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Why Fire Pits are Better than Chimineas

2521131247_5629e62e04_zOutdoor fires have become a common trend among homeowners. While some homeowners build fires for the sole purpose of burning leaves and yard debris, others build them for style, warmth, and the relaxing ambiance they provide. There are several different options when creating outdoor fires, with two of the most popular being fire pits and chimineas. However, it’s usually best to choose a fire pit instead of the latter, and here’s why.


A well-made fire pit can offer countless years of use, without degrading. The same can’t be said for chimineas, which often break after just a few years. The problem with chimineas is their material of construction. Traditionally, chimineas are made of clay, making them susceptible to cracking and breaking. Being that fire pits are made of stronger materials, such as steel, they last significantly longer than their counterpart.

Warmth Radiance

As you can see in the photo, chimineas radiate heat in a single direction. In comparison, fire pits radiate heat in a full 360 degrees. Whether you’re sitting in front, behind or to the side of a fire pit, you’ll feel the same level of warmth as everyone else. So if you’re building a fire to keep you and your guests warm this winter, you should stick with a fire pit.


Chimineas are tall, much taller than fire pits. This can limit its use in certain areas such as covered patios and porches. And even if the chiminea “fits,” it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s safe to use here. You have to consider the heat being released from the top of the chiminea and how close it to the covered structure. If you’re looking to build a fire under a covered area, choose a fire pit to reduce the risk of property damage.


Another reason why fire pits are better than chimineas is because they are portable. Granted, there are some stationary fire pits available, but S&S Fire Pits are completely portable. You can pack them to take camping, tailgating, or even to a friend’s house. Just remember to completely extinguish the flames and wait for the fire pit to cool off before loading it. You cannot do the same with chiminea — not easily at least. These are just a few reasons why fire pits are better than chimineas.

Photo credit: Dave Robinson

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.

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Pros and Cons of Artificial Grass for Your Lawn

grass-534873_960_720With roots dating back to the 1960s, artificial grass (also known as artificial turf) has been a viable alternative to traditional grass. It’s made of synthetic fibers that mimic the look and feel of natural grass. Back then, however, it was used primarily in athletic fields. It wasn’t until the 1990s when artificial grass become a popular choice in residential lawns. But if you’re thinking of installing it in your lawn, you should weight all of the pros and cons.

Pro: Pesticide-Free

Unlike natural grass, artificial grass isn’t susceptible to pests. The synthetic fibers are naturally pest-resistant, meaning you don’t have to worry about applying and reapplying pesticide to your lawn.

Con: High Installation Cost

While the exact cost of installation varies, homeowners can expect to pay more for artificial grass than natural grass. With natural grass, you can simply spread a combination of seed and fertilizer, allowing Mother Nature to do the rest. Artificial grass costs a bit more to install, as homeowners must pay for the turf itself, as well as labor.

Pro: Resistant to Erosion

Artificial grass is also resistant to erosion, more so than natural grass. Heavy storms and subsequent rain runoff can wash away natural grass, eroding the soil and changing the landscape. This typically doesn’t happen with artificial grass, however. The synthetic material is strong, durable and resistant to erosion caused by runoff.

Con: It’s Hot

If you play on your lawn with your children, you should think twice before investing in artificial grass. According to a study conducted by Brigham Young University, the surface temperature on artificial grass is roughly 37 degrees higher than the temperature of the surrounding air. This is because the synthetic materials from which artificial grass is made holds heat; thus, it’s warmer than natural grass.

Pro: Saves Water

Conventional wisdom should tell you that artificial lawns saves water. Unlike their natural counterpart, artificial grass does not need regular watering. When a heat wave blankets your area next summer, you can rest assured knowing that your lawn is safe, with or without water.

Pro: Doesn’t Require Mowing

This alone is reason enough for many homeowners to choose artificial grass for their lawns. Synthetic grass doesn’t grow, and as such, you don’t have to mow it. Once installed, it stays the same height throughout the year.

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.

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How to Prevent a Wooden Deck from Freezing

snow-616319_960_720Winter is in the air, with homeowners from the east coast to west experiencing sub-freezing temperatures. When the mercury drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, though, water turns to ice — and this ice can prove downright dangerous when it forms on your patio and deck. So, how do you prevent your deck from freezing?

Keep it Clean

Cleaning a wooden deck isn’t going to necessarily prevent it from freezing, but it can certainly help by discouraging mold and mildew, which can make your deck more slippery if left unchecked. Mold and mildew need organic matter to thrive. So things like dust, pine straw, leaves and other organic debris provide ideal breeding grounds. You can discourage mold and mildew from forming on your wooden deck, however, by cleaning it on a regular basis.

Apply Deck-Cleaning Product

Even after removing the debris from your wooden deck, you should still apply a proper deck-cleaning product. Available at most home improvement stores, these products contain special chemicals to further eliminate microbial growth without harming the deck’s wooden structure. Some homeowner prefer to make their own deck-cleaning solution — and that’s okay. Just remember to avoid using products ammonia AND bleach, as this creates a dangerous and toxic chemical when mixed together.

Apply Water-Repellent Stain

After applying deck-cleaning product and allowing it to set, you should apply a water-repellent stain. These stains are specifically designs to repel water, and without water settling on your deck, it shouldn’t freeze. While steps for applying a water-repellent stain vary depending on the product, most require brushing or rolling the stain onto the wooden boards, preferably on a day with minimal sunlight (sunlight causes the product to evaporate and oxidize more quickly. Wait at least 48 hours for the stain to settle, at which point your wooden deck should be protected from moisture and ice.

Non-Slip Strips

If you live in a region that receives particularly cold winters, you may want to install some self-adhesive non-slip strips to your deck. This isn’t going to prevent it from freezing. Rather, it improves traction while preventing slip-and-fall accidents. You can buy them for less than $10 bucks, which is a small price to pay for the added safety they offer. Place them in high-traffic areas such as steps and in front of doors.

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.

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6 Tips to Enhance Your Outdoor Living Space

fireplace-1156675_960_720Outdoor living has become one of the hottest home design trends. But if you want to enjoy your outdoor living space to its full potential, you should make it fun and entertaining.

Create a Focal Point

Going back to the basics of home decor 101, all gathering spaces should include a central focal point — and outdoor living spaces are no exceptions. While the TV or fireplace is often used as a focal point indoors, you may not have the option of using either of these in your outdoor living space. An alternative focal point that works just as well, however, is a fire pit.

Make it BIG

Space is paramount when designing a functional and entertaining outdoor living space. If the space is crowded with little-to-no space for guests to move around, you won’t be able to enjoy this area. Many experts recommend following the “less is more” rule when designing outdoor living spaces, meaning you should include just a few pieces of furniture here.

Maintain Clean Furniture

When was the last time that you actually cleaned your outdoor furniture? Being that it’s outdoors, many homeowners are guilty of rarely, if ever, cleaning their outdoor furniture. So when guests come over, they are forced to sit on dirty and damp seat cushions.  Keep your outdoor furniture clean and free of debris to prevent this from happening.

Maintain the Lawn

Don’t underestimate the importance of maintaining a well-manicured lawn. It’s difficult to enjoy an outdoor living space when there’s overgrown weeds and tall grass blanketing the lawn. Giving your lawn a little attention will go a long ways in enhancing your outdoor living space.

Provide an Area for Drinks and Food

You should also include an area where guests can place their drinks and food. Outdoor tables with built-in umbrellas work well, although you can also choose smaller side tables. Some chairs also feature drink holders.

Use Waterproof Furniture

Not all furniture is suitable for use outdoors. Even if the area is covered, moisture vapor in the air can damage furniture made with cotton and similar organic fabrics. This is why you should stick waterproof furniture that’s designed specifically for the outdoors. Furniture made with synthetic materials like polyester are typically better suited for the harsh outdoor environments, making them ideal for this purpose.

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.

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5 Tips for Hosting an Outdoor Party this Winter

patio-cover-1748372_960_720Just because the temperature has dropped doesn’t necessarily mean you have to take your parties indoors. On the contrary, many homeowners prefer the winter season for outdoor parties because of the cool temperatures and mild weather. But there are a few things you should know when planning a party during this time of year.

Check the Weather

You should always check the weather when planning an outdoor party, scheduling it for a clear day when possible. There’s no faster way to ruin a party than with rain. Sure, you can always set up umbrellas or have your party under a covered patio or deck, but this isn’t exactly enjoyable when it’s cold outside.

Climate Control

Even if the local weather calls for clear skies, you should still provide warmth for your guests when hosting an outdoor party. Thankfully, there are several ways to control the climate in your outdoor living space, some of which include portable patio heaters, a fire pit, or even enclosures.

Stay Active

You should also plan your outdoor winter party with activities. Whether it’s horseshoe toss, charades, or simply tossing the football around, activities such as these will help guests stay warm and comfortable. Furthermore, activities offer a form of entertainment, which is paramount when hosting a party.

Grill Foods

There’s no better opportunity to grill delicious home-cooked meals than an outdoor party. Some ideas to consider for your party include burgers, hot dogs, steaks, chicken kebabs and pork chops. Best of all, you don’t even need an actual charcoal or gas grill to cook them. As long as you have a fire pit set up, you can grill delicious foods with the same distinct smokey flavor created by a grill.

Provide Lighting

If you plan on hosting your party during the evening — or into the evening — you should set up adequate lighting throughout the space. String lights have become a popular choice for outdoor lighting, as it offers both aesthetic and functional benefits. String lights can be ran across patios and other structures, allowing for an innovative and unique lighting solution. Another idea is to use tiki torches. Not only will they illuminate your outdoor living space, but they also provide warmth and a relaxing ambiance. Some tiki torches even have bug-repellent chemicals added to them, which are helpful for keeping mosquitoes away.

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.

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10 Everyday Uses for Wood Ashes

4673431180_f3c7ec7a32_z#1) Eliminate Bad Odors

Whether it’s in the kitchen or bathroom, you can use ashes to eliminate bad odors. Place the ashes inside an open-top container, such as an empty coffee container, and place it inside the space that you wish to deodorize. The Ashes will attract and absorb odor-causing germs, leaving the area smelling nice and clean.

#2) Stain Remover

Wood ashes can also be used to remove stains on clothes. When you discover a stain, place a small amount of ash directly on the affected area and gently rub it using a piece of bread.

#3) Lye Water

You can make lye water using ash. Place a couple spoonfuls of ash in a small-to-medium-sized pot and bring to a boil. After allowing it to boil for a few minutes, filter the contents through a coffee filter. The remaining water contains lye, which is great for cleaning floors, counter tops, stone, or just about anything else!

#4) Plant Fertilizer

Being that it’s organic and loaded with rich minerals, wood ash makes an excellent plant fertilizer. Simply sprinkle it directly over your garden, or mix it in with potting soil.

#5) Compost

I guess you could say this goes hand-in-hand with plant fertilizer. Nonetheless, you can add wood ash to a compost bin for an added kick of nutrients.

 #6) Insect Repellent

Struggling to keep those pesky insects out of your basement? Try sprinkling some wood ashes around the perimeter. The general idea is to create a barrier of ashes. Most insects won’t travel over ash, so as long as you have a perimeter set up, it should keep your basement pest-free.

#7) Protects Plants from the Cold

As any green thumb already knows, cold snaps can easily kill plants. One way to protect plants from freezing temperatures is to apply mulch around them. An alternative solution, however, is to apply wood ashes around the base. It works in a similar manner as mulch, insulating your plants and protecting them from the cold weather.

#8) Melts Ice

The next time you wake and discover your driveway is coated with ice, try sprinkling some ash over it. Ash has the ability to melt ice because of its high salt content.

#9) Extinguish Fire

While it’s no substitution for an actual fire extinguisher, ash can be used to put out small fires.

#10) Filters Wine Sediments

You can filter wine through ash to remove sediments.

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.


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How to Stop Your Campfire from Smoking

Lincoln log stackingThere’s nothing that compares to the relaxing, mesmerizing ambiance of an outdoor fire. Whether you are camping deep in the forest or simply enjoying a peaceful evening on your patio, a fire is guaranteed to enhance your experience. But it’s difficult to enjoy a fire when thick smoke is blowing in your face. While there’s no way to fully prevent this from happening, there are ways to minimize smoke produced by a fire.

Use Dry Firewood

If you want to reduce smoke created by your fire, burn only dry firewood. We recommend kiln dried wood.  All firewood has at least some moisture — and that’s okay. But if the wood is particularly damp, it will produce more smoke upon burning. This is why it’s a good idea to store your firewood in a shed or covered area where it’s protected from rain.

Avoid Green Wood

You can also minimize smoke production by avoiding green wood in your fires. The term “green wood” is somewhat confusing, however, as it doesn’t necessarily refer to wood that’s green in color. Rather, green wood is any type of wood that has been recently cut. When wood is first cut, it typically contains more moisture; thus, increasing its smoke. Allowing your wood to sit and season prevents this from happening, as the internal moisture evaporates into the air or purchase kiln dried firewood.

Don’t Burn Debris

Don’t toss leaves, grass clippings, pine straw or other debris into your fire, as this may encourage it to produce more smoke. Stick with good ‘ol fashioned locally sourced firewood for your fires.

Allow Airflow

Another helpful tip to reduce campfire smoke is to arrange your firewood so it encourages greater airflow. This allows for more complete combustion, which subsequently reduces smoke. Fire needs three things to burn: oxygen, heat and fuel. And increasing the oxygen in your campfire makes it burn hotter and more complete. You can encourage greater airflow by building your campfire with kindling at the bottom in a teepee-like shape, and arranging firewood in a square shape around the kindling, what we call the Lincoln log style.

Of course, these tips aren’t limited strictly to campfires; they also work for fire pits. Remember, though, all fires will produce at least some smoke. It’s impossible to stop a fire from smoking altogether, but using the techniques listed above should keep it to a minimum.

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.

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How to De-Clutter Your Outdoor Living Space

garden-1680802_960_720Does your outdoor living space feel cluttered and confined? It’s difficult to fully enjoy this extension of your home when it’s cluttered. If this sounds familiar, read the following tips to improve your outdoor living space.

Put Away the Tools

Don’t make the mistake of leaving your tools out. Not only will this clutter your outdoor living space, but it may also cause them to rust. After using your tools, store them in a covered area such as a garage or shed. Sure, it takes a little more time, but you’ll reap the benefits of longer-lasting tools and a cleaner, less-cluttered outdoor living space.

Keep a Trash Can Nearby

Another helpful tip to de-clutter your outdoor living space is to keep a trash can nearby. You’ll probably come across a fair amount of trash and debris when doing yard work. With a conveniently located trash can nearby, you can dispose of these items more easily.

Hide the Garden Hose

A garden hose is essential if you plan on watering flowers, cleaning off your sidewalk, or even washing your car. But let’s face it, a 20+ foot garden hose coiled up in your yard is pretty tacky and doesn’t exactly help your home’s outdoor decor. Rather than hauling off to the storage shed after each use, though, you should consider hiding it using one of the following solutions:

  • Placing the garden hose inside a rustic tin bucket.
  • Installing a holder on the side of your house.
  • Hiding it inside of a large fake rock (some are made specifically for garden hoses).
  • Concealing it under furniture.

Remove Overhanging Branches

Overhanging and encroaching branches can also lead to clutter. This is why it’s a good idea to get into the habit of trimming overhanging branches on a regular basis. If a nearby tree is slowly growing its branches onto your outdoor living space, trim them back so it doesn’t hurt the decor and/or function of the space.

Organize Your Fire Pit Accessories

Assuming you have a fire pit (and you should), try to keep all of its related accessories together. Maybe you have a stack of firewood, grate brush and heat-resistant pad, in which case you should store them together. Fire pit accessories such as these can be placed inside of a large deck box, or you can simply use an aluminum container.

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.

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5 Ways to Make Your Outdoor Living Space More Welcoming

5229590641_bf9fa00e5e_zIt takes more than just a few plastic chairs and a table to create an attractive outdoor living space. If you want to truly enjoy your home’s outdoor area, you should design it with inviting elements. Only then will it set the tone for a pleasing environment. Here are a few quick and easy ways to make your home’s outdoor living space more welcoming.

Add Potted Plants

One of the easiest ways to make your outdoor living space more welcoming is to add potted plants and flowers. Even if you have limited experience as a “green thumb,” you shouldn’t have any problem growing three or four small plants in potted containers. For an added touch of style, top the containers off with small pebbles covering the dirt. This adds a unique and stylish look, while also helping the water evenly disperse.

Define the Walkways

Allowing weeds to encroach upon your sidewalk doesn’t exactly provide a welcoming and inviting atmosphere. This is why homeowners should maintain clear, obstruction-free walkways leading to their outdoor living space. While weed-killing sprays and products sold at home improvement stores can eliminate stubborn weeds, but another solution is to create your own weed killer using vinegar, table salt and a liquid dish soap. Spray this solution around your sidewalk and other walkways to kill weeds and prevent unwanted growth.

Paint the Trim

Try painting the trim around your doors and windows to enhance the look of your outdoor living space. Assuming you have other furniture here, you can even use a similar color to achieve a cohesive theme.

Outdoor Rug

Rugs aren’t used strictly indoors; they can also be used outdoors. If you want to make your outdoor living space look more welcoming, place a decorative outdoor rug here. Just remember to choose a rug that’s made of a durable synthetic material. Traditional 100% wool rugs won’t hold up in the outdoor elements.

Add a Fire Pit

There’s a reason why fire pits consistently rank as one of the most popular additions to outdoor living spaces: they offer both functional and aesthetic benefits. Adding a fire pit to your outdoor living space will create a natural focal point while making the area look more inviting. It also provides functional benefits, allowing you to grill steaks, roast marshmallows, and comfortably enjoy the otherwise cold fall and winter evenings.

Photo credit: Stockicide

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.