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How to Improve Your Landscape’s Runoff

Does your outdoor living space get flooded or washed out when it rains? It’s hard to enjoy this extension of your home when it doesn’t drain properly. The presence of standing water will damage your lawn, create mold and attract pests. In some cases, it can even jeopardize the structural integrity of your home. So, follow these steps to improve your landscape’s runoff and regain control of your outdoor living space.

Clean Gutters

The first step to improving your landscape’s runoff is to clean the gutters. Consisting of metal or composite drainage channels, gutters are responsible for catching and guiding water safely away from your home. When it rains, any water that lands on your roof will flow to the gutters, down the downspouts and, hopefully, away from your home. If your gutters are clogged with leaves, dirt, branches and other debris, however, water will simply fall off the side of the roof. Clean your gutters at least once every six months to encourage better runoff and drainage.

Position Downspouts

The way in which your downspouts are positioned will affect your landscape’s runoff. A good rule of the thumb is to include at least one downspout for every 30 feet of gutters. Assuming your roof runs 60 feet wide, that means you should have at least two downspouts on the front and back. These downspouts should be positioned at a slight pitch so that water flows rather than stagnates.

Position Splash Guards

It’s also important that you place downspout splash guards in the right position. Some homeowners assume that the widest end should be placed closest to their home. The correct way to position splash guards, however, is to place the narrowest end closest to your home. This allows water to flow freely down and out the catch basin. When positioning a catch basin with the widest end closest to your home, water will accumulate at the opposite end. Check all your downspout splash guards to ensure they are positioned properly.

Aerate Lawn

Aerating your lawn isn’t just good for the grass; it also improves runoff. As you may already know, aerating involves the use of a special tool that “scores” the soil by creating small holes that are a few inches deep. The primary purpose of aerating is to nourish grass with additional water and nutrients. As water fills the holes, grass is able to absorb it more easily. A secondary benefit, however, is its ability to control runoff. A significant amount of rainwater will run into the holes created through aerating instead of pooling up around your home or patio. Just remember to use caution after aerating your lawn and avoid walking over it. The soil be delicate for the next few days, so you want to avoid any pressure or stress that could otherwise disturb it.

Reseed Grass

In addition to aerating your lawn, you should also reseed bare or dying patches. If there’s one or more areas of your yard where grass is missing, reseeding can help fill it in. Just remember to water and fertilize the area shortly after reseeding it.

Rain Garden

Thousands of homeowners from across the United States use rain gardens to improve their landscape’s aesthetics and control rainwater. What is a rain garden exactly? A rain garden is simply a collection of flowers or plants that’s used to catch rainwater. When it rains, some of the water will fall onto the plants and flowers, and some of the water will flow to the base of these plants and flowers. When it makes contact, water will absorb into the garden. Creating a rain garden is an excellent way to improve your landscape’s runoff while enhancing its aesthetics in the process.

Permeable Sidewalk and Driveway

While concrete is the most popular material used to construct sidewalks and driveways, it’s not the only material. There are permeable materials that can absorb water and improve runoff. Known as permeable paving, it’s a porous material that’s highly useful for controlling rainwater. Some studies have even found that using permeable paving reduces pollutants and, subsequent, promotes a cleaner environment.

French Drain

When all else fails, consider building a French drain to improve your landscape’s runoff. Also known as a filter drain or sub-soil drain, it’s characterized by a relatively shallow trench that’s filled with gravel or pebbles. As rainwater flows into the trench, it’s guided away from the home. One of the great things about the French drain is its simplicity. Although you can create it with a pipe, the only thing it actually requires is a shallow trench with rocks on top. Rocks stabilize the soil while still allowing water to flow through. Using nothing more than a few bags of rocks from your local home improvement store and a shovel, you can build a French drain in your yard.

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 Design Tips to Make Your Patio Appear Larger

How big is your patio? Even if it has limited space, there certain things you can do to make it look bigger. In turn, this will create a more attractive, enjoyable outdoor living space for you and your family.

#1) Create a Focal Point

Whether it’s used in the living room or on the patio, a focal point will create the perception of a larger and more open space. It works by drawing by drawing your attention away from the surrounding design elements so that the patio appears bigger. So, what can can you use as a focal point on your patio? A fire pit is always an excellent choice, as it’s typically the center of attention during backyard parties and barbecues. Just remember to keep it at least 10 feet away from your home or any other combustible structure. Another idea is to use a water fountain as your patio’s focal point. Unfortunately, though, most water fountains are bulky and large, making them a poor choice for a small patio.

#2) Decorate With Small Plants

Decorating your patio with small plants creates the optical illusion of a small space. Rather than using large containers to hold your patio’s potted plants, use small containers. Granted, not all plants will grow in a small container; many have complex root structures that require large containers. If you’re worried about lack of space hurting your patio’s aesthetics, though, decorating your outdoor living space with small plants in small containers will have a positive impact on its appearance. It’s also worth noting that small plants are easier to grow and maintain than large plants. They require less water and sunlight, and you can easily move them indoors when the fall season arrives.

#3) Maintain the Lawn

Neglecting to mow and maintain your lawn will hurt your patio’s aesthetics by making it appear smaller and less spacious. To prevent this from happening, you should mow your lawn at least once a week during the spring and summer months. And if you discover any fast-growing weeds emerging through the soil, remove them ASAP. Maintaining your lawn at 2 to 3 inches will improve your home’s curb appeal while making your patio look bigger and more spacious in the process.

#4) Trim Overhanging Branches

Not only to they pose a safety hazard — they could fall and injure you or anyone else on your patio — overhanging tree branches have a claustrophobic effect that makes the surrounding area appear smaller. Unless they are essential for shade, you should consider removing them. There are special chainsaw-like tools designed specifically for removing tree branches. You extend the tool to the branch, grasp the branch between its teeth, and it does the rest. If this sounds too difficult, you can also contact a professional tree removal company in your area.

#5) Use Colors That Blend With Your Home

When choosing furniture and accessories for your patio, consider the color and how it corresponds with the color of your home. If your patio furniture contrasts to the color of your home’s siding, it will create the appearance of a smaller space. On the other hand, using furniture in the same or similar color as your home’s siding will make it look bigger.

#6) Use Fewer Pieces of Furniture

Don’t make the mistake of using too many pieces of furniture on your small patio. If you’re tight on space, adding a half-dozen chairs will only hurt its aesthetics. A smarter solution is to include just a few chairs and a single table on your patio. You can still keep extra chairs in a storage shed or your garage. That way, when you have friends and family over, you can offer them somewhere to sit.

Using fewer pieces of furniture also reduces the need for maintenance. Whether it’s Adirondack chair, chaise lounge chair or a bench, you’ll need to clean your patio furniture to protect it from mold and mildew. The more pieces of furniture you use on your patio, the more time and effort you’ll have to invest into maintaining it. Stick with just a few pieces of furniture to make your patio look bigger and minimize maintenance.

#7) Decorate With Mirrors

A common interior design trick used in small rooms is to hang mirrors on the wall. This creates the perception of a larger room room while enhancing its decor in the process — and you can use the same approach to make your patio look bigger. Assuming your patio is right against your home, try hanging on one or two medium-sized mirrors against your home’s siding. The only downside to this design trick is that you’ll need to clean your mirror or mirrors on a regular basis. When used outdoors, they’ll accumulate dirt, dust and moisture.

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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Innovative Patio Storage Solutions

Is your patio messy or otherwise cluttered? Unfortunately, this is an all-too-common problem experienced by homeowners. Once they begin using your patio, they allow clutter to accumulate. Before long, there’s garden hoses, tools, cushions and other items strewn across the deck. Not only does this affect the patio’s aesthetics, but it also affects its function. Clutter prevents homeowners, family members and their guests from using the space as intended. If this sounds familiar, consider the following storage solutions to de-clutter and improve your patio.

Deck Box

Perhaps the best all-around storage solution for the patio is a deck box. Basically, this is a large rectangular-shaped box that’s designed specifically for outdoor storage. They are usually made of a heavy-duty waterproof material, allowing for the perfect patio storage solution. Using a deck box, you can store everything from gardening tools and fire pit accessories to seat cushions and decorative items. Best of all, they usually feature a stylish design that enhances the patio’s decor.

When choosing a deck box for your patio, consider the following:

  • How big is the deck box?
  • What material is it made of?
  • What color is it?
  • Does the style match the rest of your patio decor?
  • How much does it cost?
  • Does it double as seating? (some deck boxes feature a seat on top)
  • What’s the quality like?

Taking these factors into account will help you choose the perfect deck box for your patio storage needs.

Garden Hose Storage

With an average length of 25 to 100 feet (though sometimes longer), the garden hose is a major source of clutter on the patio. Sure, you can toss it on your lawn, but this doesn’t solve the problem, rather it moves the problem to a new area. Thankfully, there are several storage solutions available for garden hoses. One idea is to place it in a large tin bucket. Another idea is to mount hardware on the wall, allowing you to wrap up the hose and store it here.

Additionally, you’ll find that many home improvement stores and gardening nurseries sell storage solutions for garden hoses. Some are retractable, consolidating the hose into a smaller size, and others are designed to conceal and hide the hose when not in use. Regardless of which one you choose, you need some type of storage solution for the garden hose.

Outdoor Storage Ottoman

Of course, another idea is to use an outdoor storage ottoman. Like indoor “living room” ottomans, they typically feature a soft cushion on top — for sitting or propping up your feet — with a removable top and empty interior. From an outsider’s perspective, it looks like a regular piece of patio furniture. However, the top of an outdoor storage ottoman should either come off completely or fold up; thus, allowing you to store items inside.

You’ll find that patio furniture sets are often sold with matching storage ottomans. So, if you’re looking to buy a new set of furniture for your patio, consider a set with a matching ottoman. This helps to balance your decor, creating a more cohesive appearance in which all of your furnishings flow together. But if you only want to buy a storage ottoman, look for a style that matches your existing patio furnishings.

Storage Shed

You can always invest in a separate storage shed for your patio. Because of the large size of storage sheds, however, you won’t be able to place them on your patio. Instead, you’ll have to place them in your yard or next to your home.

Storage sheds have their own advantages and disadvantages. Some of the primary advantages include large storage space, protection from the rain and elements, and a stylish design. On the other hand, disadvantages include a high price and difficult/time-consuming to set up. If you’re willing to spend the money and invest the necessary time and energy into setting it up, however, a storage shed is a great way to de-clutter and improve the appearance of your patio.

What You Shouldn’t Do

When storing items on your patio, don’t simply shove them underneath your furniture. Nine out of ten times, they’ll still be visible — and this doesn’t exactly reflect positively on your patio’s decor. For proper storage, items should be fully hidden and concealed from plain sight.

You should also consider whether or not the item is suitable for patio storage. Even with a deck box or storage ottoman, certain items may damage when stored on a patio for long periods of time. Moisture from rain and humidity may soak inside items like cushions, causing them to develop mold and mildew. Therefore, you should only store water-resistant items on your patio. Seat cushions made of cotton or similar indoor materials, shouldn’t be stored on the patio.

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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The Do’s and Don’ts of Maintaining Your Patio During Summer

Now that summer is here, you’ll probably find yourself spending less time indoors and more time outside enjoying the warm weather and sunshine. For millions of men, women and children, summer is the preferred time of year. The comfortable climate allows you to host backyard parties and barbecues, as well as perform other activities. To enjoy your home’s patio or outdoor living space this summer, though, you should follow some basic maintenance tips.

Do Inspect for Pests

Take a few minutes to inspect your patio for pests this summer. Assuming it’s made of wood, an infestation may cause serious damage that’s difficult and expensive to repair. Some pests will bore holes into wooden structures, including your patio, so that they can build nests or eat the cellulose material. Either way, it damages your patio and can jeopardize its structural integrity.

Some of the most common wood-boring pests in the United States include the following:

  • Carpenter bees
  • Powderpost beetles
  • Termites
  • Deathwatch beetles
  • Longhorn beetles
  • Ambrosia beetles
  • Carpenter ants

Don’t Place Fire Pit Too Close to Your House

There’s nothing wrong with using a fire pit on your patio. On the contrary, it’s a great way to enhance the decor and functionality of this space. Once set up, you can use it to grill food, roast marshmallows or simply create a relaxing ambiance in the evening. However, it’s important that you keep your fire pit at least 10 feet away from your home and all other combustible surfaces. While rare, there have been cases of stray embers from a patio fire pit  setting fire to homes. This problem is easily avoided by placing your fire pit at least 10 feet away from your home.

Do Choose the Right Seating

Comfortable, attractive seating is essential to a modern patio. Without seating, neither you nor anyone else can fully enjoyable the patio and everything it has to offer. Rather than tossing up a half-dozen cheap plastic lawn chairs, though, consider using higher quality seating. Teak lounge chairs are always an excellent choice because of their unparalleled strength, durability, weather-resistant properties and style. Other seating options to consider for your patio include hammocks, benches, swings, stools and chaise lounge chairs. Just remember to strategically place them around your patio’s focal point. If you have a fire pit on your patio, this will be the focal point, so arrange your chairs and seating so that they face it.

Don’t Leave Fabrics Exposed to the Elements

If any of your patio furniture contains fabric — either on the furniture itself or an attached cushion — don’t leave it exposed to the elements. When you are finished using the furniture, bring it indoors to protect it from damage. Although it seems harmless enough, allowing your furniture to sit outdoors exposed to the elements may degrade it. The combination of moisture, dirt and ultraviolet (UV) sunlight can wreak havoc on fabrics, causing them to wear and fade. By bringing your furniture indoors, you’ll make it last a little longer, allowing you to get more bang for your buck.

Granted, not all fabrics are all susceptible to damage when left outdoors. Synthetic fabrics, such as polyester and nylon, typically don’t suffer from the same weather-related degradation as natural, organic fabrics. Unless your patio furniture is made of a weather-resistant synthetic fabric, though, you should bring it indoors to protect it from damage.

Do Secure Your Furniture

Make sure your patio furniture is secure so that it won’t fall over or blow away during storms. Loose, lightweight furniture can easily topple during a sudden summer storm. And once the storm is over, you may be forced to search your yard and your neighbors’ yards for your missing furniture. There are a few ways to secure your furniture, one of which is to anchor it to the bottom of your patio using bungee cords or straps. Alternatively, you can choose heavier furniture, such as cast iron, instead of lightweight furniture.

Don’t Leave Standing Water on Your Patio

What’s wrong with leaving standing water on your patio? Standing water poses a few problems for homeowners. First, it attracts pests like mosquitoes. Female mosquitoes lay their eggs in water, with a single female laying up to 100 eggs every three days. Second, standing water encourages mold and mildew. Upon walking out on your patio, you may discover the planks are slick from mildew buildup. Finally, standing water contributes to rot and decay. If your patio doesn’t contain pressure-treated wood, or if it’s not treated with a waterproof finish, standing water may cause it to rot.

Pressure Wash It

Summer is the perfect time of year to pressure wash your patio. Going over your patio with a pressure washer will remove stubborn dirt and debris, making your patio look 10 years younger. And even if you don’t own one, you can rent a pressure washer from your local home improvement store.

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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10 Fall Landscaping Tips All Homeowners Should Follow

The beginning of fall marks the end of the warm summer weather. With this seasonal transition, you can expect cooler temperatures and shorter days. As a result, it’s important for homeowners to give their landscape a little TLC during this time of year. By following these 10 tips, you’ll create a cleaner and more attractive landscape that enhances your home’s curb appeal.

#1) Keep Mowing the Lawn

Some homeowners assume that they can stop mowing their lawn during the fall. Although grass grows slower during this time of year than summer, you’ll still need to mow it. Mowing your lawn encourages a healthy, manicured landscape while keeping weeds and other unwanted, invasive plants in check.

#2) Raise the Mower Blade

You should raise your mower blade so that it doesn’t stress your lawn. Depending on the particular grass species, a blade height of about 2 inches might be ideal for the summer. During the fall, however, 3 inches will give your lawn a little extra breathing room while minimizing stress.

#3) Test the Soil’s pH Level

There’s no better time than the start of fall to test your soil’s pH level. If it’s too acidic or alkaline, grass, flowers and trees may struggle to grow. Using a disposable or reusable testing kit — available at most home improvement stores and gardening centers — you can measure the pH level of your soil. Healthy soil should have a pH reading of around 5.5 and 7.0.

#4) Remove Leaves

Depending on the number and variety of trees in your landscape, you may discover an excessive amount of leaves blanketing your lawn. Turning a blind eye to these leaves won’t make the problem go away. Rather, they’ll prevent your grass from receiving the sunlight and nutrients it needs to survive during this seasonal transition. To promote a healthy lawn during the fall, either rake or vacuum the leaves.

#5) Winterize Flowers

You’ll need to winterize the flowers in your landscape so that they aren’t killed off by the cold fall weather. This involves pruning shoots and stems as well as adding mulch. The latter is particularly important because mulch acts as insulation. When added around the base of a flower, mulch traps in heat, thereby keeping the flower warm during this otherwise cool time of year. Of course, mulch also contains valuable nutrients that further promote healthy flower growth and development. So, add an extra layer of mulch in your flowerbeds to winterize and protect them from the cold weather.

#6) Fertilize

Spring isn’t the only time of year when you should fertilizer your lawn. It’s also a good idea to fertilize it during the fall. A high-NPK fertilizer — either synthetic or organic — will provide your grass with the right combination of nitrogen, phosphorus and calcium, as well as other “micro” nutrients, that it needs to grow and stay healthy. Fertilizer also encourages lawn grasses to rise earlier in the spring, which is another reason to apply it during the fall.

#7) Trim Dead Branches

Even healthy trees will suffer from dead branches. Rather than leaving dead branches on a tree, though, you should consider removing them. Assuming the tree is relatively low, you should be able to trim them using a ladder and gardening shears. Remove all dead, dying, diseased or injured branches from trees in your landscape.

#8) Trim Perennials

If your landscape includes perennials, trim these flowers during the fall to discourage pests. It’s not uncommon for plant-eating slugs to feast on perennials. And large perennials are more likely to experience pest infestations than smaller, more manicured perennials. You can encourage healthy growth for your perennials while minimizing the risk of pests by trimming them.

#9) Water Lawn

Your lawn still needs water during the fall — just not as much as it does during the spring and summer when the temperatures are warm. Give your lawn at least one more watering of at least 1 inches during the fall. The water will soak into the soil, providing your grass, trees and plants with valuable moisture. Just use caution not to overwater your lawn, as the cool temperatures reduces water evaporation and can subsequently lead to soggy soil.

#10) Bring Container Plants Indoors

If you have container plants on your patio, outdoor living space, garden or elsewhere, bring them indoors before the winter season arrives. Because they typically container smaller, more confined root systems, container plants are susceptible to injury from the cold fall weather. Thankfully, you can protect your container plants from shock and injury by bringing them indoors. If you have a climate-controlled basement, consider bringing them here for the fall and winter months. Once spring arrives next year, you can take your container plants back outside to further enhance your home’s landscape.

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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10 Landscaping and Exterior Design Tips to Increase Your Home’s Value

Neglecting to create and maintain an attractive landscape can have a negative impact on your home’s value. It creates an unkempt atmosphere that discourages prospective buyers from considering the property. Whether you plan on selling your home in the near future or not, though, you should invest your time and energy into touching up the exterior. By making a just a few small changes outside, you can increase your home’s value.

#1) Pressure Wash

Pressure washing your home’s siding, the driveway, sidewalk and patio will make it look cleaner and newer. Over time, mildew, dirt and debris will accumulate on the aforementioned surfaces of your home’s exterior. This typically won’t damage the surfaces, but it can make look them dirty and dingy. Pressure washing, however, will blast away stubborn dirt and debris to restore the original appearance of your home’s exterior.

#2) Replace Mailbox

If your mailbox is rusted, faded, decayed, falling over or otherwise damaged, you should consider replacing it. With an average cost of just $20 to $50, a new mailbox is an inexpensive outdoor accessory that won’t send you in debt. Just remember to fall the United States Postal Service’s (USPS’s) guidelines. Among other things, this includes positioning your new mailbox so that it’s 41 to 45 inches tall and 6 to 8 inches away from the road. Your mailbox should also feature your street address number as well as a carrier signal flag.

#3) Grow Trees

Growing trees in your landscape can increase your home’s value. According to Turf Magazine, homes with tree-filled landscapes sell for 10% to 12% more than homes with grass-only landscapes. This is because homeowners want trees in their landscape. Trees improve the air quality, provide shade, create wind blocks and more. So, if your landscape currently consists solely of grass, try planting some saplings. They may take a while to grow — five to 20 years on average — but they’ll eventually enhance your home’s exterior and increase its value.

#4) Add a Fire Pit

You might be surprised to learn that adding a fire pit can increase your home’s value. A survey conducted by The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLS) found that fire pits and fireplaces were the most wanted accessory for outdoor living spaces in 2015. Although you can use either in your home’s outdoor living spaces, fire pits offer the highest level of versatility due to their portable design.

#5) Edge

Edging is an important step to creating an attractive landscape. If you don’t edge your driveway, sidewalks and other paved paths, you may discover weeds encroaching them. Using a string edger, however, you can define these areas to protect against weeds and other invasive, unwanted plants.

#6) Water and Fertilize Lawn

Watering and fertilizing your lawn is essential to creating a lush green landscape. This is particularly true if you live in the South, where the summer heat can scorch an otherwise healthy landscape. By watering at least once a week and fertilizing a few times a year, you’ll promote a healthy, lush green landscape that makes your home more valuable to prospective buyers.

#7) Add Seating

The right outdoor seating can increase your home’s value. When furnishing your home’s outdoor living space, don’t use cheap plastic chairs. Instead, invest in a high-quality furniture that’s made of premium materials like hardwood or iron. A few premium chairs, swings and/or benches will create a more functional and attractive outdoor living space — something that may increase your home’s value.

#8) Mulch Flowerbeds

Mulching your flowerbeds offers several benefits. First, it provides additional nutrients to support healthy plant growth. Second, it retains moisture so that your plants don’t dry out and die. Third, it protects against weeds by covering otherwise open areas of the soil’s surface. The culmination of these effects may, therefore, increase your home’s value. To take advantage of this, sprinkle a 1- to 2-inch layer of mulch throughout your flowerbeds.

#9) Prune Trees and Plants

You should also prune any trees and plants growing in your home’s landscape on a regular basis. Many homeowners have a linear mindset regarding landscaping. They focus all their time on mowing the lawn, neglecting the trees and plants in their landscape. When neglected, though, trees and plants will become overgrown and unkempt. You can prevent this from happening by using a pair gardening shears or scissors to prune the trees and plants in your home’s landscape.

#10) Install a Ceiling Fan

If you have a patio or deck with a covered ceiling, consider installing a ceiling fan. Along with high-quality seating, a ceiling will create a more functional outdoor living space. When the weather is hot, you can turn on the fan to create a cool and comfortable environment. It won’t necessarily offer the same cooling power as air conditioning, but it still creates a pleasantly cool breeze that’s guaranteed to keep you and your family comfortable during the summer heat.

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 Make Your Outdoor Furniture Cushions Last a Lifetime

Furniture is essential to your home’s outdoor living space. It creates a more functional area by providing you and your family with a place to rest, relax, cook, eat and enjoy the outdoors. But if your outdoor furniture has cushions, you’ll need to follow some basic steps to protect them from damage. When neglected, outdoor furniture cushions can fade, develop mold or otherwise become damage. To prevent from this from happening to your outdoor furniture cushions, consider the following tips.

Choose a Water-Resistant Fabric

If you’re shopping for new outdoor furniture cushions, choose a fabric that’s resistant. Traditional fabrics like cotton and linen aren’t recommended because they absorb and hold a significant amount of moisture. If you leave cotton or linen furniture cushions outside, they’ll likely develop mold or mildew. Vinyl, olefin and textilene, on the other hand, are designed specifically to repel moisture, making the ideal for outdoor furniture cushions.

Use a Fabric Sealant

Even if your outdoor furniture cushions are made of a water-resistant fabric like vinyl, olefin or textilene, you should still use a fabric sealant on them. Fabric sealants work by creating an invisible layer of protection over a fabric to protect against moisture, sun damage, insects, spilled liquids and more. They are typically sold in aerosol cans — like spray paint — that you spray over the surface of your furniture cushions. Along with choosing a water-resistant fabric, using a fabric sealant can protect your cushions from damage.

Keep Furniture in the Shade

Sun exposure won’t cause any serious damage to your outdoor furniture cushions, but it can cause discoloration due to fading. If your cushions are left under the direct sun, they’ll naturally fade to a lighter color. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) light bleaches fabrics to create the appearance of a lighter, more faded tone. This isn’t something you’ll notice overnight, however. It can take several months for sun exposure to cause any noticeable change in the color you cushions. To prevent fading, try placing your furniture — with the cushions included — in a shaded area. The cushions will still receive some sunlight here, but it shouldn’t be enough to cause fading.

Clean Them Regularly

Outdoor furniture cushions made of a water-resistant fabric can still develop mold and mildew when dirty. This occurs when mold- or mildew-causing fungi feast on the organic matter covering a dirty cushion. The dirt essentially acts as food for mold and mildew, allowing it to thrive. The good news is that you can easily clean your cushions. Assuming they are made of a water-resistant fabric, you can clean them using warm water and liquid laundry detergent. Just wet the cushions with soapy water, and scrub them with a clean washcloth. Try to get into the habit of cleaning your cushions at least once every one to two weeks to prevent the buildup of dirt.

Enclosure Your Outdoor Living Space With a Screen

It’s not uncommon for insects and yard debris to end up on furniture cushions. A simple way to prevent this from happening to your cushions is to enclose your outdoor living space with a screen. Neither insects nor yard debris can enter a screened-in space. Not only does this preserve the original appearance of your furniture and cushions, but it also creates a more comfortable lounging space for you and your family. With a screened-in outdoor living space, you can enjoy the outdoors without worrying about common backyard pests like mosquitoes, flies and wasps.

Keep Them Dry

It’s important that you keep your outdoor furniture cushions dry. You might be wondering why this is necessary with water-resistant cushions. Well, water resistant isn’t the same as waterproof — and most cushions only feature the former type of fabric. As a result, they may succumb to damage when left outside and exposed to the elements. To make your cushions last a lifetime, you’ll need to keep them dry. Ideally, your cushions should be placed in an area where they won’t be rained on. And when they do get wet, use a clean towel to dry them. Keeping your cushions dry will prevent the moisture from saturating and damaging the fabric.

Remove and Store Them Indoors

When all else fails, you can always remove the cushions from your outdoor furniture and store them somewhere inside your home. Depending on the type of furniture, you may be able to detach the cushion. Chairs and benches, for example, often have Velcro cushions that you can easily remove. If your furniture features removable cushions, take them off and store them indoors when you are finished using your outdoor living space for the day. Alternatively, invest in a durable outdoor box or storage container for your furniture cushions.

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 Prepare Your Landscape for Winter

Even in South, winter brings cold temperatures, dry air and shorter days, all of which can take a toll on your landscape. You may discover your grass turning brown, wilting or even dying during this time of year. Not only doesn’t affect your home’s curb appeal, but it also affects the functionality of this space. With a degrading landscape, you won’t be able to fully use your outdoor living space to the best of its abilities. But there’s still some time before the winter season hits, so consider the following ways to prepare your landscape for this seasonal change.

Aerate It

In the latter half of fall, aerate your soil one last time for the year. This involves the use of a special lawn tool, known as an aerator, that “scores” the soil with many small holes. As the aerator pokes holes in the soil, it allows water, oxygen and nutrients to reach the roots of your grass more easily. Depending on the size of your lawn, however, you may want to invest in a walk-behind aerator. Available to rent at most home improvement stores, walk-behind aerators are powered by gas, so you don’t have to physically push them across your lawn.

Add Mulch to Plants

Plants are often susceptible to shock during the winter because of the cold temperatures. When the first cold snap of the year hits, you may find your once-healthy flowers falling over and dying. You can give your plants a helping hand, however, with mulch. If you have a flowerbed that you’d like to protect this winter, for example, add about 2 inches of mulch to the top layer. A high-quality organic mulch adds valuable nutrients that keep your plants healthy. Most importantly, it creates a layer of insulation that protects your plants from the cold winter temperatures.

Reduce Watering

You don’t need to water your landscape as frequently in the winter as you do in the summer or spring. As the temperatures begin to drop, less water will evaporate from the soil. Therefore, your grass and plants will absorb more water throughout the day. If you continue to water your lawn during the winter the same amount as you did during the spring and summer, you may inadvertently make it “waterlogged.” When this occurs, the soil will turn soft and mushy — and it will eventually kill your grass and plants. You can still water your landscape if there’s a drought. Assuming Mother Nature is providing you with adequate water, though, keep your sprinkler turned off.

Rake It

You should also use this opportunity to rake any leaves covering your lawn. Leaves aren’t just an eyesore; they can harm your lawn by restricting it from sunlight and contributing to fungal disease in the process. When left unchecked, leaves will create a blanket-like layer over your grass that reduces or eliminates the amount of sunlight it receives. And without sunlight — or without enough sunlight — grass will cease to grow on your lawn. Furthermore, the presence of leaves on your lawn creates a wet environment, as moisture will remain trapped under the leaves. Without anywhere to escape, this moisture allows fungus to thrive, thereby increasing the risk of fungal disease. To promote a healthy lawn through winter and beyond, rake and dispose of all leaves covering your landscape.

Eliminate Weeds

Spring isn’t the only time of year during which weeds are common. You’ll also find them scattered throughout your landscape during winter. Dandelions are particularly common during this time, with many homeowners struggling to keep them under control. Whether it’s dandelions or any other weeds, though, you should eliminate them from your landscape before winter arrives. You can do this by pulling them up by the root, or you can you can use an herbicide. A homemade herbicide that works wonders for weeds is vinegar mixed with regular table salt and dish soap. The vinegar and salt kills weeds — and grass, so be careful — while the dish soap encourages the solution to stick to the weeds.

Bring In Container Plants

If you have container plants outside, you should bring them indoors to protect them against the cold winter temperatures. Regardless of size, nearly all potted plants are susceptible to frost shock. The good news, however, is that you can bring them indoors during this time of year. Before the first cold snap, make a point to bring in all your potted plants.

Mow One Last Time

Finally, you should mow your lawn one last time immediately before winter. Mowing your lawn to an appropriate height for the specific grass species encourages healthy growth while improving your home’s curb appeal in the process. After winter arrives, though, it should stop growing until the following year. So, mark your calendar for the last week of fall to mow your lawn one last time.

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 Keep Your Fire Pit Burning All Night Long

It’s frustrating when you light a fire pit, only for the flame to die out. In some cases, it may burn for 10 or 20 minutes. In others, it may immediately die out after lighting it. While you can always relight your fire pit, this is only a temporary solution that doesn’t solve the underlying problem. So, if you’re tired of constantly lighting and relighting your fire pit, consider the following tips to keep it burning all night long.

Use Dry Firewood

Even if it looks dry, your firewood probably has moisture in it. Whether oak, maple, cherry, elm, chestnut or hickory, all types of wood absorb moisture. Normally, this isn’t a problem. But if firewood contains too much moisture, you may struggle to keep it lit. This is why it’s recommended that you only use dry firewood — classified as a moisture content of 20% or less — in your fire pit.

Use Larger Pieces of Firewood

You can also keep your fire pit burning all night long by using larger pieces of firewood. Granted, larger pieces of firewood are more difficult to light than smaller pieces. Once you get them lit, however, they’ll burn longer while creating more heat in the process. Try placing some smaller pieces of firewood underneath larger pieces. After lighting the smaller pieces, the flame should ignite the larger pieces, providing you and your guests with a long-burning fire.

Place Fire Pit Next to a Windbreak

The placement of your fire pit will affect its ability to retain a flame. If it’s placed out in the open, wind gusts may extinguish it. You can prevent this from happening by placing your fire pit next to a windbreak, such as a retaining wall. With that said, the golden rule of using a fire pit is to place it at least 10 feet away from any flammable or combustible surface, including your home. If it’s too close to these surfaces, a stray ember from your fire pit may cause an unintentional fire, which is something that you probably want to avoid.

Dry Your Fire Pit Before Using It

Before placing firewood inside it, wipe dry the inside of your fire pit with a paper towel or cloth. Moisture has a tendency to accumulate inside of fire pits, especially if they are left outdoors. And if you don’t dry it out, any firewood that you place inside will immediately become saturated with moisture, thereby making it difficult to light and stay lit. It only takes a couple minutes to wipe out the inside of your fire pit, but doing so encourages a sustainable fire.

Let Your Firewood Breathe

Fire pits need oxygen to stay lit. If you stack your firewood so that it can’t breathe, the fire will likely die out shortly after being lit. There are several different ways to place firewood inside of a fire pit so that it can breathe, one of which is to use the teepee method. As the name suggests, this involves arranging the wood in the V-shape of a teepee. The bottom center of the fire pit remains open, thereby allowing air to enter and pass through. As this area heats up, it ignites the rest of the firewood. Alternatively, you can arrange your firewood in log cabin stacks. This involves placing a row of firewood in one direction, and then topping it with another row of firewood running perpendicular to the first.

Beware of Weather

Pay attention to the weather, as Mother Nature can hinder your ability to create a long-lasting fire. If there’s rain in the forecast, you may want to postpone your fire-burning activity. Even high humidity can make it difficult to create and maintain a fire. Ideally, you should wait until the weather is dry with clear skies to light your fire pit. Otherwise, you may struggle to keep it lit throughout the night.

Add More Firewood

Even if you follow all the tips previously mentioned, you may still discover your fire pit going out. This is bound to happen if you there’s no enough firewood inside of it. To keep your fire pit burning all night long, you must continue to resupply it with additional firewood. When the fire begins to die down, toss a couple extra pieces on top. Assuming there’s still some hot embers or coals left, the new firewood should easily ignite to keep your fire going. Just remember to arrange the new firewood so that it doesn’t smother the existing embers or coals.

Whether you’re using your fire pit to grill burgers, roast marshmallows or simply provide a relaxing ambiance for you and your guests, you should follow these tips to keep it burning throughout the night.

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 Tips to Follow When Smoking Meat

Nothing compares to the rich, savory flavor of smoked meat. While grilling over a bed coals is always an option, smoking creates a unique flavor while helping to preserve foods in the process. It’s been used by countless cultures throughout history, and in that time little has changed regarding the general concept. Smoking exposes meat to smoke — typically created from wood — that seeps into the protein to make it even more delicious. If you’re planning to smoke meat, though, you’ll want to follow these seven tips to achieve the best results.

#1) Choose the Right Type of Meat

Some meats are better suited for smoking than others. Generally speaking, ribs, pork chops, steak and fish are all great choices. You can even choose some of the tougher cuts, as smoking breaks down the protein to make it more tender. Because of its large size, though, many inexperienced backyard chefs have trouble smoking beef brisket.

#2) Place Coals to the Side

Unlike grilling, you shouldn’t place your meat directly over the coals when smoking it. Rather, you should place all your coals to one side of your grill, fire pit or smoker. Doing so allows you to place the meat on the other side so that it cooks more slowly. Depending on the type of meat that you are smoking, as well as its size and other factors, it may take anywhere from two to four hours to smoke. With the coals stacked on a single side, your meat will slowly smoke over this time.

#3) Place a Water-Filled Pan on Opposite Side

After placing coals to one side of your grill, add a water-filled tin or aluminum pan to the opposite side. This is arguably one of the most important steps to smoking meat, as water promotes the formation of smoke while also promoting a long, slow burn.  Without a pan of water, your coals will burn hot and fast, resulting in poorly smoked meat. To prevent this from happening, add a couple inches of water to a tin or aluminum pan and place it on the side of your grill opposite to where you placed the coals.

#4) Choose the Right Wood Chips

While smoking requires coals, you’ll need to add wood chips as well. The coals are responsible for producing the heat, but it’s the wood chips that produce the smoke. As the coals heat the wood chips, it releases smoke that rises up and leeches into the protein-rich meat. But contrary to what some people believe, not all wood chips are made equal. Different varieties have different effects when used for smoking.

Some of the top wood chips for smoking meat include the following:

  • Hickory
  • Oak
  • Maple
  • Walnut

Although there are many other types of wood chips available, you can’t go wrong with any of the four listed above. Hickory, oak, maple and walnut create a delectable flavor that compliments most meats.

#5) Soak Wood Chips

The golden rule of smoking meat is to soak the wood chips before adding them to your grill, smoker or fire pit. When dry, wood chips will burn hotter and faster than coal. As a result, you may discover that your wood chips have burned down in just a half-hour, resulting in little or no smoke. You can keep your wood chips burning for hours by soaking them in water. Simply fill a large pan, dish or bowl with water, and submerge your wood chips inside it for about an hour. After an hour has passed, remove the wood chips and place them directly over the coals. Some people use a separate container to store their wood chips when smoking meat, but this isn’t necessary. Assuming you soaked them for at least an hour, you can place them directly over the coals.

#6) Add Coals Periodically

Because it takes anywhere from two to four hours, on average, to smoke meat, you’ll need to add coals periodically. A good rule of thumb is to add coals about every hour or hour and a half. You should keep a hot bed of white coals burning at all times. If they go out, there won’t be enough heat to effectively cook and smoke your meat.

#7) Don’t Open It

An all-too-common mistake made by backyard chefs when smoking meat is constantly opening the grill, smoker or fire pit. Some chefs open it as frequently as every 15 minutes to see how their meat is cooking. While mostly harmless, each time you open your grill, smoker or fire pit, it releases some of the smoke (and heat). As a result, meats take longer to cook, and they don’t have the same rich flavor that’s commonly associated with smoking. Leave the top on your smoking accessories, and only remove it when you are adding new coals.

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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Fire Pits: The Perfect Focal Point for Your Outdoor Living Space

When designing an outdoor living space, it’s essential that you create a focal point. As the name suggests, this is the space’s point of focus. It’s the object or element that naturally attracts your attention, making it the single most important component of your home’s outdoor living space. And while there are several solutions available for creating a focal point, a fire pit often works best for the following reasons.

It’s Unique

One reason to use a fire pit for your outdoor living space’s focal point is because it’s unique. This doesn’t necessarily mean that no two fire pits are the same. Rather, it means that a fire pit is a unique decorative element when used in your outdoor living space. Unless you have two fire pits, it will create a unique appearance that’s not found in other decorative outdoor accessories. But the unique appearance of a fire pit is just one of many reasons to use it a focal point for your outdoor living space.

It’s a Natural Gathering Area

When a fire pit is lit, people will naturally gather around it. It’s only human nature to gather around as fires, as we’ve been it since the dawn of mankind. Whether you’re lounging outside with your family or hosting an outdoor party with the entire neighborhood, you’ll probably discover people gathering around your fire pit when it’s lit. As a result, their attention will be focused on the fire pit, thereby enhancing its utility as an outdoor focal point.

It Repels Pests

Designing your outdoor living space with a fire pit as the focal point will also repel pests. If you place it in the center of your patio, for example, the smoke it produces will deter mosquitoes, wasps, gnats and other common outdoor pests. Most insects hate smoke, so a fire pit acts as a natural pest repellent. To take full advantage of this, though, you’ll need to place it in the center of your outdoor living space. Otherwise, the smoke won’t adequately cover the surrounding space.

It Improves Your Home’s Curb Appeal

Want to improve your home’s curb appeal? Try using a fire pit as the focal point. High-quality fire pits, such as those sold here at S&S Fire Pit, are designed with premium steel materials that compliment most outdoor living spaces. They introduce a new metallic finish and visual style that, ultimately, will improve your home’s curb appeal. If it’s not used as the focal point, however, it won’t have the same, positive impact on your home’s curb appeal.

It Creates Warmth

Using a fire pit as the focal point will help you create a warmer and more comfortable outdoor living space. Even if you live in the South, you’ll probably get at least some days of the year when the temperatures are brutally cold. A fire pit in the center of your outdoor living space, however, will create warmth that allows you to enjoy this extension of your home throughout the year. From spring to winter, you can rest assured knowing that a fire pit will provide ample warmth for your outdoor living space.

It Makes Cooking Easier

Regardless of where it’s placed, you can use an outdoor fire pit to cook meats, vegetables and other foods. But when used as the focal point, it makes cooking a little easier. When your fire pit is the designated focal point, you — as well as your family members and/or guests — will gather around it. This means you won’t have to walk long distances from your seat to the fire pit.

How to Use a Fire Pit as the Focal Point

Now that you know the benefits it offers, you might be wondering how to use a fire pit as the focal point for your outdoor living space. The key thing to remember with focal points is that they should be the center of attention. Assuming your outdoor living space has seats (which it should), it’s usually best to place the focal point in the middle of them. In other words, arrange your outdoor living space’s chairs, benches, stools or other seats around your fire pit.

Also, remember to draw attention to your fire pit using lighting. Installing a new light fixture can illuminate your outdoor living space while drawing attention to your fire pit in the process.

A fire pit is just one option to consider when choosing a focal point for your outdoor living space. As revealed here, however, it offers several unique benefits. Among other things, using a fire pit as the focal point creates a unique appearance, serves as a natural gathering, repels pests and makes cooking easier. Just remember to choose a high-quality fire pit rather than a cheap, generic brand.

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/