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9 Must-Have Items for an Outdoor Living Space

Outdoor living isn’t just another fly-by-night trend that’s here today and gone tomorrow. It’s here to stay — and for good reason. Patios, porches, decks, gardens and other outdoor living spaces allow homeowners and families to enjoy the outdoors. But if you want to take advantage of your home’s outdoor living space, you should include the following “must-have” items.

#1) Lighting

When the sun goes down, you’ll need lighting to illuminate your outdoor living space. Granted, you may already have an overhead fixture available, assuming it’s a patio or back deck. However, you can still incorporate other, more stylish lighting options into your outdoor living space. This includes string lights, globe lights and free-standing lamps. Just remember to stick with an energy-efficient bulb type, such as compact fluorescent lighting (CFL). While CFL bulbs cost more than incandescent, they last longer and consume less energy, making them a smart financial investment in the long run.

#2) Insect Protection

Depending on where you live, you may have trouble enjoying your outdoor living space due to the presence of insects. Mosquitoes, for instance, are a common occurrence throughout the Southeast. Although small in size, these blood-sucking insects can create serious chaos for homeowners and their families. There are a few ways to keep them away from your outdoor living space, however. One option is to enclosure the space with a mesh screen. Alternatively, you can install citronella tiki torches around your outdoor living space. Either way, you need some form of insect protection to enjoy this space.

#3) Fire Pit

A third must-have item for an outdoor living space is a fire pit. This versatile, multi-purpose item will open the doors to a whole new world of activities for you and your family. With a fire pit, you can grill foods, roast marshmallows, create warmth and provide a more relaxing ambiance. And unlike a fireplace, you can always move your fire pit to a new location. Perhaps this is why fire pits consistently rank as one of the top accessories for outdoor living spaces.

#4) Shade

It’s also a good idea to incorporate some type of share over your outdoor living space. Whether it’s a table-top umbrella, awning or a newly constructed roof, shade is an invaluable component for a relaxing and enjoyable outdoor living space. Without shade, the blistering-hot summer sun can make it difficult to fully enjoy this space.

#6) Seating

You can’t expect to fully enjoy your home’s outdoor living space without comfortable seating. Don’t just toss some old plastic chairs here and call it a day. Instead, consider using more comfortable, stylish chairs that flow cohesively with the space’s decor. High-quality wood chairs are always an excellent choice, although they typically require staining to protect against mildew and mold. One exception is teak wood, which contains natural oils that repel mildew, mold and decay. Alternatively, another idea is to use wicker chairs. We talk about wicker chairs in a previous blog post, but basically they consist of woven organic material that’s lightweight and inexpensive. The only downside to using wicker furniture is its susceptibility to damage.

#7) Storage Chest

Why do you need a storage chest for your outdoor living space? Well, to store small items when you aren’t using them. Assuming you use your fire pit to cook foods, for instance, you’ll probably need a wire grill brush and tongs. If you have a storage chest, you can stash these and other similar-sized items inside. A popular storage solution for patios and other outdoor living spaces is a storage ottoman. Like indoor storage ottomans, it doubles as a footrest and storage chest. You can place it in front of your chairs or seating to use a footrest. And when you’re ready to go inside, you can lift the top to stash small items inside.

#8) Outdoor Rug

You should also include an outdoor rug in your outdoor living space. A rug will define your outdoor living space while adding new color and style to the decor in the process.  Keep in mind that any rugs used in your outdoor living space should be made of a synthetic material that’s not going to mildew or otherwise become damaged from the outdoor elements. Traditional all-wool rugs are a poor choice. Instead, synthetic materials like polypropylene are recommended. You’ll still need to wash your outdoor rug on a regular basis, but it shouldn’t sustain damage from being outdoors.

#9) Table

Finally, your outdoor living space needs a table. It doesn’t have to be a full-sized table. On the contrary, smaller tables often look and function better in small spaces. You can use your table to place drinks, plates and other items. However, you should choose a table that matches the chairs and surrounding decor.

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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7 Reasons to Include Trees in Your Landscape

Trees are an invaluable element of a home’s landscape. Unfortunately, some homeowners view them as nothing more than added maintenance, so they avoid growing them. However, trees can benefit your home and landscape in several ways, some of which we’re going to discuss in this blog post.

#1) Creates a Shaded, Cooler Outdoor Space

Thanks to the natural shade they produce, adding trees to your landscape will create a cooler outdoor space. The actual temperature underneath a tree isn’t lower than a non-shaded area. However, it feels cooler here because there’s less solar radiation. The temperature of a shaded area and non-shaded area are the same, but the former feels cooler due to the lack of solar radiation. So, growing trees on your landscape will create a cooler outdoor space for you and your family to enjoy.

#2) Encourages Outdoor Living

Of course, trees also encourage outdoor living. It’s difficult to fully enjoy your home’s outdoor living space in the summer with the blistering-hot sun. As the mercury rises, you and your family may be forced to seek shelter from the heat. This isn’t an issue if your landscape has trees, however. The natural shade will keep you and your family cool while also protecting against sunburn. As a result, you’ll be able to fully enjoy your home’s outdoor living space.

#3) Increases Home Value

Can growing trees in your landscape really increase your home’s value? Quite possibly. The Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers (CTLA) says that a single mature tree adds roughly $1,000 to $10,000 to the respective home’s property value. Other studies have shown that homes with an attractive landscape are worth 10% to 15% more than their counterparts with poorly designed landscapes. The bottom line is that homebuyers want landscapes with trees, so growing them in your landscape can potentially raise your property’s selling value.

#4) Lowers Stress

You might be surprised to learn that trees can lower psychological stress. Statistics show that 77% of U.S. adults experience physical symptoms caused by psychological stress, some of which include high blood pressure, sweating, headaches and trouble sleeping. When symptoms such as these manifest, it can affect other aspects of your life. Growing trees in your landscape, however, can help by lowering your stress levels and potentially eliminating some of the symptoms associated with stress.

Researchers from the University of Hong Kong and University of Illinois conducted a study in which participants were asked to rate their level of stress after viewing images of forests in varying densities. Researchers found that the participants were the least stressed after viewing the most dense forests. Basically, viewing images of trees and forests reduced participants’ stress levels by making them feel calmer and more relaxed.

#5) Promotes Energy Efficiency

There are countless ways to reduce energy usage in a typical home, including the use of compact fluorescent lighting (CFL), installing blackout curtains, low-flow showerheads, and adding extra insulation to the basement and attic. However, growing trees in your landscape can also reduce your home’s energy usage. The National Arbor Day Foundation (NADF) explains by saying that trees planted on the east, west and northwest sides of a home will lower its cooling needs during the summer by up to 35%. Trees essentially prevent solar radiation from reaching the windows and siding; thus, keeping the home cooler and subsequently taking some of the burden off the central air conditioning system.

And don’t assume that it will take a tree forever to grow. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), a 6- to 8-foot deciduous tree will begin shading the home in its first year. Furthermore, trees typically begin shading the home’s roof within 5 to 10 years. So, go ahead and plant a tree today if you want to reap its energy-saving benefits.

#6) Low Maintenance

Trees require very little work or time to maintain. Unlike grass or flowers, you typically don’t have to water or fertilize trees. The only exception is during a young tree’s first few seasons, in which case you should water it. Once the tree has matured, however, the only maintenance you’ll need to do is inspecting it for disease and damage, as well as occasionally pruning away unnecessary branches. Other than this, trees don’t require much effort to maintain.

#7) Creates Cleaner Air

Finally, growing trees in your landscape will create cleaner air. Just because the air looks clean outside your home, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is. Air pollution is a serious threat that’s particularly problematic in busy cities. Growing trees, however, is one of the easiest way to promote cleaner air. Trees absorb airborne pollutants, such as nitrogen, ammonia and sulfur dioxide, and they also release fresh oxygen back into the atmosphere. This, of course, is one of the reasons why many cities and municipalities grow them.

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/