Is It Your Year for a New Yard?

The start of a new year always brings a bevy of resolutions – and according to the Home Projects Council,  a top priority among do-it-yourself homeowners in 2014 is landscaping their front or backyard.


Landscaping is the top project for homeowners in 2014

If you’re one of the many handy homeowners thinking of taking on an outdoor overhaul this spring or summer, here are some helpful resources to get you started:

Home Landscape Inspiration:

Landscaping How-Tos:

  • How to Plan a Landscape Renovation
  • How To Install Patios/Walkways and Retaining Wall systems

Be sure to let us know on our Facebook page or in the comments section below which landscaping project you have planned for 2014!


Warm Up Your Landscape

Open-air fireplaces add character to your yard and can extend your enjoyment of the outdoors into cooler weather. They are also a design anchor for furnishings such as chairs and tables.

There are many types of fireplaces that serve different functions. Choose the one that’s best for you.

Do-It-Yourself Fire Pits

Do-it-yourself enthusiasts can construct a ready-to-assemble fire pit using concrete retaining wall blocks. Most fire pits require minimal yard space.

Anchor Hudson Stone fire pit

Anchor™ Hudson Stone™ fire pit kit

You can purchase the Anchor™ Hudson Stone™ fire pit kit at Lowe’s stores. The kit is easy-to-assemble and includes a liner to build a circular-shaped fire pit.

Anchor Fresco fire pit kit

Anchor™ Fresco™ fire pit kit

The Anchor™ Fresco™ fire pit kit features retaining wall blocks, a liner and cooking grate along with easy-to-follow instructions. The kit is available at The Home Depot stores and at independent landscape dealers that carry Anchor products.

Find complete fire pit installation instructions on the Anchor Block Company website.


An outdoor fireplace can be a dramatic addition to your yard and there are many styles and sizes available to suit every budget and space. Stone Age fireplaces are modular kits that can be customized by size, shape, and choice of veneer options, including brick, pavers or natural stone. Outdoor fireplaces can be freestanding or integrated into a seating wall, with options such as storage space for wood or decorative mantles.

Outdoor Kitchens, Grill Surrounds and Pizza Ovens

If your culinary tastes extend beyond roasting marshmallows around a fireplace, consider an outdoor kitchen that lets you enjoy the outdoors and your family and guests while you cook.  A number of options are available.

If you enjoy your current barbecue grill, consider building a countertop and island that provides storage and work space as well as a finished, customized look. The Stone Age kits can be customized by size and shape to fit many spaces.

An outdoor pizza oven is the ultimate backyard entertaining accessory and conversation piece. Beautiful to look at, pizza ovens are great for entertaining large groups and are easy to use. Host a make-your-own pizza party around the oven and, with a little practice, you’ll find it practical for cooking appetizers and other foods, too.

Our love of a crackling fire might equal our passion to improve our outdoor spaces. Today, there are fire pits, fireplaces, kitchens and ovens to suit all tastes, budgets and spaces. Enjoy your landscape this summer and consider adding a fire to gather around.  Summed up well by author Charles Dudley Warner, “To poke a wood fire is more solid enjoyment than almost anything else in the world.”

For more information visit our website at Whatever inspiration you find to make your landscape dreams come true, click over to Facebook and tell us what you found.

Finding Inspiration on the Tube

Can the inspiration you need for a landscaped paradise outside be found online?

The Internet has become a first stop for homeowners searching for ideas to improve their landscapes with sites like YouTube that make it easy to visualize results.  You can enjoy a short video from Anchor Block Company on You Tube that shows the complete installation of a paving system.  Viewing the demolition is an exciting glimpse into the day in the life of a professional landscape contractor.  And seeing the results will inspire you to take a peek outside at your own driveway or backyard and visualize what could be. 

Your own green thumb is a useful tool, so click away and find inspiration!  Whatever inspiration you find to make your landscape dreams come true, click over to Facebook  and tell us what you found.

How to Hire a Landscape Contractor

Improving your outdoor space has many benefits. Besides the enjoyment you’ll personally receive from a well-designed landscape with quality products, you can also improve the environment by adding sustainable plants and products that can increase the financial value of your home. 

If you look at your property and have some ideas but don’t know where to begin, it’s time to contact a professional contractor. Landscape contracting companies range in size from small, where the owner might also be the salesperson and installer, to large-sized companies, which might include a design service, multiple installation crews and a maintenance division. 

Before You Call

You should define the scope of your project, which includes your budget, the boundaries of where the improvements will take place and your timeline. Make sure the scope has input and agreement from other occupants in the household, too.  Establishing the scope early and sticking to it will keep you on budget and will also help expedite the process. 

Who to Call

Referrals are a reliable way to locate a landscape contractor, so ask friends, neighbors and relatives whose yard you admire to recommend a contractor. If you don’t have a referral, look to a state association for nurseries and landscape professionals such as the Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association (MNLA). You can search the MNLA website for the name of a contractor who is a member.

The MNLA website also lists hardscape supply centers which are businesses that sell products and supplies to contractors. Find a location to visit and ask the counter sales people for a list of recommended contractors.

Before You Buy

PLANET is a national association of landscape professionals.  Their website lists extensive tips on how to hire a landscape professional. The highlights include:

  1. Interview several companies and provide each company with the same project parameters so you can equally evaluate their design, plan and budget. 
  2. Ask for referrals. A quality company will have names readily available.  Call former clients and ask about the quality of work and whether the contractor worked within the agreed upon timeline and budget.
  3. Request a written estimate that details the plan or design, the materials to be used, the timeline and cost. 

Improving your outdoor space will bring years of enjoyment as well as the satisfaction of knowing that your investment should pay off in higher property values. So go ahead and turn your dreams into reality with the help of a professional landscape contractor.

For more information about landscaping and hardscape products such as pavers and retaining walls, visit