Friday, 1 August 2008

This Season, the Outdoors are 'In'

(ARA) – Outdoor living spaces are quickly becoming the favorite upgrade for homeowners around the country. Outdoor improvements are gaining ground on the perennial favorites -kitchen and bath renovations - because of the added value and comfort they add to a home.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) predicts the demand for luxurious outdoor environments will continue to rise over the next 10 years because of the low swing in the housing market. Homeowners are investing more in upgrades for their homes, rather than buying new ones.

The latest in outdoor living spaces emphasizes luxury with enhancements like hot tubs, built-in gas grills and wet bars, with pavers being the most popular building material. There are now manufactured products that are making it easier to convey stone’s charm, but with a fraction of the cost and hassle of the real thing.

“The look of hardscape - non-plant landscape elements like woodwork, masonry or stone - really imparts a unique thumbprint to any outdoor setting,” said Ken O’Neill, vice president of Belgard Hardscapes, a leading U.S. manufacturer of pavers and retaining wall products. “Whether it’s a patio floor or an expanded outdoor bar, the look of hardscape gives an air of sophistication, serenity and communion with the natural world.”

Landscape designers have long used pavers to create patio floors, retaining walls, terraces, pool decks and accent edging. New products, designed to look more like natural stone, are now inspiring the use of pavers, rather than stone, in more upscale outdoor settings.

“We’re seeing designers and homeowners incorporate products like our Celtik Wall—a modern interpretation of prehistoric celt stone—throughout their outdoor living environments,” said O’Neill. “These products look very natural and blend with the surrounding environments to keep outdoor living natural and organic.”

Belgard products achieve the rustic and random appearance with False Joint Technology. Large blocks are made up of a group of stones that give the appearance that each stone has been hand-placed. This grouping cuts installation time and gives a more refined look.

Matching natural stone’s durability and beauty, pavers do not require heavy maintenance and can reduce labor costs associated with professional installation.

The look of pavers can be used to achieve major visual impact in a large-scale setting, such as a tiered patio complete with a built-in fire pit, retaining walls and paver flooring. Another trend is to use products to create secondary outdoor living areas. In addition to a main patio that opens from the back door, you can create smaller, more intimate seating areas in secluded parts of the yard away from the house.

With so many options for pavers and retaining wall products, a backyard makeover is an easy upgrade to any home. Landscape professionals have limitless designs and ideas to make your home unique.

For project ideas on landscaping with pavers and retaining or to locate a Belgard dealer near you, please visit

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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