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.

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.

Fire Features for Any Yard

Portable Fire Pits

Portable fire pits can be accommodated by spaces large and small, and don’t require the commitment of a permanent feature. Plus, they are commonly available at home improvement stores and other retailers, often for under $75. We love how the portable fire pit allows this front courtyard to transition from sunny summer afternoons to chilly fall evenings.

Image

Fresco™ wall system and Slaton Plus™ tumbled paving system

Permanent Fire Pits

For homeowners who are dedicated to having a fire feature as a built-in landscape element, permanent fire pits provide function and allow creativity.

Brisa® wall system

Permanent fire pits can be placed in-ground or above-ground, and can be created in circle, square/rectangle and other shapes to complement their surroundings. Some require professional installation, while others come in do-it-yourself fire pit kits.

The Brisa® wall system fire pit and seating wall in this backyard create a cozy post-hot-tub gathering spot and offer a beautiful view from the raised patio.

Brisa® wall system and xxxx paving system

Brisa® wall system and Slaton Plus™ paving system

Brisa-Fire-Pit-Detail

Outdoor Fireplaces

If you’re looking for a fire feature that truly sets the stage for entertaining family and friends (or curling up with a good book), look no further than the outdoor fireplace.

Stone Age fireplace with Highland Stone wall system

Stone Age fireplace with Highland Stone® wall system and Britton™ paving system patio

OutdoorFireplace-Patio-FreestandingWall

Stone Age fireplace with Brisa® wall system and Britton™ paving system

Outdoor fireplaces offer a variety of veneer options, including brick, pavers and even natural stone. This means your outdoor fireplace kit can be customized to fit your desired style, and will instantly transform your backyard into the ultimate getaway.

Be sure to let us know which fire feature is your favorite in the comments section below. And if you’re planning to add a fire pit or fireplace to your home’s landscape this season, check out our 5 Tips for Planning a Fire Pit to get started.

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.

Top Landscaping Trends: Which is Right for You?

Summer’s almost here! The season’s short but there’s plenty of time to improve your landscape. Here are the top outdoor trends to incorporate into your yard.

Living Spaces

Outdoor Kitchen Featuring Anchor™ Diamond Stone Cut® Retaining Wall

Diamond Stone Cut® Retaining Wall System, formal-face

An outdoor living space, such as a kitchen or entertaining space, was cited as the most popular outdoor design element by landscape architects surveyed by the American Society of Landscape Architects

Landscaped Gardens

Artisana® 6

Artisana® Multiheight Retaining Wall System

Landscape trends come and go, but well-designed gardens are always in style. What’s new for gardens? The rising popularity of native, drought-tolerant plants and using perennial plants for a low-maintenance landscape.

Reducing Runoff

Holland Permeable Paving System

Holland Permeable Paving System

Cities and citizens alike are looking for ways to reduce water runoff into ecosystems. Installing permeable pavers is an effective and stylish way to drain water into the ground. In addition to reducing runoff, permeable pavers naturally filter contaminants.

Fire Pits and Fireplaces

Stone Age 36

Stone Age 36″ Outdoor Fireplace

Fire pits and fireplaces are very in-demand, according to 97% of the residential architects who participated in the ASLA survey. Fire elements remain popular because of the wide range of versatile products available. Homeowners can choose do-it-yourself fire pit kits or larger fireplaces that make stylish, dramatic additions to the yard.

Which of these trends would you choose to enhance your landscape?

Share your ideas with us in the comments section or on Facebook, or visit us at www.anchorblock.com for more outdoor living inspiration.

Trendspotting at the St. Paul Home & Patio Show

Home and garden shows are always a great way to learn about the newest products and trends.

Anchor Block Company partnered with The Home Depot, Holm & Olson and Sculptured Earth at this year’s St. Paul Home & Patio Show from February 14 – 17, 2013, to help inspire homeowners with their spring projects. Here are a few outdoor living trends featured at the show.

Fire Pits and Fireplaces

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) 2013 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends survey listed outdoor fire pits or fireplaces as the most in-demand item this year – and they were a popular item at the show as well. While fireplace installations should be done by a landscape contractor, products such as the Fresco™ fire pit kit are suitable for professionals and do-it-yourselfers alike.

Holm_Olson_FrescoFirePit

Fresco™ Fire Pit Kit

Water Features

Decorative water elements – including fountains and waterfalls – are also predicted to be popular this year. If you’re short on space, don’t cross this feature off your list. A simple but striking fountain built with Brisa® freestanding wall blocks can be as small as 4 feet in radius.

Sculptured_Earth_BrisaWaterFountain

Brisa® Freestanding Wall System

Columns

Columns are as functional as they are decorative. As a wall end, they welcome planters, lighting or even a mailbox; standing alone, they can be used to create benches, pub tables and more.

Fresco™ Wall System

Fresco™ Wall System

If you missed the St. Paul show there are more opportunities on the spring calendar, including the Minneapolis Home + Garden Show, which runs February 27 – March 3, 2013, and the Bachman’s Landscape Design Show on March 9, 2013.

For more outdoor living inspiration, be sure to visit the Anchor Block Company website, which is full of project photos, installation tips and more. Whatever inspiration you find to make your landscape dreams come true, click over to our Facebook page and tell us about what you discover.

Do-It-Yourself Landscape Projects

Enjoy autumn days by working in the yard on a landscaping project. You’ll reap the rewards of your hard work when spring arrives and it’s time for planting.

Build a Retaining Wall

Today’s light-weight, easy-to-install concrete retaining wall systems are available in many styles, sizes and colors.

Flagstone Retaining Wall

Flagstone retaining wall system

The blocks are perfect for creating raised flower gardens, terracing a slope or creating a border to define a space. The Natural Impressions® Flagstone and Anchor™ ChiselWall® retaining wall systems feature colors and face patterns that resemble natural stone. You can find retaining wall blocks at several retailers including Lowe’s and The Home Depot.

Assemble a Do-It-Yourself Fire Pit

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

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.

Fresco Fire Pit Kit

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 and at independent dealers that carry Anchor products.

Find complete installation instructions on the Anchor Block Company website.

Lay a Pathway

Concrete patio stones that look like natural flagstone can be installed as a walkway or patio. Manufactured products such as the Anchor™ Foot Notes® patio stone set provide do-it-yourselfers with a natural, stone-like look but with uniform heights for easy leveling.

Foot Notes Patio Stone Set

Foot Notes® patio stone set

Fall is a great time to enjoy your yard and an opportunity to get out and be productive in the dirt! For more information and to view our product catalog, visit the Anchor Block Company website. Whatever inspiration you find to make your landscape dreams come true, click over to Facebook and tell us about what you found.