After using information published in the March edition of FRANK, you’re now ready for the hardscape installation. The hardscape consists of any “built structure” in the garden, which can include concrete, pavers, pergolas, arbors, walls, lighting and more. For this article, we’ll focus on necessary wall and paver certifications.

Have you seen or had a crooked wall, a wall that falls forward or otherwise fails? The National Concrete Masonry Association certification means that you will get a high-quality level job from a contractor who has knowledge and experience.

A certified SRW (segmental retaining walls) installer must complete the segmental retaining walls course, which focuses on installation guidelines, material and system components, soils and compaction, the effect of water and proper site practices. After completing this course the installer can take their education to the next level and become certified in advanced residential SRW.

A certified advanced residential SRW installer has completed the course on advanced residential and small commercial projects that focus on wall layout, planning, water and drainage, cut and fill walls, tiered walls, corners and curves, stairs and patios. Recertification requires at least eight continuing education credits or by recertification exam. By code, any wall that exceeds 4-feet in height should be engineered as well. For more information visit

Any paver installer should be an Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute (ICPI) certified installer from With outdoor spaces continuing to be a hot trend, this is a definite certification you want your installer to have.

Pavers are labor intensive and come with a price tag, but with the right installer, the work will last decades. To become an ICPI certified installer one must attend an ICPI concrete paver installer course, earn a passing score of 75 percent or higher and submit an application for certification.

The certification application requires documenting at least five paver projects or more and 10,000-square-feet of pavers laid. For each project on the application, ICPI representatives will visit the property to check for proper installation techniques and/or speak with the home or business owner about the hardscape project to check for their satisfaction of the paver installation.

Once certified, the term lasts for two years and requires the certified installer to ear eight continuing education credits in order to renew their certified status.

In addition to having ICPI certification, your installer should have the seal of approval from the block manufacturer they work with. Techo Bloc and Belgard are two major paver and wall suppliers in our area. These certifications take time, experience and education to ensure your project will be quality and meet industry standards.

A Belgard Authorized Contractor must be recommended by a Belgard Authorized Dealer or Sales Representative, have at least one ICPI certified team member for pavers and NCMA certified team member for walls, satisfy installation requirements, be insured and have a state license.

To be a Techo-Pro through Techo-Bloc the business must be at least two years old, ICPI certified, NCMA certified or contractually agreed to be within 12 months, be insured, have a valid work license, provide a history of quality workmanship with photos of hardscape projects to support and have two homeowners as references.

As with any professional certification, those certifications must be maintained with CEU’s, or continuing education units or credits, which means your certified professional is constantly immersed in knowledge and innovation in their field.

And of course, your chosen professional should have worker’s compensation and liability insurance. Hiring a professional with certifications and the right credentials comes at a cost, but has incomparable value!

Andrea Wilson Mueller, APLD is the owner at Inside Out Design, LLC and first and only APLD certified landscape designer in KY. This article is the second part of a series. The first article can be found at this link: