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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Inside Out: Bringing the Comforts of Home Outside

If summer’s warm temperatures are luring you outdoors, here are some ways to add the comforts you enjoy inside your home to the outside.

Front Yard Courtyards

The front courtyard is America’s new gathering space. Adding patios, comfortable seating and crowd-friendly layouts makes the front yard a welcome sign for neighbors to gather and mingle. You can find more information on creative enclosure and plant ideas at Landscaping Network

Fresco™ Wall System, Slaton Plus™ Tumbled Paving System

Fresco™ Wall System, Slaton Plus™ Tumbled Paving System

Outdoor Kitchens

Let’s face it: Being the cook at a barbecue isn’t a lot of fun if you’re shuffling between kitchen and patio. The solution? Bring the kitchen outside.

Fresco-Wall-Grill

Fresco™ Wall System

You can start simple by building a grill surround to add counter space or imagine a full kitchen complete with sink and refrigerator. The possibilities are endless when the cook helps create the kitchen.

Dining and Seating Areas

No outdoor living space is complete without areas to dine, sit and relax with family and friends.

If you entertain, estimate how much patio space you’ll need for a dining area and for general seating. Upgrade the size of dining tables to serve a crowd and purchase extra chairs if necessary.

You can also define spaces by incorporating concrete wall or paving systems, by varying elevation of areas with different uses or by adding structural elements such as pergolas and columns. The landscape design below does it all!

Highland Stone® Retaining Wall System

Highland Stone® Retaining Wall System

Home Value

Improving your outdoor spaces can not only increase your enjoyment of your lawn – it can also increase the value of your home.

According to Minnesota real estate agent Erik Wood of Edina Realty, landscaping isn’t just about curb appeal anymore. “Buyers want to see how the yard is integrated into their lifestyle,” said Wood. “Raised patios with kitchens and lots of seating for entertaining are popular and really move a house to the top of the list for a potential buyer.”

Whether you aspire to nap under the sun or entertain under the stars, creating a functional outdoor living space is sure to pay off.

Visit Anchor Block Company’s website for more home landscaping ideas. Whatever inspiration you find, tell us about it in the comments 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.

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.

Fireplaces

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 http://www.anchorblock.com. Whatever inspiration you find to make your landscape dreams come true, click over to Facebook and tell us what you found.