Reinventing the Wall — The Allan Block Creative Landscape Solution

Successful contemporary landscape design includes much more than beautiful aesthetics. Today, landscape designers and engineers have a multi-faceted palette of stylistic and functional elements to choose from when putting their project together, regardless of whether they’re helping a homeowner spruce up the backyard or working with an architect on a major commercial project.

The landscape wall is an element that can create major impact in an exterior design project. In addition to serving as a key visual focal point that ties the entire landscape together, a wall is often functional as well. For example, landscape walls can be used for soil retention, as area containment fences, or as effective sound barriers.

Inspired by Nature, Designed for Life

The materials used in creating contemporary landscape walls are not only beautiful to look at; they are also specially engineered to fulfill many different roles. One particular manufacturer, Allan Block, defines the state-of-the-art in landscape wall block design and manufacturing. Allan Block products are the go-to choice for both homeowners and professional landscape architects alike for many reasons.

Allan Block products are specifically designed to be used in a multitude of different applications, from basic to complex. Virtually maintenance free, these blocks are constructed from durable and long-lasting concrete and are designed to last a lifetime—or longer. Unlike old-school masonry block, however, Allan Block products are designed to work as an integrated system.

The Economics of Simplicity

Hollow-core construction makes Allan Block products lighter and therefore easier to work with, resulting in less time spent on a small project as well as lower labor costs on larger installations. This special design facilitates superior drainage as well as better resistance to freeze/thaw cycles.

The blocks are easier to work with than typical rigid construction building materials not only because they are lighter, but because of their unique and highly functional interlocking design, which makes wall construction far more simple and straightforward than in the past. There are no pins or fancy connectors, because Allan Block products are dry stacked using a proprietary and unique front lip that creates a built-in setback. This allows the blocks to automatically interlock as they are stacked.

Because mortar is not needed to bond the blocks, working with interlocked, dry-stacked material is very easy, offering the builder increased flexibility and superior performance. Labor complexity—and costs—are further reduced by eliminating the need for concrete footings and grout.

Flexibility Combined with Scalability

Generally, it is a good idea to reduce the need to cut blocks during a project through good planning and design. However, when cutting is necessary, working with Allan Block materials is similar to working with landscape timber—provided the builder has access to the right tools. For a smooth cut, a masonry saw with a diamond-tipped blade is recommended. For a rough cut, a hammer and chisel should do the job.

The Allan Block wall system is also exceptionally scalable. For simple backyard projects, the landscape wall can be built up to 5 feet high without any reinforcement on sandy soils and up to 3.5 feet on clay. For larger projects, masonry reinforcement will support walls up to 20 feet high, and with a geogrid reinforcement, the Allan Block wall can extend a full 40 feet. The services of a professional engineer are not needed for smaller walls; however, it is important to consult a qualified engineer for anything higher than 5 feet.

A Perfect Solution

Allan Block products are environmentally friendly and are often specified for green projects. The blocks are cast from raw, natural materials and are completely free from harsh or harmful chemicals such as those found in treated lumber or railroad ties. Their natural components don’t translate to a short lifespan, however. Since walls constructed from very basic concrete blocks in the 1950s are still standing, it’s very reasonable to assume that Allan Blocks will last even longer, based on their newer materials and modern production techniques.

The Allan Block line was developed to meet a wide range of needs, styles, and personal preferences. For example, the Europa Collection is a split-texture product that resembles cut stone with either a single color or blended colors. The Aztec Collection is a smooth-texture molded face, generally considered to be subtle yet very impressive. The Courtyard Collection was developed as a versatile, two-sided patio wall system, and Allan Block Fence is used for the construction of mortarless concrete fencing using the interlocking blocks.

You’re Never Alone with Allan Block

Regardless of whether you’re a homeowner working on a project around the house, a professional contractor bidding or working on a project, or a designer looking for ideas and solutions, Allan Block offers many resources to help you do your job right. For the homeowner, the Interactive Learning Center (ILC) is a great place to get started with learning about Allan Block products and the basics of how they are best used.

Contractors have access to a wide range of Allan Block tools and training resources to help expand their professional skills. Contractors can also become certified in Allan Block installations through the company’s Contractor Certification Program.

Designers can also expand their professional skills with several important Allan Block tools. The Best Practices for Segmental Retaining Walls (SRC) is an online course that walks the designer through the entire SRC planning and construction lifecycle, from initially meeting with the owner all the way through quality control of the finished project. Allan Block can also provide designers with AB Walls, a state-of-the-art software design tool that outputs professional quality construction drawings along with technical support data.

Fizzano Brothers—Your Source for Allan Block

Allan Block products are developed and engineered to deliver creative wall landscape solutions. Allan Block’s built-in features and benefits make them the most efficient and reliable products available. Fizzano Brothers manufactures these products for residential, commercial, institutional, and industrial construction to solve a variety of soil retention, fence, and sound barrier concerns.

Please contact Dan Patterson 610-662-8804 or for consultation, quotes, samples, and literature.