddy mess for a little while. You may need to make alternate parking arrangements for your family to avoid blocking construction access. You will also need to consider some type of bathroom access for the construction workers. Lastly, you may want to bring your neighbors some cookies and invite them to the pool christening party as a gesture of goodwill for all of the construction noise and traffic.
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What is Hardscape?
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How Brick is Sustainable
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West Hills Masonry 109 Meadowcreek Rd Brea, CA 92821 Tel: (714) 519-5009
Orange County, CA
License # 920870
Driveways, Front Yard Remodels, Backyard Remodels, Block Walls, Outdoor Living, Patios, Walkways, Barbecues, Water Features, Fireplaces/ Fire Pits, Pool Remodels
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Backyard Makeover 101
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