Outdoor Elements

As we discussed last week, a good design is a key factor in determining the success of a landscape.  In the planning process, your designer will experiment with different ideas and lay-outs to find the one that best fits your needs and wants.  The design possibilities are only limited by your imagination (and maybe your budget!), but there are some basic components that are included in many successful designs.  Obviously, you'll want to include features that add visual interest to your living space, but go beyond the visual and consider other senses as well – the senses of smell, hearing, touch and taste.  Adding elements that appeal to the senses will give you a space that you'll enjoy through all the seasons for years to come.  Let's explore some of the possibilities!


The lure of fire hasn't diminished since the time of cavemen!  The dancing flames mesmerize us, inviting us to gather around and share quality time with our families and friends.  They're practical as well – their warmth allows us to extend the usable life of our outdoor spaces into the cooler months.  Fire elements can be incorporated in many ways, with three of the most popular being the firepit, the fireplace or the fire table.

The firepit is a great way to utilize fire without spending a tremendous amount of money or taking up much space.  Firepits are most commonly built in a round or square shape and are usually 1' to less than 2' tall.  There are an unlimited number of materials available for building a firepit, which makes it easy for a designer to blend it into the rest of the landscape design.

Firepit constructed from Keystone Country Manor Wall block.

Natural stone firepit.

Firepit  from Belgard's new line of Harmony Outdoor Elements.

For areas with more space (and a higher budget), an outdoor fireplace is very appealing.  This feature can become the dominant feature in your outdoor living space by virtue of its size, so you'll want to carefully evaluate the style and type of material you choose.  As with a firepit, you can utilize a variety of products to finish a fireplace including natural stone, such as a flagstone, fieldstone or stacked stone, a manufactured stone or masonry products.

Natural Stone fireplaces are a focal point in these outdoor living spaces.

Fireplace constructed using Belgard's Dufferin Stone.

See-through fireplace from Belgard's new Harmony Outdoor Elements collection.

Fireplace with woodboxes from Belgard's new Harmony Outdoor Elements line.

A fire table is a newer concept incorporating a small gas fire feature as the centerpiece of a table.  They include a wider area for placing food or drinks around the perimeter of the fire allowing people to truly dine around the fire!

A fire table from Belgard's new line of Harmony Outdoor Elements.


The soothing sound of water adds another relaxing feature to an outdoor living space.  Water can be incorporated in any number of ways – perhaps you're drawn to the sound of a waterfall flowing into a koi pond…

or a stream through your patio…

or a bubbling rock…

or a fountain…

A water feature from Belgard's new line of Harmony Outdoor Elements.

Fire and water together are a great combination!

The addition of a water feature, in whatever form it may take, can bring a tremendous amount of enjoyment and beauty to your landscape.

Seating Walls

From both a practical and an aesthetic perspective, seating walls are a popular feature to consider in your design process.  These walls do just as their name suggests – add more seating options to your space!  They also provide definition to your space and add to the beauty of your design.  At knee-height, they can either serve as a retaining wall for a planting bed or they can be a free-standing wall designed primarily for seating. 

Seat wall constructed using Belgard's Free Standing Celtik Wall.

Retaining wall/seat wall made with Belgard's Celtik  Wall.

Seating "benches" constructed with Keystone's Celtic Wall.

Outdoor Cooking

Nothing tastes better than food cooked outdoors, so outdoor kitchens are immensely popular.  The grill is natural choice, but you may also want to consider an outdoor oven!  Chicago Brick Ovens are great for entertaining or for a relaxing meal with the family.  It makes the meal about more than the eating – the whole cooking process is fun!

Outdoor cooking area made with Belgard's Celtik Wall.

Natural stone outdoor kitchen.

Grilling area using Belgard's new Harmony Outdoor Elements.

A Chicago Brick Oven installed using Belgard's Harmony Outdoor Elements.

Other Elements

There are many more possibilities to explore when designing your outdoor living space:

  • Do you want to incorporate elevation changes to add depth to your space?
  • Do you want a covered area with either a pergola or a solid covering, perhaps allowing for a ceiling fan?
  • Do you want to add small "garden" areas into your patio to break it up and add color and texture?

Your outdoor living space is a reflection of you and your taste – it pays to take the time to explore your options and find the elements that work best for you!

For more information, contact Blue Max Materials at 704-821-2426 or on the web at www.bluemaxmaterials.com.