Discover In-Ground Fire Pit Ideas

There is so much you can do around a fire place or pit in your yard or garden. In-ground fire pits are distinct in the feature that they contain the fire within its sphere and the flames evoke directly from the ground. This type of fire pits are exclusive for outdoors and can transform the aesthesis of a simple yard, patio or garden, into a cozy, warm and luxurious area.  Here are some modern and eclectic in-ground fire pit ideas to decorate your outdoor space.

 

outdoor fireplace designs

 

Using Fire Glass

Fire Glass is a brilliant alternative to woods and logs. The beautiful fire glass, available in diverse colors, shapes, and sizes looks stunning against the flame and creates a clean and relaxing ambiance that can transform the look of underground fire pits, whether it’s a complexly paved and decorated one, or a simple hole in the ground.

Fire glass is tempered glass that does not burn and instead, holds the fire for a long period in both natural gas and propane fire pits. They also have blunt edges that make them safe for handling with naked hands. Modern in-ground fire pit ideas largely include fire glass instead of logs, woods and other fire pit fillers, and may be used in both vented and non-vented pits, as they cause minimal smoke and pollution.  However, do not use fire glass in wood burning fire applications and make sure you are using a vent free approved burner system.

Fire glass is eco-friendly as it does not infuse toxic fumes and can be highly economic. In fact, you don’t even need to fill up the entire fire pit with exotic glasses, you can actually save money by using a cheaper base filler material, sand and gravel and use tempered glass filler on the top layer. However, do not use any porous material under fire glass, such as pebbles or lava rocks.

 

fire, pit, accesories

 

Paved In-Ground Fire Pit Ideas

An essential requirement to create underground fire pit is a hole in the ground and sufficient filler to hold the fire. If you want to create a permanent in-ground fire pit built into your backyard or patio, this look can be achieved with concrete fire bricks or pavers around the submerged fire pit.  In that case, you will need fire-rated bricks in and around the fire place, along with fire-rated adhesives during masonry. If you’re creating an in-ground fire pit in an existing concrete paver patio, make sure the pavers are fire-rated.

Burning wood in concrete fire pits can be hazardous in the long run, as burning wood creates high temperature that might cause the concrete to expand, and eventually form cracks and fissures. Moreover, with continued contact with the extreme heat the concrete can absorb the heat and become too hot to touch, which can be dangerous since unlike metal, the heated concrete does not change color. The ideal thing to do would be to place the burner higher than the pit and avoid direct contact with the concrete as much as possible.

These basic in-ground pit ideas are very easy to build on your own. You will need a proper open space and compliance from the local municipality to have an open fire pit in your property. With all the right materials, you can build it in a weekend’s span. However, you must know about the technicalities of proper ventilation and water drainage systems to make it worthwhile.

Moreover, as interesting it may sound, safety is a major concern for having this type of open fire pit in the backyard, especially in moments of igniting your in-ground fire pit. Fires should never be started by kids without proper adult supervision. And if you don’t have avid knowledge, you should do some research or be well versed with all the safety norms, and enjoy your property safely. If you have pets and children, then you either light it while they are away or stay close to protect them from stumbling upon.

 

fire, pit, accesories

 

Stone In-Ground Fire Pit Ideas

Stonehenge is one of the classic in-ground fire pit ideas that lives on as the traditional design.  And it’s truly timeless. You can achieve the look by stacking stone or boulder rocks on the basic structures of fire pits in your open space. It is ideal for both large and small areas, but you need to determine the size and type of stone that’s best for your space.

If you want to invest on an expensive and premium stone, then the pre-sorted palletized stone is a brilliant idea, it is pallets of premium stones, that offer great compatibility with your in-ground fire pit. They can be expensive but equally high quality in terms of size, shape and robust outlook. It may be available at a stone yard. You can use pumice stone, basalt, granite and gneiss materials, but it’s better to avoid sandstone and shale rocks, as they often have air inside them, that risks explosion when comes in contact with fire.

Stone lined fire pits make an excellent parapet or guard for children and pets, and create a medieval appearance worth admiring.

 

picture of Exotic Pebbles 12 Pound Pail

 

Rustic Sunken Fire Pits

Whether you have a small area or large, or if you are looking for fire place remodeling ideas, the rustic style can add a lot of class. It’s very easy to achieve, as fire pits require lesser space than fire places, and is ideal for small yard and even balconies, thus you can not only save a lot of space but also make small open spaces appear bigger. Use boulder rocks, to line your pit that of a standard size proportionate to the pit’s dimension and the outdoor space.

Black fire glass or ceramic logs can be ideal to create the rustic, shabby chic character. But keep in mind, that rustic is best enjoyed when it only “looks” so, but is well maintained and clean. So considering fire glass is a good idea, because it’s low in maintenance than wood and logs. Create a seating area around it by just using some throw pillows or logs. The crackling sound and the warm effulgence can any day create a camp fire ambiance in the house, and the black, brown colored glasses give you a sophisticated classic outdoorsy feeling.

Modern In-Ground Fire Pit Ideas

Traditionally, underground fire places have a rustic appearance to them, but they can be so versatile and accommodate diverse styles of in-ground fire pit décor ideas. Modern designs are a lot about sleek and minimalistic designs that can be created with some exotic fire glass as a cleaner and minimalistic alternate to woods and longs granite lining is another feature to create this look.

Fire glasses are excellent fire pit fillers and have a variety of colors that look very interesting, and since they are low on maintenance, it’s perfect for urban lifestyles. So if you want to host a party, wherein your guests will enjoy the most and remember the times for a long time, you can create a great ambiance by arranging it in our open area, without worrying about the cold. An open space, naturally adds a lot of freshness, and even amplifies your music.

 

Outdoor Fire Pit – Amber Fire Glass (Small ¼ inch – ½ inch)

 

In-Ground Fire Pit Ideas With Fire And Water Combination

With a little imagination, you can create an underground fire pit with a combination of water. Landscape designers use water lining in fire pits to make it safer. You can have water lined in-ground fire pit in your open space with ease and minimum extra space. To create this you are going to need proper channeling that separates the water from the fire pit and proper drainage system.  Also consider the water is not creating an obstruction in the way to reach the fire pit, so that you change logs or fire glass, and treat them. Water and fire creates an almost divine ambiance, in an open area and would be an incredible spot to have a romantic dinner for just the two of you.

In order to avoid standing water, and ash diluted water, consider having a gravel lined drainage trench away from the bottom of the fire pit to a low spot on your property. Use simple drainage pipes to drain the water. It’s better to avoid plastic pipes to avoid any risk of contact with the fire and resulting disasters, you can use metal pipes instead. 

In-Ground Fire Pit Ideas For Small Spaces And Gardens

The crackling fire and a camping ambiance right in your yard is a great thing to have. So it’s better to ensure preparation against natural phenomenon like rain and wind protection for your open air fire pits. The compact and smaller dimension of in-ground fire pits are safer in comparison to above ground pits, in terms that they hold a very controlled flame, which does not leap unpredictably and has the potential of catching any overhanging tree leaves or the flying embers fluttering, thus reducing the risk of landing on any combustible articles nearby. So one can actually use in small spaces, and gardens, where there may be dense hanging leaves.

However, in-ground fire pits are not entirely free of risks. Having the usual ground level holes in small spaces and in gardens with surrounding trees, can be dangerous for children, and especially pets, so that they don’t stumble upon it, or worse, cause any accidents while climbing trees around and stumble upon the fire.

Stringent rules are not to be relied upon, it is better to consider proper safety covers and lining of the pits, especially you have pets and children at home.

 

fireglass fire pit

Outdoor Fire Pit – Cobalt Blue Reflective Fire Glass (¼ inch)

 

Fire Place Remodeling Ideas

Fireplaces have been an object of affection, and one of the most wondrous backdrops for romantic moments, family gathering, or ceremonies and feasts. There can so much happening around the warm flames, and an exotic architecture around it.

For the best fireplace remodeling ideas, follow the same rules you did when the creating the fire pit. You need to check again with the local municipality regarding any regulations about the remodeling. The ideal safety precaution entails that at a minimum 20 feet distance should be maintained from nearby structures, like shrubs, and trees and the main house. Landscapers suggest on keeping the pit base 6inches to 12inch deeper than the surrounding grade. This is the standard in-ground fire pit dimension.

The basic idea for fire pits is to consider a certain diameter to accommodate a certain number of people to sit around, say a foot for more or less two people. If you have a very small space, then consider throw pillows to create a scattered seating arrangement in the ground. Also, remember that you will require maintaining a minimum distance between the fire and the seated, so plan things wisely.

In-Ground Fire Pits Around Outdoor Grill And Barbeque

If you love cooking, then you create a paradise around your outdoor fire pit and popularize your den as a favorite spot for friends to host lively parties during the barbeque season. If you wish to create a rotisserie over an in-ground fire pit, then the ideal thing to do would be to build the fire base adeptly so that the flame reaches the food consistently, so as to cook the food, then heat it. While grilling is easy in fire pits since you can insert a skewer in, cooking barbeque and over rotisserie is a challenge as you have to position the stuff over the pit in such a way so that the flame reaches the food subsequently.

You can incorporate some clever in-ground fire pit ideas depending on the depth you want your fire place. Design the pit ranging from six to 12inches, and don’t ignore the level base. Following this, dig a smaller circle inside the fire pit, about three to four inches deeper. This area should equal roughly one-third the fire pit diameter. For example, with a 24-inch-wide pit, dig an eight-inch circle in the center of the larger one. Fill this inner circle with rocks, sand or gravel to create a natural sump area for drainage. Top the entire fire pit base with two inches of sand. Surround the outer edge of the in-ground fire pit with stones or logs.

 

 

Things To Remember Before Building An In-Ground Fire Pit In Your Open Space

In-ground fire places are a class apart, add a lot of character to the outdoor area, making it look rich and upscale. Such an area in the house has something for everyone, wherein children would love to enjoy a campfire; teens would love to party or the best place to spend a romantic evening, then heading to any fancy restaurant.

Before you start building your very own fire pit, you need to consult with your city’s ordinances. This usually is taken care by the local municipality, who will give you an official compliance for the fire pit, and without this compliance, it will be illegal to build any kind of fireplace in your property. This might also levy a tax since it will add a new value to your property. The amount of which at will depend on the size and type of materials you are using for the pit. To make it low cost, you can first build a basic fireplace and then remodel it afterward, with your desired decoration, for which you will not have to pay any taxes.

Another thing to consider is wind. Sometimes home owners fail to recognize the aspects of what heavy winds can do with the fire in an outdoor fire pit. While indoor fire places burn freely without the risk of the fire going out of control because of wind, outdoor fire pits carry the risk at large. Some areas have a warning sign of “no burn” as the wind can flutter the fire in an unmanageable way. In-ground fire pits though carry a greater safety quotient than other over ground types of an outdoor fireplace. Moreover, the wind will not only flutter the flame the woody smoke can go too far and might cause disturbance to your neighbors. It’s better to chuck the idea of lighting a fire on a windy night and better stay indoors. But if you have already made plans, and called in guests then you can consider keeping some alternates to aid the situation, especially if you live in a windy region.

If you live in windy areas, then consider having a gas fire place instead of using logs and wood as your fuel. Or better, invest in an electronic outdoor fireplace system, that can be just turned off with a remote if the fire goes wild. You can use gel fireplaces that zero in on the smoke and lease exhaust emissions. Also, do not forget to buy a fire pit wind guard.

Don’t neglect covering your fire pits when they are not in use. This is to prevent the fire place from rain, dust, and debris. Because damp or debris in between your pit fillers can cause a delayed ignition on time. You may keep the job for the weekends, but if it rains while you are away at work, then your weekends will just require more work around the fireplace. The open fireplace is not safe for kids, and especially innocent pets, who will not have the idea where to go and where not to. So never forget to cover your fireplaces when not in use.

 

gorgeous outdoor fire pit

 

Conclusion

The in-ground fire pit ideas make an excellent hangout spot, for a variety of activities. When it comes to in-ground fire pits, it is not only the warmth of the fire in cold evenings, but this kind of fire pit is safer and easier to maintain than over ground fire pits.

If you are going to build one in your home, or other property, like a resort, camp or children’s home, make sure to speak with your local authorities of your cities ordinances. The addition of a fire pit will add value to an existing property, so you are going to have to pay a certain tax for it. And if you are remodeling a previously built fire pit, never neglect to consult with the same authorities to steer clear any legal formalities. Different cities have different regulations regarding fire places and you should abide by them.

The enclosed design of in-ground fire pits typically hold the fire in a constrained manner, that means, the warmth does not reach too far away from the fire place. So it is valid to say that in-ground fire places are ideal for small spaces, and this actually makes fire places to be cozier and requires close seating. This may add more charm to a gathering of close friends, and to a romantic date for two. However, as you need to maintain a minimum distance from the fire pit, not only for those that are seated around it but also the furniture, trees and other articles that are there in your space. Hence, if you already have a small and pact yard space, the in-ground fire pits is most likely to give your guests a cramped feeling than cozy. Whereas, as formal gathering and elaborate ceremonies like engagement or birthdays might seem a grand idea to host around the fire, if you have a moderate number of guests, it is ideal to host the ceremonies away from the fire place, and instead have a more relaxed, aftermath party hosted around the fire. Have a wise seating arrangement around your fire, and do not keep any combustible articles around your fire. It is ideal to ask your lady guests to not use spray perfumes and other inflammable cosmetics around the fire.

Drinking alcohol around the fire, during parties should have some safety precautions beforehand; it is wise to make the arrangement away from the fire place in order to avoid any mishap. Also, be careful when you arrange for music and amplification systems around your fire. Consider live music in house parties.

Colored Landscape Glass: 5 Spectacular Examples

Landscaping glass is used to bring more color into your landscapes.  The beauty found in this glass will not fade and it will make your landscaping look like it was designed by a professional.  There are so many areas of your yard that you can use landscaping glass in.  The possibilities are endless with the variety of colors and sizes of landscape glass that are available.

Flower Pot Filler

Flower Pot Filler

No yard is complete without a few flower pots or baskets.  Flowers of all colors should be included in a beautiful landscape design.  To make your landscaping stand out even more add extra color in with landscaping glass.  Instead of the bare dirt showing on top of the flower pot or basket you can cover it in whatever color makes the flowers pop.

Related: Glass Landscape Rocks: 5 Garden Designs for Inspiration 

This flower basket has beautiful bright yellow and white flowers on top of the Bahama Blend landscaping glass.  This mixture of blue landscaping glass gives the illusion of water surrounding the flowers.  The flower basket is more vibrant and colorful than ever before.  The landscaping glass gives new life to a tried and true landscape design.

Surrounding Decorations

Surrounding Decorations

For those areas that you want to add decorations to your landscaping but do not want to use wood chips or bare dirt add some colored landscaping glass instead.  Depending on what you are surrounding you can choose from a variety of colors to help match or contrast the décor.

This large flower vase is a beautiful piece that has a mixture of blues throughout the surface.  The Ocean Blue landscaping glass helps to bring out the color of this vase while creating a more clean look for your landscape design to help hide those unpleasant areas that do not have decorations in it.

Mix the colors you have in an area to create a more interesting design.  This area has many different vases and landscaping glass to create a colorful section of the yard or patio.

Faux Pond

Faux Pond

This fixture is a beautiful piece of art on its own.  The intricate design that surrounds this fountain creates a wonderful centerpiece to this large patio.  The bird bath in the middle is filled with plants for a touch of nature.  The base of the bird bath is a beautiful turquoise to help match the Aqua Blue Landscaping glass that fills it.

Instead of having the maintenance of a true fountain or pond use landscaping glass to give the feel of one.  With plants scattered throughout the landscaping glass this may appear to be a pond to anyone at first glance.  It allows you to have a natural feel to your landscape without the added work of caring for and cleaning the fountain or pond.

This is a great area for you to sit by and enjoy the sun.  It has enough room for you to sit down and relax.  You can easily take a moment to enjoy the outdoors and the beauty of your yard by this faux fountain.

Flowing from Pots to Create Stream

Flowing from Pots to Create Stream

Landscaping glass is a great way to create the feel of flowing water.  There are many variations of blue hues that will create an interesting combination and show the many colors you would see in water.  The Bahama Blend has a mixture of lighter blues and darker blues that make us think of days on the beach with flowing waves.

This design gives a pop of color to your existing rock bed.  Use a few pots to and fill them with landscaping glass.  Make sure one of these pots is tipped over so it looks like your landscaping glass is flowing from it.  This design is close to a pool.  It gives a playful feel of the landscaping glass flowing into the pool to fill it up like a stream into a lake.

In Flower or Plant Bed

In Flower or Plant Bed

It is always hard to make your flower bed or plant bed look clean and neat.  Most of these areas have areas of bare dirt that bring no color or design to your landscape.  Depending on the type of plants you have in the area you may have large areas of this bare dirt.  Instead of allowing this to stop your landscape from being bright and colorful add landscaping glass.

Fill the top of your area with landscaping glass of any color.  It is best if there is a defined ridge to hold the landscaping glass in place.  It create a neat edge and will help your yard feel more modern.

This design chose to go the natural route.  The Aqua landscaping glass creates the beautiful look of flowing water.  The plants look as if they are suspended in the flowing stream.

This type of design is great for a boarder to a sidewalk or along a patio. Even if you are not using plants you can still create a colorful border with landscape glass on the side of your sidewalk.  You will enjoy walking along the bright colors that the landscaping glass comes in.  Use a mixture of colors for a more custom design.

Landscaping glass is great for all of your outdoor projects.  You will be able to use it virtually anywhere to create a clean modern look in your yard.  The landscaping glass is rounded so there will be no sharp edges to worry about.  It will be easy to put the landscaping glass in and you will have no concerns of being poked during the process.

Depending on where you are using the landscape glass you can choose from different colors.  Go for a natural look in flower beds and use a blue, think of contrasting your colors against your decorations in the landscape, or use a color that will allow your bright flowers to pop against the background.

Anywhere that seems like it is lacking a bit probably could use some color.  Landscaping glass can be used in a variety of way so you can easily add this color in.  You can use it around plants, in other decorations, around decorations, in your rock beds, and around your sidewalks.  No matter where you put your landscaping glass you will love the way it makes your yard look.

Shop landscaping glass

 

Fire Pit Design Inspiration : 5 Examples For Your Yard

Fire glass is a great alternative to the typical fireplace fillers like logs or wood.  It is more attractive and can take your backyard to the next level in terms of decoration.

People are sure to be impressed by the beauty that fire glass adds to your existing fire pit.  This fire glass is environmentally friendly and comes in a variety of styles so you can choose what works best for your landscaping.  These styles vary in size and in color.

small sleek firepit for patio

Small Sleek Firepit for Patio

A small fire pit on your patio can help your guests feel more at home and relaxed as you entertain.  They are great to put a couple of patio chairs or small couches around.  They work well for intimate gatherings or for a date night in.

Related: Fire Pit’s Buyer’s Guide 2017

This octagon firepit top gives your patio a bit of flare without being too large and in the way.  The table top is more neutral in color so it will be easy to match it to any patio design.  It has a black base that is sleek and carries into the black border on the table top.

The firepit in the middle is smaller so there is room on the table top for drinks or even a late night snack.  For a simple feel this firepit has black fire glass in the middle.  It gives the illusion of a more typical firepit while still being more attractive than having logs or wood expose on the table top.

Circle Firepit Natural Rock

Circle Firepit Natural Rock

This circle firepit has a more sleek top.  It gives off a more modern feel but it paired with a more natural rock on the bottom.  This can be a great addition to any landscape that is keeping to the more natural size of design.  It does not interrupt the flow of your landscaping and it has a beautiful and neutral coloring.

This firepit is best suited for an area that has seating surrounding the entire pit.  A patio sectional is a great choice to keep people close together.  It allows everyone to enjoy the firepit at all angles since it is round.

To match the natural rock of the firepit there is a darker fire glass used.  This amber fire glass has an earthy feel to it.  It gives off a warm color that is reminiscent of a burning wood.

Large Firepit for Large Seating Areas

Large Firepit for Large Seating Areas

A large firepit is great for anyone that likes to entertain.  It is a great centerpiece and will be easy for people to gather around for a fun evening outdoors.  Pair a large firepit with a lot of seating.  Allow people to spread out so they are not so clustered and they will still be able to enjoy the fire.

This firepit is more pleasing to the eye in terms of construction.  It is not made of a rugged rock that is reminiscent of a rock wall.  Instead the base is made from rectangle bricks that are covered by squared rock slabs to create a cohesive design.  The outer rim of this firepit is smaller to allow for a larger area for the fire glass to be placed.

The color of the base of this firepit is darker and pairs great with the amber fire glass.  The larger size of fire glass is used to help better fill the middle of the firepit since it is a larger area.  The amber fire glass is great in large quantities because it has the typical glow you expect from a warm fire.

By the Pool Large Firepit

By the Pool Large Firepit

A complete change from the more subtle uses for fire glass.  This firepit uses a variety of shapes and sizes of rock to give it a more do it yourself feel.  It appears to be handmade with care with the square and rectangle rocks placed for the circular base.  The top uses rock slabs that vary in size and shape as well.  They do not fit together perfectly but are spaced evenly to create a completed firepit top.

The inner circle of this firepit is filled with cobalt blue reflective fire glass.  It makes for a beautiful centerpiece to any landscape.  The color is surprising to anyone that has not seen fire glass before and will create an interesting talking piece for your gatherings.

This is paired with bright blue cushion and a pool not far off.  This firepit gives your yard with pool an even more luxurious feel.  It will seem like you are at  resort relaxing by the pool instead of at home entertaining.

Large Square Firepit

Large Square Firepit

Moving away from patio firepits this large firepit is more suited for a large open area of the yard.  This firepit is ideal for anyone that wants their firepit the center of attention.  It is made from a smooth sleek rock that will give your yard a more modern feel.  The shape of the firepit also moves away from the typical circle pit to a square one.

There is a large area to cover on the inner square of the firepit.  The medium black fire glass is a great choice for this firepit.  It will be easier for you to fill the firepit but still give a sleek modern look to your firepit.

Fire glass is a go to design choice for anyone looking to modernize their firepit.  Fire glass is beautiful to look at with or without fire added into the mix.  The fire glass does vary in size and shape because it is crushed to create the multiple pieces.  This allows for a more unique look in your firepit.

Depending on your specific need you can choose what size you want.  There is small fire glass that starts at ¼ of an inch and goes up to ¾ of an inch for those larger firepits.  No matter what design you have in mind you can find a color that is going to match beautifully and add a special touch to your landscape design.

Aquarium Pebbles – 2017 Buyers Guide

Aquarium pebbles are the most common aquarium substrates over all kinds of fish tank stones and sand. This is not only for decorating your fish tank, but there are sundry bio-chemical properties in gravels, that help filtrate your aquarium, and provide nutrients to the fish and other inhabitants. The right use of gravels is an important element in fish keeping. Any fish gravel will not be suitable to all animals, plants, and the type of water. Here is a guideline of using appropriate aquarium glass.

picture of colored aquarium pebbles in a fish tank

 

Aquarium pebbles are not an absolute necessity, but they are highly recommended for the betterment of the fish and marine animals you are keeping.

ing for hobby. As these animals are spending the rest of their lives away from their natural habitat, the right arrangement of aquarium substrates will at least supply them some essential minerals and biochemical that keep the organisms healthy and help them live longer.

While the aesthetes of your aquarium is entirely a personal choice, creating the appropriate habitat for your aquatic animals is specific to biological needs of the organisms and their reception to the environment you have created for them. The size, color and the build of the aquarium pebbles applies in making or disturbing a comfortable and sustainable fish habitat under an aquarium. For the betterment of your fish, it is best to have some live plants and microorganisms and infusoria in your aquarium, and the pebbles should be complying with the plants and microorganisms too. The more accurate and comfortable the fish habitat you can create, the healthier and longer your fish will live.

Choice Of Aquarium Glass Depends On Whether Your Aquarium Has Salt Water Or Freshwater

There are some fundamental factors for choosing appropriate aquarium gravel, the most important factor is to judge by the water of your aquarium whether it is fresh water or salt water. Subsequently, ensure that the type of water is in adherence with the salinity tolerance and natural habitat of your aquatic animals, unless they are euryhaline. There are many saltwater and freshwater variants of certain species, like stingray.

picture of aquarium gravel underwaterAquarium Gravel is a substantial choice of substrate for both salt water and freshwater aquariums that plays a pivotal role in nitrogen cycle, and help filtrate ammonia build up, work up as a substantial soil to flourish aquatic plants that can purify and promote oxygen and essential minerals in the water. The difference of water has different chemical reactions to certain gravel like hardness of water and pH buffer.

Freshwater aquariums are the most common choice of fish keeping for hobby. There is a wider availability of freshwater fish, which can even be found on small, local pet shops, fish like, goldfish, angelfish and guppies. Whether you want to create a community tank, or raise a single species, you are going to need the appropriate freshwater aquarium pebbles to create a proper habitat for your freshwater aquatic animals. Freshwater aquarium gravel come in a variety of size and colors and reactivity to freshwater. You can choose between hobby glass, aquarium pebbles, sand gravels, crushed coral, and many more materials. It is best to choose blunt edged gravel over pointy and coarse ones, to ensure better safety for your aquatic pets. Freshwater aquariums are easier to find than saltwater gravels.

picture of aquarium gravels

Saltwater aquarium gravel on the other hand, have fewer varieties in comparison to freshwater tank fish stones. Marine animals usually have very specific biological requirements and are more expensive to maintain. The choices include aragonite, shell and calcium based gravels. You are limited to use the neon pinks and green options regarding color, as hobby glass, aquarium pebbles and colored aquarium stones cannot be dyed, therefore cannot be used in saltwater tanks.

Research is the best resort to find out the specific needs of the kind of fish or any other aquatic animal that you are having, in order to create the most sustainable home for them.

Choosing The Right Size of your Colored Aquarium Gravel

Natural colored aquarium gravel is the most common choice for fish hobbyists, while few others have a penchant for fluorescent and neon color aquarium pebbles, or fish tank stones, that are apparently unnatural looking, and something that the fish has never seen in their natural habitat. However, that is usually not going to make a huge difference, as many freshwater fish either cannot distinguish, or are very adaptable to funky bold or bright colored aquarium gravel and will be happy as long as they have a gravel bed to dig and have clean water, with sufficient food and oxygen supply. However, some fish can indeed be stressed out with the bold and bright colored aquarium gravel and their light reflection. Many aquarists have noticed that the variations of colored aquarium stones affects the color of the fish’s skin, and even a shorter life span than usual. So this doesn’t happen yo your fish tank, we suggest using the jade General people can hardly tell by looking whether their fish is stressed or happy. If you prefer neon and bright colored aquarium gravel, that are presumably unnatural, then ensure to take care of the maintenance of your colored aquarium gravel and fish.

As it comes to size, the choice is between large, small, and fine colored aquarium gravel. Large particles allow a greater range of sedimentation of biological wastes and leftover food particles to pass through its gaps. This can lead to toxin build up and have the potential of inflicting infection and disease in the aquatic animals and create an unsafe environment, thus also require frequent cleaning. However, as one of the pros, large colored aquarium gravels can offer a substantial scope of protection for the fish eggs and fry, as it falls under the gravel gaps and stay out of reach of the adult fish that like to eat them. It works the same way for infusoria, so there is ample chance for eggs and fry to flourish under large colored aquarium gravel.

picture of colored aquarium gravel

Small size aquarium pebbles are the most substantial choice for accommodating most of the fish’s natural behavior, like digging, burrowing, or scooping. However, fine particles like sand gravels can cause irritations to the fish as well as cleaned up with the waste materials through a vacuum and thus soon reduce in quantity needing replacement. It can also clog the supply of sufficient oxygen, for having little gaps and being compact in nature. The lack of oxygen can cause the build up of hydrogen sulphide, which is a highly toxic chemical for the fish, and lead to infectious disease and even death.

Hence, as a fish hobbyist, it is very important to do ample research before mixing and matching your colored aquarium gravel.

Bulk Aquarium Gravel: How much do I need?

When you have decided on the size, color, and nature of the fish tank rocks as the appropriate for your aquarium, it is time to determine if you should buy bulk aquarium gravel.

The easiest proportion of aquarium substrate goes for an approximate 1 ½ “ to 2” in depth  for the best benefit of the aquarium inhabitants. However, since aquarium sizes, shapes vary so much, this cannot be an accurate measurement.

picture of bulk aquarium gravel

The amount of bulk aquarium gravel depends on the size and shape of your fish tank as well as the optimum depth of the substrate bed that is best for the aquarium set up you are going to have. The amount of substrate also depends on whether you are having a fish only aquarium or have live plants, or live rocks in there as well. If you have live plants, having just fish tank rocks will not suffice, you are going to need some nutritional substrate dust to support the root system and allow sufficient nutrients for the plants to flourish.

Ideally, consider about 1lbs of aquarium pebbles per gallon of water. Ideally adjust the amount as per the size of the fish tank rocks, compared to their weight and build. Once you know how big your fish tank is, you can make an educated mathematical prediction if you need to buy bulk aquarium gravel or just a few bags.

Fish Tank Rocks Helps to Sustain Bacteria Levels and acts as a Natural Filter

Fish Tank Rocks play a pivotal role in flourishing certain beneficial bacteria, that colonizes in your aquarium and help filtrate the waste particles, leftover food, plant debris etc. Other than the gravel, there may not be a more comfortable environment. The aquarium pebbles bed provides as the next best thing to a natural habitat for these bacteria and it may not grow in sufficient quantities in other substrates.

picture of fish tank rocks

Fish tank rocks not only supports for the wellbeing of animals in a fish tank, it is also needed to nurture the live plants that are equally essential to create a natural habitat, mainly for supplying oxygen and allowing an ambush for the fish to play around. There are certain live plants that grow nicely on all kinds of fish tank rocks, but some have specified needs, especially marine or saltwater plants. Either way, ensure that the plants you choose for your fish tank is suitable for its inhabitants and are well rooted to the gravel base.

Effects Of Specific Fish Gravel On Fish As Well As Live Plants

Whether you are having saltwater fish or freshwater fish, the choice of appropriate fish gravel has a lot to do with natural behavior and orientation of your fish. Even though you have taken care of all the size, color, material, and chemical reactivity compliance of your fish tank stones, it is recommended that you research about the species of animals you have kept. Quality of life is equally applicable for aquatic animals as humans, and it is not always about the chemicals compounds, psychological wellbeing is equally important. Fish behavior, includes hiding in the substrate, digging and scooping the substrate, and scavenging the substrate. All kinds of fish are receptive to fish gravel, and do sundry activities surrounding them. Consider blunt edged aquarium pebbles, for safety from scratching. Try to stick to similar behavioral species, when raising a fish community. If one species flourishes in an environment with large fish tank rocks and other is most suitable for fine-grained fish gravel, then you are likely to experience some large-scale compromise that can even shorten the life span of your animals. 

Fish that like to scavenge the water floor; can find it hard to reach out to the leftover food through large sized and heavy weight gravels, on the other hand fine particles like sand can get lodged in their mouth and cause irritation while sifting. So the size suitability has got a lot to do with the fish behavior.

picture of fish tank plants

Live plants have are another element in your aquarium that caters to the well being of the aquarium inhabitants. Especially, for playful and highly active fish, you are going to need some live plants. Hobby glass, marbles, Plastic toys are fun thing to look at, but only for the people, and plastic does not release any oxygen, so live plants are always a fairer option for fish keeping. While the aquarium pebbles can be an ample support to hold the delicate roots, these plants need a whole lot of nutrients to thrive. To sustain the live plants you are going to need some nutritional dust substrate. Hence, you should have 2 layers of substrates in your aquarium, with proportionate portions of a nutrient enriched dust at the bottom layer, and then overlay the larger and heavier fish gravel to protect the dust from a total washout while the vacuuming.

Large aquatic animals will also produce a larger amount of waste, that makes the cleaning and maintaining your aquarium a big task. Hobby glass marbles, or pebbles are easy to clean while small aquarium gravels and sand can be very problematic, especially since they get stuck to the vacuum.  Before you buy fish tank rocks as per the behavior of your fish, also ensure that they adhere to your convenience of cleaning and maintaining them.

picture of multi-colored fish gravel

Fish Tank Gravel Maintenance

Since fish tank gravel works as a filter for aquariums, it tends to accumulate waste and debris, that requires a religious weekly cleanup, along with the water change. The best tool to clean aquarium pebbles is a gravel vacuum. You will get a wide variety of size and features in these vacuums, including detachable extenders that can reach out to difficult areas, corners and even below the gravel and between the plants. And you need not relocate your fish.

Select a fish tank gravel that is proportional to the size of your aquarium and to the amount of open space in your tank. If your tank is densely planted or heavily decorated, you may need a gravel vacuum with a narrow mouth to avoid disturbing plants and decorations while cleaning the substrate. If you have a great deal of open space in your tank it will definitely save you a lot of time.

picture of fish tank in the kitchen

To clean the fish tank gravel , you can use aquarium siphons, or flexible plastic pipes. The later is best for smaller tanks. Learn how to properly siphon off the dirty water. Always make sure to use a bucket to collect the siphoning water, and place it right below the water level to save from messy spill. Create the vacuum effect to clean your aquarium pebbles, by first burying one end of the siphon or pipe deep into the tank gravel, and let out all the air inside the tube. Now, lock the mouth of the siphon and take out of the aquarium, to drain out the dirty water, and wastes along with it. Repeat the process by  submerging the siphon at various areas of the gravel. You can also a Python vacuum system, which does not need a bucket, but you can just attach it to the faucet of your sink and it will siphon on its own. 

Always remember to only partially clean the fish tank gravel. Do not let the water level to decrease more than two-third from full. You don’t want to clean off all the beneficial bacteria in your  fish tank.

picture of a fish tank in a downtown apartment

Replacing Aquarium Gravel

If you want to replace the aquarium gravel, it will definitely affect beneficial bacteria and micronutrients of the water. While the conflict continues on whether most beneficial bacteria resides on the gravel bed or the filter, the replacing of it certainly distresses the aquarium inhabitants.

Beneficial bacteria not just colonizes in the aquarium gravel, it also builds up in the toys, plants and suspended water. However, this does not have to be that you are forbidden to remove anything from your aquarium. You can redecorate if you like. It is better to follow some guidelines to cause the least disturbance possible to the biology of your little aquatic world.

It works the same way around when you first installed your aquarium. Get a blue print or plan of the entire things why you are changing the aquarium pebbles and how to replace them. Get a list of all the things and also the time you will need to complete the job.

It is best to relocate your aquarium inhabitants to a temporary home, which is as comfortable for them as possible. You can get a replication of the tank, in order to reduce the impact of the invasion.

The best time to change aquarium pebbles is a couple of days of later to your last filter change and tank clean up. This will allow the beneficial bacteria sometime to stabilize. Use a water test kit to test the nitrite and ammonia levels of the water, and ensure they are at a neutral level, before changing the gravel.

picture of a fish tank in a restaurant

It is better to not feed the fish a day before the gravel change, as there will be lesser wastes. Place the holding tank as close as possible to the main tank, so that the fish stays the least time out of the water during the transferring. Try to finish the job in as less time as possible to cause the fish the least stress.

Rinse the new aquarium gravel beforehand, and rinse it until the water runs clear. When you are done with everything else, transfer a partial amount of the existing water in the main tank to the holding tank, followed by the hobby glass, the live plants and fish tank rocks (that you are not replacing), from the main tank and into the holding tank. The least amount of movement will help protect the beneficial bacteria. Also, using the water of the holding tank is will not need acclimation. Think wise, in ensuring that the holding tank has sufficient space to accommodate the entire contents of the main tank, and have ample room movement area for the fish. Use fishing net to transfer the aquarium inhabitants from the main tank to the holding tank, and cover the mouth, so that the fish do not flip outside the water.

picture of amazing fish tank

Next, remove the existing aquarium pebbles that you want to replace, and then vacuum any residual wastes. Turn on the filter to add sufficient treated water to the main tank, but do not fill the tank, as the water level will rise after adding the fish tank stones and other stuff.

Now it is finally time to replace the new aquarium gravel to the main tank that has been kept pre rinsed and ready. Ensure the right guidelines while adding the new gravel, as per the quantity, depth, and portioning with nutrient dust and sand.

picture of white room blue tank

Once you have successfully placed all the gravel and substrate as pre-determined, then you transfer the articles in the holding tank one by one, first goes the hobby glass, aquarium pebbles and toys one by one, and transfer the fish in the end.

After you are done with all the transferring, turn the lights off for that day to reduce the stress of your fish. Half feed the fish on that day and then normally from the next day.

Once all this has been done, it is not end of the job; you also need to test the water with nitrite spikes and ammonia. It is well and good if you do not find any spikes, but always keep the test on, in days and week’s interval. If you find a spike, then treat them the same way you treated your fish tank the first time around. ‘

Glass Landscape Rocks: 5 Garden Designs For Inspiration

Making your yard stand out from the crowd is a tough task. It can be hard to create something eye catching that doesn’t require a large amount of work and upkeep. That’s where glass landscape rocks can be your savior. They can be used to create unique and beautiful displays that look amazing all year round, without the required water, attention, and upkeep that plants and flowers need. What’s not to love?!

Here are some of our favorite backyard landscape ideas to give you some inspiration for incorporating landscaping glass rocks.

Fill a Flower Bed

 

using-glass-landscape-rocks

Sometimes, under-filling your flower beds with a few well-chosen plants, like those shown above, can actually have a greater effect than packing them full of just anything. The issue with that, however, is it can leave you with a lot of exposed soil, and that doesn’t exactly scream “attractive”. Fill this space with glass in a color that compliments the plants for a bed which takes half the work and delivers twice the impact. This idea is also useful when planting seedlings as you can give them room to grow without compromising the aesthetic of the garden.

Create a Display

 

 

If you have a lot of space to work with, then using landscape glass to create a display or scene could work well for you. This river idea is perfect for those with a pool or a pond but it can also work for anyone just looking to inject a bit of color into a dull area of the yard. Once in place, it requires absolutely no work, just jump in the pool and admire your handy work!

Transform Existing Features

Using glass in an old feature like this is a perfect way to spruce up something that otherwise would be left to crumble. It’s a much easier way to create an eye catching centre piece than installing a fountain and should last for years. What more could you ask for?!

Fill Plant Pots

 

This idea is perfect for those with smaller gardens or if you’re looking to add just a small amount of color to your yard. Simply add a thin layer of glass to your favorite planters and place them throughout your garden. This is also useful if you don’t want to commit to a big project and it allows you retain flexibility with placement and the flowers used. Don’t let the indoor plants feel left out though! It looks just as great inside too!

Combine with Rocks and Pebbles

 

The bright color of glass landscape rocks make them the perfect thing to compliment pebbled areas of your yard. Whether it be along borders, in flower beds or as a feature by the pool, combining the glass with natural materials already in place will create something really unique and beautiful.

Shop landscaping glass

 

Backyard Patio Ideas – 2017 Guide

backyard patio

 

Most of my mail is made of questions asking about backyard patio ideas, you have a small yard or garden, you maybe have a pool but you can’t get it to shine like the magazine photos. Here’s where this guide comes into play. There is a tendency to subvert expectation in good design and because of mass production of assets, many real life designs are boring predictable. Stop reading this if you haven’t seen this picture:

The white couch

White lounges, square table that comes just to where the seating area is. IT’s cool, it’s clean, it has that upscale nightclub vibe, it’s a lie. Have you ever touched the couches in a nightclub, they are either sticky or are smell like they took a chemical bath in chlorine. Same goes for the patio furniture that imitates it. It’s not really a style, it’s more like rushing trough a catalog and picking what jumps at you first and doesn’t clash with the set-up you already have i.e. white.

backyard patio by the water

 

Sure, use them on a natural stone backdrop, and some nice water features or carve out the table fill it with ruby red fire glass and set it on fire. It’s utterly stunning a timeless representation of the class created by modern design. But you rarely see that. And for everything white does well, yellow or red could do better.

If you are however set on white upholstery, you need to add more to the scene, more character more personality. A good interpretation I saw was using a wood frame. Use hard grain wood for the bed frame, it keeps just enough class, but the wood comes with loads of character. The white color does work with a lot of finishings so it blends into the organic feel of the wood. That’s the thing about minimalist features, they are neutral and easy to blend with other feature, but you have to blend so the scene doesn’t become dead and dry.

For more class, again, you need to make an effort, just doing the white lounge theme isn’t enough, when everyone is doing it. Add a privacy panel in front of your view, just hinting at obstructing the view of “others” and a textile roof to raise the space above the rest of the yard in terms of elegance.

Related: Shop Outdoor Privacy Panels here.
Or you can literally platform it and pushes it above the rest of the garden raising it above everything. Add a projector installation in front of it and enjoy your home cinema experience.

Making the patio a functional space, a viewing space for movies during the summer nights which justifies the opulence. Driving an expensive car on the weekends is snobbery, going to the track and using it to it’s potential, that is lifestyle luxury. You buy the thing for the experience not for the objects it’self. For the extra inch, use a canopy bed and bind modern and colonial in an excellent example of timeless class.

fire glass for your fire pit

Touch of color

But what if you didn’t use the white tones for class but rather as a modern counterpoint to the rest of your garden, well, you are stuck in 2010 then. Go bolder for a modern statement. Bright red chairs or yellow accents, under a red cedar pergola or sectioned off yard make a much better statement than anything white can do if you’re looking for opulence. While some stained red or light lacquered hardwood chairs around make it shine off modernity. Add light an indirect light source and add flavor to a night scene. Surround the scene with some privacy separators and some large potted plants for the illusion of intimacy. Then light them from beneath, making them just reflect light into the area. And this turns into a classy fusion of modern and organic.

In-wall backyard patio ideas

This is a very cool trick for small urban city yards or terraces, but I think it just looks very cool and that’s why I wanted to share this with you. And before you glance over this part consider what my premise is, the patio is a functional space made for people. You never have enough space for it. More space for those inside the patio always translates into a better experience and better feeling design. If you can do this without compromising side space for the people that will sit inside the scene, do it.

On the wall seating is an excellent way to get rid of unused space, from a design perspective and by moving the person back, from their point of view they get a lot more space in the front of them.

The simple version is to make a bench and fix it directly into your wall. Use this is terraces or small yards. Use some darker maple or grainy wood to make it look more distinguished. It works best on hard solid color walls and if it’s a stone wall, putt some back support also onto the wall.

The wasted space

I’ve talked about this >here<, in another post. But space around you is invisible especially under you or in front of you, <here> I compared the space you’re wasting by sitting around a table versus a lounge type seating. The basic gist is that tables are terrible in terms of space economy both visually and experientially. When you see a table in the showroom it’s fake advertising. Not even children can sit in 20 inches of space around the table. People need to expand in their environment and stretch out. And we do that in front of us, exactly where the table is.

Ever banged you hand on the table? Yes, that was bad design, it wasn’t your fault. So whenever in doubt always get a lower coffee table than a dining table. More so, get lower seats, the space under you is literally useless. The Same thing applies to the space behind you, that’s where most small spaces lose usability. You look at the size of the average long and the display size of the average table and chairs and you underestimate how it would look when you actually use it. A combination of couch and coffee table is jus that, it will stay the same whatever you’re doing.

In-wall seating is the same thing but takes the concept to another level. Placing the seats on the wall removes the space between the person and the borders of the space. Because of this, there is literally no waste of space and it significantly expands the space people perceive in front of them unless you have some visual limitations on the side.

patio seats around fire place

 

If you are redesigning a small space, please consider this and make a seat instead of the wall. Use some columns for support instead of a wall and make it look like the wall space is part of the environment. You saved at least a foot and a lot of usable space. You can also use this stylistically and offer full-size wall segments as chairs protecting your guests completely equipped with their own roof., just keep it open enough to not feel isolating.

Small space Backyard Patio Ideas

Second, best is in-wall features are fire glass and a gas burner will light up space with that warm flickering light. This works extremely well as a background light source or even an indirect light source if the flame is under direct line of sight. The third one, flowerbed, with hanging shrubbery. This isn’t however always the most space-efficient way to add green and life to a scene. Check to see if a larger single pot plant won’t be more space efficient than long drawn out shrubs inside the walls. But for very limited space that just needs some green, definitely, go with the in wall planters, spread them out and use them ass sparse accents.

Circular backyard patio ideas

This is the rule of thumb from a design point of view and you always make it the same way, foundation, path, central element, seating, and surroundings. Keep this order and you can’t go wrong. This should be what people think of when you say patio. The variation is limitless and the circular shape makes it scalable and works with almost any other features.

 

backyard patio designed around fireplace

 

When building The foundation, take care to make it as wide as it fits comfortably in your garden. Crucial concept here: comfortably: keep it relaxed and allow for breathing room even after you add your background features around your patio.

Grab a string and trace a circle around the central point. If you’re feeling creative, use multiple strings and circles and draw an irregular circular shape, just keep it the curbed concave and be considerate of all your sitting position. Don’t make it too narrow and be confident of any bend and curve, the difference between a bad circle and a design choice is the confidence of the line. If you alternate from a circle, don’t make it a circle at all anymore.

Surround it with short bushes, some lawn or counterpoint it to a play area. Link it to other areas with a path and some gravel and you are done. You have a perfectly elegant touch of a patio that will fit in whatever you have right now in your yard. The only exception is if you already have a square patio, but then you can mix and match, make one a dining area and the other a smoking area. And link them up with bright flagstone paths to make the contrast look purposeful.

But back to the single circle patio. I love this in the back ends of long gardens with a long winding path back to the house and some short shrubs nestling the occupants and framing the view back towards the house. It symbolizes a little green oasis when the lawn immediately near the house is filled with a playground or a dining area. Set space in between gives a figurative distance between real life and the moments you’re sitting there.

Upgraded backyard patio ideas

For larger spaces and larger circles use wood or alternating rows of white and dark tiles or bricks. The seating can be either a simple knee-high concrete wall or a full lounge area with modern seats and a semicircular pergola, for the middle you can use a campfire or a beginning of a longer pond. With large patios, you can use more define mid-ground elements, like a waterfall, some concrete art pieces or some interesting chest high brush scattered from place to place.

 

backyard patio with trellace

 

That’s the amazing part of being a circle, the space and area become a feature. Your patio is the centerpiece, the eye will instantly be drawn to it in a good way, but it absorbs the attention instead of just being there which happens whit a patio that acts as a transition space between house and garden.

Related: Backyard Patio Ideas Guide

Privacy walls with wooden spindles, small tabouret seats, long dark wood table. White concrete tiles intertwined with dark grass some pillars and some potted trees for a caribian urban garden

Or make it the center stage, if you have larger yards, surround a large circular patio at the of your yard with tall trees on three fifths of it, the borders, the fence or the dull cityscape. This will underline the large circular patio and will give it a stage effect. It will become a distinct space within your garden. As host for the main event has a fire pit, a fountain or a large pond of curved but irregular shapes.

Natural stone backyard patio ideas

From a universal patio design idea, we move on to a stylish universality. Natural stone outcrops are the best finishing any wall can have and if you can pull it off use it as a background wall or feature everywhere. Yes, if you get it pronounced, like a natural outcrop, natural stone is interesting enough to work as features just on itself.

 

backyard patio with tiki torches

 

A second good alternative for patio backgrounds is the vertical garden. Wall-to-wall planters or greens and hanging greens reaching out from the walls to get you. This is more scalable than the natural stone wall as natural stone looks improvised in small areas if not properly integrated. While if you use separators and fake walls you can get a decent effect with multiple 7+ small potted plants even in very small spaces.

Another think natural rock makes look amazing is terracing. I would encourage you is to always make stairs out of natural rock, even less attractive varieties like stained concrete.

There’s something about ordinary stairs that is too clean, prefabricated. Like with the white patio. You think of them and the standard comes to mind. We don’t think brick, dark flagstone or porous granite. And that standard we use and it never looks right, when associated with the definition in prefabricated like patio furniture, you see the problem and why the scene has such shallowness.

 

 

backyard patio with overhang and leather couches

patio-grotto-dining

And finally one last scene with natural rock, a very special feature, the ultimate patio, the dining grotto patio. You can put an electric car trough it and it would still have an organic feel to it and look elegant.

The wall coming out at you has such an intense personality you literally can’t ruin it with anything you add to it. This does cost a pretty penny, however, but this should always be your point of reference in terms of elegance and character, not some photoshopped IKEA catalog.

OLD world backyard patio ideas

If you can’t afford stone character forged by heat and tectonic pressure for millions of years, get the old man made character forged by mortals for centuries.

There is certain esteem we hold for the established old designs. We live in an age where 2 years create moral decay in our products and yesterday’s design always seems to fail to grab our interest in a world of 2 launches per year and summer – fall and fall – winter fashion trends.

In such a world, rustically is just as good as an expensive natural rock with mesmerizing details and patterns. I call it that because it comprises a sum of usable modern décor that you can’t really call modern, basically I fit here anything old world and understated product of manufacture and crafts rather than industry and trends.

I hesitate to call it purely old world style as colonialism and Americana is definitely new world. But it’s that mix of old hand crafted manufactory and pale wore out color tones. Now the features are harder to match and you use a traditional complementary color scheme. Which can be used with new modern elements as well but it’s not as eye gouging as using complementary colors or tonal contrasts.d

Brick

Think brick walls, brick hardscapes and crushed brick and terra cotta gravel. IN the red corner as you can say. It goes for any terra cotta fittings; thisgets absurd when you think how ubiquitous our use of terracotta is. Any traditional hacienda style roofs also fall under this class. Traditional pergolas are also made out of brick so if you try that you will have a strong signal of authenticity resonating from the large elements which are always a big plus. And worth mentioning it.

 

circular patio

 

Under brick we have a wide variety of old school fire features: fireplaces traditional pizza ovens or brick seating arrangements get to stay and use even outside their arid home climate. Brick terracing and stairs are easier on the eye than anything flat and white concrete. Another interesting thing is building amphitheaters. And seating circles. Try some type of Morrocan hideous theme or native American tabouret seating around a smoldering fire with a faux adobe nearby. Don’t go all out with the finishings, modern furniture just ruins the atmosphere.

As a general rule, we abused brick so much that it’s part of almost any design language and because it has more character and warmth than concrete it’s usually well integrated into those themes. So stick with the theme and use them as a material whenever you want as an upgrade to concrete.

Concrete

Speaking of concrete, I will talk about old concrete and concrete finishings that aren’t at least Art Deco. There’s a lot of variations and option but very similarly with the white furniture, it needs something more to have stylistic value and it generally was used as a utilitarian material, so you need to think outside the box on this one to make it work.

 

four wood chairs around the patio

 

On the other hand, it’s a very versatile material and you can find a lot of ways to integrate concrete into your backyard patio ideas. Just of the top of my head, I could think of nice half walls Half walls, in ground fire bowls, hardscapes or tables.

Anything can be concrete, but this doesn’t mean it can also work. You should be using it everywhere if you can stain it, however, if abused in its white-gray form it becomes a lazy man option. Just plastering on some stucco and given it some grain doesn’t make it all that better either.

Variations

Probably the best use of straight white concrete is fire pits. Over time it will gather up a nice used aged by fire look. And for terracing, because from the outside, it does look clean and sleek especially from a distance.

In the transparent corner we have french double doors. These amazing, they bring the room outside and the outside into the room. If you can fit them get them, not even fully transparent glass sides can compare. Let’s add some old-timey water features here, like wells and moats. I love wooden moats, but I think all water assets are great period. Try it, it’s a great break in perspective and long surfaces that have more personality than just another path.

 

wood stairs leading up to patio

 

In the brown corner, you have the king of materials wood. Use this as paneling, patio furniture, tables in fires and as regular timber features. Just leave the grain visible. It’s like buying a sports car and pushing it.

And lastly the tree patio. I’ve talked about it here <eco glass> if you want to read more, but it’s a perfectly integrated roof, sun shade, and climate control. If you have it use it if you don’t wait for a generation to grow one.

Vacation themes

Let’s talk vacation theme and how to bring the best of them into your yard.

Think historic scenery, large river stones coming out of the wall towards you and cobbled stones under your feet. Everything is natural but in man made form. This oozes character which means you can escape the urban and concrete the second you enter the scene.

Add some more aged elements from low wood chairs, large potted plants, to get a historic patio theme. Something you see in on the back of old beat novels. For a budget option uses some old granny stucco. And go overboard with the grain and texture on it. The furniture and the hardscape should bring it into the theme and make it work.

 

stoned patio flooring

 

And lastly the small scale variation to the feeling. Think of it as a European courtyard, historic setting, and modern understated finishings. The quintessentially European roughed unplastered walls. Large windows with wooden aged shutters and dense large potted plants and cobbled surface. Add 2 steps raising the sitting area if you want it to be more prominent.

Technically any seating works with this. But you have to go for the classic french coffee forged steel chairs and table. Use a central in-table fire feature for some drama. Now, you have a secret designer urban back yard that works even in the darkest of cities or American rooftops. Add even more Parisienne and make it waterproof with an industrial steel and glass roof.

Real luxury

European villas with huge French romantic double doors leading into wide terraces. Patios with large tables and ending in a large wooden pizza over. This is probably the best setup if you lack to have casual parties and really use the human element to liven things up. The double doors bring kitchen and terrace together into a communal space of joy and wide.

Slice up the rest of your garden with some old world cobbled paths and you get excellent European chic for pennies. Upgrade it with some columns arches and brick pergolas and you have a hard time getting something more elegant without breaking the bank.

Black and white marble tiles. White table. Clean cut lawns and hedges all around some columns and a textile roof over everything. Turn your highlights into late European opulence.

 

patio with white french doors

 

A later variation of that is the Mediterranean beach cottage. Imagine 60s style lounges, old school Monaco, very low tables and very square seats. Simple contemporary shapes that barely break into deco and Bauhaus chairs and features.

Maybe a rustic wood roof over everything and a backdrop of sea rocks stacked covering the wall. Maybe some lines of lavender hanging around the walls leading the eye to the horizon and decorative wicker elements. This is the birthplace of the white patio. But even here I want you to use yellow instead. The reflexes will make every golden hour feel like a Mediterranean vacation.

Modern patio design ideas

Abuse pools, that’s the counterpoint to the patio. It’s dynamic, it’s complementary. Try some visual trickery. For exmaple layering false horizons with a glass table a pool and a view. The patio is a functional setting, we chat, we laugh we eat and we relax. So modernity doesn’t just presume using shiny materials and bold tonal contrasts. It should be geared toward that, but it’s also a place built around the new modern concept of leisure.

The first line of defense against falling on the white futon cliché is the blue stone patio. Simple rectangular pale blue tiles. Add drama with fire features filled up with azure blue fire glass. Ground it all with some lava rock beds for some darker pale counterpoints.

Go monochrome, use one color and all adjoining colors up to 2 turns on the color wheel. Keep the accents dark and the surfaces pale and you get a very strong theme setting, although a bit tiresome. Use non-color walls to keep the intensity down a bit.

This is the basics of the blue stone patio. And this is usable for smaller spaces up to a point. And with very light colors. The same thing you can apply almost anywhere you want to get a theme color. Use old school color matching complementary color coordination instead of new ones.

 

modern patio designs

Scandinavian minimalist Backyard Patio Ideas

From this understated European design evolved Scandinavian minimalism. You can take the main feature like a pool and plump it up with Scandinavian furnitures. For example a minimalist lawn chair and a maximum of 3 to 4 large plants spread sparingly.

Use simple contemporary elements and clean understated design. If you must use one vibrant color element, only one and make it stand out so much you can see it from orbit. This works so well and its less, try-hard than oriental minimalism. Expand on the pool or go without and extent the simple Scandinavian restrained among your garden with clean lines and elements, even plastic and stones. This can somewhat work in small spaces. Limit the number of elements and how crowded you make it. In large spaces, it is very elegant and fresh, unlike other minimalist styles.

Think of the summer garden with a large pergola at the entrance into the garden. Imagine sloping fabric roofs leading your eyes to trough a visual maze of privacy panels featuring gray rocks, dark woods, and bright short lawns. Maybe some cast iron gates and some red leaf maple sprouts. Or with something closer to home go all out and get a fully stocked outside kitchen.

Contemporary luxury full kitchen, play area, large table and surrounding garden. This is the ideal space to socialize and entertain guests and a large pergola towering above them. A direct evolution of the southern rustic Italian garden where the whole family gathers and shares stories and food.

 

 

 

OUTDECO Privacy Panels wins “Best Outdoor Living Product of 2017” at IBS

picture of OUTDECO Best Outdoor Living Product 2017

OUTDECO Best Outdoor Living Product 2017

Exotic Pebbles and Glass, a US-based company sources some of the best decorative products from around the world. It is a proud manufacturer of modern age products perfect for adorning the lawn, patio, outdoor living rooms and gardens of its US and Canada based clients. However this blog post is written to congratulate one of our products, OUTDECO Privacy Panels on winning “Best Outdoor Living Product of 2017” at the International Builders Show (IBS) on the 12th of January. 

OUTDECO creates privacy panels and decorative outdoor privacy panels that do a great job of separating backyard space, creating privacy from neighbors, providing a perfect track for vines to grow up walls or blocking out unsightly areas. The possibilities are endless with these amazing design pieces. Their products are made from sustainably sourced hardwoods have grabbed the attention of all. 

privacy screen Privacy screen alley

The Auspicious Event at International Builder’s Show (IBS)

Winning of such an award is not only an honour for OUTDECO but also for Exotic Pebbles and Glass because we truly believe in this amazing product and want to see it in many backyards, restaurants and hotels in the near future. The highly prominent event occurred at the International Builders Show (IBS) where near about 400 entries were made. However, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) shortlisted nine categories. The entire building industry of USA was impatiently waiting for the results.

 

picture of OUTDECO IBS

 

 

garden screen background

At last, when OUTDECO was declared the winner, every participant was eager to know about the speciality of it. The judges were delighted to announce it as the winner because they were amazed at their featured product- Garden Screens. Even the attendees were elated after viewing the products presented by OUTDECO.

picture of mahjong outdeco privacy panels

MAHJONG 24 x 48 inches – 60% Privacy

Reactions of the International Builders Show Judges and Attendees

The responses of attendees and judges sent a positive vibe throughout the building industry of the USA, especially North America. Both the judges and the show attendees visited OUTDECO booth to look at all the remarkable products sold by it. The viewers included renowned designers, homebuilders and architects with profound knowledge in decorative panels.   

Some of the viewers termed it as the best product, whereas others praised OUTDECO’s efforts to build something unimaginable. The audience was simply amazed at the design and the privacy that it offered. They had never imagined something as beautiful as privacy panels, which could well be used in a garden.

All these positive feedbacks are something inevitable given the creative ideas presented by OUTDECO through the Garden Screen panels. Let us look into the specific details of outdoor panels that created this much hype among the viewers and judges.

picture of multiple OUTDECO Privacy Panels

MARAKESH 24 x 48 inches – 80% Privacy (painted), STAR ANAIS 24 x 48 inches – 80% privacy (painted), LEAFSTREAM 24 x 48 inches – 60% Privacy, and BUNGALOW 24 x 48 inches – 80% Privacy

Specialities of Privacy Panels or Garden Screens

Garden screens as sold off in the name of ‘Privacy Panels’ on the website of Exotic Pebbles and Glass, is unique in terms of innovation, design and functionality. It has achieved fame and recognition due to the following features:

  1. picture of daintree outdeco privacy panels

    DAINTREE 48×70 inches – 80% Privacy

    Made from organic content

This specified point reflects Garden Screen’s innovative aspect. The presence of 97% wood fibre without any remains of synthetic glues, make the product a unique one. It scores high in sustainability and proves to be a trustworthy material given its stability and durability. For outdoor use, it matches all the specifications.

  1. It is carbon negative

Since Garden Screens are made up of timber, it works in favor of

outdoor garden screens

STAR ANAIS 24 x 48 inches – 90% Privacy

a negative footprint production. It works against the emission of carbon dioxide in the air and absorbs the excess as emanated due to human activities.

  1. Provides 10-year warranty

OUTDECO provides a 10-year warranty to users and this covers everything starting from physical deterioration to de-lamination. In addition to all this, it provides priceless advice relating to maintenance of the outdoor panel.

  1. Absence of synthetic glues

Garden screens are safe not only for workers but also for the environment, as it contains no synthetic glues, formaldehyde, VOCs and carcinogens.  This specified fact also explains its durability when exposed to exterior conditions. Since there is the absence of artificial additives in it, the harmful process of breakdown does not occur. Consequently, nature is saved from its harmful impacts.

picture of mahjong outdeco privacy panels

MAHJONG 24 x 48 inches – 60% Privacy

  1. Designed in Australia

Garden Screens is the best example of sustainable innovation. Made from waste sources, it saves deforestation and impresses customers with its carbon negative aspect. Manufactured in Australia, it excludes the virgin natural forest from its hardwood sources.

Apart from the above-mentioned points, there are other facets, which are equally impressive. It is an installation-friendly and cost effective option, which can bring success to all including homeowners, builders and designers. Given its versatility, it meets the expectations of every individual searching for an affordable screen with an upmarket style.

Another striking feature of OUTDECO is its variety and standard size that meets the need of all. Given the creative ideas of the company, every now and then, contractors are choosing its designing services. 

Orient 48 x 70 inches – 90% Privacy

picture of bungalow outdeco privacy panels

BUNGALOW 24 x 48 inches – 80% Privacy

Decor Ideas

Screen panels can give your backyard a total makeover. With ready to install feature, it is exactly what you are looking for. One can place these Garden Screens in their patio, just at the entrance or at their deck space. Being a user-friendly product, it allows clients to involve in DIY (Do It Yourself) projects only to enhance the beauty of their backyard.

Products Designs

Some of its product designs popular among the masses are Marakesh, Mahjong, Leafstream, Star Anais, Daintree and Orient. These are creations, which can meet your geometric, classic, and blockout design needs.  With adorning properties, it also fulfils a plethora of other application requirements.

picture of multiple outdeco privacy panels


Closing Thoughts

Even though Exotic Pebbles and Glass offer a wide range of products such as decorative pebbles, landscape glass, fire pit accessories, OUTDECO’s Garden Screen is by far the best. The organic fibre content of the outdoor screen is appropriate not only for your garden but also for the world. The architectural designs with intricate decorations have most probably enthralled the critics.

backlight privacy panel

The specialities of OUTDECO’s product, as listed down in the blog, has generated strong responses and account for its overall success. It had always planned to launch its product in the North American market, which has now met with a roaring success. It has proved its capabilities to the building industry, which is well evident from the recognition that it achieved at the International Builders Show.

FIRE PIT RING: BEST FIRE RINGS 2017 BUYER’S GUIDE

box, wood, minimalist, fire

Fire pit rings, when to use and which one? To sum up this article, always use h frame burners for your fire feature, whenever possible. Why, how and how big? Well read on and find out.

Check out our full collection of fire pit accessories here.
A week ago I helped a client refine his back yard, a small pergola, a rocky spring, some flagstone on rubber mulch bedding. Classic stuff until it came to the background fire features. In wall burners over some dark burgundy fire glass. And the client was surprised by my choice in burners. He just used fire pit rings until then, because the fire was always a round centerpiece. This means fire pit rings made the most sense.

The second issue was the size. I got the big 30 incher.
I always go for the biggest possible because we rarely work with hard reflexive surfaces and we use fires as radiant assets even when in the background. And he had a small yard, small for anything outside of a city, so there are some exceptions when space is limited. Anyway, despite his doubts, the set up was perfect, the extra length of the fire. Spread a wide beam of light onto the area, casting soft shadows that wrapped around everything.

I could have put it a bit higher to be honest because the walls around it allowed for some more volume to play with. But’ volume is another story I’ll cover in a whole post. Until then you can read eco glass,  small yards and patio guide about how patio furniture and separators change our perception of available space, but those were more about creating more visible space and this was about using more space, lighting it up and using higher elements to bring it all down to the garden.

GAS FIRES AND FIRE PIT RINGS

Fire features come in a wide variety: fireplaces, fire pits or table fires. And for most of them, we use gas burners because they are cleaner, safer and more versatile. Among the range of burners, you will find a wide variety but they fall under linear or round fire pit rings. All other variations are either designer one-offs that you buy from a manufacturer to fit a very specific scene. Or are manufacturer specific proprietary designs made to sell you the same thing at a higher price or sometimes less in terms of build quality and materials used.
For all but the most niche of designs, you will either use a round flame or a linear flame and that can be done by these 2 types of burners. A last note on other proprietary designs, you will see some linear burners that all this guide can apply to, but won’t in practice unless you use 2 side by side. A single line of flame lacks enough volume to create a visual impact. It ends up looking like a burning leaves or kindle instead of a roaring log fire.

You will see in the examples bellow. Also, some of those linear gas elements are really fragile and I don’t like fragile when dealing with fire. Always check for a warranty and look around for the manufacturer’s reputation. So keep in mind that all the linear fires can and should be replaced with shorter, wider fires as a general rule.

FIRE PIT RINGS BY SHAPE

orange, patio, enclosedBut back on track with the do’s instead of the don’t’s. We think of the landscaping environment in terms of scenes and frames of view. We are deconstructing the design in 2D pictures that we can see at any given time. That’s the human limitation, expanded 3D with depth only conceptually we compose a 3D environment in our heads. I want you to try this next time you see a movie, especially a good one. Think of what the camera is showing you, and why it isn’t showing you something else, a close up on someone’s face or a wide angle showing their whole body going from one part to the other.

Art is about not showing more than showing. By not showing you allow the viewer to concentrate on what’s left instead of processing everything. So in terms of gas burners, that means that all fires, only have 2 dimensions at any given time and depth becomes irrelevant after 6 to 10 inches. That means you have only height and with to really play with. Situationally you want to use height and create a large unified fire, that’s when you use fire pit rings, and always the biggest one you can fit. In all other cases, you go with a H burner and think of it as a light source first then as a stand alone feature.

FIRE PIT RING SIZE

Size is a little more complicated because we are dealing with it as a light source rather than a feature inches does not always correlate with effect. You can find a technical guide. Technical aspects aside, let’s assume you can make the space for the fire from scratch, any size you want, what size should you make it?
Well, the short answer as I said it as big as you can make it, within limits. Around 28 inches, above that it’s situational and think about using 2 smaller elements for a more 3D effect. Shaping the light around elements and having softer shadows. That’s why pop-up flashes on cameras make for hard features and bad pictures. There is only one source of light so every shape and contour gets a dark shadow wrapped around it. This makes everything but the most naturally gorgeous men look angular and distorted. But it does wonders if you have an edge chiseled jaw and diamond cheekbones.

large, fire, small, yard
Vanity mirror lighting has the opposite effect, a lot of light sources reduce shadows almost completely. The shadow cast by each light gets lit by the other lights that are at a slightly different angle. This softens features and especially pores. It’s like electrical real life photoshop. Same thing happens with side lighting or wall to wall lights. You get a soft glow all around the garden giving it warmth hue instead of lighting it up.

Obviously, there are stylistic caveats. Use single lights when you want that darker jungle-feel you get from the shadows of each large leaf. And you want to have a dark area. This works extremely well in combination with vertical water features as the sound gets amplified by the darkness. The glimmer and movement of the water really brings tension to a dark scene. Something most people ignore when the light up their waterfall.

WHEN TO GO SMALL WITH FIRE PIT RINGS

Usually, the simplest gas fire pit are in table fire pits. You need a table anyway and adding another element just for the fire doesn’t look good. Here is where you use the small 12-inch burner. At this size, it doesn’t matter if you use a fire pit ring or h burner, and it’s a matter of personal tastes. For classical traditional uses go for a fire pit ring, the round fire also is more versatile being more of a “classic fire”. Most no fuss timid tables or fire bowls are round so in that case, it does works slightly better.

modern, stairs, fire
I say only slightly because a flame is fluid, it will not only follow any objects in its path flowing over them grabbing their shape, but it will also bunch up and end in a conical peak. The differences are negligible, so just go with the fire pit ring. In this particular case, the most important thing is: how small can you get it.

It’s gonna be right in the line of sight of people at night and as mesmerizing as a fireplace can be, that’s just tiresome. Because it’s this obvious, go very restrained. I prefer lava rock as a rule of thumb. It’s non-reflexive and the broodiness of it makes it a great counterpoint to the lively fire.

In larger scenes feel free to include them in empty bland spots as light sources that add a warm glow all around. Small fires are excellent as permanent candles. Consider a large element that has layers to it, like a fake wall. Building fireplaces inside it creates the illusion of a living entity like the concrete had a roaring fire in it all along.

Corners on minimalist clean spaces are also very vulnerable to looking empty and neglected. A small fire or a downscale version of that like a lamp post with a hanging lantern should cover the space and make it a source of vibrancy instead of a black hole. When using small fire assets be careful of their background, especially if it’s a broody dark gray minimalist scene. The fire will look accidental, underwhelming in small sizes. And larger fires are out of the question because they would spoil the mood. Add some glimmer either dark tonal but shiny fire glass or light pale but matte.

WHEN TO GO ROUND AND USE FIRE PIT RINGS

This is debatable, but usually in the ground fire pits work better with large fire pit rings. Looking down at the fire, you can clearly see the edges of an H burner fire, so if you are looking down at the fire, always use a fire pit ring if you want to maintain that feeling of a round natural fire. And an important note, the correlation of round fire pit and round fire works both ways. That’s why you usually do round fire pits anywhere down low to the ground. I’m talking about classic settings of course because you can have some designer modern features like a fire row or long fire pit, which not only doesn’t try to look like a round fire but is intentionally linear and acts as a shape in the grand design.
Another situation would be if you have intentionally circular seating all around the fire. Like 4 semi-circular seats with gaps around it. There’s a lot of reasons why you should never completely surround an element and open the space up so it can breathe, but I’ve covered that here. If you do want to keep it closed down for the privacy effect or to make it feel more intimate and isolated then that’s one case where a fire rig is a must, and I recommend a really large one as looking down at the fire makes it feel smaller relatively to your position.

picture of fire pit ring brick fire pit

WHEN TO GO LONG?

Long flames are probably the only ones worth going custom if you want flames longer than 40 or 50 inches. But even then, I would think of a double solution. That flame is going to be very large and it will turn night into day, ruining the atmospheric vibe you usually get from a fire lit area. Long flames are usually thin and underwhelming or very large and bright. It takes a lot of tweaking over different seasons for even me to get this right. It’s a real balancing act and unless you really want that long continuous line of fire, never try this. You have enough things to maintain and manage as it is in a garden. Features and centerpieces should not be one of them.

picture of a long exotic pebbles fire glass fire pit

Now unlike real life landscaping, the design industry from photographers to editors love these and you will see them on a lot of shoots. They just look so good in pictures, that oblique long line of fire frozen in time just gives moment and vibe to a scene. But keep in mind that you can and more likely should deconstruct the picture and downscale it to fit your needs. And a 30-inch H burner is usually more than you need because you will never be understated while they very rarely underperform.

long, gray, fire, patioIn fact, I am willing to guarantee that your yard is so large that a 30-inch is too small, you are not doing your own design and have hired a professional designer to do it for you. And sells you on something long and weak that would look great in their portfolio.
Before you ok that, Consider a row of candles, because it’s a very strong element that you can’t see how well it will work before it’s actually in place. A variation is the discontinued line of small fires. Or in the case of a wall to wall in wall fire, there is an even better variation. Having the wall segmented and 5 to 7 smaller fires spread around at different heights and but at the same distance from one another.

I give you that a horizontal wall break is a great looking was to break the monotony of the wall and the light coming from a long fiery line is very cool and atmospheric. But this “patched up” design does all that and is unique and interesting. The whole wall becomes a feature and a mild light source for the rest of the scene. If your wall happens to be out of natural stone, the “stochastic design” works exponentially better than just a simple line.

H BURNERS

Now that we covered the exceptions let’s sink into the H burner. Essentially, it is an H frame trough which natural gas or propane flows, creating 2 long lines that have nozzles where the gas can burn out off. This creates two walls of flame for a thick flame and a lot of character with the strong edges. Left alone, it’s harsh and looks industrial at best. But if you cover it with just some fire glass and shape the flames, giving them something to bounce off of, it comes into its own.

Always go for the 30 inch. And make everything else adapt. Whether it’s a fire bowl or a fireplace. You can’t be subtle about it. You have a fire feature, show it off and make everything else a visual accessory. As for fireplaces specifically, use large faux logs or other hard large glass to give it enough personality to stand on its own against the hardscape of the fireplace. A small flame inside a granite fireplace is just, depressing.
Now, back to fire pits, where the H burners shine. In most tables, bowls and or stations, the H burner will create a larger visible fire, even with a smaller installation. It’s literally the biggest effect with the smallest space investment. Think of that linear fire I talked about above. Segmenting the pit into 4 elements and nestling 4 h burners would have given you a thicker flame, constantly and with no hassle and I would argue that over that length some segmentation would have made the table more interesting.
I’ll give you that it wouldn’t be as stunning. But that length is not used well, so the impression goes out fast, leaving you with a underwhelming but very expensive fire feature. The alternative is to save money and use creativity to get the same impact, but make it sustainable, both in terms of costs and maintenance.

stone, fire, burner, prehistoricFor example, Use a very roughed concrete rectangular bowl. As gritty as possible. Age it with stain and fill it up with lava rock. Use 1 or 2 H burners, depending on how long the stone bowl is. The thick primitive flame coming out of the rock will make an outstanding impression and even the blandest of scenes will turn into a eye-catching scene. That’s why I love concrete so much, it’s cheap and so versatile that your imagination is the only limit. But back to my point, tell me that isn’t impressive and it doesn’t stay with you. The fire feels alive, coming for you. And this is scalable. Apply the rule of threes and use 3 of them. You created a whole theme.
You can go the other way, into the future, still with concrete, create an angular layered table, with asymmetrical features. Stain the dried concrete with coal and give it a gray metal feel and maybe even add a glossy sealant. Cover the H burner with some light fire glass for a futuristic counterpoint or dark glass for a darker look and fewer highlights. Use a granite countertop for a more expensive upgraded version. A version that will fit in any modern broody setting and will give more character than the simple longer is a better gimmick.

dark, modern, fire, glassA more low-key version of that same effect can be achieved just by keeping the table as simple as possible. Use the single slab trick. One solid slab of perfectly symmetrical concrete placed around a layered, complex area. This simple concrete slab works because it creates a solid foundation from which both it’s flame and the fire glass under those flames and the area surrounding it can dance around visually around it. First the rest of the setting, it’s a small space, complex tones and there’s a lot of background stuff. The scene is layered and you have both layered decks and a stone pit. That’s a lot for just one corner. But you anchor it all around the central slab at a macro level. The simple shape calms everything down and gives focus.
stone, concrete, gray, monolith, fireOn a micro level, the same thing happens with the fire. Again it’s slim and long but look at the great contrast between hard surface, rough glass, and liquid flames. That’s an exquisite piece right there. 3 textures in one asset fused perfectly together. Here you see the playful ness of the designer in how they play with texture and create interesting spins on simple minimalist features. After that, you notice the pillow on the bland couch or the natural shrub in the simple clean gray planter. Even the deck and rocks make sense now because we understand the cheeky intent in bringing a twist to pure fundamentals.

box, wood, minimalist, fireTurning that on its head we have this brown burning box. Wood with modern shapes in a modern light minimal patio. The stones inside it make it busy and heavy.
Too much personality and individualism compared to the rest of the scene that has simple clean assets. But then you light it up. The flame adds another dimension, the table isn’t just furniture, it’s an event. It’s a dancer that infuses the clinical scene with life and vibrancy. Under the warm light, busy fire table and minimalist patio fuse and complement each other. Warmth spilling over and surprisingly it calms down the features of the table. The dark stones make sense as a source for the primeval fire, while the modern wood-like look of the table becomes a modern holster for the primeval stones and fire, it makes sense it’s not as abstract as everything else.

 

H BURNER FIREPLACES

The bigger brother to the fire table is the fireplace. And here the H burner is king. Because you only see it from its broad side all the softer edges of the fire ring are negated. All you see when you look at a fireplace is depth and length. Both main advantages of the H burner. An H burners with makes the fire seem solid tangible and powerful. And withing the confines of a fireplace you get to focus all that energy. Here things are simplest, natural strong elements. It’s not a design element its cauldron encasing one of the nature’s forces. I’ve made a whole post about fireplaces, so check it out for a more detailed break down.marble, fireplace, candles

Another particular feature of the fireplace is that it’s unidirectional. So the light you would get from an open fire of the same size is usually cut by 2 thirds or more. This means you get that great moving firecrest with minimal light spillage. This makes it usable in both party patios and on chilly summer nights. The lack of light spill also means this is a great way to get cozy intimate settings with a fire feature apart from 40+ candles. Spread all around your romantic scene. Or why not use both?

FIERY HORIZONS

The next level is scenic fire. Using fire as an interesting frame trough which the people inside the scene see the view, the garden or landscape. This is very hard to pull off and sometimes in more dynamic spaces, not worth it. Think of a terrace where the lights of the city are barely flickering.

A large bright fire just blinds you. But when you do it just right, when you get that combination of a side view, small linear fire and the secondary light opposite of the fire. The view is magical. The effect hypnotizing. It’s obviously very situational and if you can’t pull it off, don’t worry, you don’t need to move to Monaco. Next, I’ll show you how to get a permanent effect on a smaller budget. Well, small compared to going to Monaco.

But before that let’s learn something from the scene.

view, intimate, fireThe fire while strong doesn’t overshadow the scene, the city is close by and the patio is well lit. The furniture takes a back seat to the fire and landscape. This makes the fire and the landscape the highlights of the scene, but they don’t compete.

They both take a back seat to the function of the area. It’s a small area, so the designer used intimacy as a feature and designed the area to be an intimate setting for 2 people, crushing the attention seeking landscape and lively fire. Thus, relegated to secondary features the landscape and the fiery frame has no choice but to work together and assist the environment in its human-centered function.

This is excellent example of function crushing obvious highlights. The landscape is still there. The fire just makes it even more “loud”. But instead of just giving us the obvious, the designer made it submit to the purpose of the location and complement it graciously.

FIERY COUNTERPOINTS

waterfall, fire, view, poolThis has been used a lot, and not to its full potential. Similarly to the previous tableau we had. The pool is a functional space. Nothing you put around can take that away from it. So going overboard with a large fire, you just add to it aesthetically. If you happen to have a view right next to it.

We’ll you got yourself one of the best designs out there. And obviously I could not mention the waterfall, always have a waterfall. It’s like fire in reverse. It falls where fire rises, it splashes where a fire crackles. It’s an elemental in motion. Adding movement and life to something still and practical. Dry and solid become natural and rich just by running water over them.
Now, something I want everyone to notice is that the materials used aren’t anything to break the bank for. The richness comes from the scenery and the bold design choices. The fire is a thing and only hinting at flame edges under the scenery.

hot, tub, fireBut I can see this is intentional, there’s not a lot of light on this side of the back yard. So instead of filling it in with lights and having a larger fire, they made the fire smaller. I would make it full strength and put a lip around it so only the glow of the tips of the flames actually light the pool directly. And maybe put some greenery behind it to reflect the light and add depth and movement during the night. But then you risk it competing with the view.

Another opulent counterpoint that is more accessible would be the spa fireplace. This is what I was talking about before. From the jacuzzi only the lip of the fire is visible. And because of it’s open back most of the light falls softly onto the canopy behind. Creating dancing movements and shadows in the night, without making a day out of the night for the people in the yard. For this example, I would have clearly place larger H burners behind the wall and maybe slot them into it in a more traditional fireplace style keeping the open back. This would have allowed me to have more control over what comes into the garden, as we’ve covered with the advantages of how directional fireplace light is and I would have kept the “dancing background.”

Outdoor Privacy Screens – 2017 Guide

backlight privacy panel

 

SUBTRACTIVE DESIGN

I’ve been talking a lot lately about outdoor privacy screens and I think it’s about time I write a post specifically about them. I love them. I think obstructionist elements are a godsend both from a financial point of view and a design standpoint.

Shop Our Outdoor Privacy Panels Here

Let’s be honest, changing landscaping elements and features are expensive and sometimes impossible as some things simply can’t change any other way than selling the house and finding one with a better garden. That being said this post will be a little different. Unlike other elements, outdoor privacy panels are subtractive elements, not additive. We will be talking about what they add to a garden in part 2. But first, let’s talk about subtraction and the difference between creating a concept and following rules.

outdoor garden panel bench

When we construct something we add elements one on top of another, we do this with colors, perspective, or shapes. There are some things that trough experience we see are visually pleasing and others that are not. So it follows that to get something pleasing we just not do what isn’t. Creating an outdoor privacy panels design goes further. Just adding elements or textures is not enough.

We also need to subtract, to remove certain features so that people who view our work only see what we intended them to see. This requires you to consider the effect and goes beyond just following rules. You need to visualize the consequences and the possible variations that can occur. For example during winter, late summer evening sunsets or spring surprises. If you are a long time reader of this blog you know I already prepared you to think of your scenes as real life tableaus that people are seeing and living in instead of just a set of does and don’ts.
Essentially, I push you to think about design as a viewing experience, more movie than anything else. In doing so you have to not only show but also hide what you don’t want to show, what may be distracting or irrelevant. The stronger the elements you use, the more you need to clean up and remove distractions. This is the peril of over design, and just throwing element after element into a yard.

Elements that could very well be nice on their own or even work as 2 or 3 within a theme, but then you get 7 or more things in a single space and the eye can’t focus, it starts to look like an art gallery instead of a place for people to meet and get together.

OUTDOOR PRIVACY PANELS

If we think of visual impact as a doodle and subtractive design is an eraser that allows us to correct or improve your stretch. The most used trick is obstruction of view or hiding things. Whether it’s yourself in a gazebo, the sun, a run down wall or a sloped garden corner. The trick is to think of removing x element of the feature as actually being a plus and something that adds to your yard.

Try this experiment, look at your yard and ask yourself what would you remove, and then think about ways to at least remove it visually. Coverings are the easy go to.

Alternatively, you can distract or integrate the issue into a bigger feature. For example, as you will see in a moment, the strong blinding sun can be turned into patterned lighting or a boring white stucco wall can become an amazing indirect light source if lit from beneath and covered by a screen.
For general information about privacy, check out this link. I’m only going to cover design arguments for outdoor privacy panels. Garden screens usually have a privacy rating between 60% and 90%. Privacy panels limit visibility from one side to another. So it goes from saying about half of what you would normally see to just one tenth which is a massive difference even if the numbers look close.
In this sense privacy or the subtraction of view from the outside in. this creates intimacy and relaxes the subjects confined in the scene.

Even with semi-transparent panels can make this work if there is more light on the outside than on the inside. This means that you can get the intimacy without the isolating effect of more closed off features.

 

privacy screen

 

The effect is multiplied with less transparent panels. But it comes at a cost of openness and light. Don’t use panels with more than 60% privacy to close up a small space. But if you have small spaces, you should only segment or shield never close off a section of it entirely. Segmenting is layering an obstruction in between the background and the viewer. This adds volumetric complexity and stimulates the imagination. Shielding an area cuts it off partially from the main area and creates a strong differentiation that enables both visual load and thematic complexity.

For example enabling a playground without making it feel like a place you just store away your kids when you don’t need them. This is also a great illustration of creating by removing. By cutting the link between the area and the rest of the garden, you can make it more cheerful and release it from the thematic restrictions of the main area.

 

privacy panel deck

 

 

CARVING SPACE WITH OUTDOOR PRIVACY PRIVACY PANELS

The other side of segmentation, this time viewed from behind the panel is sculpting space. Outdoor privacy panels remove limits, corners. They can create a concave decorative wall instead of the rectangular end of a yard, shape a path out of an alleyway and create layers out of the vertical face of a house.

 

Privacy screen alley

 

 

This is an interesting subject for me personally, I dislike mazes. But they are the kings of carving a shaping space. They cut off the individual from the yard and force a close and intentional focus on the immediate space. This can become tedious in my opinion over long stretches of time, but that’s why I see garden screens as an upgrade. They do the same thing, cut off view and force a limited perspective but they release it quickly. With a screen, it’s very hard to isolate and confine. It feels light and only suggests isolation instead of promising it.

This is a super daring example of carving up space. You could have made it a simple boring path in between less than flattering walls, but instead, the designer made the path at an angle. The flagstone is making it clear both that this is the start of n adventure and that things will be anything but boring as you can see with the random distribution of stones and the diagonal white path.
Furthermore, to make sure everyone walk that path to adventure, the designer purposefully blocked off one face of the entry, forcing people to come from the side. This has two effects: First, it slows them down as they need to turn and can’t rush past the design. And two, it surprises and makes them look around and be seduced by the light flagstone steps that are yelling: come on a whimsical adventure. Take note that these are the only two elements that were used, the rest is just the environment.

PAINTING WITH LIGHT

 

bamboo, light, panel

 

This is especially true with the heavier Arabic themed panels but true to an extent with all of them. The subtract light and funnel it into an area in colorful beams of light that cast a glowing pattern of light over the area behind them. This is the second most common use I have for outdoor privacy panels. Light is essentially the fundamental element of visual arts, everything we make gets created with light. This is a lot more profound than you might think.

Take this bamboo, within this light, it would be dark and crowded at best especially in front of a dark brown wall. But look at how underlighting can transform a backyard. It creates separation, space, contrast. It opens up the short space between planter and wall and brings vibrancy into what would be really pale color tones in any other form of light.

It’s a lot of work, but consider what type of light and what temperature it has when it falls onto your elements. Everything looks good during the golden hour when all the magazine pics are take. The challenge is to make your garden look good even in the mid-summer noon sun or the gray overcast of a January morning.

Similarly, to that trick, you can replace the bamboo with a garden screen and get space and funneled indirect light. The hint of space is seductive and creates the illusion of a continuation of space because we associate light with volume. We want to believe that there’s more behind the garden sheer than we have access to. Our brain thinks that this side of the wall, the darker side is actually smaller than what lies behind it.

backlight privacy panel

 

As you can see the outdoor privacy panels effect is stunning and considering the price, I am astounded that nobody does this trick especially when they are on a budget of have space restraints. Use an indirect correlation between the intensity of the reflection that is determined by the intensity of the light, the reflective properties of the wall is and the privacy rating of the garden screen.

Use a darker wall for more the illusion of space like in the case of the bamboo with more powerful lights and lower intimacy ratings to maximize the impression of space like in the case of the bamboo. Or a brighter wall to use it as a light source, in which case the intimacy rating serves to make it more or less atmospheric. But more on this later when we’ll cover oriental style garden screens.

GARDEN SCREENS AS A MODULAR, CHEAP LIGHT SOURCE

Consider the use of shade to limit detail and clutter or creating highlights with light over what is a flat feature. Light can become much more than a utility it can be a feature, a tool or the centerpiece itself. Sometimes you just have too much light and you don’t want to make a day out of night, so you just tease the scene with light. Works great with large open rooftops or yards, where you can afford some shielding and still maintain a view.

indirect light garden screen

 

A secondary way you can play with the light I covered here, this is technically a using it for its visual appeal more than subtractive properties but I think we should get rid of this tip while we’re talking about light. Some scenes are small enough that any form of direct light in the night time is either too little or too much. That’s why I prefer reflexive light.

Light going up a vertical surface, lighting it up and making it light up the area in the term. For this, you can basically use any surface but I found the modularity of the panels and their low costs to work very well and enables me to get creative with where I position them.

To keep the glimmer to a minimum I use dark matte panels with a very low 60% privacy coefficient. I just need them to catch some light, and nothing more. And the best part, garden screens set up like this as light sources are cheap, light and portable. You can arrange them in any configuration anywhere across your garden and they become a feature, a light feature that is both functional and beautiful.

 

FAKE WALLS

The last tip relies heavily on the outdoor garden panel to be visually pleasing. So another obvious feature of garden screens is their visual appeal And how to use them as surfaces. The first way and the most common use I have for them are doubling down on the walls.

 

wall cover outdoor panel

 

Face it, unless you have a Dutch painting on the wall or an original Banksy walls are boring. The expensive alternative is covering with hardscape.

The cheap and easy one is to fix some low privacy paneling over them. Letting a gap in between them and creating a second skin like appearance over them. For added designer points, combine my previous point, add some lights in between the wall and the panel, and make the wall a pale source of diffused light radiating through the outdoor privacy panels.

 

living wall

 

A secondary option, this one being the most common used by most designers is to use them as a backdrop for plants and foliage. To be fair a green wall is a great alternative to most planters and it also looks slimmer, lighter and more modular. This time you use however outdoor privacy panels with a high intimacy index and use them as a wall.

I would like to note that while segmenting a small urban yard with green walls is a great way to kill 2 birds with one stone, as I wrote about here. It’s very easy to make a green wall crowded so use restraint when handling extremely small spaces.

VISUAL APPEAL OF DIFFERENT TYPES OF PRIVACY SCREENS

I mostly use three themes for the outdoor privacy panels, but you will find a lot of overlap and variations on the design. But functionally there are geometric, organic and oriental. The first focuses on patterns created by hard bold lines and familiar geometrical shapes.

The second emulate the shapes and lines of nature and appeal to our more decorative sensibilities and the latter focuses on funneling light trough small openings and combine the geometrical patterns of the first with the soft lines of the second.

 

canopy light
Very rarely you can do both and create projections of organic lines. The finishing looks blotchy, and it looks like you tried to get the canopy feel but you messed it up. IN this case, it works, and it’s a very bold move. The reason it works is because space is white and bland and every splotch of light becomes shiny and decorative. There’s no conflicting elements or material distractions, it’s just a white canvas painted with light.

GEOMETRIC OUTDOOR PRIVACY PANELS

This is generally great as a base fake wall, or background. The simple shapes of the outdoor privacy panels don’t really do anything special with the light unless you put some fabric over it, but at that point, you turn it into something you always need to adjust.
A gimmick more than a feature. So how do you grade geometrical patterns? It’s all about how hypnotic the patterns is. The wall needs to be less of a wall and more of a background band supporting the lead singer in front. Either with a steady baseline like in the case of this Herringbone pattern that offers a base support for the bench without closing off the patio completely from the outside.

 

outdoor garden panel bench

 

Or with something more seductive like a jazz band groove, like in the case of this Mahjong fence. For me, it’s a no-brainer and the Mahjong tiles are just enthralling in their alternating pattern. Notice that everything else is more than predictable and not particularly interesting but the whole scene is still mesmerizing because the screen’s 60% privacy is enough to suggest bait your curiosity of what may be behind it.

You don’t loose space, you make it more interesting and it excites you. This is an amazing example of elegance and restraint being as interesting in the details as whole other centerpieces.

 

privacy panel fence

 

A good takeaway would also be that the lighter 60% Mahjong is more impressive and vibrant than the 80% Herringbone, despite the fact that the Herringbone has a zig-zag pattern. The light colored negative space more than compensates for the rectangular static lines.

This is usually the rule until it’s not anymore. Bellow, you can see the 90% Cumulus pattern. Technically based on circles so it is geometrical. But look at the tension of all those broken circles, it’s like a slow-motion explosion.
I chose this picture especially so you can see the difference between white and dark negative space within great patterns. You can see that the dark grooves provide a restrained pattern, the design and the tension in the shapes do the heavy lifting.

But when exposed to backlight like in the top right, the negative space explodes and comes alive with light. Cumulus is an amazing pattern and you can see here it’s versatility both at providing an interesting background and funneling light.

 

paneling garden

 

 

DECORATIVE GARDEN SCREENS

Decorative screens have a less structured patterned. They try to feel warmer, more natural and in doing so they offer a great organic feel that allows them to be integrated into an older less modern garden easier. As a start-up example, look at the 60% Leafstream.

The shapes pull your eyes like the waves of a fire. The dynamic patterns are very fluid and I wouldn’t use it as pure background. But for hinting at the space behind it or inducing movement in the eyes of the viewer it’s an excellent choice.

 

privacy screen

 

This open transparent look makes it ideal for playfully obstructing view without closing up and reducing space one bit. This is a favorite for small yards where you lack a lot of light because these outdoor privacy panels has almost no obstruction. Speaking of light, this is ideal for creating faux walls and use in between lighting because of it’s low opacity rating and playful vibrant curves.
This design does come however with some limitations and I would say you to really think about it before using it because it’s not all that restrained, and subtle so it will clash with some dry abstract themes. So let’s get on to some patterns that are less of a hassle to match and are more versatile.

THE PACIFIC ISLANDER OUTDOOR SCREEN

Daintree is inspired by pacific rainforests. It’s wavy and less linear, but comes with an 80% block out rate, making it suitable both as decorative outdoor privacy panels and as a background. The large openings also leave enough of a view for the eye to grasp the space behind it.

Making it a great option for wall coverages. Just keep in mind the limitation of the 80% rate. This doesn’t work as a light screen for background wall light to reflect trough it and it doesn’t really hide any rubbish or bad finishings all that well.

 

garden screen background

 

But what it lacks in practicality it gains in personality, especially over small spaces. This is a outdoor garden panel that can stand on its own whether inside or outside, like an abstract piece of rainforest. For best uses pair it with modern clean cut elements that need some softening up.

Works well with modern wood, concrete, and glass as long as they are not very clean. Consider this as a good option for segmentation and teasing privacy. A very good all-rounder you can get, play and experiment with.

 

indoor privacy panel

 

Where Daintree is weaker, bungalow picks up the slack. This is a Leafstream with 80% coverage and perpendicular elements. This is a building panel. The small nerves give it stability and allow the patterns to join up and be used for covering large surfaces.

And as a secondary use, you can play with it under artificial light, whether by reflecting it on it, from bellow or on the wall behind it. The linear elements also make it less contrasty with the straight modern design.

But That comes at a cost as it doesn’t pair as well with organic features as the previous 2 decorative patterns.

 

panelsing vertical gardens

 

And now for the piece of resistance, the brand new Wooloomai 80%, this has however so much block out and the spacing is so small think of it as an 85%.

It could be considered oriental in how well it funnels light but the curvy lines indicative of old medieval Japanese abstract representations of the sea makes it 2 tiers more decorative than any geometric based pattern you can find in any other oriental screens.

 

outdoor privacy panel garden screen

 

So what can it do? These outdoor privacy panels can cover, they can provide some very subtle background. Very restraint and feminine cover for any rubbish or boring walls. Nothing special, until you add light to it, behind it or in front of it.

The small wave lines funnel light beautifully so whether you’re funneling the sun or indirect light coming off a back wall, you will activate all those wave lines and infuse your sitting area with a unique mood that is hard to describe even for me.

If you used oriental screens before, it’s something similar but more decorative, playful in the patterns of light cast.

 

garden screen white
Another fantastic feature is how well the negative space looks when you turn it into a light-colored feature, the dark openings look like a tridimensional organic mural that just grab your gaze over and over again with their sensual dance.

Oriental outdoor privacy panels

First one, and the most versatile is Marrakesh. It works as background and because the patterns are very small and restrained on oriental screens you can easily pair them with both modern and classical design. This pattern is especially old and has a medieval hint to it so any old world to the colonial theme can work. But more importantly, this is a great light funnel for those just starting out.

Try it out, get one. Find a low, morning of the evening sun, and obstruct it’s light with one of these.

The area behind the panel will light up and the pattern projected by the funneled rays will create dreamy golden patterns that will imbibe the patio or deck with that 1001 Arabian nights mood, regardless of what your theme was before hand. That’s how powerful light can be.

 

garden panel
And if you decide these outdoor privacy panels are not for you, you still get a decent background panel for your plants or your favorite planter.

If however, you do fall in love with the Arabian light, step up your game with The orient screen.
This is a 90% block-out screen, that is all about that middle eastern vibe. It’s sold as a surface cover and feature, but don’t listen to them. The real magic happens when the light goes trough it. The small pin holes and dashes cast some very refined lights that instantly give any scene that Arabian bazaar feel, but without the smell of camels.
I know it sounds, niche, and it very much is. You need a wide area to use it in and you can only take advantage of it for maybe an hour or more on certain days when you have that strong low hanging sun and no overcast. But it’s a spectacular effect and considering that it comes dirt cheap, it’s probably the best thing you can do for the money, the alternative would be to actually set up a natural stone wall waterfall or a pool grotto. It’s that powerful.

And lastly but far from the least impressive are the Star Anais outdoor privacy panels. These are probably the best panels for getting creative with. Technically it’s a 90% geometrical pattern, but it looks excellent with everything. It has an oriental vibe, it blocks light both sunlight and wall reflection but you can also use it as a light source for indirect light.

It can hide spaces and at the same time depending on how much light you have behind it, it can show spaces because the openings are really long and allow for really good glimpses at the shapes behind it if they are properly lit.

 

garden screen planter

 

So why do you need anything else if it does everything really well? Well, it’s the pattern. It takes some time to get it, and really appreciate it’s beauty. A decorative outdoor privacy panel or even a hypnotic mahjong you instantly resonate with. And 2 or more panels like the Leafstream and Wooloomai just blend in together. These not so much, as they are made to work as individual panels.

But on the other hand, the pattern is such an amazing blend of geometric and natural that it goes both with modern and natural like nothing else and as you can see, it can span the visual gap between a flat gray wall and some lively greens better than anything else you can use. So if you know what you’re doing you should definitely skip everything else and get Some Star Anais pannels and play with them exclusively.

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Eco Glass: ECO-FRIENDLY Fire Glass & Landscaping Glass 2017 Guide

picture of small turquoise fire glass

At Exotic Pebbles and Glass we’re big on Eco Friendly products!

This week I’m going green I’ll tell you why eco glass is more environmentally friendly than organic mulch and give you the ultimate run down on sustainable landscaping.

Why you should get rid of your patio and replace it with a tree. And when you should spend money on new ecologically sustainable landscaping and when you can just improvise a better solution by yourself. After my post about 2017 design directions, some people were caught by surprise, by the ecological direction. Aesthetic took a back seat, and now design follows a new direction.
Sustainable design is all well and good, but, homesteading? Synthetic turfs? That’s pushing it, to say the least. But in this post, I’ll go further and show you that good design isn’t necessarily design that sticks to the basics, but rather it’s the application of creativity to solve problems. Beyond the regular eco-warrior tips and some basic principles, I’m going to reimagine the modern yard. A blend of organic and synthetic fused together to both please and protect.

picture of small cobalt blue fire glass

Cobalt Small 1/4 Inch – 1/2 Inch

There’s only so many ways you can make a lawn look fresh and exciting. But an above ground aquarium? A flowerbed filled with exotic weeds. Now, we’re playing with some new elements, and I see no reason why we should cower away and not use these new features, even if we don’t get 100% sustainability, it’s still going to be an improvement, and we got to play with some new design elements in the process.

SUSTAINABLE LANDSCAPE DESIGN PRINCIPLES

The basic principles of sustainability are minimizing resource needs and making the best out of the waste and byproducts of your garden. First, let’s consider what we input into our landscaping, first of all, materials. We try to use biodegradable elements, like wood, mulch, paper or cardboard or permanent materials that don’t degrade but also don’t pollute because they have a very long lifespan and when we do throw them away and recycle the raw matter: nonreactive plastic, corrugated metal, fireglass.

Gorgeous Fire Glass for fire pit

We’re going with the first ones usually when their production doesn’t actually create any environmental externalities, let’s say a homestead in the woods. Even a village can not consume enough wood to endanger the forest unless it’s a logging community and the cut-down wood for the entire Pacific Nord West. This is why I prefer the later. And I think modern manufacturing, with products that degrade in less than a year, is more harmful than 6 decades ago when you basically had bought everything you would even own by the age of 24.

Eco glass mulch

Here’s where it gets controversial. Eco Glass or landscaping glass is this type of perennial material. There is an argument that can be made for mulch as a land cover. It locks in humidity, it protects the top layer of soil from direct sun, and it decomposes releasing nutrients over time into the ground. It’s an excellent choice, but considering you need to replace it seasonally, I don’t think it’s a sustainable option in the global sense. All those bags of mulch need to be produced, processed, wrapped and transported in a neverending cycle. Sure, even if you produce biomass with it, and the only waste is the plastic bags it comes it still produces more waste byproducts than the equivalent of landscaping glass or better said eco glass. And don’t get me started on its looks, it makes gravel look appealing.

Check out our guide on backyard landscapes here!

RESOURCES

Another input consideration is water and fertilizer. Water is a significant’ issue, and I will be addressing it all across this post. It’s too important just to list out our abuse in use and how we waste it. For now, let’s talk fertilizer. Ideally, you want to try to get away with as little phosphorus, and nitrogen seeping into the ground or wash off getting in the sewers. Meter your ground, find out what it needs and give it just enough to not “burn it.” You can’t go in blindly, you need to know what is going on inside the ground.

picture of ocean blue landscape glass in a planter

Landscaping glass is a great compliment to rocks and pebbles.

The second step, manage your plants carefully, pick hardy grasses and flowers and plants that don’t attract pests. To prevent further weed growth, install a permanent weed barrier made out of non-reactive plastic, or some more biodegradable weed barriers like cardboard. I prefer the biodegradable option here because it’s just more versatile. Easy to readjust and adapt if you get one or two weeds slipping trough.
But they are both more efficient and less poisonous to your soil than weed killers, especially over larger surfaces

OUTPUT

In regards to output, there is a lot to be said, from water run off to grass clipping getting brushed off and going in the sewer. One of the biggest wastes is done during maintenance, and that’s also when you wash away all the nutrients and fertilizer and let it drain into our water system. You need those clippings, and by letting them wash away, you are ironically also paying for the city to clean them up.
Goes without saying that if you can, compost. Even if you don’t want to go all out on creating a zero carbon footprint, you should really consider just how nurturing compost is for your soil and just how well plants thrive in composted soil, especially if it’s dense and compact clay soil. And you don’t actually have to do it yourself. Go online and have a look around for communal composting around your area. And hand them the clippings instead of just throwing them away, who knows, maybe you’ll get some composting tips in the process.

AQUAPONICS

If you want to go the extra mile or to the last, level in reducing waste is setting your greens in aquaponic gardens. Zero waste, zero maintenance. A full-scale carbon and lifecycle right in your garden. And it actually gives you food if you set it up that way. If you have space for a pond and a plant bed, actually consider this more expensive garden. It will surely be the most eye-catching feature in your garden even if you leave it to the side and don’t really make a big deal out of it. That’s the power of selfaware design, it speaks of human values and engages even when it is understated and restrained. It’s just fascinating that we can create a complete, self-sufficient system within a couple of square feet. And we can do even more than that if you take a look at the permaculture craze.

DESIGN THAT BENEFITS THE ENVIRONMENT

HOW TO REDUCE YOUR YARDS ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT

Now we’re getting into the meat of this. This is all about reducing waste and getting the longest life span out of your materials. A proper garden should require some work to set up but then require minimal input or expenses over its and your lifetime.
The first point I want to hammer home is that the eye doesn’t see age or price. You see texture, color, shape, lines and elements. And for a couple of hundred years now we’ve had some fantastic materials that with fantastic shapes that can outlive us. So if you have a prejudice against anything that isn’t new, stop it. You are turning away from a Mona Lisa for a selfie. Old school manufacturing was a craft that took you years to master, now that same level of expertise and value is almost gone unless we are talking about really expensive custom pieces. And even then, I would choose the older piece because I’ve met some modern “craftsman, ” and they are younger than me. Don’t be scared of scouting around for old pieces or even damaged or rusty pieces.

RECYCLE

Scout around for some interesting pieces made out of recycled materials, I’ve seen this done with corrugated galvanized steel, terra cotta pots, and bricks. If you put in some work in even damaged or degraded assets can be made to shine again, literally.
Broken slabs of concrete can be sanded down, stained and used as walls, backgrounds, stairs or platforms. Use a slight stain and just add some character to it making it older, so it preserves its recycled origins.
If I had the time, I would never buy a terracotta pot or a forged steel support ever again. There are tons of beautiful designs online that outshine any expensive modern option. Get a privacy panel from our store over here, and you’ve got this very classic unique green vertical element that adds a character in any yard with a minimal footprint, both regarding space and regarding carbon.
In the the same way, you can use corrugated steel for any installations that require a sturdy material but be lighter than rock or stone. Get any construction throwaways, and with a polish, it’s brand new. This is especially handy as smaller pieces are harder to get your hands on without scrounging around. I don’t know why you would use anything else for a roof to your patio or shed. Always be careful when working with acid, always use protection a respirator and be aware of your wind direction or go to a professional and let them do it, support local craftsmanship whenever you get the chance, the have the tools, the skill, and the materials to give you the best results.

MULCH

Another waste is water evaporation. Ideally, for water retention, you should use a wood mulch, but I made my argument why that isn’t actually environmentally aware, it also encourages weed growth, and we already want to reduce the chemicals we input into our soil. So I go unapologetically with rocks or glass. Because we are talking about the smallest environmental impact, landscaping glass is the clear winner, within this context all Landscaping glass is eco glass. It’s recycled tempered glass and has no decay over the years. If anything you can just throw it in a tumbler with some carbide grit, ceramic pellets, and some water and tumble it for a couple of days and you get shiny new gems. No other ground cover can over so much for such a small carbon footprint.

And regarding water retention, we’ll talk more about that in the next part, but suffice to say that smarter irrigation and more intelligent selection of plants work better than using wood mulch as a universal fix. Plant trees, use shading panels, loosen the ground, so it absorbs more water and stores it deeper like in a rain garden, use a continuous automated sprinkler system in combination with. There are so many options that are much better than just storing the moisture with mulch.

GAS FIRES

picture of copper reflective fire glass

Now, you wouldn’t argue that burning fossil fuels are in any way sustainable. But if you really want that fire feature gas burners are so much cleaner than wood. Wood releases 3000 times more particulates in the air compared to natural gas.

Also, if you use a fire glass bed for the flame, you can accentuate the flicker and get away with a much smaller flame compared to the size of the wood fire you need to get the same effect. The Same thing applies if you have an aging fireplace and you want something new, go directly to gas, it’s cleaner, and it looks better if you learn how to use, by reading this article, over here from my fire glass design guide.

Check out our guide on Outdoor Fire Place Design for more inspiration.

INVADERS

Invasive plants are another environmental pollutant that up until recently we rarely considered. Because plants like the purple loosestrife have had a devastating effect on biodiversity in North America and New Zealand eradicating whole fields of local flora because of it’s more aggressive growth cycle, it matures and monopolizes the resources of other plants and clears out the native competition. These plants are like weeds on steroids. This is more than just another argument for nativars.

I want you to really look closely at the effects your plants can produce and how connected your garden is with the larger environment. We often just draw inspiration and falsely believe that our yard and the rest of the world are separate entities and the causality is exclusively one-sided. It’s not, and you should be more aware of that, especially if you live within miles of concrete and asphalt, which may seem like a world away from the forests of Cascadia or the Ogalla aquifer.

TERRAIN

One final note on waste and this is more of a metaphorical one. Don’t waste your space and native topography. Take advantage of dark corners, hills, and “10 hours of sunlight” areas. You can get a lot of variation if you use the environment and work with it instead of investing money to change it and adapt to the plants you want to use. And this brings up the subject of nativars. Local plants will always thrive where you need a lot of effort and expense to make others work.

If you don’t have much space; read out maximizing small backyard designs here.

Just by checking your soil and shopping around for climate specific plants you’re gonna have a better-looking garden, cheaper and without the need to use any expensive toxic chemicals. We’ll get to how actually to change the landscape in the next part, but for now, I want to address people that aren’t remodeling or have a lot of space. Use hills for greedy flowers than need a lot of air and sun. Use natural shade or a privacy panel shade for short brushes that want more humidity. You can get a lot of environments from a small garden if you try. This is what landscaping is all about, with enough money and tech we can build a Amazonian rainforest on Mars, but that’s just lazy.

ECO-FRIENDLY LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE

landscaping rocks

Now, I’m gonna teach you how to make the most of what you have available. The most obvious option and the easiest for those with small budgets are to collect rainwater runoff in rain barrels and just use the free soft water for your gardens needs. Besides the ecological benefits, this option is very versatile for use in small spaces and the Chinese are experimenting with the technology as a linchpin in combination with solar panels for indoor heating.

PLANT BEDS

Speaking of small spaces, downsize your lawn area. This is a forced design choice in many gardens built after 2014 when we all became very aware of the effects of climate change. Now, it’s not seen as a design compromise but rather a creative opportunity for zoning and segmentation, which means that in regards to lawns large yards and small gardens have an equal chance at bold, unusual design.
Flowerbeds are thirsty; use them as primary assets if you must have so you get most out of the water you have to use. Group them together based on their water and sun requirements. And funnel rain runoff into the thirstiest flower bed. Let it collect there and seep into the ground. If it doesn’t loosen the ground.

You can use landscaping rocks to help add to the design and look of your yard!

A BETTER FLOWER BED

This is a rain garden, and it uses depth of the soil as a natural reservoir for moisture that feeds of naturally from rainfall and any other water you might be using. It’s a bit tricky, and you need to adjust the water funneling a few times, but it’s amazing and invigorates your garden from beneath. Essentially they are a plant bed that is designed to collect runoff and stops it from getting into the sewers to prevent swelling during rainy seasons.

They also have an excellent side effect on your soil, because a rain garden is made of loose soil and encourages pudling and infiltration the water seeps into the ground actually sponging up all the water during rainfall and very slowly releasing it during the drier season. It’s a great way to keep your soil healthy and to stabilize the stress densely populated areas put on the sewer system. Again, usually people cover it with mulch to keep the humidity at peak levels, but as I previously said, I prefer landscaping glass because it’s lower maintenance and discourages weed growth. And if you live in harder climates, the weeds will love that wet, fertile soil you have in that plant bed.

DINING UNDER THE CANOPY

IN the same way, but this time from the top down, use deciduous trees as natural shade and moisture catcher in the summer, for your more sensitive plants or to help with water evaporation. Trees are the reverse of lawns, the bigger, the deeper they go and the better balance of your soils humidity. They lose water very slowly and need proportionally less. A large tree will do more for the dry soil than any amount of wood mulch because it creates it’s very own microclimate balancing out wind, sun, and humidity. And just like the airing out of the solid you do with a rain garden, the roots of trees do than naturally.
Trees also open up an interesting design opportunity, the livable recreational space. If you can afford a large three in you garden jump on it, it offers a unique feel for your gathering area, and it also provides a yearly natural source of composting keeping the ground beautiful and healthy. Use permeable pavings so you make an excellent compromise between making the most of the natural water cycle, and making is accessible and usable to your soil. I know changing your gathering spot to something more long term isn’t an attractive prospect.

Think about it this way: our resources are getting used up faster each year. And each year there’s more of us to share what we have. Sustainable landscaping isn’t a fad, it’s an integrated way we will think of about all future landscaping design, so why not just get a head start on everyone. By the time it will be the only affordable options due to watering restrictions you’ll have a lush 10-year old covering your garden with its dense canopy.

GARDEN HACKS

On a similar vain, but at a smaller scale, you should strive to use privacy panels and living walls instead of solid blocks for your separation. They don’t store heat and dry out their corners leaving some more breathing room, I’ve already talked about how cheap they can get and how great they look, so I won’t repeat myself, but you should also be aware of their positive influence on the health of your terrain and surrounding landscaping.
And we would not be talking about sustainable landscape redesign without talking about rain gardens. Because they can work with any water source and act as a battery for humidity making water usage more efficient, they are the cheap and easy solution for most landscapers on a budget. The combination of privacy panels, synthetic lawns and rain gardens, should work for most mid-size gardens and are flexible enough when used in conjunction with some beautiful landscaping glass or gravel to provide an infinite amount of looks and styles regardless of your local climate.

Get a mock up of your space and try out some designs, section it, figure out a central feature area, a secondary feature and then plan out some beautiful lines in between, cut them off with the panels and create the illusion of multiple communicating spaces instead of one big one.

GREEN LANDSCAPING PRODUCTS AND FEATURES

Go as green as you want, but at least try, there are plenty of lazy man option out there that are installed and forget. You don’t need to change everything in your garden. Keep these principles in mind for when you need to change some old features in your garden. Or better, follow the recycle policy, salvage the old feature and see how you can repurpose the old feature or spin it into something new. I’ve seen privacy panels made out of benches and art features made out of concrete stairs. Nothing is lost, everything is transformed, the only question is what is it going to transform into?

eco friendly fire glass container
But that’s an option, on a much more serious note is our obsession with lawns. If you live in a drought area, downsizing your lawns and getting rid of lawns altogether is somewhat more urgent as you seem to get less and less rain with each passing year. Cut it in quarters, and turn 2 diagonal corners into gravel pit’s, you will transform the surface into something modern and daring, and you would have cut in half your water expenditure.
Replacing the gasoline mowers with an electric or manual one is one of the simplest switches you can make. Now for me personally a rugged, sharp mower beats a battery one any and every time. I could rant about this for a whole post, and maybe someday I will. But in my view a push reel mower is always the better option: your grass will be healthier, it’s quiet, it’s easy to maintain and fiddle with.

But can’t argue with tastes. Just remember always to gather your clippings. Also, while on the subject of mowing, another handy tip to keep the ground from drying up is to leave your grass a little longer over the summer. It helps a lot and a 3-inch grass all but stops direct sunlight to fall on the underbed and drying it up.

DROUGHT PROOFING

So while technology is a downgrade regarding mowers or at best a sidegrade. A tool that does improve your landscaping massively are sprinklers and this time technology improves them massively.
Modern day sprinkler systems, monitor your soil’s humidity in real time, you can set variable watering based on zones and soil. High tech sprinklers are by far the most efficient irrigation option you can install.

Although a bit expensive it will more than pay for it’self in less than 2 years, or less if your utility bills are above the national average. While if you live in less dry places, you can make the leap to rain gardens and or collect rainwater into a reservoir as suitable alternatives, but in arid environments save up and get these things, because they make a significant dent in your monthly utility bill.
Again, especially for those of you that live in dry areas, the second biggest saver will be Xeriscaping. Over the years slowly move on to drought tolerant plants, succulents and deciduous trees for their soil regulating nurturing and protection and limited water needs. When you replace the ground cover consider landscaping glass, synthetic turfs gravel or crushed brick, which goes with any arid theme. Just remember, to get a strong weed barrier as well as dry land weeds are particularly hardy.
We want to use as little poisons as possible even in the dessert.Use dense rot-resistant wood for your finishings, and in no time you will have a well-kept garden, toxin free that will last decades in the dessert.Or go a bit further down the rabbit whole. Use weeds as a feature. They work really well in arid scapes, and if you use them with intent, they can pass for native plants.

THE HARD ONES

Composting and aquaponics are not for everyone. But in the case of composting, do share your biomass with someone if they have a compost heap and get your composting needs from them when the time comes. I have no place for composting, but I would never lay a flower bed without it, so I looked around, found a couple of guys within a 15-minute drive and I get my compost healthy and natural from them directly. And that’s also where I empty all my waste. Win-Win.
Outdoor aquariums are an interesting feature brought by the use aquaponics. In similar vain, ponds are the new lungs for your garden, so it’s definitely something to consider if you want to try something new and daring that infuses your yard with life.
And the last level of eco-landscaping would be the permaculture, which is the full-scale autonomous garden, but this is a full-time affair and requires a lot of space. The basic concept is to make your whole garden a self-sustainable microenvironment. And it is so fascinating I might make a whole post about it, about zones, edge effect, vertical layers and the inspiration that all that can create into landscaping design.

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