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Prepare Your Outdoor Living Space for the Fall Season

Fire Pit PartyI hate to be the bearer of bad news, but summer is officially over. But you don’t have to take your parties indoors just yet. With a little bit of work, you can prepare your outdoor living space for the fall season, creating the perfect environment for parties and social gatherings.

Rake Leaves and Pine Needles

With the transition from summer to fall comes lots of fallen leaves and pine needles, so much in fact that it may blanket your outdoor living space. Depending on where exactly you live, and the distance to nearby trees, you may want to rake the area to keep it clean. If raking sounds like too much work, you can always use a leaf blower to eliminate fallen leaves and pine needles. Just remember to keep the leaves on your property; otherwise, you may get a knock at your front door from an angry neighbor.

Provide Warmth

If you plan on hosting any outdoor parties, you’ll want to set up some heat source to keep guests warm and comfortable throughout the fall and winter seasons. There are a few different options when it comes to heating, one of which is a outdoor patio heater (yes, there are heater designed specifically for the outdoors). But if you really want to create a relaxing environment, a better option is a portable fire pit. Portable fire pits like those sold here at S&S Fire Pit offer warmth and a relaxing ambiance. And unlike a patio heater, you can even cook food on a portable fire pit.

Go Festive with the Decorations

There’s no better time than the fall season to update your outdoor living space with festive decorations. Halloween, for instance, is right around the corner, in which case you can decorate your outdoor living space with pumpkins, fake spider webs, skeleton bones, etc. Be warned, though, this may attract more trick-or-treaters to your home come October 31st, so stock up on the fun-sized candy bars before this spooky holiday arrives.

If Halloween isn’t your cup of tea, you can still embrace the fall season by decorating your outdoor living space with autumn colors. The folks over at HGTV have put together an excellent collection of patios and porches with some stylish seasonal fall decorations.

Photo credit: Rachael Titiriga

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.  https://ssfirepits.com/contact/

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Transform Your Back Yard into a Social Oasis

8321967207_204791b09d_zBack yards offer the perfect location to host parties and social get-togethers. Before calling your buddies and asking them to come over, though, you’ll want to set up your back yard using the tips listed below.

Lighting

Being that most outdoor parties happen at night, you’ll need some source of lighting to illuminate your back yard. String lights, as shown in the photo to the left, is a fun alternative to traditional fixtures. And unlike traditional fixtures, you can install them in just minutes. Another idea is to set up tiki torches around your outdoor living spaces, which can double as insect-repellents when burning citronella fuel.

Stone Accents

If you’re willing to invest the necessary time and energy into this project, try using some stone accents in your back yard oasis. A limestone sidewalk, for instance, is a brilliant addition that’s sure to enhance your back yard. Guests will also appreciate this feature, as it allows them to traverse to and from your house without walking directly on the grass.

Go Green

Green plants and shrubs will help to create a more calming and relaxing outdoor environment. This is particularly true in southern states like Georgia and Florida where the sun stays hot throughout much of the year. And you can even grow plants in strategic areas to provide a natural source of shade.

Use Fire as a Focal Point

Ever social gathering area needs a focal point, and your back yard is no exception. While there are several different options from which to choose, fires offer the perfect focal point for social environments. According to this article published by Independent, humans have been using fires as a social focus for more than 300,000 years. Even today, fires are the perfect focal point for social environments, including outdoor living spaces. So if you’re looking to transform your back yard into a social oasis, set up a fire pit in the center.

Of course, you’ll also want to set up seating around your fire pit. Don’t just place a couple foldout chairs in front of the fire pit. Rather, you should create a circular shape of chairs, or other seating, surrounding the fire pit. This encourages people to converse amongst themselves while keeping the center of attention on the fire.

Photo credit: Rebecca Schley

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.  https://ssfirepits.com/contact/

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Privacy Options for an Outdoor Living Space

721829578_25a83005eb_zOutdoor living spaces offer the perfect environment for parties and social gatherings. And with the fall season right around the corner, more and more homeowners will be going outdoors to enjoy the mild weather. Unfortunately, though, not all outdoor living spaces are private. There are ways to create a more private outdoor area, some of which we’re going to discuss.

Privacy Fence

The most common privacy solution for outdoor living spaces is a fence. By constructing a fence around your outdoor living space, you’ll create a more private area. Some of the different materials from which privacy fences are made include wood, vinyl and brick. Choose a fence that’s large enough to conceal your outdoor living space, and preferably a material that flows with the rest of your home’s outdoor decor.

Also, remember to check with your homeowner’s association before building a privacy fence. If it’s against the rules, the association may ask you to remove it — or worse, they could fine you.

Privacy Enclosure

If building a fence sounds like too much work, perhaps you should use a privacy enclosure. Privacy enclosures offer the same privacy benefits as a fence, but they typically cost less and are easier to install than their counterpart.

While there are dozens of different types of privacy enclosures, most are temporary structures that are placed around a specific area. Not only are they cheaper than building a fence, but you can also take them with you if and when you decide to move.

Shrubs

Of course, another idea is to grow large shrubs or trees for privacy. Some homeowners prefer this option because it’s more natural looking. However, it also requires more maintenance, as you’ll have to prune away overgrown foliage and branches. If you’re willing to invest the time and work into maintaining it, privacy shrubs is a great choice for outdoor living spaces.

With an average growth height of 40 to 60″, the American Arborvitae is a great tree hedge for privacy. The evergreen shrub Nigra Arborvitae is another great choice, although it grows a bit shorter with average height of 30″. If you need help choosing privacy shrubs for your outdoor living space, visit a local plant nursery and ask for recommendations. They should be able to point you in the right direction.

Photo credit: Roxxane Sutton

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.  https://ssfirepits.com/contact/

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5 Questions to Ask When Planning an Outdoor Living Space

Outdoor spaceThe American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA) conducted a recent study in which it found that 70% of households in the United States have an outdoor living space. And 70% of households with an outdoor living space use it at least once per week. If you’re late to the game and looking to create an outdoor space, you should ask the following questions when planning it.

Is there Protection from the Wind?

It’s a good idea to plan your outdoor living space in an area with some form of protection from the wind. Whether it’s a tree line, large rock, retaining wall or even the side of your home, you need some type of structure — natural or man-made — to protect against the wind. Once the wind starts blowing on a cold autumn or winter evening, it could quickly end your party.

How Many Guests Do I Need to Accommodate?

It’s doubtful that you’ll be the sole person enjoying your outdoor living space. Sure, you may escape here to enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning or a drink in the evening, but you’ll probably use this space to host gatherings with friends and family. Therefore, you should determine about how many people will be using your outdoor living space. The more people who use it, the larger the space needs to be and the more seating you’ll need.

It is Convenient?

Ideally, your outdoor living space should be planned in a convenient, easily accessible area. If it’s a quarter of a mile walking distance from your home, you probably won’t be using it much. Plan you outdoor living space in an area where you, and your guests, can easily access it.

Does it Flow with the Existing Decor?

There’s nothing wrong with creating a unique style with your outdoor living space, but you should try to maintain a cohesive appearance that flows with the rest of your home’s outdoor decor. If you have neutral colors and rustic elements outdoors, perhaps you should follow a similar approach with your new outdoor living space.

Is it Safe to Build Fires?

Assuming you want to build fires outdoors, you should choose an appropriate, safe area. A good rule of thumb is to give yourself a minimum of 10 feet between your fire and any mad-made structure (such as your home). Furthermore, make sure there are no overhanging tree branches that could ignite from a stray ember.

Photo credit: Chris Ford

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Tailgating Tips to Kick off the Football Season

259178367_9b855d4b13_zIt’s that time of year again. No, I’m not talking about the beginning of the holiday shopping season; I’m talking about football. College football kicked off its 2016-2017 season on August 26, with the NFL scheduled to play its first game of the season on September 8.

Plan Games

Tailgating is all about relaxing in a social environment before the game begins. But if you plan on tailgating for any significant length of time, you should plan some games and activities to keep your group entertained. Bean bag toss (Cornhole) is a popular pastime for tailgating. All you need is a set of bean bags and a wooden cutout board, which are typically sold at most sporting goods stored. Of course, you can always bring a football to toss before the game as well.

Bring a Radio

In addition to games, you should also bring a radio. Sure, you can always listen to your car’s radio, but doing so may deplete your battery, forcing you to use jumper cables when you are ready to leave. So, bring a standalone radio for your tailgating party. You can listen to pre-game commentary or your favorite tunes (or both).

Don’t Forget the Fire Pit

Let’s face it, cold turkey sandwiches just aren’t as appetizing as a juicy, fresh-cooked burger or hot dog. If you plan on grilling out during your tailgating party, you’ll need to bring either a grill or fire pit. Doing so opens the doors to a whole new world of food choices. Rather than limiting yourself to cold foods, you can cook meats, vegetables or just about anything else.

Here are some tips for taking a fire pit tailgating:

  • Identify areas where you can safely dispose of ashes. Most stadiums have designated areas for this. If you can’t find them, ask other tailgaters, because chances are someone knows where to dispose of ashes.
  • Never leave your fire pit unattended. Even if there are dozens of other tialgaters around, someone needs to watch the fire pit at all times.
  • Don’t use lighter fluid or gasoline to light your fire pit. Stick with basic kindling or tinder instead.
  • Bring several foldout chairs so you and your friends can gather around the fire pit.
  • Wait until your fire pit has cooled off before loading it back in your vehicle.
  • Bring a grill brush, tongs and other grilling accessories.

Photo credit: k t

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.  https://ssfirepits.com/contact/

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How to Smoke Meats Like a Professional Chef

barbecue-820010_960_720You’ve seen all of the professional chefs doing it on TV, and now you want to take a shot at smoking meats? There’s no denying the fact that smoked meats have a delicious flavor and super-tender texture that simply can’t be achieved through traditional cooking techniques like grilling or baking. The Native Americans smoked meats centuries ago to preserve their food. But the good news is that any amateur home chef can smoke delicious meats with little effort.

Do I Need a Special Smoker?

Absolutely not! There are dozens of “smokers” available for sale, many of serve their intended purpose just fine. But the truth is that you can smoke meats using a traditional grill or fire pit just as easily. So, save your money and stick with your existing grill or fire pit.

Smoking vs Grilling

Before we reveal the steps to smoking meats, let’s first discuss the differences between it and grilling. While both smoking and grilling are used to cook meats (and other food for that matter), there are a few key differences between the two. Grilling, for instance, typically involves high heat and short cook times, whereas smoking involves low heat and longer cook times. Because of this, smoking requires some type of enclosure that prevents the smoke from escaping.

How to Smoke Using a Grill or Fire Pit

There’s no single “right” way to smoke meats, so feel free to experiment with your own techniques. With that said, it’s usually a good idea to begin by stacking your charcoal off to one side of the grill or fire pit, and then placing a drip pan on the opposite side. Now go ahead and light the coals (don’t use lighter fluid, FYI). Once the coals are nice and hot, pour 1 cup of water into the pan. This reduces the heat, allowing the meats to smoke rather than grill.

Next, place your meats on the side of the grill grate covering the water-filled pan, at which point you can close the grill or use a lid for your fire pit. If there’s a vent, open is just slightly to allow air to flow through the grill/fire pit. Depending on the temperature of the fire and how much meat you are smoking, you can expect it to take several hours at minimum. A good way to tell when your meat has finished smoking, however, is to try and pull it off the bone. Good smoked meat should literally fall off the bone.

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.  https://ssfirepits.com/contact/