Workshops for Do-It-Yourself Homeowners

Updated May 2015 Whether you’re a seasoned outdoors do-it-yourselfer or digging into landscaping for the first time (pun intended), there are plenty of opportunities around the Twin Cities and beyond to help you brush up on your skills for the 2015 season — or even learn a new one. DIY_installation_ill Tango™ Lawn-and-Garden Project Block Installation Demonstrations At: Select Mills Fleet Farm locations. About: Learn how to build a variety of hardscape elements, including columns, seat walls and retaining walls, using the Tango project block. Contact store location for more details.

Mills Fleet Farm, Appleton, WI

  • Thursday, April 9th – 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Friday, April 10th – 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Mills Fleet Farm, Mankato, MN

  • Saturday, May 30th – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Mills Fleet Farm, Lakeville, MN

  • Friday, May 29th – 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 30th – 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Mills Fleet Farm, Fergus Falls, MN

  • Friday, June 12th – 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

       Mills Fleet Farm, Fargo, ND

  • Saturday, June 13th – 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Mills Fleet Farm, Waupaca, WI

  • Friday, June 12th – 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

       Mills Fleet Farm, Menomonie, WI

  • Saturday, June 13th – 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Installing Concrete Retaining Walls Workshop At: Hedberg Landscape and Masonry Supplies, Farmington, MN. About: Click here for event details and registration.

  • Wednesday, April 29th – 5 to 7 p.m.
  • Wednesday, May 27th – 5 to 7 p.m.

Installing an Outdoor Fire Pit At: Gertens, Inver Grove Heights, MN. About: Click here for event details and registration.

  • Saturday, April 11th – 11 a.m.

Paving and Wall Installation Tips At: Bachmans on Lyndale, Minneapolis, MN. About: Click here for event details and registration.

  • Saturday, May 23rd – 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • Saturday, June 6th – 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Other Events For budding (and veteran) green thumbs, Northern Gardener magazine has a calendar of this season’s plant shows and sales and educational events. Like us on Facebook to stay up-to-date on the latest homeowner events and other Anchor news.

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.

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.

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.

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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!

Set Your Sights on 2014 Landscape Trends

Avid gardeners and outdoor enthusiasts use the long winter months to plan gardens and landscape improvements. If you’re ready to think spring, check out these top landscape trends and begin a little landscape planning of your own.

Modern Geometry

The sleek lines and simple shapes of mid-century modern style continue to influence fashion, home décor and the outdoor landscape.

RINN™ Padio™ 14 paving system

  • Set plank pavers — or circle- or square-shaped patio stones — a few inches apart in a bed of grass, mulch or aggregate to showcase their silhouette.
Square patio stone

Square patio stone

  • Make traditional patio bricks, like the Holland Permeable paving system, everything but by laying them in a bold running bond (shown below). Added bonus: You can use this system as a component in storm water management to minimize runoff.
Running bond paver pattern

Holland Permeable paving system

Bright and Contrasting Colors

According to “Green Scene,” a report from the Engledow Group, color is one of the most important components of a landscape plan.

  • Choose bright pillows, cheery planters or painted patio furniture to give your outdoor living area a fresh appearance from season to season.
Kingston Plus paving system

Kingston Plus™ paving system

Holland Plus™ paving system with Highland Stone® edger

Holland Plus™ paving system with Highland Stone® edger

“Natural” Beauty

Mother Nature rules when it comes to retaining wall design, with consumers and designers clamoring for functional, low-maintenance products inspired by the look of real stone.

Natural Impressions® Flagstone wall system

Natural Impressions® Flagstone wall system

Brisa® Random wall system

Easy Heat

Products that allow easy installation of permanent fire features are hot, hot, hot!

  • Build your own fire pit using the Fresco™ square or circle fire pit kit. These easy-to-assemble kits include a metal insert and are sure to enhance any outdoor hangout. Purchase a cooking grate attachment and invite the neighbors for a cookout!
Fresco Square Fire Pit Kit

Fresco™ square fire pit kit

Find more inspiration for your home’s landscape by downloading our 2014 Landscaping Collection catalog or visiting us on Facebook.

Give Your Landscape a Late-Summer Edge

Rivers Edge™ Edger

Anchor™ Rivers Edge™ Edger

August is a great time to walk your landscape and plan a few late summer improvements. One easy upgrade is to install concrete edgers. Here’s how to get started.

Easy Impact

Edging products are easy to install and can be used to redefine an existing garden, create a new planting space (it’s never too early to think about planting fall bulbs) or to create a barrier to keep the flower bed mulch out of the grass. Edger products are also readily available — at big box stores, garden centers and landscape dealers. Use our Where to Buy tool to find an Anchor™ retailer in your area.

Creative Choices

Concrete edgers come in a variety of styles. The traditional bullet edger is a classic, smooth-topped product that fits any garden. Other edger products feature textured surfaces that look like natural stone. You might choose a subtle hue like cream or tan to blend harmoniously into the landscape, or a bold color like charcoal or red to complement your home’s exterior.

Getting Started

Installing concrete edgers is the perfect do-it-yourself project because there’s minimal digging or tools involved. Most edgers are around 12 inches long and weigh 9 to 12 pounds each, so they’re easy to lift and transport.

Tamper

A tamper is one of the tools you’ll want to have on hand for your edger installation.

A few days before you start digging, call 811 to confirm where underground utilities are buried and lay out a pattern with a garden hose or string. For step-by-step instructions, download How to Install Edgers.

You can learn more about landscape edging products at www.anchorblock.com. Whatever inspiration you find to make your landscape dreams come true, tell us about it in the comment section below or on our Facebook page.

5 Tips for Planning a Fire Pit

Freestanding wall and fire pit installed using Brisa® wall system

Thinking about adding a fire pit to your outdoor space? You’re not alone. Ninety-seven percent of architects polled by the American Society of Landscape Architects said fire pits and fireplaces are in demand by homeowners. Before you buy the marshmallows, consider these tips to make your project a success.

Know Your Codes

Check your city and county codes. There are communities that have banned fire pits; other cities allow fire pits but have special requirements or permits for use.

Call Before You Dig

Before digging, call your utilities company to avoid hitting underground utility lines. In Minnesota, call “Gopher State One Call” at 1-800-252-1166.  If you live outside Minnesota call 811, a new, federally-mandated national “Call Before You Dig” number created to help protect homeowners and professionals.

Find the Perfect Spot

Consider safety first when choosing a location for your fire pit.

  • The fire pit should be at least 25 feet away from hanging branches, fences, sheds and garages.
  • Don’t locate your fire pit upwind of where you’ll be seated or where the smoke will blow into your windows — or those of your neighbors.
  • Don’t place a fire pit in an enclosed area, as fumes are harmful without proper ventilation. Learn more fire pit safety tips from Anchor Block Company.

Have a Seat

Plan your project with the end result in mind. If that means endless evenings with family and friends gathered around the fire pit, think about seating. Freestanding wall systems are permanent and attractive ways to add seating and extra space to set a drink or the bag of marshmallows.

Choose Wood or Gas

The sounds and smells of a crackling fire are undoubtedly nostalgic, but to some people the reality of a wood burning fire pit – storing wood, staying vigilant about open flames, properly extinguishing the fire – isn’t as enjoyable as the convenience of a gas flame.

Consider an insert that converts your fire pit to a propane (LP) or natural gas fire pit. There are many products available for gas fire pits, including logs, lava rock or volcanic stone and even remote control starters.

Are you ready to get started planning your fire pit? You can learn more about fire pit products, including do-it-yourself fire pit kits built with Fresco™ and Hudson Stone™ retaining wall systems at www.anchorblock.com. Whatever inspiration you find to make your landscape dreams come true, tell us about it in the comment section below or on our Facebook page.