Anchor Block Company’s Best of 2014

We’re lucky to work in an industry where capturing beautiful, creative landscapes is part of the gig. Before we ring in the new year, help us celebrate our standout projects from 2014.

Big or small, modern or traditional, eco-friendly or family-friendly — we highlighted a variety of projects that will inspire you to make your dream landscape come true, whatever it may look like.

5. Dramatic Entrance. This home’s bold architecture deserved bold surroundings. The RINN™ Medino® paving system driveway provides a simple, stunning entrance for homeowners and guests alike.

RINN Medino paving system

RINN™ Medino® paving system

4. Family Function(ality). The most beloved outdoor living spaces provide a place to relax — or entertain — for the whole household. This smartly-planned patio features Slaton Plus Random patio stones and multiple seating areas, including a Fresco™ wall system seat wall, and a fire pit for stories and S’mores.

Patio featuring Fresco wall system with Charleston and Slaton Plus Random paving systems

Fresco™ wall system with Charleston™ and Slaton Plus™ Random paving systems

3. Calming Effect. The tree-filled backdrop to this backyard is a dreamy contrast to the hardscaped features, which were created using the Brisa® wall system, RINN Medino® paving system and Slaton Plus paving system.

Rinn Medino and Slaton Plus pavers with Brisa wall system

Brisa® wall system, RINN™ Medino® paving system and Slaton Plus™ paving system

2. Inside Out. More and more homeowners are treating their landscape as an extension of their home, and this outdoor living room and kitchen featuring the Slaton Plus™ tumbled paver patio is a winning example.

Slaton Plus™ tumbled paving system.

Slaton Plus™ tumbled paving system

1. Making Headlines. This backyard may look familiar to Twin Citians: it’s the outcome of the BATC/KARE 11 Backyard Makeover. The new design, which was chosen by news watchers’ popular vote, includes our RINNHydropor Laziano® permeable pavers — used to mitigate flooding that used to plague the outdoor “studio” during heavy rainfall — and planters built from the Matiz wall system.

RINN™ Hydropor Laziano paving system and Matiz wall system

RINN™ Hydropor Laziano® paving system and Matiz™ wall system

Looking for more inspiring home landscape projects? Check out Anchor Block Company’s Houzz profile or contact us to request your FREE 2015 Landscape Collection catalog. Just enter discount code “BLOG” in the comments field.

Want to Improve Your Social Life? Just Add Fire.

We’re more like our ancient ancestors than we think. Turns out that fire was used in early times for socializing, just like today’s neighborhood bonfires draw family and friends.

In fact, conversing over a fire may have helped humankind evolve. According to anthropologist Polly Wiessner, it was over a fire where we learned our social behaviors. Day talk was primarily about economic matters, while evening talk over a fire was less about the tensions of the day and more about sharing stories and ideas.

If you’d like to enjoy the modern-day social benefits of a fire feature, there are many products to help you add some warmth to your yard.

Do-It-Yourself Fire Pit Kits

A relatively easy, low-cost and fast way to make fire is to use a kit that includes assembly instructions, concrete blocks and a metal insert. These fire pit kits come in a variety of shapes and styles, and can be found through your local home improvement store, landscape dealer or online. Contact us for more information on where to buy fire features for your yard.

Fresco Square Fire Pit Kit

Fresco™ square fire pit kit

For a first-hand account of what a project like this entails, read Baptism by Fire Pit by a New York Times columnist who recently chronicled his experience building a fire pit in his yard.

Fireplaces

Fire place and paver patio

Stone Age outdoor fireplace with Charleston™ paving system

Outdoor fireplaces are beautiful additions to the landscape – and are stunning at night with a roaring fire. They’re permanent additions to your landscape and typically require installation by an experienced contractor. Fireplaces can also be a starting point for building a beautiful patio, adding a seat wall or creating a new outdoor room.

Fall is a great time to plan and install a fire feature and you’ll be surprised at how a fire pit or fireplace prolongs your outdoor season – often well into winter – and draws crowds to socialize any time of the year.

Visit Anchor Block Company’s website for more information on fire features, including retail locations, installation instructions and project photos.

A Backyard Hangout Wish Comes True

Anchor Block Company was proud to participate in a recent Make-A-Wish® foundation project for Minnesota teen Drew Macke, whose wish was simple but lasting: a backyard hangout for him and his family.

“A vacation comes and goes,” Drew told the Woodbury Bulletin, “but that stays.”

Construction of the outdoor living area, which includes and Anchor™ paver patio as well as a pergola and fireplace, began in July 2014 and included the help of more than a dozen Twin Cities businesses.

Friends, family and project partners celebrated the backyard’s completion at a bonfire on September 10th. (Read the full story of Drew’s backyard wish come true here.)

Thanks to Ispiri Design-Build, Root Stock Landscape Design and the Make-A-Wish foundation for letting us be a part of this wish-come-true!

Why Choose Permeable Pavers?

Have you moved from having a green thumb to embracing a green approach to landscaping? Using permeable pavers is a great choice if you’re committed to improving and protecting your environment.

What’s a permeable paver?

The technical term is permeable interlocking concrete pavement and, simply stated, permeable pavers are concrete paving units that are installed with stone aggregates between and underneath so any type of storm water (such as rain or melting snow) filters into the ground. To learn about the benefits of managing storm water and the value of permeable pavers, check out this video from the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute:

 

Where can I use permeable pavers?

Permeable pavers can be used on driveways, patios and walkways. They can transform muddy backyards into functional patio space (click here for the full story) and bring style to once-flooded front yards, as shown below.

RINN™ Hydropor Laziano® Paving System

RINN™ Hydropor Laziano® Paving System

If you’re designing a landscape with sustainability in mind, permeable pavers are an excellent choice. Anchor Block Company offers several styles of permeable pavers to suit your project regardless of style or budget.

Contact us if you’d like to receive more information on how permeable paving systems can transform your home’s landscape.

 

10 Weekend Hardscapes Projects

Maybe your dream backyard design needs to be done in small pieces due to time, budget or other constraints. Or perhaps you just want to add a finishing touch to your existing landscape.

Here are ten do-it-yourself project plans that are small enough to tackle in a weekend – yet are guaranteed to make a big impact on your landscape. These projects incorporate the Fresco™ wall system, which features versatile components that can be oriented in any manner to create many outdoor living projects.

Build a Bar

Everyone gathers in the kitchen, or the outside bar when it’s a warm summer night. Create a space to serve your crowd, large or small.

Help the Bees: Build a Flower Planter

If you’ve heard the buzz (pardon us) about the declining bee population and are thinking about adding perennials to your yard, build a planter and stock it full of flowering native plants.

Fresco™ Wall System, Slaton Plus™ Tumbled Paving System

Fresco™ Wall System, Slaton Plus™ Tumbled Paving System

Warm Up with a Fire Pit

We offer designs for fire pits in various sizes and shapes using the Fresco wall system. Choose the design that fits your space or use one of our handy fire pit kits. Don’t forget to check local ordinances about open fires before installation begins.

Fresco Square Fire Pit Kit

Fresco™ square fire pit kit

The Fresco wall system offers many ways to enjoy your outdoor living area. Find more project inspiration in our Project Ideas book or on our Facebook page.

What’s Your Paver Style?

Thinking about adding concrete pavers to your home this year? Not only are pavers a strong and durable choice for driveways, patios and walkways — they also come in a variety of shapes and sizes to match any landscape or architectural style. Our in-house paver expert, Gene Karjala, shares his advice on choosing a paver to fit your personal style.

Clean and Contemporary

Sleek and modern pavers like the Rinn™ Padio™ 14 paving system feature long, rectangular units — often called “planks.” This look is ideal for contemporary architecture or mid-century homes. Bonus tip from Gene: If you like a modern look with added style, check out other Rinn paving systems, which feature multiple sizes.

RINN™ Padio 14 paving system

RINN™ Padio™ 14 paving system

 

Traditional

If you love to stroll through charming towns with cobblestone streets lined with Tudor and Victorian houses, Gene recommends a traditional choice such as the Kingston Plus™ or Kingston™ paving systems, which offer multiple sizes and a classic cobblestone appearance.

Kingston Plus paving system

Kingston Plus™ paving system

Holland pavers are rectangular and are also traditional in appearance, but can be installed in many patterns for different looks.

Holland paving system

Holland paving system

 

Rustic and Natural

The process of tumbling pavers gives the product a time-worn appearance but without losing any durability. A perfect choice for a rustic, natural look is the tumbled Charleston™ paving system.

Charleston paving system

Charleston™ paving system

Slaton Plus™ Tumbled paving system

Slaton Plus™ Tumbled paving system

For the look of quarried stone, Gene recommends the Slaton Plus™ or Slaton Plus™ tumbled paving systems. These are a lovely choice for natural landscapes featuring grasses, boulders and native plants.

 

Eco-Smart

If you’re designing a landscape with sustainability in mind, permeable pavers are an excellent choice. Anchor Block Company offers several styles of permeable pavers, which reduce storm water run-off by allowing the water to gradually filter back into the soil and control and stabilize soil erosion.

Holland Permeable paving system

 

Once you’ve found a style of pavers to enhance your landscape, check out our What’s Your Retaining Wall Style? post to find an Anchor™ wall system that completes your plan.

From Flat to Fantastic: 3 Steps to A Beautiful Backyard

Transforming a large, flat yard is easy when you focus on building a beautiful foundation and adding vertical elements to give the space definition. Here are tips on how to bring your outdoor space from boring to beautiful.

 

Step 1: Work from the Ground Up

Transform a large flat space by installing concrete pavers to create a patio for relaxing or entertaining. Paver patios can be installed at grade or atop a slope. A raised patio like the one shown below will work in either of these conditions, and is a perfect way to replace an old wooden deck while adding height to flat ground.

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Highland Stone® wall system; Slaton Plus™ tumbled paving system

 

Step 2: Add Interest with Accessories

A paver patio will quickly become a gathering place because of its functionality and low maintenance. To add creative flair to the flat space, consider these accents:

  • Freestanding walls provide instant height, beauty and seating.
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Highland Stone® wall system

 

  • Built-in planters filled with flowers and grasses soften a paver patio.
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Fresco™ wall system; Slaton Plus™ paving system with Charleston™ paving system border

 

  • Columns act as stylish spots for light fixtures or plant pots.
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Brisa® wall system; Rinn™ Medino® paving system with Slaton Plus™ paving system border

 

Step 3: Build a Structure

Built structures are popular design elements for flat landscapes. Arbors and pergolas can define spaces and help make an outdoor area truly feel like an extension of your home.

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Diamond Stone Cut® wall system

 

With the right elements, a flat yard can be taken to new heights. Find more hardscapes inspiration by downloading our 2014 Landscape Collection catalog or visiting the Anchor Block Company Facebook page.