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Outdoor fireplaces and fire pits constructed with Belgard hardscapes are designed to last for the life of your home. However, as we begin to move into the outdoor fire season, it’s important to properly prepare and maintain these fire features to ensure safety and functionality, both this season and for many years to come.
Keep it CleanRegular cleaning of your fire feature is important for both safety and functionality. For gas units, debris and spiderwebs can clog the burners and cause malfunctions. For wood-burning units, accumulation of water or leaves can cause sparks and floating embers that could become a fire hazard. Be sure to remove any old ashes, coals, and water, and blow out any debris and spiderwebs prior to lighting your fireplace or fire pit. It’s also a good idea to purchase doors for your fireplace or a cover for your fire pit. This will help reduce the amount of debris and water accumulation, in addition to keeping out snow and ice in colder climates.
Hardwood is BetterAlthough many people like to just gather any type of limbs from the yard for burning in an outdoor fireplace or fire pit, this can be a safety hazard. Green wood and softwoods, such as pine, can hold a lot of water, which will create a lot of smoke and sparks as it burns. This is particularly dangerous for fire pits, which are more open and allow sparks to shoot out in multiple directions. For cleaner and safer fires, stock up on dry hardwoods, like oak or maple. To keep the wood dry, do not store it directly on the ground where it can pull moisture from the earth, in addition to attracting critters like snakes and termites.
Gas Starter Retrofitting and MaintenanceAll wood-burning Belgard Elements fireplaces and fire pits are designed to allow for gas retrofitting — either with a gas starter system, or a full gas burner. Log igniters are particularly popular and typically last about 8 to 10 years before beginning to rust and requiring replacement. Remote controlled ignition systems are also popular. These can be designed for operation from inside of the house or from a mobile app. However, they often require additional maintenance, as wires and batteries can corrode due to exposure to the elements. For best long-term results, use a simple push-button igniter, similar to the ignition system on a standard gas grill. With fewer working parts, this simple system will typically last more seasons than a remote system.
Fire pits continue to rise in popularity, and it’s no wonder. There’s just something about gathering around a fire that’s inherently human. A fire pit instantly becomes everyone’s favorite gathering spot. It’s the ideal place to relax, unwind, tell stories, and get to know one another on a deeper level. If you’re thinking of adding a fire pit to your backyard, there are a lot of options to consider before you begin.
Decision 1: Mobile or Built-In
Many people opt for a mobile fire pit that can be moved around to various locations. Movable fire pits are certainly less expensive than a built-in pit, come in a wide variety of designs, and have the added benefit of portability. The primary drawback, however, is that a movable fire pit tends to only last a season or two before the materials begin to deteriorate.
An in-ground fire pit can be a cost-effective option.
Decision 2: In-Ground or Above-Ground
An in-ground fire pit can be cost-effective, however above-ground pits are more common. One trend is to create a “sunken living room” design for an above-ground fire pit. This offers the added benefit of built-in seating. In addition, the surrounding wall can act either as a wind barrier or a heat reflector, creating a warm and cozy room.
Decision 3: Gas, Wood or Hybrid
There are a number of benefits to a gas fire pit. It’s easy to start, there’s no mess, there’s no smoke, and it can be placed closer to the house. For purists, however, burning wood is one of the primal reasons to even have a fire pit. For the best of both worlds, consider a wood-burning fire pit with a gas starter. One popular trend is to install a gas starter with a switch that can be operated either locally, from inside the house, or with a mobile app.
Decision 4: Placement
An above-ground pit becomes a focal point of your outdoor living design. Be sure and place it where it balances with other large design elements. A gas fire pit can be placed just about anywhere, but a wood-burning pit will need to be at least 10 feet away from any structure. Before putting in a permanent fire pit, check for wind patterns that may cause potential smoke issues. Also, remember to leave ample room for seating around the pit.
This sunken fire pit room uses a combination of natural stone and manufactured hardscapes.
Decision 5: Materials and Shape
Above-ground fire pits can be constructed from a variety of materials. The most popular options are brick, natural stone and concrete blocks, such as Belgard retaining wall products. Although design options are endless, most fire pits are either round or square. One reason has to do with the shape of standard fire pit liners. Fire pit liners are highly recommended and may be required by your local municipality. In addition to adding a finished look, a steel liner keeps excessive amounts of heat from absorbing into the surrounding stone. By reflecting the heat up and out, it adds to the life of the stone and creates a safer environment. It also increases the feeling of warmth for those around the fire.
Decision 6: Seating Options
Built-in seating is currently one of the top trends in outdoor living and makes an excellent addition to a fire pit design. Some people like to place seat walls four feet away from the fire pit, which allows for walking room. Others prefer a three-foot distance, which can allow you to prop your feet on the ledge of the pit. If using seat walls, consider leaving one or two sides open. This will allow for the option of furniture placement, which softens the look and adds interest to the design. To add comfort and color to seat walls, use a variety of throws and outdoor pillows.
The combination of built-in seat walls and open seating provides ample seating space and accommodates those who want to control their seating distance in relation to the fire.
Article by Belgard Hardscapes
With triple-digit heat indexes spanning the lower half of the country, many people are now scurrying indoors to avoid the heat, forced to enjoy their beautiful outdoor living spaces from the comfort of the kitchen window. However, there are a number of design tips and tricks that can alleviate some of the heat and allow you to get more use from your outdoor living spaces during those dog days of summer.
Advantages of Pergolas
A pergola can provide multiple design benefits for an outdoor living space. The open-air aspect allows for unrestricted air movement while still defining the space to visually create the look of an “outdoor room”. Additionally, the structure itself both filters the direct sunlight and can provide the framework for a outdoor-rated ceiling fan. To provide additional shade and add to the visual interest, flowering vines — such as Wisteria or Morning Glory — can be trained to grow atop the pergola.
. . .
Outdoor Living Structures
The benefit of a roofed structure, as opposed to an open-air pergola, is that it provides a little more protection from the elements, including both sun and rain. Although late afternoon sun and driving rain will still creep in, you’ll still have increased shelter, as well as additional opportunities for fans, lighting, audio/visual equipment and appliances.
Made in the Shade
There are a variety of affordable products available that can help increase the amount of shade in your outdoor living space, particular during that unbearably hot time of the day when the sunlight comes in at just the right angle to make you feel like you can fry an egg right on the patio flooring. Attractive options include indoor/outdoor curtains, retractable solar shades, and colorful sun canopies.
Permeable Paver Water Features
Particularly in hot climates with lower humidity, water mist can significantly reduce the ambient temperature of a localized outdoor area. An alternate option to a traditional water-misting system is to install a water-recycling permeable pavement system that incorporates a water feature. The paver system can collect and recycle rainwater and provide a fun activity for kids, all while releasing mist into the air that will help alleviate some of the oppressive heat.
The primary benefit of installing a hardscape patio is the lasting beauty. But because you know it’s going to be there for a very long time, it’s important that you put a good bit of thought into the design. You want to make sure that the space will reflect your personality, as well as suit your functional needs. Below are some inspirational ideas for fabulous hardscape patios using Belgard pavers and wall products to reflect a wide variety of personal styles.
Enhancing Your Hardscapes with Elegant Perennials
Urbana® Stone Pavers
Nothing says “beautiful” like a colorful perennial garden. Webster refers to perennials as “being happy again and again”. The word perennial describes a plant that generally lives for two years or more while annual describes a plant that may have a one-year or single season life span. When choosing perennials, you are actually creating a look in your garden space that you can cultivate year after year without the continuous pocket drain and effort.
When looking for pops of color, many people opt for annuals, but there are so many ways to create a colorful garden from perennials. One of the perennial favorites many of us know and love is the rose. The rose is one of oldest flowers in cultivation with hundreds of different varieties. When choosing a type of rose, you might gravitate to the more fragrant varieties. As the weather warms up, you will likely be spending more and more time outside in your backyard. Now that you have created or are in the process of creating your dream backyard, why not surround yourself with the fragrant smell of roses that comes back year after year?
Select a sight that gets at least six hours of sunlight per day with good drainage. Roses succumb to root rot easily. They grow in all types of soil, however they do appreciate a plethora of compost or manure mixed in. When planting roses, never let the roots dry out completely, make sure to soak the entire plant overnight before planting. The canes should be about two inches below the ground in a warmer climate zone and at least four inches in a colder zone to protect from freezing. Mounding up the soil at least six inches around the root of the plant. Using mulch will help to protect your roses from both bug infestations and disease.
Catalina™ Stone Pavers
Companion plants such as marigolds, mint, and geraniums are great because they help to keep a wide variety of pests away, as well. Be careful with the mint though; it can be invasive.
edible for humans, as well as butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. The Allium family is also a helpful mole control.
Other Plants in the Allium family such as garlic, shallot, and chives are a nice addition to any rose garden. It has been said that Alliums help to enhance the roses’ perfume quality. That alone is a reason to choose them. The flowers tend to be spherical and can produce pink, purple, white, and yellow flowers that are sure to add that extra pop to any garden. In addition, many are possibilities you might consider when planting and creating a rose garden will depend upon your goals. Plants like larkspur, lantana, and lavender will help to attract butterflies, add a multitude of color, and help to fill in the areas surrounding the roses. There are also many long blooming flowers that serve well as cutting flowers, ferns, ornamental grasses, and of course the classic boxwood.
One thing to remember is to choose flowers and plants that have similar soil and water conditions as roses. Roses love water, but need to have well-drained soil. You can groom and shape your roses to take on any look, or you can let them grow with wild abandon. If you treat them right, they will be back again next year to make you happy “again and again.”
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We Do Driveway Remodels!
When it comes to remodeling your "welcome mat," nobody does it better than West Hills Masonry. As anyone knows, concrete driveways stain easily, crack over time, and have no easy fix available. Pavers, however, provide an aesthetically pleasing, incredibly durable, and easily fixable option if damaged. They can also withstand the elements from major rainfall to those hot, dry seasons. Pavers and concrete come in many different colors, shapes, and styles to fit any home-style. When you're ready to have your driveway greet you upon arrival, let us know how we can help.
We Do Backyard Remodels!
Your backyard is your get-away, and is truly an extension of your home. Outdoor living is practically synonymous with the Orange County lifestyle. Whether you want a complete outdoor oasis, to play hosts for neighborhood parties, have a quiet gardening spot, roast marshmallows around the fire pit, or simply have a better looking backyard when you're enjoying your morning coffee or tea, West Hills Masonry can transform any backyard area. We can take care of every dimension of your "outdoor room:" patio remodeling, fire pits, retaining walls, outdoor fireplaces, pool deck remodeling, BBQ installations, custom outdoor kitchens, and even coverings.
We Do BBQ Installations & Outdoor Kitchens!
You're the grill master, the host with the most, the "lean, mean, grilling machine." When you want a BBQ installation to meet your grilling needs, or perhaps an outdoor kitchen remodel to dish up both hot meals and cold drinks, West Hills Masonry can take care of that for you. Every backyard is unique, much like their homeowners, and we want to create an outdoor food prep and dining area that caters to all of your friends, neighbors and family. Some of the fondest memories are created while eating around the table, and we want to make it the best experience possible for many years to come.
We Do Artificial Grass Installation!
Many Orange County residents are unaware that installing artificial grass is virtually the same process as installing pavers. Therefore, since pavers is what we do best, that means artificial grass is what we do best too! With recent water restrictions, homeowners are no longer forced to settle for brown lawns. Pavers and artificial grass are a pairing that makes any home look renewed, and requires no water maintenance at all. This is a great way to do your part for the community while maintaining a great looking yard and home you can truly be proud of. It's a win for you, California, and especially your wallet.
We Do Pool Remodels!
You have a pool because you want to relax and/or play in your very own water paradise. After all, you work hard...you splash hard too. Be that as it may, over time your pool may have started to look outdated, or even damaged throughout the years. It may not even hold water efficiently like it's supposed to. A paver remodel for your pool creates a safer surface to prevent slipping, coupled with an attractive look that never goes out-of-style! Let us help give your pool the facelift it deserves. We can ensure that you're not wasting water so that you can get back to enjoying life. You can be sure we'll remodel a great pool you can be proud to call your own.
Holland Stone I
We know your home project is important to you, and we don't want money to stand in the way of that. That's why we have partnered with EnerBank USA, the preferred lender of choice when it comes to virtually any home improvement project. So look into the Same-As-Cash option with no interest and no monthly payments for up to 24 months, along with traditional installment plan options. Whatever your financial status, we'll work hard with you to find an option that truly is best for you and your family to make your house a home — and without breaking the bank.
Here are some of the reasons EnerBank’s unsecured home improvement loans make sense:
No waiting. Get the entire project you want completed now the way you want it, instead of waiting to save up the cash.
Flexibility. Styles, prices, and models change frequently. Avoid product and other changes by completing your entire project now instead of in stages.
Unbeatable payment options. More ways to pay for your home improvement project. Ask your contractor about all your choices.
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From driveway remodels to stone veneer walls, West Hills Masonry has you covered. But don't just take our word for it when a picture says it all! Check out our masonry gallery for inspiration, ideas, and proof of how we can make your home project truly yours. We've been helping homeowners for 25 years all over Orange County and Los Angeles County.
What is Hardscape?
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West Hills Masonry 1390 N. Hundley St. Anaheim, CA 92806 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, Artificial Grass
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