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.

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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.

Landscape Inspiration for Small Spaces

Don’t let a small space hamper your plans for a dream landscape. The secret, according to Anchor Block Company product specialist Gene Karjala, a landscape pro with more than 20 years of experience, is to think big – regardless of your lot size. Here are Gene’s favorite tips for small yards.

Maximize Space

This small urban backyard was a shady area where grass wouldn’t grow and rain water created a muddy mess.

Holland-Permeable-Before

Holland Permeable paving system

Holland Permeable paving system

The contractor maximized the space with a plan that incorporated permeable pavers in most of the yard. While some homeowners might be reluctant to transform so much of their space into a hard surface, the contractor’s plan cleverly terraced the slopes into planters that provided the homeowners with more planting space than they had before. Read the full story here.

 

Create Intimacy

Gene likes to use creative touches to create an intimate setting. His favorite tricks are using columns to define the space, planting a hedge that grows into a wall and makes the area its own room, and using small-scale furniture that fits the space. Better yet, says Gene, “Install a freestanding wall, which doubles as seating and space for food and drinks and you don’t have to store extra patio furniture during cooler months.”

Brisa® wall system and Slaton Plus™ paving system

Brisa® wall system and Slaton Plus™ paving system

 

Add Style with Lighting

Lighting transforms a space because it not only extends the use of the space into the evening but adds a professional touch. Gene likes to install lighting to emphasize columns, flower beds, statuary or special plants. “Just because a space is small doesn’t mean it can’t have some drama and a big creative impact,” said Gene.

Highland Stone® wall system

Highland Stone® wall system

 

How will you add impact to your small outdoor space? Tell us about it in the comments section below or on our Facebook page.

What’s Your Retaining Wall Style?

It’s widely known that landscaping can add value, beauty and functional living space to a home — but that’s not all. According to the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET), homeowners also value personal expression and creativity when it comes to their landscape.

Here’s some information to help you choose a retaining wall system that suits not just your landscape needs, but your style — from vintage to contemporary to traditional.

Rough-Hewn Charm

For a more natural-looking landscape, ask your landscape contractor or home improvement store associate for a concrete retaining wall system with rough-hewn (also referred to as split or distressed-split) or tumbled blocks. These systems offer a time-worn look and feature rounded edges or exposed aggregates.

Fresco wall system

Fresco™ wall system

Style idea: Combine rough-hewn or tumbled walls with candles and a fire feature to create a cozy outdoor retreat.

The Fresco™ wall system is a versatile, tumbled product that handy homeowners and contractors alike can transform into fire pits, planter walls, benches and more. (Click here for more DIY Fresco wall system project ideas.)

Grill surround featuring Fresco and Brisa wall systems

Fresco™ and Brisa® wall systems

The Highland Stone® wall system can be used to build outdoor projects of all types, such as grill surrounds or seat walls. It’s popular with residential contractors because of its versatility and availability in multiple heights.

Highland Stone® wall system

Highland Stone® wall system

Highland Stone® wall system

Highland Stone® wall system

Distinctive Look of Stone

There’s a variety of retaining wall systems with face styles inspired by the look and color of natural stone.

ChiselWall wall system

ChiselWall® wall system

Style idea: Stone-inspired walls and flowers in soft hues add elegance to any home’s landscape.

Natural Impressions® Flagstone wall system

For do-it-yourself landscapers, the Natural Impressions® Flagstone retaining wall system resembles courses of flagstone. The ChiselWall® retaining wall system looks like hand-chiseled stone.

For professionally-installed retaining walls, the Brisa® Random wall system has the look of split limestone in varying heights and sizes.

Brisa® Random wall system

Brisa® Random wall system

Traditional Style

More traditional concrete retaining wall systems are manufactured with a straight or beveled face.

The Windsor Stone® retaining wall system features a beveled face. It has long been a best-selling block because it looks great in any landscape, is easy to install and is widely available through home improvement retailers and landscape dealers across the Midwest.

Windsor Stone wall system

Windsor Stone® wall system

Style idea: Set a traditional wall system apart from the rest by adding finishing touches such as caps, curves — or both.

For more ideas on which wall system will best enhance your home landscape, view our full selection of Anchor™ retaining wall products. And don’t forget to tell us which style is your favorite in the comments section below!

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.

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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.

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.