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Outdoor fire features help extend the outdoor season.
Outdoor fire features help extend the outdoor season.
October 14, 2012 10:37 AM CDT

Cooler temperatures call homeowners outdoors

Growing outdoor living trends make backyards even better in the fall


As summer fades to fall, homeowners are taking their indoor activities outside and letting nature’s air conditioning provide a comfortable stage for everything from vegetable greens to TV screens. What’s more, it’s all taking place in backyards designed for just such activities.

“Homeowners are renovating their backyards as a way to extend their living space, and its use lasts long beyond the last summertime barbeques,” said Ken O’Neill, vice president of marketing for Belgard® Hardscapes. “With outdoor accessories like televisions and fire features, people are using their backyards well into fall for family gatherings and social events.”

Home improvement trends continue to show a strong interest in creating outdoor living spaces; in fact, a recent survey conducted by Belgard Hardscapes found that 74 percent of homeowners who had renovated or planned to renovate their yards did so specifically for entertaining.

Tailgating at home

One trend that is particularly popular in the fall is all-weather television screens that turn patio parties into tailgates. Homeowners Christi and Pierre Simoneaux in Covington, La., updated their simple concrete slab patio into a hardscapes haven last summer by adding a paver patio, L-shaped bar with a commercial beverage cooler, grill station, outdoor TV and dining area. It quickly became the neighborhood gathering place to watch LSU football games.

“We created the outdoor living area around our pool for our kids to enjoy in the summer, but once we added the bar and television we found we had created the perfect fall tailgating venue,” said Christi Simoneaux, who has two teenage sons. “We were chargrilling oysters on the grill island, watching the game around the outdoor bar, and chilling our drinks within easy reach.”

What’s cooking outdoors

Whether fueled by gas, charcoal or ceramic, outdoor cooking heats up as the temperatures cool down in the fall. Some homeowners’ outdoor spaces even include complete kitchens with stove tops, grills and sinks. A newer trend is toward wood-fired brick ovens, which retain heat and invite creative cooking, from custom pizza to pork tenderloin. They can stand alone or be built into outdoor kitchens, depending on the size of the outdoor space. Plus, the heat they give off warms up the surrounding area during crisp autumn nights.

Fire feature popularity heats up

Outdoor fire features help extend the outdoor season, such as fire pits, fireplaces and fire tables. The 2012 Residential Architecture Landscape Survey found that more than 95 percent of homeowners want fireplaces or fire pits in their outdoor spaces.

Fire pits allow flexibility for social areas and can be grand or modest, according to Steve Baier, owner of A Natural Choice Shamrock Landscaping in St. Charles, Ill., where the climate is well suited to outdoor fire features.

“With different shapes and designs, fire pits can be a creative centerpiece to your backyard,” said Baier, who builds both square and round fire pits for his customers. “Sometimes we leave an open area where the homeowner can put furniture for extra seating, or we build a curved seating wall and columns with built-in lights to tie it all together.”

Don’t put away the gardening gloves

As beneficial as summer’s sun is to vegetables such as tomatoes and cucumbers, fall nurtures a variety of other produce such as broccoli, cabbage, collard greens and carrots that prefer cooler temperatures. Raised garden beds built around patios provide easy access to garden areas, and they provide extra seating for social gatherings around the fire pits.

“People are designing their outdoor living spaces to include the accessories that fit their lifestyle needs and allow them to enjoy outdoor living spaces despite the cooling weather – and in many cases, because of it,” O’Neill said.

About the Author

Since 1995, a nationwide network of Oldcastle manufacturing facilities has produced Belgard interlocking pavers, paving stone and garden wall products. These products include the traditional and antiqued paver and wall series. All Belgard products have a long history of successful applications on thousands of residential and commercial projects throughout the United States and Canada. Contact Belgard Hardscapes, Inc. at


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