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6 Tips to Get the Most Out of a Fire Pit in the Winter

An outdoor fire pit is often considered a summertime luxury. Winter is knocking at our doors, and it will not be long before we take out the winter jackets from the bottom of our drawers and the back of our closets. But before any that happens, we need to make sure that our houses are warm for the upcoming winter. Some people have the tremendous benefit of owning a yard or patio, and, contrary to what some people may think, yards too can be a cozy spot to spend time in even during the coldest season. All of this is provided you have a fire pit, of course. Need some tips on how to stay warm and cozy in your backyard this winter? Starting with the more practical and ending with some fun, here are some useful winter fire pit ideas that will give you the chance to try a different kind of recreation this holiday season.

  1. Use a lid or cover on your fire pit to keep it clear from snow

This is an important step, maybe the most important step, to enjoying a fire outside during the winter. Similar to your grill, you want to keep some type of cover over the main part of your fire pit to prevent snow from collecting inside. A wet base can make it more difficult to start a fire. If you unfortunately left the cover off or have not purchased one yet and there is already snow inside, shovel out as much as you can.

As an alternative, if it is a light and portable fire pit, consider moving it to a covered area, whether under an awning or on your porch (as long as it has cooled down and the embers are no longer active, of course).

  1. Keep your firewood dry or give your gas fire pit a quick once-over

Like we mentioned above, wet can make starting a fire difficult. It is not impossible, but you will end up with more smoke and less flame. Store your firewood in a dry place throughout the winter for quick and easy fire starting. Also, make sure your kindling is dry.

Ensuring the wood is dry will yield warmer, faster results because it increases the surface area and allows room for more oxygen to get to the fire. Additionally, softwoods (wood from coniferous trees such as pines, spruces and firs) typically generate the most heat. Softwoods are also easier to start a fire with.

For a gas fire pit, just give the unit a once-over to make sure nothing is leaking or caked with snow that would prevent it from working properly and safely.

  1. Dig a path to your fire pit

After snowfall, it might be delightful to build a fire to stand around as you build igloos, have snowball fights, and sled the day away. Create a clear path to your fire pit to keep your guests a little warmer than standing in knee-high snow. You can do this when you go to check on the fire pit and set up the scene. For a more festive area, put that snow to good use and build an open igloo around the fire pit for a fun twist to the experience.

Make it even easier to find your way to the fire pit by adding lighting along the patio or pathway. There are many solar lantern options available or string lights in nearby shrubs or trees to create a magical glow in the backyard.

  1. Make sure seating is dry and bring out some blankets

Clear off the seating area of snow if you already have chairs, benches, or other seats around your fire pit. If you can bring already clean chairs over to the area, that might be better as they will not  be as cold and wet. Another festive idea is to use large tree stumps as seats. If you do not mind the cold, you can get creative and build seating made of snow!

Do not forget the blankets. It can help keep guests warm as they take a reprieve near the fire. Store the blankets in a large, plastic tub to keep them from getting wet.

  1. Sit back and enjoy

The fire is built, the family has bundled up, and the fun is being had in the snow. While you are around the fire, bring out the s’more supplies and some hot coffee and cocoa. A fire pit just is not complete without drinks like hot chocolate or Bailey’s and coffee! Prepare thermoses or use insulated cups to keep drinks warm. Just add roasted marshmallows and you are set!

  1. Throw a Party

More bodies mean more heat and warmth, so the more, the merrier when it comes to keeping warm! Having an outdoor fire pit is the perfect way to extend the living space especially for giving guests an extra area to go and relax during parties and other indoor gatherings.

Start a roaring fire in the backyard and make sure to light the pathway to the fire pit well! Create zones for guests to grab hot chocolate, cozy blankets and a roasting marshmallow/s’mores station.

Beat the winter blues by cooking some great foods over the fire reminiscent of summer nights. You can do s’mores, hotdogs, foil meals, sweet potatoes, and any camping food to help get out of a winter slump. A fire pit cooking grill, grate, or tripod is a great accessory to pull out of the shed to do this. Do not forget to keep a warm beverage nearby while cooking.

Wood grates are also another great option to maximize the amount of heat in a pit. These are steel grates that are placed in the bottom of a fire pit to lift the wood up a little and allow more room for oxygen and air circulation.

 

Fire pits do not need to be limited to use in the summertime, the cozy glow of a warm fire can easily be enjoyed year-round, including winter.

Whether you are gathering with friends around a roaring fire in the yard or quietly enjoying an evening around a small fire after the kids go to bed, the frosty winter night can be an outdoor escape if you want it to be, just take a look at all of these great ideas above to make your space extra cozy

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The Benefits of Wood and Gas Fire Pits

Our fire pits are an attractive and fun addition to any backyard or patio. Choosing the ideal method of ignition, however, involves some careful consideration. Gas and wood are two of the most popular fire pit choices. Below, we will explain the differences between them to help you make a more informed decision on which might be better suited for your outdoor area. 

Photography of Wood Burning on Fire Pit

Fuel and Storage 

Gas fire pits work with liquid propane or natural gas, while wood fire pits require the use of dry wood. Due to having to hold large logs, wood fire pits tend to be larger than gas fire pits. However, with our gas log sets, you can convert a variety of sizes of our fire pits into gas burning. 

Storage is also something to keep in mind. Wood fireplaces need a spot to hold all of the wood. You have to ensure that it stays dry, and it must be away from the home because wood can hold termites. On the other hand, gas fire pits require a storage tank for the gas it needs to run. Companies provide containers from 15 to 100 gallons. Keep in mind that this tank is not going to be anything fancy, so consider a patio design that will hide it. 

Time Needed 

A gas fire pit is much more efficient at lighting and providing continuous heat. There is generally just a button that needs to be pressed to light the flames. On the contrary, a wood fire pit requires the effort of building a fire. Once a larger wood fire is going, it can put off continuous heat for some time until a new log is needed. 

Installation 

Gas fire pits typically are harder to install. Since gas lines need to be run for the fire pit, it requires the use of a professional, and this also means it needs more time to be installed. Luckily, our gas logs are pretty straightforward to set up if you do decide you prefer gas over wood. While wood fire pits can be a DIY project, it is still recommended that a professional build your fire pit for safety reasons. 

However, even with the more complex installation of gas fire pits, they do not require the time you would spend stacking, ordering, seasoning, and carrying all of the wood needed throughout the year for a wood fire pit. Once the gas fire pit is installed, you do not have to do anything else but press a button to start it. 

The installation from professionals differs since a wood fire pit requires only a metal frame, brick or stone underneath, and a far enough distance away from the home or other flammable objects and structures. A gas fire pit has fewer rules to follow, but the gas lines that go to the fire pit have to be installed correctly and out of the way of those walking through the yard. 

Cost 

Another thing to keep in mind is cost. It is usually less expensive to buy, install, and operate a wood fire pit than a gas burning one. With a gas fire pit, you will always have pay for gas fuel to ignite your fire. However, for a wood fire pit, you could theoretically get wood or logs for free, if you are willing to put in a little extra work. 

Maintenance 

Wood fire pits are harder to maintain because they accumulate soot, ash, and wood scraps. This will need to be shoveled out from time to time. Creosote may be an issue with wood when it is burned since it is a tar substance that can leak harmful chemicals into the air. When breathed in, they are not good for the health of those nearby. Additionally, unclean wood fire pits can produce a fire if the embers are not put completely out. 

In comparison, a gas fire pit does not require much maintenance at all. Since it burns clean, with no logs or soot, there is nothing to clean out. The outside of the fire pit can be wiped down, and a cover can be placed over it for when it rains or snows. You will want to check the gas lines from time to time to make sure everything is running safely and smoothly and that the lines are not clogged or need cleaning. 

User Experience 

The experience that a user has with a wood fire pit is much different from that of gas. Gas fire pits do not leave smoky odors on clothes or hair when used. However, wood-burning fire pits have a distinct campfire smell and provide a natural experience with the sound of the logs crackling, which are two reasons why someone would choose wood over gas fire pits. This all just relates to personal preference and the type of ambiance you are trying to create in your outdoor space. 

Safety 

It is always important to have the gas system checked thoroughly for any leaks that might occur. If a leak happens, things can quickly get out of hand. To avoid this situation, keep the fire pit in the best shape and have routine maintenance performed on the gas lines. Wood-burning fire pits also have to be used with caution. Make sure that the fire is completely out each time. It should also be used away from any structures that can catch fire. 

Environmental Concerns 

Wood is a renewable resource that is ideal for the environment, but gas is the cleaner choice. The impact that wood has on the environment is not as good as gas, but this also means that the gas is cleaner and better for users to breathe in, especially those with asthma. The particles from the wood can cause problems for those with breathing issues. Gas fire pits are also always going to be more energy-efficient. Gas burns more cleanly and produces fewer emissions into the atmosphere than wood. 

Resale Value 

Both fire pits can increase the resale value of the home. Not only that, but they can make the home sell faster by providing homeowners with something that they want, without having install it later on. Gas fire pits, because they are more eco-friendly and cleaner, have a higher return on investment. However, wood fire pits provide a beautiful outdoorsy feel. Our fire pits are highly portable, though, so if you want to and are able to take your fire pit to your new home or offer it to a friend who would like one, you can easily do so. 

Permits 

Local ordinances may prohibit open burning within fire pits. Some areas have a burn ban that is in place at certain times of the year. This only covers fire pits that have open, wood-burning flames. Additionally, any fire should be placed away from any structures in the backyard. This must be done to reduce the chances of having a fire that does not stay inside the pit and becomes dangerous. Some areas or neighborhoods may require a permit to have any fire pit on the outside of the property. It is important to check your local laws.

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Accessories for your Fire Pit: Part 4

Let us set the scene: you have your new, handcrafted fire pit installed and ready for action. You have acquired all of the necessary safety equipment, and you have the all the tools handy that are necessary to use your fire pit effectively, plus some handy extras to make your life easier. Now it is time for the fun part! Every fire pit owner will have a different style and décor envisioned for their backyard getaway. There are so many different ways to use your home fire pit, and there are countless accessories you can get to add the finishing touches to your patio ambiance or to enhance the entertainment value of your fire pit. Keep on reading for some ideas on fun items that can jazz up your next fire pit session or outdoor gathering. 

Person Roasting Marshmallow

1. Fire Pit Cover 

A well-fitting cover for your wood-burning or propane fire pit has both form and function. It will help keep you safe from stray sparks, protect your pit from damage, and can show off your personality and style. The odds are against your fire pit already, especially if it is out in the weather regularly, so it is very important that you keep it clean, dry, and covered. A cover is absolutely one of the key fire pit accessories on this list that will help your fire not only look clean and stylish, but also working in top condition for years to come. 

2. 20 lb Propane Tank 

If you are looking to buy a propane fire pit, know that they typically do not come with the required standard 20 lb propane tank. If you have a gas fire pit already, having an extra or even a few more propane tanks can save the day if you run out of propane during a fire pit gathering. Plus, if you have a propane barbecue grill, you will have an extra tank on hand if there is a need for that, as well. If you do not want to own the tanks, we recommend picking up a few tanks at a time at your local Blue Rhino or Amerigas dealer. That way, you can always have extra on hand and can circulate the tanks as you run out. You will pay a little more upfront, but your new filled tanks will be much cheaper when you trade in the empties for freshly filled ones. 

3. A Way to Play Music 

An easy way to take your fire pit experience up a notch is to add a little music. Whether you are hosting a big backyard bash or having a quiet night in, the right mood music can really set the tone for the evening. For a combination of great sound and convenience, try out some Bluetooth-enabled portable speakers. They are the perfect option for outdoor use. Better yet, you might want to splurge for some speakers with Wi-Fi connectivity that pair with a voice-activated assistant, like Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, so you can control your music from your phone or by speaking, without ever having to leave the coziness of the fire to adjust the music. Many outdoor options also come with durability features, such as weatherproofing and drop resistance. 

4. Marshmallow Roasting Sticks 

If you like roasting marshmallows over an open fire, then a nice set of roasting sticks can make the job a lot easier, neater, and even safer. If the kids are going to be at your next fire pit gathering, you really can’t go wrong with a set of these skewers. Children, of course, do not always watch where they are pointing sharp objects, and yours are likely no different. If you have young ones around and want to share this time-honored tradition with them, try out a type of marshmallow roasting stick where the sharp ends where the marshmallows go are bent backward like a hook. Take the worry out of the fun times, and no poking the person next to them accidentally (or on purpose, when it comes to siblings). 

5. Fire Pit Popcorn Popper 

This is will be your new favorite cooking implement for making something to eat over the fire pit (and there is little risk of getting poked in the eye in the process). If you are a fan of the old school Jiffy Pop popcorn, you will really appreciate this one. A fire pit popper is basically a handle with a ring on the end that you place your popcorn tin into for cooking over the fire. There is the added benefit of having no greasy mess with butter, no cleanup, and no bowl necessary, so this easy and fun trick is a win all around. Plus, it is exciting to watch and hear those kernels explode as they heat up! 

A fire pit popcorn popper is a lot lighter than your traditional cast iron campfire cookware, and you will have your popcorn quick and with a low chance of burning. There are models where you can simply add the popcorn tin to the popper for the ultimate ease, or there are types where you can add the loose kernels if that is what you prefer. If you do not have a grate or something to rest your popcorn popper on, try to find a version with a telescoping handle.

6. Beverage Cooler 

Having a solid cooler around the fire pit is a definite nice-to-have to keep everything cool and hold a supply of ice for those who want to use it for their drinks. Additionally, it will save you the trouble of having to run inside every five minutes to get drinks for everyone. Look for one with wheels to make it easily transportable – these things can get quite heavy! When choosing a size, think about how many people it is likely to be serving most of the time. Keep in mind that your cooler will stay colder longer when it is fuller. One of the perks of having a home fire pit also means that you can choose an electric model if you like. 

7. Fire Pit Flame Color 

Another fun one for the kids or anyone else in your family that might like a colorful fire is flame color. It is as simple as it sounds. You just drop the color packet unopened in the center of the fire, just like magic, you get a colored flame show that will keep the kids busy for at least as long as the spectacle lasts. They will probably ask for another color after you introduce this one for the first time, so be prepared with multiple packets.

 

This concludes our series on how to accessorize your new (or old) fire pit in both fun and functional ways. As you can see, there are a lot of ways to play with it and make your patio the happening place to be, so have fun with it! As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at SS Fire Pits with any questions or if you are looking for advice.

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Accessories for your Fire Pit: Part 3

Some items you will need for your fire pit are flat out necessary, such as those discussed in Part 1 of this series, which are products used for safety and are not negotiable. In Part 2, we have also written about non-safety items that you need to have in order to operate your fire pit. However, some accessories, while not integral to running your fire pit, are designed just to make your life a lot easier. They are not absolutely necessary, and you can manage without them, but they will make your fire pit experience go a lot smoother and it will be much more enjoyable and carefree. In this part of the series, we will talk about all those bonus accessories that are nice to have as extras as a fire pit owner.

 

1. High-Quality Fireglass or Firerock

For a propane or natural gas fire pit, you will want some good quality fireglass or rock to line your fire pit. Many propane fire pits often come with low-quality fire pit beads in the traditional clear color. This may or may not be the look you want, but in many cases, if the fire pit is not from a reputable vendor, the glass beads can include broken pieces with sharp edges that can cut you when you move it with bare hands (another place for your new fire pit gloves to come in handy).

Additionally, many propane or natural gas fire pits come with lava rock as an alternative to fireglass. While lava rock performs well as a low-cost retainer and distributor of heat, it too might not be the style you are going for in your backyard gas fire pit, depending on your taste. While lava rock does do a good job at what it is intended for, it is not the most interesting to look at and does not stand out at night, lacking the shimmer and color options of the wide variety of fireglass choices on the market today.

If you are planning to build a propane or natural gas fire pit or have one already installed, or even if you just want to try out a new decorative scheme or backyard ambience with your current fire pit media, look for quality tempered fireglass that will not crack or shatter and will hold up to constant heat exposure and weather.

Check with your local outdoor or fire pit specially store to discuss what type, size, and color fireglass you are looking for and explore your options before you buy. The fireglass market is huge and you want to get a good understanding of what is out there. If you want something truly unique and special, consider trying out one of our custom steel gas log sets. This gives the rustic and cozy appearance of using natural wood to fuel your fire pit, without the effort of actually acquiring wood and building a fire each time.

2. Seating for your Fire Pit Area

If you are looking for seating that can be brought out and put away each time you have a gathering around the fire pit, folding chairs are an excellent option. Everyday metal folding chairs will do, but for something a little more comfortable and sturdy (and designed for the outdoors already), another choice to opt for is a set of nice camping chairs. These come in a range of options from basic to more luxurious with extra bells and whistles, such as cup holders, pockets, and extra padding, so you can cater your seating to any type of style or gathering. Best of all, when you are done, you simply fold everything up and put it away in a canvas or nylon bag that comes with it for easy storage.

Of course, if you prefer something more permanent that you do not have to set up each time and have a dedicated place in your yard for it, there are lots of gorgeous and affordable patio sets on the market for every taste and style.

3. Natural Mosquito Repellents

If you live in a buggy area, the great thing about owning a fire pit is that it can be its own method to ward off pesky biting pests during an evening spent outdoors. You could try burning pinyon (or piñion) firewood. Flying insects of all kinds, especially mosquitoes, do not like the smell it gives off when burned and stay away. It is somewhat localized to the U.S. Southwest, but you can search for it though online and specialty retailers, and it will really do the trick.

Additionally, the smoke from burning sage or rosemary will help keep mosquitoes away, as well. Be sure that you do not use the dry ground up stuff found in your pantry – it has to be fresh sage or rosemary. Buy either herb in bunches at your local supermarket and throw a little on the fire throughout the entire time you are outside.

If you do not feel like keeping fresh herbs on hand to keep mosquitoes at bay during your next fire pit burn, there are also other burn-in products available that are specially made for this purpose that you can keep on hand for when you need it. These products are usually made from recycled wood or other burnable material that has been treated with citronella, citrus, geranium, thyme, peppermint, cinnamon, rosemary and/or lemongrass, which are all things mosquitoes are not fond of.

4. Firewood Carrier

Once you have split and stacked your firewood, you will need something to keep the number of trips to the woodpile to a minimum. A good waxed canvas firewood carrier can help you carry more logs comfortably and keep you clean in the process from not having to carry a stack in your arms.

5. Propane Tank Stand

If you have a gas fire pit and its propane tank is not stored inside the fire pit unit itself, a stand can be a very useful tool for keeping it upright and out of the way while in use, in storage, or in transit. Further, if your propane tank is regularly left out in the elements, a tank stand will keep rust rings from forming on your wood or concrete patio. It is a very small investment for a lot of payoff. Rust rings can be a real pain to get off stone or cement once they have formed.

6. Fire Pit Heat Deflector

It is no secret propane and natural gas fire pits do not give off quite as much heat as their wood-burning counterparts, so being able to channel that heat exactly where you want it makes your gas fire pit that much more functional and useful. This is where a fire pit heat deflector comes in handy.

A fire pit heat deflector is essentially a square or round heat shield, positioned above your fire pit to vector heat outward where you want it, thus having it disappear vertically where it does the least good for everyone nearby. Additionally, if you are using your gas fire pit under an overhead covered structure, such as a gazebo or a pergola, a heat deflector will minimize the long-term effects of regular heat exposure on those structures. If you have a longer, rectangular shaped gas fire pit, multiple heat deflectors can be used side by side to cover the entire burner pan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Accessories for your Fire Pit: Part 2

What good is having a fire pit if you can’t use it to its full potential? That is where all the fun accessories come in! In our last post in this series, we focused on items that are absolute must-haves and non-negotiable for operating your fire pit safely and being prepared for any scenario. In part 2 of this series, we will discuss the various items you need that will make your home fire pit experience easier and will ensure everything runs smoothly. Read on to learn more about the accessories you need to use your fire pit effectively.

 

 

1. Pair of Fire Pit Tongs

This one likely does not need a lot of explanation, but having a good set of solid fire pit tongs can be a big help when moving firewood around or to your fire pit safely, especially when you are trying to add wood to a specific spot in a hot fire. Tongs can help you do all of that with less risk to yourself or your clothing, and as you know by now, safety is paramount when it comes to fire pit use. There are a lot of cheap flimsy options out there, so do your homework. Check out a pair at your local fire pit/fireplace specialty store and actually pick them up and handle them, or go with a trustworthy, well-made option like our handcrafted fire pit log tongs.

2. Fire Pit Poker

This is another pretty common fire pit tool. Having a poker on hand is great for repositioning wood already in the fire pit. If you are adding wood and trying to avoid having your stack collapse under the weight of what is being added, being able to safely move wood around to a better location without getting too close to the heat source is a must. However, the main problem with traditional pokers, like the ones used in fireplaces, is their length. Most fireplaces are not particularly deep, and the need for a long poker just is not there.

Wood-burning fire pits, on the other hand, are getting larger and larger as demand grows, and the need for longer pokers to get good there, while maintaining some distance, is growing with it. When shopping for a fire pit poker, try to pick up the longest option you can find. Most fire pit pokers generally come in the 25 to 45 in. range. If you are able, shoot for a poker that has a combination of length and light weight to minimize fatigue when moving wood around your fire pit while still allowing you to keep your distance. A solid but lightweight option is our fire poker with ball. It is even stylish, with a lovely decorative touch!

3. Heat-Resistant Gloves

On occasion, you may need to move your portable fire pit a few inches over for one reason or another while it is in use, or you might need to handle the spark screen when adding firewood. Like most people, you probably do not enjoy burning your hands, so it is a good idea to keep at least one heat-resistant glove in your pocket or nearby and handy when using your fire pit. Having a pair of gloves is quite nice, especially when you need to lend one to someone who is helping you out with maintaining the fire or cooking over it.

Like most accessories on this list, there is a range of options you can choose from. Splurging for the pricier gloves may seem like overkill, but the confidence you gain knowing you will not get burned when you use them to touch something hot will be well worth it. There are some slightly cheaper options out there, but just make sure you are getting what you pay for and that they are properly rated for the temperatures you will be handling.

4. Homemade Fire Starters

Save your newspaper for your wood-burning fire pit, just like you would for a fireplace! It is a cheap and easily accessible for starter and does a pretty good job getting the kindling started. Once your initial firewood stack is ready, just loosely ball up a couple of pages of newspaper and stuff them into pockets of space at the base of the stack. Light when you are ready – it is as simple as that.

Another cheap and very effective tool in getting fire pit fires started is using toilet paper rolls stuffed with dryer lint. Dryer lint lights very easily and burns quickly, lighting the paper in the roll, which lights your kindling and so forth. You can probably get creative with other types of fire starters you can find around the house, but always make sure you use a material that is safe to burn and will not cause any toxic fumes or other hazardous situations.

Of course there is nothing like cheap or free for effective fire pit accessories, but sometimes it makes more sense to spend a little more and save some time with a purchased product. There are a number of commercially available fire starter products on the market if you do not want to bother with the suggestions above. Most are made from cedar or fatwood shavings and some sort of wax binder.

5. Lighter or Fire Steel

You know that cheap disposable plastic utility or barbecue lighter that you keep hanging around in the junk drawer in your kitchen? The one you have to try to light several times before it produces a flame and whose spark blows out in the slightest of breezes? Believe it or not, there are better options out there for lighting your fire. If you are not using a windproof butane or electric arc lighter to light your fire pit, you are missing out on making your life a whole lot easier. When they work as they were designed to, they can’t be beaten for performance. Electric arc lighters are easy to operate, do not need too be refilled with gas, and are cool to look at, but be warned that if you have a dog or are considering getting one, they typically do not like the high-pitch sound arc lighters can make and may start barking in response. In this case, you may want to opt for a windproof butane lighter instead.

If you are a little more traditional, a fire steel or ferro rod, is a solid choice as you will not need to fill it with butane or charge its battery – it always works out of the box.

6. Firewood Ash Bucket

When cleaning out your wood-burning fire pit the day after a burn or removing hot ash from the fire pit during or after a fire, having a solid firewood ash bucket on hand is a definitive must-have. Whatever the situation, an ash bucket is a safe, clean, and durable option designed for storing your ash until disposal or use for other purposes.

It is important to choose a durable option. Look for features such as a double bottom to avoid burn through and galvanize iron which means it will be more resistant to rust while handling whatever heat is thrown at it. You will also need something to scoop the ash with. Try our handcrafted ash shovels, which are made from recycled 55 gallon drums. The curve of the handle follows the curve of our pits making it easy to scoop out your ashes.

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Accessories for your Fire Pit: Part 1

Whether you already own a fire pit or are seeking to purchase your first, this article series is for you. It is not difficult to have a good time with just a fire pit and some firewood (or gas) and call it a day, but having the correct fire pit accessories may elevate the experience. In fact, some are just plain necessary. That is why we will be starting this series with key accessories you should acquire in order to make sure you and your loved ones have the safest experience possible when using your fire pit. You would not want a magical evening filled with memories to be marred by a disaster you were unprepared for, so it is important to plan ahead. 

The following fire pit additions are tied to safety and are therefore “must-haves,” as opposed to others types of accessories that simply make things more enjoyable or easier and enhance your evening. It is impossible to have a good time without safety! Read on to learn more about what items you should keep on hand to be fully prepared when using your fire pit in Part 1 of this series on fire pit accessories. 

Red Fire Extinguisher Against Wall

Keep a Water Supply or Fire Extinguisher for Emergencies Nearby 

A convenient source of water is one of the most critical fire pit accessories you should have around your backyard fire pit, in terms of safety. It is not something most people consider until they are in a situation where they need it. A dedicated bucket of water, a turned-on and ready garden hose, or a fire extinguisher can mean the difference between people being hurt and property being damaged or an exciting but harmless story to recount to your friends later. 

Any old metal or plastic bucket will suffice; just make sure it can hold water, is filled, and is placed in a secure location where it is not in danger of being tipped over. Choose a location that is out of the way but readily accessible in a matter of seconds – you may not have much time in an emergency. 

The same goes for a garden hose. If that is your main water source for outside of your home, it should be kept wherever you can get to it quickly, in case of an emergency. Make sure the hose is long enough to reach the area around your fire pit and has a working nozzle that will be effective should you need it for any reason. 

The gold standard for fire safety, of course, is the fire extinguisher. Having one of these around is a good idea for your home in general, but if you have a fire pit, you may want to consider keeping one outside for quick use if necessary. If you decide to get one, check the pressure gauge on a fire extinguisher as soon as you purchase it (or preferably in the store) to make sure it is pressurized. 

If you come home or have your fire extinguisher delivered and discover it is not pressurized, return it right away and replace it with one that is. If you see a home-use fire extinguisher without a gauge, keep looking because the only way to know if it is pressurized is to discharge it, which is obviously not an option until you need it, and by then it will be too late. 

These fire pit accessories are a definite safety must-have, whether you use a bucket, a hose, or a fire extinguisher. Please consider using one of them during your next bonfire. 

Have a Stocked First Aid Kit Handy 

There will be times around the fire pit and in the backyard in general, especially when children are around, when someone requires care for a minor burn, bug bites, a splinter from firewood, a skinned knee, etc. Having a good first aid kit on hand is something that many people overlook until they wish they had it. Ideally, if you can find a kit that is OSHAANSI, and FDA compliant, which means it is compliant with current federal occupational safety and health standards, as well as standards set by international standards organizations, you know you are well-stocked for most minor injuries you may see in the home. 

You might want to opt for a kit that is packed in a hard, compartmented case that keeps everything in place, rather than one in which everything is usually jumbled in a zip-up canvas or nylon case. That way, you will be able to find what need easily when you need it. The zip cases also often come with the items in throwaway plastic pouches that can’t seal once opened. 

You also probably will want to find a kit that includes things like cold compresses and burn cream, as these can come in handy around a fire pit. Hopefully, you will not ever need to use them, but if you do, it is better to have them than not.  

Shield your Fire Pit with a Spark Screen 

Stray sparks from a wood-burning fire pit are unpleasant for everyone in the vicinity, and they can be dangerous if they come into contact with something flammable. When firewood is heated, pockets of moisture and gas can cause popping and sparking. A spark screen placed over your fire pit will keep the sparks from landing on your lap or patio. 

If the manufacturer of your fire pit makes a spark screen or suggests a specific solution for your model, you may consider going that route. We also carry a range of fantastic options and sizes between 30 and 42 inches in diameter in our shop, such as the 30″ Dome Lift Off Fire Pit Screen in Carbon Steel or its counterpart, the Dome Pivot Fire Pit Screen, which allows you to open the screen on one side via a hinge, rather than having to remove the entire cover each time you want to add wood to the fire. Consult us or your local hardware or outdoor supply store if you need help with determining fit. 

Ensure your Fire is Out with a Fire Pit Snuffer 

A fire pit snuffer is one of the simplest and safest ways to put out a fire in a wood-burning fire pit. For those new to owning a fire pit, a snuffer is a round or square metal plate, typically with handles, that is placed over the opening of your fire pit to cut off the supply of oxygen to the fire, therefore extinguishing it. This is a much better and safer choice than putting out the fire with water or sand, or letting it burn out naturally. 

Even after the fire is out, the metal surfaces and embers within will still be quite hot, so proceed with caution after using a snuffer. Again, you may choose to go with a snuffer made or recommended by your manufacturer, or you can choose from our handcrafted snuffer lids. They are beautifully built from solid steel and can put out a fire in five minutes or less. Add a coat of high-temperature paint and your snuffer lid can double as small outdoor table! 

 

Keep an eye out for Part 2 in this series for more accessory ideas, where we will start to get into the fun options!

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Staying Safe While Using Your Fire Pit

Few joys scream summer like sitting around a fire pit with friends and family. But before you light up a blazing fire, take some time to reacquaint yourself with the basics of backyard fire safety. From establishing the correct placement for your fire pit, to identifying the types of wood you should never burn, there are several rules to know and share with those who gather around the fire for seasonal fun. 

 

Check the Wind Conditions 

 Before you start up a blaze in your fire pit, check the local weather forecast. Don’t use your fire pit on unusually windy days, as the wind can make it hard to light the kindling and could blow sparks to surrounding brush or structures, potentially starting a fire. Also, always check the direction of the wind before you start your fire. Advise guests to sit on the upwind side of the pit to keep clear of the smoke. If you have a portable fire pit, consider moving it to a location with a natural windbreak—before you light the fire. 

 

Build the Fire in the Open 

Never light your fire pit when it’s underneath the overhang of a building or beneath trees, and keep the immediate area around the pit clear of yard waste and other flammable materials. Wayward sparks can blow out of the fire and ignite nearby structures, dry wood, leaves, or other debris, and you could end up with a fire emergency.  

 

Don’t Burn Construction Lumber 

To fuel your fire, go ahead and use the branches you sawed off that damaged oak tree after last winter’s storms, or buy seasoned hardwood kindling and logs. You can also use softwoods like pine, but know that they burn less efficiently and can give off more sparks and smoke than harder woods, leading to a less pleasant evening by the fire. But you should never burn construction materials like plywood, MDF, pressure-treated boards and posts, or chemically treated wood pallets. Construction lumber is treated with chemical resins, adhesives, and other substances that emit toxic fumes when burned—definitely not what you want to be inhaling (or eating) with your roasted marshmallows. 

 

Be Ready to Extinguish the Flames 

Fire can be unifying and magical. It attracts people to its warmth and light and infuses outdoor gatherings with joy and romance. But it can also be an unpredictable, destructive force. If you’ve set your fire pit in a safe location and taken the speed and direction of the wind into account, you probably won’t encounter any serious problems. But you should always keep a shovel and water at hand, just in case. In an emergency, you can use the water to quench the fire and the shovel to smother the flames by throwing dirt on them. You may also want to invest in a fire blanket, which can be used to smother a blaze in or outside the fire pit, or (worst-case scenario) on one of your guests. And be sure to teach kids to “stop, drop, and roll” in the event that their clothes catch fire. You may never need any of these safety measures, but without them a fun evening could end in tragedy. 

 

Keep Chairs Away from the Fire 

Everyone knows to be careful around a fire pit, campfire, or chiminea, but in the heat of a s’mores session, folks may inch a little too close to the flames, and that’s when hair, clothes, or other materials can catch fire. Keep chairs at a safe remove from the fire pit, and make sure your sleeves are rolled up and hair tied back when you’re tending a fire or roasting food over an open flame. If your fire pit has a screen, use it. 

 

Never Leave a Fire Unattended 

Even after a fire has died down and only glowing embers remain, do not leave it unattended—not even to dash into the house for a beverage or bathroom break. If you must leave, deputize a responsible party to stay with the fire, or extinguish the fire completely before leaving the scene. While tiny flames may seem innocuous, they’re still a potential threat to your safety—after all, almost-extinguished fires have been responsible for some of the most severe wildfires in U.S. history. Pour water over live embers, and turn logs to make sure all sides of the wood have stopped burning before you call it a night. 

 

Drink Responsibly 

Fire and alcohol don’t mix. Not only is alcohol flammable, but overindulgence in alcohol impairs coordination, judgment, and reflexes, which could result in injuries to anyone gathered around the perimeter of a fire. If you or your guests are going to drink by an open fire, do so in moderation. Keep everybody a safe distance from the flames, and be ready to douse the fire in case of any alcohol-induced mishaps. 

 

Heed No-Burn Alerts 

When high emissions and weather conditions combine to increase fine particulate pollution to an unhealthy level, some municipalities issue no-burn alerts to protect local air quality. Noncompliance with a no-burn order not only puts your community’s health at risk, but could also result in fines. So, before you light the kindling, check to see if there’s a no-burn advisory in effect. 

 

Store Firewood Safely 

To keep a fire going all evening, you’ll need to continue feeding it fuel. Take care, though, to keep firewood at a safe distance from the fire pit. You want to feed the fire at your own pace, not have it jump the fire pit and feed itself. 

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Maintaining Your Home Fire Pit

Adding a fire pit to your yard or patio, whether you buy one that is pre-made or use supplies to build your own, creates an exquisite and cozy focal point for your outdoor living space. Fire pits come in a variety of sizes and types, and they bring style and functionality to your property. They are great for outdoor entertainment or a romantic evening at home at any time of year. However, if you want your fireplace to last and build these memories year after year, proper maintenance is essential for keeping your backyard centerpiece looking and working well throughout the seasons. Read on for our advice on how to keep your fire pit in top working condition. 

Burning Wood

Location 

The location of your fire pit has a big impact on how easy it is to maintain. To avoid smoke concerns or scattered ash, we suggest choosing a location with some wind protection. For safety, any nearby trees with potential overhang over the pit should be trimmed back on a regular basis. Any yard debris should be confined to a minimum distance of 10 feet away from the circle around the pit. 

Avoid Cracking 

Cracks in your fire pit can result from stress, which can be caused by a hot fire raging in cold weather. To prevent the possibility of cracking, footers should be extended to the frostline or built on a reinforced concrete base when building masonry fire pits in cold climates. Cracking is a common problem. Even if some cracks are only cosmetically significant, they should all be examined. Severe cracks should be repaired before continuing to use the product. 

What to Burn 

Be mindful of what your put into your fire pit. Burning garbage or pressure-treated wood in a wood burning pit can release hazardous pollutants that are unsafe to breathe and can damage pit surfaces. It is best to use split, dry wood. Green wood also should not be burned. To start your fire, we recommend using broken pallets or yard-picked leaves and sticks as kindling. It is not advised to use accelerants because they can be harmful and can discolor or ruin the fire pit. 

Extinguishing the Flames 

Flames should be allowed to burn out naturally wherever possible. Although water should be maintained on hand in case of an emergency, pouring water on an active fire can induce fast temperature fluctuations, which might cause the vessel to break or otherwise be damaged. 

Removing Ashes 

Because ashes are acidic, it is critical to remove them from the pit on a regular basis to avoid long-term damage to the fire pit. You should have a metal ash container available nearby to collect ashes the next day after the pit is utilized. Because embers can smolder for a long time after a fire has died out, care should be taken when clearing them, and they should be doused with water once they have been removed. Spent ashes should be gathered in a metal bucket with a lid and disposed of appropriately once the bucket is full. 

Cleaning: Masonry Fire Pits 

If residue builds up over time, stone fire pits can be cleaned by scrubbing the interior with a solution of one part muriatic acid to nine parts water. After cleaning, rinse thoroughly with water and let air dry for 48 to 72 hours before using. 

Cleaning: Metal Fire Pits 

Metal fire pits, like cast iron fire pits, are prone to corrosion. Scrubbing with a sharp wire brush and wiping away the residue is an easy approach to remove surface rust. Protective coatings, such as oil and silicone, are available to help prevent rust, but it is crucial to know which ones are right for your metal. Before applying any surface treatments, check the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Cleaning: Gas Fire Pits 

Gas fire pits, which are powered by natural gas or propane, are a wonderful choice for existing patios because of their ease of use, safety, and low-maintenance requirements. They create less heat than wood burning pits, but they have instant starts and do not produce messy ashes to clean. Keep the burners clean for efficient gas flow and check the fuel lines on a regular basis to keep your gas fire pit in good working order. 

Before cleaning the fire pit, turn off the gas valve or turn off the gas line. Clean the burner pan of any refuse, rocks, and leaves. Check for bugs and make sure the drains and vents are not clogged. Do not use water to put out the fire since the abrupt change in temperature in the fire pit can cause breaking and deterioration of the metal. Wait for the pit to cool down fully, then cover it. 

Cleaning: Wood-Burning Fire Pits 

Wood-burning pits create that campfire smell and feel, but they leave messy ashes behind, so it is important to keep up with cleaning these after use. Sweep up any ashes and debris using a brush. Because ashes are acidic, it is critical to remove them from the pit on a regular basis to avoid long-term damage to the fire pit. 

Allow flames to die down naturally while not in use. Putting out a fire with water might result in rapid temperature swings, which can cause the pit to crack or otherwise be damaged. Split, dry wood is preferred for burning, as trash or pressure-treated wood release pollutants that are detrimental to the environment and can damage pit surfaces, making them harder to clean and maintain over time. 

Using a Cover 

Whether it is a simple vinyl cover or something more ornate, keeping your fire pit protected from the elements is a simple way to extend the life of your backyard or patio fire pit and to preserve it in good working order. Make sure it is completely cool before covering. 

Using Screens 

Although it is fair to say that using a screen can occasionally distract from the beauty of an open flame when gathering around the pit on a cool evening, many prefabricated pits come with flat or domed screens to prevent embers from spreading and to reduce char and clutter. If your pit does not come with one, consider purchasing or making one to add to your outdoor fire pit for easy cleanup and added safety. 

Surfaces for Cooking 

If you plan to cook outdoors with your fire pit, make sure to clean the grates and other cooking surfaces as soon as possible after you finish. Grease, fluids, and food residue can accumulate inside the fire pit, producing stains and hastening the deterioration process. 

Tools for Fire Pit Care 

Having the correct tools on hand can help you maintain the appearance and functionality of your fire pit. You can get a simple fireplace tool set to use with your fire pit at the hardware store. You will need an ash scoop, a long poker, and tongs to move the logs about so they burn evenly. 

Pit Storage 

Permanent pit installations can usually withstand year-round weather conditions with little maintenance, but if your pit is portable, storing it under a covered space or in a garage or shed when not in use can save you the time and effort of cleaning off-season buildup of dirt and debris before sharpening those marshmallow sticks for the season.

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8 Things to Know Before You Get a Fire Pit

Whether you buy a ready-made model or work with a professional to create a design that is unique for your space, you have a staggering number of options when it comes to installing a fire pit. It can be difficult to know where to begin, in any case. Take a look at the following advice and considerations to assist you in making your decision. You should be able to work with a pro to select the appropriate fire pit for your taste, demands, budget, and location, using this information as your guide. 

Close-up Photo of Bonfire

  1. Local Regulations

Before you go out and buy a fire pit, check with your city’s building code and the local authorities to see if there are any limits on where you can put one outside or whether you may burn wood. Check with your building or homeowners’ association to see if there are any restrictions on outdoor fire pits if you reside in a condo or apartment complex. If you are renting, check with your landlord first. 

Fire pit placement is frequently regulated for safety reasons, and there are rules, such as keeping a fire pit at least 10 feet away from buildings and fences. Some counties may demand that your planned location be inspected by local fire officials to ensure that it is fire-safe. If your county has fuel restrictions due to environmental concerns, avoid wood-burning models in favor of smoke-free models that run on propane or natural gas. 

  1. Style

Fire pits are available in a variety of sizes, styles, and designs to complement any backyard decor and meet the desires of any homeowner. The difficult part is whittling down your choices and selecting the best one for you. Finding a fire pit that matches your existing backyard design in terms of style, color, shape, or material is an excellent place to start. 

In addition to picking a fire pit that complements the overall landscape design, you should select a model that is appropriate for the purposes for which it will be used. Look for features that are work for you and your family. For example, if you want to use the edge of your pit as a table for food and drinks, make sure there is a wide enough lip around it so you do not wind up with your cold items heating up after a few minutes. 

  1. Size

Fire pits come in a variety of sizes, from small ones you can carry with you to bigger built-in types. Select a size and style that is appropriate for your budget and region. The diameter of store-bought fire pits is typically 24 to 30 inches. The width of built-in units can range from 36 to 58 inches. 

There are also a variety of heights available, from low-to-the-ground fire bowls to taller models. Choose a type that is either even with or slightly lower than regular seat height if you want to rest your feet on the fire pit’s lip (typically 18 inches). Reflected warmth is also affected by the height of the fire pit in comparison to the seat height. Choose a lower fire pit if you want the flames to warm you from your seat. More heat is provided to the body by keeping the fire pit a little lower, at 18 to 20 inches. 

When deciding on the size of the fire pit, keep in mind how much space you will need for seating and circulation. As a general rule, allow 5 to 7 feet of space around the perimeter of a fire pit for chairs and movement. Make sure you plan your space around the fire pit, with plenty of area for big, comfortable chairs and mobility. If you are planning to construct built-in seating, leave 40 to 48 inches between the back wall of the seating area and the fire. 

  1. Permanent or Portable

Another factor to consider when purchasing a fire pit is whether you prefer the ease and adaptability of a portable model or a fire pit that will be a permanent fixture in your backyard. Renters may find lightweight portable fire pits to be a fantastic alternative because they can be moved around and lit in different sections of an outdoor space. 

  1. Material

Stone, metal, concrete, or a combination of these are just some of the materials used in fire pits. Choose a material that complements your style, blends in with your backyard’s decor, and can withstand stains and frequent use. Each substance has advantages and disadvantages. Concrete is a long-lasting material; however, it can be stained by soot. Metal that has been powder-coated is tough, but it can get hot. Natural stone is beautiful, but it can darken and shatter from heat if not installed properly. 

You may be able to choose the material in the flame area that covers the burner if you are using a natural gas or propane-burning device. Your choices include decorative balls, lava rock, and fire glass that all come in a variety of colors, sizes, and shapes. 

  1. Cost

The price of a fire pit varies greatly. You can stay under $100 with a fire pit constructed of stacked stones in a ring or a basic one made of metal and set up only for wood burning. Depending on the design, freestanding fire pits constructed of stone, concrete, or powder-coated metal can cost anywhere from $300 to $2,000 or more. Budget $1,000 to $5,000 or more for custom and built-in models. 

  1. Fuel Type

Your fire pit can burn with three different types of fuel: wood, propane, or natural gas. Wood-burning fire pits provide the characteristic crackling sound of a campfire, but they are being increasingly restricted due to air-polluting smoke issues. Propane and natural gas have the advantages of not producing smoke, being easier to clean, and being quicker to turn on and off. 

Both options have advantages and disadvantages. If you go with natural gas, be prepared to pay more for installation. In order to extend a gas line, you will also need a permit. Propane will save on the cost of not having to extend a gas line, but you still have to figure out where to put the propane tank, ideally somewhere out of sight but still accessible for refilling. 

  1. Permitting

A standard-size backyard fire pit does not require a permit in most cases. You may require one to expand your gas line if you choose a natural gas fire pit. Some counties may demand that your planned location be inspected by local fire officials to ensure that it is fire-safe. Extra-large fire pits (those with a diameter of more than 4 feet) may require a permit or additional safety or installation requirements. Before you begin, double-check your city’s building codes and with municipal authorities. 

 

Choosing to install a fire pit at your home can be an excellent idea that will provide fun and comfort for years to come, but it does take a little bit of planning. However, as long as your city does not have any ordinances against outdoor fires, most homes can accommodate some kind of set up. You just have to be creative and imagine how you will use it in the future.

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9 Reasons to Buy a Fire Pit

Have you ever sat in your backyard on a fall or winter evening and hoped you could stay out, only to be compelled to go inside because it was too cold to appreciate it? Luckily, there is an easy fix to this dilemma: install a fit pit! There is nothing cozier on chilly evening than a roaring fire. You do not have to escape to the wilderness to have one when you have a fire pit in your own backyard. 

Have you been considering a fire pit for your home but are still unconvinced? This is the ideal time for you to take action. A backyard campfire is undoubtedly one of the nicest gifts you can give your family, and they will get so much use and enjoyment out of it. Read on for the top benefits to installing a fire pit outside of your home. 

Family gathering around bonfire in dark backyard

1. A Fire Pit Provides Year-Round Enjoyment 

Some people wrongly believe that a fire pit is a seasonal tool that may only be used on warm spring and summer evenings. Its primary function as a fire pit, though, is to generate heat. On a cold night, sitting by a fire pit is like relaxing in a hot tub as it snows outside. 

It provides a warm and inviting feeling of being protected from the outdoors. It is a wonderful feeling. That isn’t to say you can’t enjoy them on a warmer evening. Throw an outdoor evening party for your closest friends and family, and make it the major attraction, lighting up the yard and keeping the mosquitoes at bay. 

2. A Warm and Inviting Feature for Your Outdoor Lounge Area 

An outdoor campfire, whether for you, your family, or your friends, adds a special touch to any backyard or patio. It has a certain elegance and sense of home to it. We find solace in sitting by a fire. They have been shown to help people relax and even lower their blood pressure. 

Outdoor fire pits seem to settle the nerves and bring us to rest, whether it’s owing to the captivating flickering of flames or an intuitive sense of safety. It’s natural to want to sit near to a fire pit when you see one. Whether on your patio, in your backyard, or in another outdoor location, a fire pit can be the warmest and most attractive gathering spot on your property. 

3. A Fire Pit is a Social Hot spot 

Nothing encourages a social gathering or a long, deep talks like the open flames of a fire pit. When it comes to atmosphere, a fire pit is the perfect centerpiece for any outdoor gathering and sets the right tone because people are drawn to the warmth. A roaring fire is ideal for long, meaningful evenings spent with friends and family.  

Keep the fire burning, even if the night is particularly warm, but move the seats away from the flames so the heat isn’t too intense. A fire pit gives a degree of subtle entertainment that prevents boredom, while being unobtrusive. Furthermore, the relaxing impact of fire may help people open up more to friendly discussion and cultivate a sense of belonging by bringing them closer together. 

4. A Fire Pit Provides Bright Light in the Dark 

The primary use of a fire pit, as previously said, is to provide heat. However, they also provide light, which is essential for any gatherings that are outdoors. If your summer parties always seem to end before the sun sets, you could probably extend the life of your gathering by lighting up the fire pit. 

Assuming all goes well and your visitors stay long after the sun goes down, you don’t want people wandering around in the dark, falling over patio furniture, and harming themselves or others. A fire pit will add ambiance and character to your outdoor entertaining space, while also illuminating the darkness. 

5. Fire Pits Provide a Romantic Ambiance 

While a fire pit is great for group gatherings, it is also ideal for intimate romantic moments. A fire pit, as previously mentioned, sets the tone for deeper conversations, while also offering a pleasant ambiance. There may be no better backdrop for a romantic chat. The hypnotic flames might be entrancing, but they also create intimacy, making you want to cuddle up close together. 

6. Wood-Burning Fire Pits Make Fantastic Kitchens 

In more concrete terms, wood-burning fire pits are fantastic locations to cook delicious meals! Appetizers, main dishes, desserts, you name it! You can cook it all on these fire pits. To make your life easier, you will need a grill grate, as well as a few pots and pans. Of course, there are always the old standbys, such as marshmallows, hot dogs, and shish-kebabs. However, thinking beyond the box opens up a world of possibilities for some truly delicious food. 

You can cook almost anything if you have the correct tools, such as grill grates, pots, pans, tinfoil, and sticks. Stainless steel is practically wear-resistant if properly maintained. Gooey grilled cheese sandwiches or tinfoil-wrapped potatoes, smothered in the works, are simple dishes elevated to new heights over a fire. Or consider a hearty breakfast of pancakes, bacon, and eggs to start the weekend right. Use your imagination when it comes to cooking over a fire pit. They are perfect for gatherings, family dinners, and date nights! 

7. A Fire Pit is Very Safe (with Proper Usage) 

Fire pits that run on natural gas or propane, especially, are quite safe. Fire pits, like anything else if used incorrectly, can be dangerous, although rare. Safety and common sense should always be at the top of the priority list. 

Any fire pit owner’s first goal is to use their fire pit responsibly so that they, their family, and their visitors may enjoy it night after night without incident. It is also important to make sure that everyone in the family knows how to operate it properly and safely, even if they never intend to be the operator. 

8. Fire Pits Can Add Value to Your Home 

Although it is not a guarantee, a well-built fire pit has been proven to increase the value of some homes. A quality patio and fire pit can bring you a good return on your investment if you decide to sell your home. Like you, potential homeowners are enthralled by the prospect of owning a fire pit! Not only that, but they will appreciate not having to buy, build, or install one themselves. For some, it could even be the determining factor in whether they choose to buy your home or someone else’s. 

9. Fire Pits Are Affordable for Nearly Everyone 

Although you certainly have the option to go all out with expenses, not every fire pit is going to set you back thousands of dollars or even close to that. That being said, there is no good way to determine an average cost for fire pits because they come in so many different designs, sizes, and materials. It all depends on how you want it set up, how you want it to look, and whether or not you want to construct and install it yourself. You could pay anything from $50 to $5000 for a really extravagant set up. 

 

The beauty of fire pits is how nicely they blend into any backyard or patio setting, such as fire pit tables that serve as a lovely focal point for your outdoor space. Whether you have a minuscule space or a lawn the size of a football pitch, there’s an outdoor fire pit to suit practically every sort of backyard, making it an easy decision for most consumers.

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Choosing the Perfect Fire Pit

Every family or homeowner has a dream set up for their backyard remodel or design. Some families yearn for a warm, sunny pool. Others fantasize about a large deck with plenty of space for grilling and sunbathing. Regardless of the size of your backyard, many homeowners have the same dream: a blazing fire pit. 

Fire pits are a great way to add a rustic, relaxing element to your backyard. Furniture, outdoor lighting, and elements, such as lattice walls and more substantial structures that radiate outward from your fire pit, ground your design and offer you room to be creative. 

Regardless of the season, fire pits serve as a social meeting location. You and your family can gather around the fire during the crisp autumn evenings, roast marshmallows, and tell ghost stories late into the night. On a hot summer day, fire pits allow you to finish off your favorite BBQ meal, while watching the kids splash around in the pool (or maybe going for a dip yourself). 

Are you ready to add a fire pit to your backyard to make it more inviting? A Google search for fire pit ideas on the internet can leave you unsure of where to start. Where do you begin with so many shapes, materials, designs, and construction methods to pick from? We have compiled a list of our top ready-to-build and ready-to-buy fire pit ideas for you, so you can spend less time browsing and more time around your new fire pit! 

Photography of Wood Burning on Fire Pit

Building Your Own Fire Pit 

The creative options with a fire pit are practically infinite when you collect and install the materials yourself. You can create a fire pit from scratch in any area of the yard with some forethought, precision, and a lot of hard work. DIY projects need more time and effort, but they usually result in reduced expenses. 

  • Round Stone Fire Pit 

Stone fire pits are one of the most cost-effective solutions for outdoor fire pits. Choose palletized stone for a consistent shape and size when placing your order. Determine the width of your fire pit area with a piece of rebar and twine. Make a big circle with spray paint. Excavate to a depth of roughly six inches in the place you want your pit to go. Make a second circle with the perimeter of your actual fire pit inside that circle. 

Pour premixed cement and allow it to dry in the region between the inner and outer rings. Lay the first round of fire bricks, the second and third rounds of fire bricks, and then carefully place your capstones before finishing your seating area, applying mortar as you go. 

  • Square Concrete Fire Pit 

For sleek, contemporary outdoor aesthetics, concrete fire elements are becoming increasingly popular. These can also be raised so that your s’mores station is level with your outstretched palm while you relax on a deep seat sofa. Square concrete fire pits have a lot of steps: first, build the interior and outer rings out of fir planks. To defend against the elements, add reinforcement and wire or mesh matting. 

Once you have finished the previous stage, pour your concrete to the top of the form. Once the concrete has dried, carefully remove the forms and apply finishing touches such as a smooth finish or a layer of slate on top of the concrete. Fill the center of your bowl halfway with gravel, and then secure it. Last but not least, fill the remaining space with beautiful rocks of your choice. 

  • In-ground Stone and Brick Fire Pit 

In-ground fire pits fit in perfectly with your backyard’s scenery. While this can be a safety concern if you have small children or pets, an in-ground fire pit can lend a touch of casual elegance to any outdoor space. Depending on where you get the components, a fire pit like this can be built for less than $100. 

To begin, dig a hole that is four feet deep and 12 feet in diameter, with the sides slanted out slightly. Fifteen liters of lava rocks should be used to fill the hole. Place the bricks vertically around the hole’s rim, tilting them on their sides. In the circular area where you’ll set up chairs and side tables, shovel sod away from the pit’s edge. Cover the bricks with flat, ornamental stones around the pit’s edge. You are now ready to build a fire by filling in the top region in and around the flat stones with earth. 

 

Fire Pit Ideas You Can Purchase 

Is it not possible to take on a new construction project by yourself? If you do not have the time, skills, or ambition to build a fire pit from the ground up, there are numerous varieties of gorgeous fire pits that you can buy for your backyard dependent on your budget. These alternatives can add a functioning fire pit to your outdoor entertainment options, while also elevating your aesthetic. 

  • Concrete Basin 

Use the color palette of your existing patio furniture to determine the best shade for a basic, low-cost concrete basin fire pit. A freestanding bowl’s floating look offers an unforgettable visual statement and embellishes circular patios and flat spaces. All you need to know before ordering your concrete basin is the color of your current chairs or the color you want to purchase. A simple approach for cohesion is homogeneous color, especially when contrasted with your dwelling or decking materials. 

  • Steel Cauldron 

A hanging cauldron fire pit and grill will impress any visitor, whether you have a modern home with clean lines or a rambling wood cabin. Steel cauldron fire pits have a tall triangular frame that supports a spherical cauldron that seems like it sprang from a smithy or forge and landed in your backyard. These cauldrons, especially the larger ones, can be expensive. However, the artistry is well worth the money for the right family and home. 

  • Propane-Powered Fire Pit Tables 

Small standalone fire pit tables that are metalworked and powered by propane are becoming popular in many homes with limited yard space or with basic patios instead of traditional yards. These stylish, low-cost fire pit tables frequently have a side table that conceals the gas tank. These fire pit tables can cost as little as a couple hundred dollars, depending on the type of metal used and the craftsmanship. 

For the homeowner who wants the most low-maintenance fire pit option that is easy to set up and light, a fire pit table can be the perfect option. They can come in varying sizes to fit all sizes and layouts of backyard or patio space. Another very handy feature of a fire pit table is that, besides making sure your propane tank is full, you do not need to maintain the fire and can adjust it with a switch. 

 

With a little inspiration and a design that appeals to you, you can either craft a DIY fire pit or save time and money by ordering one that matches your outdoor concept. The entire family may gather around a fire pit table for meals, games, beverages, stories, s’mores, and countless new memories. After you have finished putting the finishing touches on your fire pit, determine what style of furniture best suits your unique location, whether you are furnishing a desert hideaway or a lake house.

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How to Build a Wood Fire in Your Fire Pit

If you spent your childhood taking camping trips every weekend with your family or you spent time in the Scouts, you may already be a skilled pro at building a fire. However, if you are not the outdoorsy type, you may never have learned the proper techniques for building a quality fire. Even though this skill can seem intimidating for a newbie, it is actually quite manageable once you get the hang of it! 

With a wood-burning fire pit in your backyard, you do not even need to venture out into the wilderness to achieve a cozy, roaring fire. You can enjoy such luxuries from the comfort of your own home. If you want to learn how to develop this easy and straightforward skill, or if you just want to improve on the knowledge you already have, read on for our tips on how to start the perfect (or most efficient!) fire in your backyard fire pit. 

 

Fire Safety 

Before you ever light your fire, make sure that safety is your top priority. Fire pit safety is incredibly important, and if you follow the best practices, you can avoid costly mistakes. Here are some safety guidelines to keep in mind when using your fire pit: 

  • To prevent flames or embers from escaping the pit, start your fire on an even surface. 
  • Make sure your fire pit is at least 10 feet away from any trees, houses, fences, or other flammable things. 
  • If the weather is very windy, choose a different night to light a fire. 
  • Keep a safe distance from the fire pit, and pay attention to any children and pets nearby. 
  • Avoid use of propellants or other potentially hazardous or toxic substances.
  • Never leave your fire unattended. 

 

How to Build a Fire with Wood in a Fire Pit 

1. Preparation 

After you’ve chosen a safe site for your fire, it is time to collect the appropriate supplies to prepare your fire. But do not worry; the list of things you will need is not excessively long, and everything is easy to acquire. Here is everything you will need to get your fire going: 

  • Fire Starter: You can choose from a variety of various fire starters. Kitchen lighters and matches are the most common household items you could use. These will get the job done, but this can be a time-consuming choice. You can also use a butane torch lighter or an electric arc. Most people do not have one of these on hand, but they are far more effective at starting a fire in a fire pit and are fairly inexpensive to purchase. 
  • Tinder: To ignite your fire, you will need to use tinder. Leaves, pine cones, newspaper, or tree bark can all be used as tinder, as they catch fire easily. As long as the material is dry and non-toxic, it can be used to light a fire. If you need ideas, a quick Google search will show you many types of DIY fire starters you could use for starting a fire in a fire pit. Different options have different advantages, but there are so many options to choose from. 
  • Kindling: Kindling pieces are dry sticks that will keep your fire going for long enough for the bigger logs to ignite after the tinder has burnt up. Softwoods, such as pine, cedar, poplar, and spruce, are usually the most effective sticks and twigs for kindling. 
  • Firewood: The base of your fire will be made up of logs, which will keep it going all night long. Hardwoods, such as maple, oak, ash, and birch, make the best firewood. Before using your logs, make sure they are properly seasoned and stacked.  

Next, it is time to start your fire, now that you have gathered all of the necessary supplies. 

2. Starting Your Fire 

This is the bit you have been waiting for: lighting a fire in a fire pit without the use of lighter fluid or hazardous chemicals. Let’s go over each stage of how to build a fire in your fire pit: 

  • To begin, construct a tinder pile in the bottom middle of your fire pit. This pile should be around the size of your palm. 
  • Next, take your kindling and lay it at a 35-degree angle right above your tinder, forming a pyramid or tee-pee shape. Make sure the kindling structure is dense and close enough together, but not so tightly constructed that it will not still allow for air flow through small gaps. 
  • After you have set up your kindling, light your tinder pile using the fire starter. It is time to start placing your firewood once the kindling has started to burn.
  • Finally, begin to stack the seasoned timber in the fire pit. The formation of the firewood should be identical to that of the kindling, either forming a pyramid or a tee-pee shape. Keep the firewood close together to keep the fire concentrated, but leave small gaps to allow for maximized air flow. 

If you follow these steps correctly, you should soon have a roaring fire before you.  

3. Maintaining Your Fire 

Keeping the fire in your fire pit properly maintained is necessary if you want the flame to burn brightly all night. If your firewood is not catching fire or the flame is dying out too quickly, try adding more tinder and kindling to the mix. You may want to check out the state of your firewood, as well. Switch more new firewood into the fire if the logs start to turn completely black and are disintegrating, or if the flame is dying. Keep in mind that you always should keep an eye on your fire, adding more dry tinder, kindling, or logs as needed, and avoiding suffocating the flame. 

4. Extinguishing You Fire Pit 

After successfully starting and sustaining a fire in your fire pit, the party is winding down, and you are ready to call it a night. It is now time to put out the flame in a safe manner. You would not want any stray sparks or embers still hanging around that could reignite. When putting out a fire in your fire pit, you should follow these simple steps: 

  • Take a hose or a pail of water and gently trickle water on the flames. Make sure you do not just dump or pour the water into the fire pit, since this can damage it. 
  • After you have finished sprinkling water and the flames have withered into embers, grab a shovel and mix the ash and embers around until you can’t hear any hissing anymore. 
  • Finally, lightly touch the ash and, if it is cool, dispose of it properly.

 

Now that you know what you need to do in order to get that billowing backyard blaze going, you do not have to narrow down your options to only gas fire pits or automatic starts. You can feel confident that you can accommodate everyone’s comfort the next time the family wants to spend the evening outside but it is a bit too chilly or you are having guests over and need an activity after dinner. A wood fire pit can provide you with a cozy, rustic feel in your own backyard and create the ambiance you are looking for.

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Cooking Over a Fire Pit

One of the best benefits of owning a fire pit is that you can cook on it outside. Instead of having a separate grill for food, you can recreate those campfire memories in your own backyard. There is something really spectacular about cooking over a fire that makes you feel connected to nature, while being incredibly comforting and cozy, with the sounds of crackling embers and delicious smells rising up around you. Cooking over a fire pit is actually a lot easier than many people think. If you would like to learn how to get started, read on for more. 

Grilled Meat on Charcoal Grill

What Fuel to Choose 

If you want to experiment with smokey flavors when cooking in a fire pit, you may use wood, charcoal, or a combination of both. Charcoal has the advantages of being relatively easy to light and burning at a high temperature. It is ideal for beginners or foods that have already been marinated or seasoned. Charcoal will not give your dish with a strong smokey flavor, so the flavors will not be overpowered. If you want to enjoy sitting around the joyful blaze of a wood fire after you cook with charcoal, simply toss some logs on the hot coals after you are done. 

Wood is a more traditional fire pit material that is rather straightforward to light as long as you choose the right wood and know how to set it up. The most dependable options for a steady fire seem to be the teepee or log cabin methods. To build your fire, start with tinder, work your way up to kindling, and then lay down the firewood. 

Small, quarter-inch thick dry sticks, straw, pine needles, or bark can all be used as tinder. We do not recommend using leaves or paper, since they can quickly produce fly ash, which can start a fire outside of your fire pit or cause burns. Sticks or twigs that are somewhat larger should be used as kindling. If you’re using charcoal, this would be a good time to light it. 

After your kindling, add some logs of a reasonable size. A dry, seasoned hardwood is the preferred choice. Oak and other similar hardwoods will burn strong and cleanly. Green woods and softwoods should be avoided, as they will spoil your meals. Softwoods, like as pine, may emit an unpleasant toxic resin that will ruin the taste of your food, while green wood will sputter too much. 

 

How to Set Up 

The location of your fire pit is critical for having a safe fire cooking experience. Make sure the fire is not under an overhang or overhanging foliage, on a flammable surface, such as a wood deck, or surrounded by plants if it is in the ground. After you’ve safely placed your fire pit, you will need a fire pit grill to cook on. These come in a number of styles and sizes, but they are really just a cooking grill that stands over a fire. To make cooking over hot coals easier, some of them include adjustable heights and angles. A different kind of grill will sit above your fire. 

Next, you will need something to cook with! You should stock your outdoor cooking set up with some basic barbecuing utensils, including a pair of tongs, a spatula, and a grill brush. Make sure these utensils have lengthy handles so you do not have to worry about scorching your fingers while you are cooking. 

Digital and surface thermometers are useful instruments to keep on hand, particularly if you are a newbie. A surface thermometer can tell you how hot your grill is, and an instant read digital thermometer can tell you if your meat is cooked properly. A lid is also a handy item to have on hand for your fire pit grilling activities, since it expands your cooking options. You can use indirect heat to grill bigger chunks of meat and make baked dishes if you use a cover to keep the heat in. 

Make sure you set up you fire pit in such a way that you can avoid cooking directly over the flames, using too much heat, or letting your food cook over too much smoke. Creating a two-zone system is the simplest approach to achieve this. The fire will burn down logs into embers on one side of the fire pit, and then the embers can be pushed to the other side, where you may cook over and around them. If you use this method, your food will not be burned by the flames, and if your embers start to die, you have plenty more you can quickly add from the fire zone. 

 

Heat Management 

To manage the heat you are cooking over, you will likely require some experience, but it is not difficult to master. It is best to begin with cooking smaller chunks of meat if you are just learning how to cook over a flame. Starting with one-inch chunks will help you understand how to how things cook on a grill and how to moderate the smoke levels of your meal. 

There are the two basic ways to manage how much heat your food is cooking over. Be aware of how close your food is to the embers and how many embers there are. If the fire is too hot, you may either shift the embers away from the food or move the food away from the embers and closer to the grill’s borders. You can also vary the angle or elevate the cooking surface on certain fire pit grills. 

If your food isn’t getting enough heat, simply reverse the process. More hot embers should be placed under the meal, or the food should be moved closer to the embers by moving it to a more central position on the grill or by moving the grill itself. To obtain the desired amount of smokiness, follow the same steps. 

 

Cooking with Direct Vs. Indirect Heat 

Starting with the slowest-cooking foods ensures that everything is ready at the same time. Keep in mind that thicker cuts of meat will need to rest for a few minutes after being pulled from the grill, and that they will continue to cook for a few more minutes after being removed. This means you’ll want to remove them from the grill just before they’re done, or else they will be overdone. A thermometer is a great tool for nailing down the proper time and temperatures. 

Smaller slices of meat and cuts that don’t need to be cooked all the way through, such as steaks, can be cooked over direct heat from the coals or embers. It is perfect for getting a nice sear or cooking small portions of meat, like kebabs. Hot dogs, hamburgers, and similar foods can also be cooked over direct heat. 

Larger cuts, like roasts, will sear and char on the outside before cooking on the inside. Therefore, they will benefit from indirect heat. You’ll need a lid for this procedure. Place the meat around the embers rather than right over them, then cover the fire pit with the lid. This will trap the heat, and the hot air and smoke convection will slowly cook your food through without scorching the outside and leaving the inside uncooked. A surface thermometer is a useful tool for monitoring the temperature beneath the lid.

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How to Get the Most Life Out of Your Patio Furniture

Ideally, your backyard patio is like an extension of your living space, just another room of your home. You want it to feel comfortable and inviting and to not have to think twice about having this space look and feel nice to relax in or host guests. However, unlike your indoor furniture, your outdoor decor is subject to a lot more abuse beyond the regular wear and tear. 

While patio furniture is designed to be much more hardy and more durable than regular furniture, this does not mean that it is indestructible or impervious to any damages. Like anything you own, if you want to get as much use out of your patio furniture as possible, you have to take good care of it over the years. Luckily, maintenance of your patio furniture is not too difficult or time-consuming, and you can ensure your outdoor pieces last for many years to come with these few simple steps. 

Take Care of The Finish 

All patio furniture is designed to hold up in an outdoor environment, but the type of material you choose for it can determine in part just how well it keeps over time. Keep in mind that different materials work better for different climates, so if you do not want to be replacing your patio furniture much more frequently and you are flexible with the aesthetic, choose a type that will withstand the climate conditions where you live. Refinishing your furniture every now and then will go a long way towards maintaining its original quality and look. 

  • Wood: For wood furniture, it is important that water does not seep into the wood and damage or warp it or causing rotting over time. If you notice you wood furniture could use a new coat of protection, you should first sand all exposed surfaces to get rid of any splintering edges. Next, apply a fresh coat of varnish to make your pieces look as good as new. You could even paint it a new color if you want to change up your look. For bigger cracks and holes, use a wood filler. 
  • Plastic: You should frequently clean plastic furnishings with soapy water and wipe it down with a soft, non-abrasive cloth. If your plastics need a fresh coat of paint, make sure you use a special paint with a strong bond that is made for adhering to this type of material. 
  • Wicker: Use a microfiber cloth to remove dirt and dust from your wicker pieces often. When your pieces need more of a deep clean, you can use soapy water and scrub it with a nylon brush. Rinse it with fresh water, preferably a hose with a strong stream, and always allow it to dry completely in a bright, sunny spot. Touch up the finish as need with a wicker varnish or stain. 
  • Metal: Rust is easier to prevent than to remove, so try to take a proactive approach to protecting you metal furniture. At least once a year or at the beginning of the season, refinish your metal pieces with a primer or a wax. If you already have some small rust spots, there are plenty of commercial rust removal products available, or you can sandblast it back to life. Always repaint and finish any treated rust spots so that they do not come back. 

Keep Your Fabrics Fresh 

Many patio sets come with their own cushions or pillows made of fabric. While these materials are usually burlier than your average couch cushion and may be more resistant to stains, they are still designed to be soft and comfortable and need regular care. Wash or launder your fabrics regularly. If the fabric cover is removable, you can usually just machine wash it. If it is not, you can mix ¼ cup of mild dishwashing detergent with a gallon of warm water. Scrub the surface gently with a soft nylon brush, then allow the fabrics to dry fully in the sun. 

Sometimes, the padding inside your cushions can become worn out over time. You do not necessarily have to buy new ones if you like the ones you already have and do not want to spend the extra money. You can have them restuffed or do it yourself with a little foam or batting from the hardware store. If you are unsure of the right material to refill your cushions with, many outdoor living retailers sell special pillow filler for outdoor use. 

If you live in an area where you get many surprise summer showers, you may want to finish your fabrics with a protective finishing spray. This way, if you do not always remember or are unable to bring your cushions inside in time, they will be more resistant to water and mildew. 

Store and Cover Your Furniture When Not in Use 

If you live in a climate with a harsh winter season or cold weather, you should strongly consider storing your furniture inside before the season changes. It is harder for your patio furniture to accumulate weather damage if it is rarely exposed to bad weather. If you do not have room to store your pieces indoors, consider renting a storage space for the winter.  

If you are bringing your items inside for the season, make sure that you thorough clean and touch up your pieces before putting them away in storage. You do not want to put away your patio furniture to protect it from damage for the season, only to find that rust spot or wood rot you neglected has made your beautiful furniture unusable when you go to put it out next season. 

If possible, you should also try to store your patio furniture whenever some harsh weather conditions are in the forecast. Depending on the materials and age, your furniture may be able to stand up to some light rain, but a big storm could really do some damage. If you leave your wicker or wood furnishings out when there is flooding, this is a perfect recipe for mildew. Similarly, strong winds could blow your furniture around and damage it, or you could lose your cushions if they are not secured properly. 

Many retailers also make special covers for your patio furniture to protect them between uses. You can use these covers for your pieces while they are in storage, or you can use them while your furniture is still out on the deck but not in use to shield it from dew and sun. 

Arranging Your Furniture Outside 

When your furniture is living outdoors, you should also consider where you place it. If you have a shade sail over your patio or big, shady tree, this can provide you with some additional sun protection. On the other hand, you will want to keep your furniture far away from certain trees. Nut trees, like hickory and oak, have oils in their bark that can stain your pieces. Nuts and acorns could also fall and dent your furniture. If you want to avoid bird droppings, do not place your pieces near or under trees with nests or bird houses. 

 

With these simple tips, you can make sure that your make the most of your investment and that your patio furniture will last to provide you enjoyment for years to come. 

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Patio Ideas for Small Spaces

You absolutely do not need a grand, sweeping backyard to create an enjoyable and stylish outdoor living space. In fact, some of the most cozy and creative designs have been created as a result of the need to save on space. Whether you live in an apartment with small balcony or have a small patio or yard in a crowded neighborhood, there are tons of options for making your outdoor living space just as comfortable and stylish as if you had all the room in the world. Read on for our tips on how to make the most out of your small outdoor space. 

Wine Glasses on table Near Pillows

Built-In Bench 

If you are a homeowner and have the option to make modifications to your home, you should consider creating some built-in furniture for your outdoor space. Not only will a built-in piece last longer than other furniture, it will save space too. You could create a custom stone or concrete bench that is flush with the side of your house, or you could build a wood seat that fits perfectly between two columns if you have a covered space. With a custom piece you also do not have to worry about finding the right fit, and you can be sure you get the most out of the space you have as possible. 

Hidden Storage 

Storage for various items that are not always in use is a great way to maximize space. Pillows, throws, and entertainment items can all be easily stashed away somewhere that won’t take up room inside your home, which is a good idea in any climate. This is even better if you can reuse space that would go to waste or be unused otherwise. A bench or ottoman with a lifting top and storage capacity are great multi-use options, as is a crawl space built under your deck. 

Multipurpose Furniture 

Similar to furniture that doubles as storage, other multipurpose items can be of great use in a tight space. Even in larger outdoor living spaces, flexible furniture can make your patio a lot more versatile for any type of gathering you want to host. Other ideas include a sturdy coffee table that can double as extra seating, flat stools that can be side tables when you have fewer guests but need more surface areas, or large, weatherproof throw pillows that can be placed on the ground and used as floor cushions. 

Outdoor Rug 

A colorful rug is a great way to add a touch of pizzazz to a cozier patio and can help a small space feel more intentional. The right size rug can outline the borders of your space, which is helpful if you have a smaller footprint. Be sure to choose a rug made with materials for outdoors that will hold up better to the elements. 

Faux Grass 

Another good option for covering the ground of your outdoor space is faux grass. This is an especially good choice for urban environments or balconies. You may not have the space for a real backyard, but fake grass can add some ambiance and color to your outside area, without all the upkeep that comes with a real lawn. If you want your grass to look more real, make sure to lay it across an entire defined area. 

Micro Garden 

Contrary to popular belief, you do not actually need a huge amount of space, or even a yard, to create a garden outside of your home. If you have a balcony or another type of outdoor living space without ground access, you can satisfy your green thumb with a container garden. This means you will grow everything in various containers or pots. This actually affords you a lot of flexibility in design and style, as well as in moving things around and rearranging. You can use your pots as fun accent pieces to tie your color scheme together or create a jungle feel with hanging potters and vines. A great space-saving idea is to create a vertical garden with leveled shelving to house your plants in a more compact way. With a little research, you will find there are many types of flowers and edibles plants that grow well in confined spaces. 

Outdoor Drapery 

Particularly if you live in an apartment building with multiple units with balconies or your home is in very close proximity to your neighbors, you may be interested in a bit more privacy in your outdoor space during the nice season when everyone wants to be outside at home. While a wall or other more permanent barrier may feel a little claustrophobic and may not even be allowed if you rent, curtains are great way to create a little distance between you and your neighbors, while still maintaining an airy, light feel. Outdoor curtains can have the added benefit of providing some shade for sun protection. If your patio is uncovered and if there is nothing to hang drapes from, you can easily craft a simple wooden frame for this purpose. 

Fire Pit Table 

A fire pit is the ultimate in outdoor living luxury, but you may think you do not have room for one in your tiny outdoor living space. A fire pit table could be the solution to your problems. You can easily get a separate, storable tabletop to cover the fire pit while it is not in use, so you can use it for outdoor dining or game night. As the night wears on, you can remove the cover to generate some warmth with the fire and roast some marshmallows. 

Grill Grate for Fire Pit 

One of the most coveted uses for patio spaces is for outdoor cooking. However, if you have a very small patio space, you may not want to take up precious space with a bulky grill. If you already have a fire pit for your patio, whether it is portable, built-in, or a table pit as mentioned above, you can actually turn this item into your cooking station without adding an extra piece of furniture. Simply add a removable grate for grilling, and you have instantly saved a sizable amount of space for other kinds of furniture. 

Use Your Overhead Space 

You may be able to eke out more space on your small patio if you just look up. Whereas a shade device like a standing or table umbrella might take up floor space or be in the way at head-height with people passing back and forth, a shade sail can be just as effective without occupying valuable square footage on the ground. A shade sail can be affixed to your house and another nearby sturdy object. This also allows you to play with the height and angle of the sail to create a more open feel for your space. The same goes for lighting. If you do not have lighting fixtures already wired to the outside of your home, you may opt for floor lamps for evening hang outs. A better, low-cost and easy-install option is to hang strings of fairy lights. 

 

If you have a more confined outdoor living space, you may need to account for every square foot you have available. However, as we have shown, there are plenty of easy ways to make your small patio feel roomy and inviting.

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Fun Activities for a Night by the Fire Pit

As we start to gear up for the summer and temperatures begin to heat up, many of us will want to retreat to the cool relief of those perfect summer evenings. If you are lucky enough to own a fire pit in your backyard, you can continue the fun into the night, even as temperatures drop and the sky darkens. While you can spend a lovely evening just sitting around the fire and enjoying the company of your loved ones, there are also countless activities you can do that are perfect for extending the summer fun after-hours. Get cozy and try out our ideas to turn a good night into a spectacular one and maybe get inspired to create your own fireside activities! 

People Roasting Marshmallow

Make S’mores 

We have to start out with the classic, time-honored campfire tradition: roasting marshmallows and making gooey s’mores. This is a great activity if you have kids, but let’s be honest – many of us have fond memories of childhood s’mores and have carried that sweet tooth in adulthood. Did you know you can safely cook a marshmallow over your gas fire pit? This makes it easy to recreate the nostalgia at home, no matter what kind of fire pit you have. 

What you will need: 

  • Graham crackers 
  • Chocolate bars, like Hershey’s 
  • Large marshmallows 
  • Skewers long enough to hold over the fire for a while 
  • Wet wipes for the messy eaters 

Tell a Group Story 

Put a spin on the typical fireside pastime of telling ghost stories or regaling your comrades with tales of adventure with this twist. Instead of having a single storyteller from beginning to end, craft a creative story by telling it round-robin style a few pieces at a time. This is how to start: 

  1. First, choose one person to start the story with a couple sentences. Alternatively, you could have each person present write down a prompt and then draw one out of a hat to get you started. 
  2. As you continue around the circle, each person will add a few more lines to create the next part of the story and move it along. 
  3. If you have a large group, the last person in the circle is responsible for ending the story. If you have a smaller group, you can go around the circle a few times until the story feels sufficiently long. 

There are also fun variations on this method of storytelling, such as Fortunately, Unfortunately. For this game, the person who is starting the story will instead begin with a positive statement, starting with the word “fortunately.” The next person will follow with an “unfortunately” statement, and so on and so forth, until the story is either finished or no one can stop laughing long enough to contribute any further! For example: 

Player 1: “Fortunately, my mother finally let me have a dog.” 

Player 2: “Unfortunately, the dog ate the entire pie my mom set on the table to cool.” 

The fun part of group storytelling comes in the unpredictability of the tale and not knowing the next twists and turns it will take. It is also nice to create something with everyone’s input, where each person puts their own unique spin on their segment. Try writing it down and retelling it again later or during your next fire pit night! 

Have a Movie Night 

With the warmth and coziness of your fire pit, it is the perfect excuse to move your family movie night outdoors! These days, it is very easy and affordable to create your own set up outside, without having to drag your TV to the patio with the world’s longest extension cord. You can easily huddle in front of a laptop, or, if you want the full drive-in movie theater experience or need to entertain a larger crowd, you can pick up an inexpensive cordless projector for around $100 and pair it with some Bluetooth speakers. Here are some ways to make your movie night one to remember: 

  • You do not need to spend money or time installing a pricey outdoor projector screen. You can make a screen yourself. Simply find a white bedsheet and hang it from a clothesline or against the side of your home. With this method, you have the flexibility to set up your screening anywhere in the yard or on the patio that you choose. Be sure to anchor the edges of the sheet with rocks or something heavy, in case the wind picks up and to keep it smooth. 
  • Create your own popcorn bar! With the fire pit nearby, this is the perfect opportunity to pop some kernels the old-fashioned way by cooking up some Jiffy Pop in its foil over the fire. When it is ready, let everyone make their own flavor by setting out mix-ins, such as chocolate chips, candy, pretzels, nuts, and seasonings. And of course, be sure not forget the butter! 
  • Make your set up extra cozy. Set up sleeping bags and pillows or cushions on the grass to make it feel like you are camping. Buy some fairy lights and string them around the border of your screen to add a little movie theater magic to your evening. 

Try Singing Karaoke 

Another fireside favorite is whipping out the guitar and singing campfire songs. Since your fire pit allows you enjoy the comforts of a campfire from home, you have the option to swap out the acoustics for some electronics! If your family or friends always love singing along to that one favorite song on the radio, consider trying karaoke during your next outdoor evening. 

If you already have a karaoke machine, just grab an extension cord and you are all set. However, if you do not have one of these, you can easily work around this and still have a stellar night. Here is what you will need: 

  • A laptop, or even a smartphone with internet connection and some good speakers. Alternatively, if you have some portable speakers or some already installed outside, you could connect your device to those. 
  • No microphone, no problem. Grab a broom, a toy mike, a wad of foil, a pair of socks – anything that you can hold up to your face for dramatic effect as you belt out the chorus. 
  • What if you can’t seem to remember all of the words to that song you want to sing? Luckily, there are lots of karaoke videos available for free on YouTube with instrumentals and song lyrics streaming across the page at the right moments. Just search your favorite song with the word “karaoke” after it, and you should pull up at least a few results. 

If you really want to put on a performance, dig up your Halloween box and throw on some costumes or raid your closet for your fanciest attire and strut your stuff. Silly wigs, outrageous hats, and novelty sunglasses are all encouraged. 

 

This is just a short list of ideas to get you started, but there are endless ways to have fun and enjoy your fire pit. The warmth and gentle light provides the perfect ambiance for a night at home with the people you care about. Get creative and try to come up with some new games and activities of your own! 

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Fire Pits on Wooden Decks: Fire Pit Safety Tips to Follow

Fire Pit Safety At A Party

Nearly one-third of all new homes constructed in 2020 had a deck, according to the Survey of Construction conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau.

A wooden deck or patio is a welcome and valuable addition to any home, so below you will find some fire pit safety measures.

It provides homeowners with a communal area where friends and family members can gather, and statistics show that it even adds monetary value to homes.

But if you plan to use a fire pit on your wooden deck, there are a few things you should know.

Conventional wisdom should lead you to believe that a wooden deck isn’t fireproof; therefore, you’ll need take some precautions when using a fire pit here.

The good news, however, is that you can safely use a fire pit on a wooden deck, but only if you follow these safety measures.

Place Fire Pit Away from Your House

When choosing a location to place your fire pit, a good rule of thumb is to keep it at least 10 feet away from your home. Whether it’s on a wooden deck, stone patio or elsewhere, follow the 10-foot rule. Doing so reduces the risk of serious property damage and injury.

Don’t Use Lighter Fluid In A Fire Pit – Ever

Never use lighter fluid, gasoline or any other flammable liquid in your fire pit. If you accidentally spill any of these liquids on your wooden deck, it could easily ignite and catch fire. If you’re having trouble starting a fire, place additional tinder in the center of the wood or coals. Once this ignites, the heat should catch the wood or coals on fire.

Choose A Level Surface For Your Fire Pit

In addition to keeping your fire pit at least 10 feet away from your house, you should also place it on a flat, surface. Assuming your wooden deck was built properly, it should be level (or almost level).

Nonetheless, it’s a good idea to double-check and make sure the surface is level before using your fire pit.

You can use stones or bricks to accomplish this but make sure that you are on as flat an area as possible to start with.

Place Barrier Between Fire Pit and Wooden Deck

It’s also a good idea to place some type of fire-resistant barrier between your fire pit and wooden deck. A small square-shaped grid of stone pavers, for instance, will protect your wooden deck from the fire pit. While a fire pit typically won’t produce enough heat to ignite a deck, this will protect your deck from heat stains and scorching.

Putting The Fire Out Fully Before Bed

One of the most common reasons for fires coming from a fire pit is not fully extinguishing the fire when you are done. This is often at the end of the evening or after a few drinks.

Don’t just walk away from the fire pit. You can fully extinguish it easily with a fire pit snuffer which we highly recommend.

But even if you have to pour water on the fire in the fire pit, that is better than just letting it “burn out”.

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

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Charcoal Grill vs Wood-Burning Fire Pit: Which Cooking Accessory Is Right for Me?

Nothing compares to the smokey, char-grilled flavor of food cooked over an open flame. From steaks and pork chips to chicken and ribs, an open flame will naturally seal the outside of meats while locking in its juices in the process. This means the outside of your meat will have a crispy or semi-crispy texture, yet the inside will remain juicy and delicious.

There are different accessories with which you can cook food over an open flame, however, the two most popular of which include charcoal grills and fire pits. Using either of these accessories, you can cook delicious meats and vegetables over an open flame. But charcoal grills aren’t the same as fire pits, and it’s important to understand the differences between them when choosing a cooking accessory for your outdoor living space.

Aesthetics

In terms of appearance, fire pits are the clear winner. While charcoal grills are available in a dozens of styles, most lack the attention to detail and overall aesthetics of high-quality fire pits, such as those offered here at S&S Fire Pits. If you’re trying to design an attractive outdoor living space, there’s no substitution for a high-quality fire pit. Along with its practical purposes — cooking, creating warmth, relation, etc. — it will add a unique visual element to your outdoor living space that compliments or even enhances the decor.

Health

Cooking over a wood-burning fire pit could be better for your health than cooking over a charcoal grill. According to an article published by Men’sHealth, charcoal fires release high concentrations of carcinogenic compounds known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). When you cook meat over a charcoal grill, the fat from the meat will melt and drip down onto the charcoal, causing the charcoal to release smoke. Unfortunately, this smoke is typically high in PAHs, which according to Men’sHealth, could pose health risks.

Cooking over a wood-burning fire pit, however, minimizes harmful emissions such as this. You can use a fire pit to cook meats, vegetables and even some fruits without worrying about exposing yourself to high concentrations of PAHs or other harmful compounds. Firewood has a different composition than charcoal, consisting entirely of natural, untreated wood.

Heat

Both a charcoal grill and a wood-burning fire pit can warm your outdoor living space during the cold late fall and winter months. Fire pits, however, generally offer a superior level of heat when compared to grills. This is because grills — whether gas or charcoal — are used primarily for cooking, whereas fire pits are designed for a variety of purposes, including cooking as well as producing heat. With its open design, a wood-burning fire pit will produce a substantial amount of warmth that’s felt throughout your outdoor living space.

Maintenance

Charcoal grills and wood-burning fire pits require similar maintenance. After using either of these accessories, for example, you’ll need to shovel and dispose of ash (wait until it’s cool, of course). It’s also recommended that you can your charcoal grill or wood-burning fire pit with soap and water on a regular basis — but that’s about it! Neither a charcoal grill nor fire pit is a “maintenance-free” accessory. Assuming you dispose of the ash and clean it regularly, though, these accessories can last for years or even generations.

Portability

Wood-burning fire pits are usually more portable and charcoal grills. They feature a compact design, allowing you to easily transport them to different areas of your outdoor living space or property. In comparison, most charcoal grills are large, heavy and difficult to move. Even if a charcoal grill has wheels affixed to the bottom, you may struggle to roll it across your property, especially if the ground is bumpy or uneven. To move a fire pit, all you have to do it list and carry it to your desired location. You can even transport your fire pit in a vehicle if you want to go camping or host a barbecue at a local public park. This isn’t possible with most charcoal grills.

Cooking

You can cook delicious foods using a charcoal grill or a wood-burning fire pit. Many backyard chefs will agree, however, that fire pits are superior in their ability to create mouthwatering dishes. The problem with charcoal grills is that they use charcoal, which unfortunately doesn’t offer the same delicious flavor or aroma as a wood-burning flame. Regardless of what type of food you’re cooking, it will have better flavor if you cooked it over a wood-burning flame instead of charcoal.

The results are clear: A fire pit is a smarter choice than a charcoal grill that offers greater utility. Fire pits are more stylish, better for your health, create more heat, are easier to maintain, easier to transport and better for cooking than grills.

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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9 Tricks to Update Old Patio Furniture

As we transition into spring and the weather begins to warm up, sunny days and balmy evenings seem to be just on the horizon. The pandemic has sparked a lot more interest in outdoor living and socializing in outdoor spaces, so you will likely be making ample use of these types of spaces at your home. However, if you dropped the ball on taking care of your patio furniture this winter, your outdoor amenities may be looking a bit shabbier than you would want to show to company or even just for your own enjoyment.  

Fortunately, there are many easy ways to spruce up your patio furniture if it did not survive the winter well or is looking a little bleak from too much sun. Read on to learn our top tips for making that outdoor furniture look as good as new again. 

1. Spray Paint 

A fresh coat of paint is a tried-and-true way to bring new life to ancient pieces of furniture, but regular painting can be a little more involved than some people want to get with their DIY projects, with cans of paint that are hard to store and equipment required to paint with that may never be used again. 

However, spray paint is an easier and cheaper option for most and works really well for outdoor furniture materials, such as metal. It is also a lot easier to get into all of the nooks and crannies if your items have slats or curly iron details. This method of painting is so easy that you can do it every year and change up your color scheme. Make sure you wash and dry your piece properly before painting so that you get an even coat. 

You can even extend the life of worn and drab cushions and pillows with a little spray paint in the right spots. Another fun and easy technique to try is creating a funky pattern by apply painter’s tape in stripes or other patterns. Simply apply your first coat of paint, let it dry, add the tape, then spray with a second color and remove the tape to reveal your base color underneath. 

2. Reupholstering 

If your furniture has been sitting out in inclement weather or the direct sunlight often, your chair cushions could look pretty faded by now. Reupholstering your seat pads can make your seating look cleaner and more inviting, and it will allow you to stay up-to-date with the latest styles of the season if your patterns are a bit dated. 

You may be worried reupholstery is hard, but it does not have to be. You can simply remove the pads from the chairs and use a staple gun to secure your new fabric. You do not even have to remove the old fabric, as long as it is not too thick or badly damaged. 

3. Revive Your Teak 

Teak wood furniture is a popular choice for patio pieces because it is known for being very hardy and long-lasting. However, to get the most out of your teak pieces, you should take proper care of them and refresh the wood every few seasons. Start by applying a cleanser made specially for teak wood. Next, you can give your furniture a light sanding to smooth any rough edges that could become bigger issues. Finally, use a protective sealer to help your furniture be more weather-resistant. 

4. Use a Slipcover 

One of the easiest and quickest fixes to reanimate lackluster and dingy furniture is to use a slipcover. The light airiness of the fabric can give your pieces a summer vibe. If you decide you do not like the look you have chosen, a slipcover is not permanent and can easily be swapped out for a new one. In fact, this method is very affordable, so you can have multiple slipcovers for every mood and occasion. Another benefit is these are easy to remove and are washable. 

5. Tung Oil for Wicker 

A popular and stylish alternative to treated, plasticky wicker is natural wicker. Unfortunately, a natural finish is more vulnerable to the outdoor elements. You can keep your wicker furniture looking good and lasting longer by finishing it with tung oil. Wash you pieces first to remove any debris and dirt that has collected, then coat the entire surface with tung oil, making sure to really get into the nooks and crannies between the wicker pieces. This finish will protect your furniture and will give it a deep, rich oiled look. 

6. Add Some New Accessories 

Maybe your furniture is still in pretty good shape, but your pieces are out of style or look bland and boring. Or perhaps you recently updated your patio or outdoor living area, and your old furniture does not match as well with your new design. Sometimes, simply adding a splash of color with an accent piece is all you need. New throw blankets and pillows are a great choice, but you can also get creative by adding decorative items to tables, such as potted plants or ornamental watering cans. You can make new updates year after year, as trends change. 

7. Rust Removal 

Even finished or coated metal pieces can rust when exposed to the elements and moisture season after season. That tiny chip in the paint you thought was a minor flaw can quickly turn into a large rust spot. Before you trash your beloved pieces, assess the damage. If the rust is just on the surface and has not damaged your furniture structurally, it is completely salvageable.  

This fix can take little more elbow grease to renew a piece, but it is well worth it. Acquire a stiff wire brush and use it chip away any loose paint around the rusted areas, then get to scrubbing the rust itself. Sand the painted edges so they are smooth, then wash the metal thoroughly and let it dry completely. After this, you can apply a fresh coat of primer and paint, and your metal furniture will look good as new. 

8. Whitewashing 

To get that crisp, summery look to your outdoor furniture, try whitewashing it. Water down some white paint with two parts water to one part paint, and brush it on and wipe it down with a dry towel. You can go over the finish once more with a dry brush to give the look more depth. Remember that your paint job does not have to be perfect. Luckily, that is the point of this look, to appear a little rustic. 

9. Restain Wood 

Even the most weathered of wood furniture can look brand new with a fresh coat of wood stain. Sand your piece first to remove the rough edges, then clean it of any debris. After you wash it, make sure it dries completely. Next, apply a coat of the stain according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and enjoy your dramatically improved piece. 

These are some of our favorite tips, but they are far from the only tricks you can try to give your patio furniture a new and refreshed look for the upcoming outdoor season. There are many ways to make your outdoor living area more beautiful and enjoyable, and with the money you save on frequently buying new furniture, you can upgrade your yard with fun amenities, such as a firepit from us! 

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10 Tips to Improve Your Home’s Outdoor Living Space

An outdoor living space is an invaluable element of a modern-day home. Whether it’s a patio, deck, covered gazebo or just a garden area, you can use this space to host parties and enjoy the outdoors. But if you’re looking to get the most value from your home’s outdoor living space, you’ll need to pay attention to the design. The following design tips can help you achieve a more attractive, functional outdoor living space.

#1) Use the Right Color

The color used in your outdoor living space’s decor will affect its mood as well as the overall atmosphere. According to HGTV, purple is an excellent choice for outdoor living spaces because it creates a welcoming and inviting mood. Alternatively, green is another great choice. Regardless of which color you use, don’t leave your outdoor living space white.

#2) Consider Foot Traffic

Don’t overlook foot traffic — the path or paths where you and your guests walk — when designing your outdoor living space. Your outdoor living space should feature clean, clearly defined paths for foot traffic. If guests are forced to walk unnecessarily long distances around your yard to reach your outdoor living space, neither they nor you will probably use it frequently.

#3) Choose Water-Resistant Furniture

Not all furniture is suitable for outdoor living spaces. Untreated wooden furniture with soft fabric cushions, for example, may succumb to damage when left outdoors for multiple consecutive days. On the other hand, plastic furniture without fabric cushions can last for months or even years when left outdoors. You don’t have to necessarily limit your outdoor living space to plastic furniture, but you should choose furniture that’s water resistant or waterproof. Teak wood furniture is a popular choice for outdoor living spaces because it contains natural oils that repel fungi-causing mold. From teak chairs and benches to stools and tables, it’s a smart investment for your home’s outdoor living space.

#4) Install an Overhead Fan

Assuming your outdoor living space is covered, you can improve it by installing an overhead fan. It’s an inexpensive and easy-to-install accessory that creates a more comfortable environment. With an overhead fan, you can create a cool breeze over your outdoor living space on those otherwise hot spring and summer days. Furthermore, can overhead fan can deter insects by literally blowing them away, thereby protecting you and your guests from common pests like mosquitoes, bees and gnats.

#5) Create a Focal Point

No outdoor living space is complete without a focal point. As the name suggests, the focal point is the “focus” of attention for your outdoor living space. It’s typically the area where you and your guests attention will be directed. In the living room, a TV or fireplace is often the preferred focal point. For an outdoor living space, though, you’ll need to use something else. A popular focal point for outdoor living spaces is a fire pit. You can place it in the center of your outdoor living space, with furniture arranged around the perimeter.

#6) Define Area With a Rug

Contrary to what some homeowners believe, it’s perfectly fine to use rugs outdoors — assuming they are made of a waterproof fabric or material. You can place a single square, circular or rectangular area rug outdoors to define your outdoor living space. It’s a small, simple accessory that can make a big difference in your outdoor living space’s decor. The right area rug adds new color and life to the space while helping to define its boundaries in the process.

#7) Add Greenery

There are countless ways to decorate an outdoor living space, but you can’t go wrong with greenery. If it’s on the ground, try creating a flowerbed and filling it with brilliantly colored plants and flowers. If your outdoor living space is a deck or patio, you can use container plants to enhance the decor with greenery.

#8) Mood Lighting

Mood lighting refers to the use of controlled lighting that you can adjust. When the sun goes down, you can lower its illumination to create a more relaxing ambiance. There are dozens of different fixtures available for mood lighting, including traditional overhead fixtures as well as pendant, sconce, track lighting and more.

#9) Consider Storage

You’ll need some form of storage solution for your outdoor living space. Some homeowners use benches with hidden storage compartments for this purpose, while others use shelving. It doesn’t matter what you use. Rather, make sure your outdoor living space has some area or furnishing where you can store items.

#10) Clean and Maintain

Finally, don’t forget to clean and maintain your outdoor living space on a regular basis. From cleaning the deck to removing encroaching weeds and washing the furniture, there are certain things that you’ll need to do to keep your outdoor living space clean.

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 Using a Fire Pit on a Wooden Deck

37-Hemi-on-flanged base-with-SnufferA fire pit is a simple accessory that will enhance your home’s outdoor living space. In addition to cooking over an open flame, it creates a relaxing ambiance that you and your guests are sure to enjoy.

But if you’re planning to use your fire pit on a wooden deck, there are a few things you should know. Keep reading for a complete list of do’s and don’t when using a fire pit on a wooden deck.

Do Clean Your Deck Before Lighting Fire Pit

It’s a good idea to clean your deck before lighting your fire pit. Depending on your proximity to nearby trees, pine straw, leaves and other debris may accumulate on your deck.

Assuming they are dry, these things can easily spark an unwanted fire. A stray ember may land on nearby debris, setting it ablaze.

So, using either a push broom or leaf blower, clean your deck before lighting your fire pit.

Don’t Place Your Fire Pit Against the Side of Your Home

Arguably, the single most important safety tip to follow when using a fire pit is to keep it at least 20 feet away from your home and all other flammable structures. Some homeowners place it right up against their home’s siding for “convenience.”

You have to remember, though, that fire pits put out a lot of heat — and too much heat can damage your home’s siding or even set it ablaze. So, remember to keep your fire pit at least 20 feet away from your home and all other structures.

Do Dispose of the Ashes After Fire Pit Has Cooled

You should also dispose of your fire pit’s ashes after it has cooled. Allowing the ashes to sit inside your fire pit for days (or longer) is never a good idea. Some of the ashes may blow out and onto your deck, or they may soak up moisture and contribute to corrosion.

Either way, these problems are easily prevented by waiting at least 24 hours and then shoveling the ashes into a metal bucket or similar metal container.

Alternatively, you can save your fire pit ashes to use as garden compost, insect repellent or other purposes.

For a list of 10 everyday uses for fire pit ash, check out our previous blog post here.

Don’t Place Your Fire Pit Directly on the Wooden Deck

Avoid placing your fire pit directly on your deck or other wooden surfaces. While heat rises — meaning most of the heat created by your fire pit will be projected upwards — the bottom may still contain enough heat to singe or otherwise burn your deck.

You can protect your wooden deck from such damage, however, by placing something between it and your fire pit. A small grid of pavers should do the job. Simply arrange the pavers to cover the area of the deck where you’d like to use it, after which you can place the fire pit on top.

Another idea is to use a special heat-resistant fire pit mat, which as the name suggests is designed to withstand the 450+ degree temperature of a fire pit. Either way, you need something underneath your fire pit to protect your wooden deck from damage.

Do Keep Water Nearby

fire-279748_960_720It’s always better to be over-prepared than underprepared. While it’s doubtful you’ll ever need, you should keep water near your fire pit in case the fire spreads outside of the pit.

A pitcher, large bucket or even a garden hose will all suffice for this purpose. In the unlikely event that you see a secondary fire, you should douse it with water ASAP.

Don’t Use Lighter Fluid

There’s really no point in using lighter fluid in a fire pit. Assuming you use dry, seasoned wood, it should ignite with little effort. You can add some tinder and kindling to the middle to help get it going.

Simply position your wood so it’s propped up with the center empty and allowing for air to pass through. Lighting some tinder and kindling in the middle will then get your fire going.

Adding lighter fluid isn’t recommended, as it increases the risk of injury and property damage.

Do Check for Local Ordinances

You might be surprised to learn that some cities and municipalities have laws regarding the use of fire pits and other open flames. Some, for instance, only allow then on decks when they are at least 20 feet away from your home. So, before using your fire pit on a wooden deck, check to see what (if any) ordinances are in place for your area.

Don’t Leave it Unattended

Finally, never leave your fire pit burning attended. If you need to run to the store, ask a family member or friend to watch it. This rule isn’t limited strictly to fire pits; it applies to all fires.

An unattended fire could spark a secondary fire, and without something there to douse it with water, it could cause significant property damage or bodily injury.

These are just a few do’s and don’ts to follow when using a fire pit on a wooden deck.

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 Ways to Deal With a Tree Stump in Your Landscape

If your landscape has a tree stump, you might be wondering what you should do with it. Leaving it in place means you’ll have your lawn around the tree stump while also using caution not to trip and fall on it. Depending on the particular tree species, though, stumps can have roots extending as deep as 2 feet into the ground, making them difficult for the average homeowner to remove. Thankfully, there are several ways to deal with an unwanted tree stump in your landscape.

#1) Dig It Out

For stumps with shallow roots — extending no deeper than 1 foot — you should be able to dig it out. A mini excavator is ideal for this project, though even a shovel will suffice. Just dig a trench with about a 2- to 3-foot clearance around the stump, at which point you can dig underneath the stump’s roots to remove it.

#2) Burn It

Burning is an effective, time-tested way to deal with a tree stump. But you can’t just start a fire on top of the stump and expect it to burn away the stump. Rather, you’ll need to dig out a hole or cavity in the center of the stump, at which point you can fill it with tinder and kindling. Once lit, the stump should catch fire and slowly burn. Keep in mind that it can take several days for a stump to completely burn. During this time, either you or someone you know should monitor the smoldering tree stump to ensure the fire doesn’t spread.

#3) Chop It Up

One of the easiest ways to deal with a tree stump is to chop it up. While possible with an ax, it’s recommended that you use a gas-powered stump grinder for this project. You can rent them for about $100 to $200 per day — or you can hire a tree/stump removal company to chop it up for you. Either way, a stump grinder will make quick work of your unwanted tree stump (or stumps) by chopping and grinding them to a pulp.

#4) Treat It With Chemicals

There are chemical-based products available that are designed specifically to destroy tree stumps. Available for sale at most home improvement stores, chemical-based stump-removal products generally contain potassium nitrate. Contrary to what some people believe, this chemical doesn’t burn stumps. Instead, it works by speeding up the stump’s natural decaying process. Tree stumps can linger for years or even decades, slowly drying out and decaying until there’s nothing left. If you treat a stump with potassium nitrate, however, it may decay in as little as one or two months. Once decayed, you can then dig out or chop up the stump using some basic tools.

#5) Turn It Into a Stool

If the tree stump is located in a convenient area, you could try turning it into a stool for your landscape. To do this, cut down the stump to an appropriate seating height of about 23 to 28 inches, at which point you can apply a wood sealer to the top surface. The wood sealer will create a waterproof barrier over the stump, protecting it from moisture and pests.  You can then use the stump as a stool when relaxing or lounging in your outdoor living space.

#6) Grow Plants On It

Another innovative way to deal with a tree stump is to grow plants on it. There are a few ways to grow plants on a tree stump, one of which is to simply place a soil-filled planter or container on top of it. Alternatively, you can cut out a hollow cavity in the middle of the tree stump, fill it with soil and then add your plants.

While you can grow any type of plants on a tree stump, vine plants are ideal because of their natural ability to grow down and around the stump. As the vine plants grow, they’ll cover your tree stump with colorful flora. Just remember to water and prune the plants as needed.

#7) Use It as a Table

Finally, you can use medium- and large-sized tree stumps as a table for your landscape or outdoor living space. Just place a couple of chairs or stools around the stump, and you’re good to go! You can place cups, drinks or other items on the tree stump — just like a conventional patio or outdoor table. It’s an innovative way to handle unwanted tree stumps in a landscape.

Don’t let your landscape suffer from an unwanted tree stump. Use one of the seven methods listed here to deal with it. Whether you dig it up, treat it with chemicals, turn it into a stool or use any of the other methods listed here, you’ll create a more attractive landscape that improves your home’s curb appeal.

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 Design a Low-Maintenance Landscape

How much time do you spend maintaining your landscape? According to a survey cited by the Chicago Tribute, the average American homeowner spends a staggering 70 hours on his or her landscape each year. Of course, that’s nearly the equivalent of two full workweeks. The good news is that there are ways to design a low-maintenance landscape

Plant Slow-Growing Grass

Consider planting a slow-growing variety or grass in your landscape. The most time-consuming task of maintaining a landscape is mowing the grass. During the spring and summer, you can expect to mow your lawn about once a week — sometimes even more frequently — with most common varieties of residential grass. But some varieties grow slower than others, and planting one of these varieties will ease the burden of mowing your lawn. Zoysia grass, for example, typically requires mowing just once every two or three weeks, making it an excellent choice for a low-maintenance landscape.

Cut Down Unwanted Trees

The number of trees your landscape has will affect the amount of work it requires to maintain. From tree limbs, pine straw, leaves, acorns and other debris, trees can create a quite mess. Therefore, you should cut down and remove any unwanted trees in your landscape. If a tree offers shade or aesthetics, keep it. Otherwise, hire a tree removal company to cut it down. Not only will this create a cleaner landscape, but it may provide you with a plentiful stack of firewood to use in your fire pit.

Install an Automated Irrigation System

You can’t always rely on Mother Nature to keep your grass hydrated. While manually watering your lawn is always an option, an easier solution is to install an automated irrigation system. There are different types of automated irrigation systems, but they are all designed to automate the process of watering grass. Once installed, you can control when the sprinklers are activated and for how long they stay active. It’s an easy, hands-free way to ensure that your grass receives adequate water, even when you’re away from your home.

Use Perennial Plants in Flowerbeds

Avoid using annual plants in your flowerbeds and instead use perennial plants. Perennial plants are defined as plants that last for at least two years. In comparison, annual plants only last for a year, so you can expect to replant them every year.

Here are a few low-maintenance perennial plants that work well in the Southeast:

  • Daylily
  • Latana
  • Rudbeckia Fulgida
  • Peruvian lily
  • Heuchera
  • Yarrow

Spot Treat Weeds

The secret to maintaining a weed-free landscape is to eliminate them as soon as they emerge through the soil. When you spot a new weed growing in your landscape, either pull it out using a handheld weed extractor or treat it with an herbicide. The former requires more work, but the latter is more effective at killing weeds. There are dozens of herbicides available that will quickly kill weeds without harming your grass. Alternatively, you can make your own weed-killing herbicide using a solution of vinegar, salt and liquid dish soap. The vinegar and salt is what kills weeds, but the soap creates a sticky texture that clings to weeds. Just combine the three ingredients in a spray bottle, at which point you can spray it over any weeds growing in your landscape.

Create a French Drain Around Waterlogged Areas

If you discover an area of your landscape where rainwater collects and “pools up” rather than drains away, construct a French drain to prevent it from becoming waterlogged. Also known as a trench drain or rock drain, a French drain consists of a downward-sloping tunnel that’s filled with gravel or small rocks. When it rains, water will seep past the gravel or rocks and into the tunnel, at which point it will drain away from your landscape.

Use Mulch Around Trees and Plants

Adding mulch around trees and plants offers two main benefits, one of which is fewer weeds. It covers the soil so that newly sprouted weeds are unable to receive sunlight, thereby preventing them from growing. Additionally, mulch reduces the watering requirements of your trees and plants. Mulch absorbs and holds moisture, gradually releasing this moisture back into the soil where it’s then absorbed by the adjacent trees and plants.

Create a Dedicated Outdoor Living Space

Finally, consider creating a dedicated outdoor living space in your landscape. You can clear out a section of your landscape, for example, to lay gravel, brick pavers or even cement. When finished, you can use set up a fire pit, chairs and other accessories to complete your new outdoor living space. Even if it’s only 10 by 10 feet, that’s still 100 square feet of landscape space that you won’t have to worry about maintaining.

Low-maintenance landscapes are gaining popularity among homeowners in the United States. According to a survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), they are the third-most popular landscape project, surpassed only by “native plants” and “drought-tolerant plants.” And now you join the crowd by creating a low-maintenance landscape using these tips.

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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Is an Outdoor Kitchen a Smart Investment? Get the Facts

Defined as a dedicated outdoor space for cooking, eating and relaxing, outdoor kitchens have become a popular home renovation project in recent years. They offer the functional benefits of an indoor kitchen but with the added beauty of the outdoors. When the weather is nice, homeowners can use this area to cook, eat and host parties. Building an outdoor kitchen is neither easy nor cheap, however, so you should consider if it’s worth the investment before embarking on this major renovation project.

Benefits of Building an Outdoor Kitchen

An outdoor kitchen will open the doors to a world of new possibilities for you and your family. Granted, you can always cook and eat inside your home, but having this space outside your home is uniquely beneficial for the following reasons:

  • It’s easier to grill and smoke foods with an outdoor kitchen.
  • You don’t have to travel far beverages.
  • It enhances the aesthetics of your home’s curb appeal.
  • Saves space inside your home.
  • Keeps odors from cooked foods outside.
  • Offers the perfect space to host parties and get-togethers.
  • Promotes a more energy-efficient home, which can save you money on your monthly utility bills.
  • You may find yourself preparing and cooking more meals with an outdoor kitchen rather than eating out.
  • It will expose you to sunlight, ensuring you get an adequate amount of vitamin D.
  • Using it will keep your indoor kitchen clean.

Average Cost of Building an Outdoor Kitchen

So, how much does it cost to build an outdoor kitchen? Prices vary depending on the type of appliances you intend to install, where you want to install then, the state and city in which you live and other factors. According to a report by Home Advisor, however, the average cost of building an outdoor kitchen in the United States is about $10,670. Of course, some homeowners spend less to build an outdoor kitchen, while others spend more. For a typical, medium-sized outdoor kitchen consisting of a grill, refrigerator, cabinet materials and storage, though, you can expect to pay about $10,670.

If you’re on a tight budget, there are ways to save money when building an outdoor kitchen. Building it yourself is one way to save money. Most contractors charge a premium for this service, so a do-it-yourself (DIY) route can easily save you thousands of dollars. You can even rent the tools needed to build your outdoor kitchen from a local home improvement store. Choosing smaller appliances will also save you money. You probably don’t need a full-sized refrigerator for your outdoor kitchen. Instead, choose a smaller “compact” refrigerator, which are available for as little as $300.

You can skip a gas grill altogether by using a fire pit for your outdoor kitchen. Fire pits offer the beauty of a burning fire with the functionality of a grill. You can gather around your fire pit during the evenings and at night, but you can also use this accessory to grill and cook foods. And since fire pits cost a fraction of the price of gas grills, using one can further reduce the cost of building an outdoor kitchen. These are just a few ways to save money when building an outdoor kitchen.

How an Outdoor Kitchen Will Affect Your Home’s Resell Value

The high cost of building an outdoor kitchen may deter some homeowners from moving forward with this project, but you should consider the impact it will have on your home’s resell value. Building an outdoor kitchen will almost always increase your home’s resell value. Prospective home buyers today pay close attention to outdoor living features — and there’s no better feature for this space than a fully functional kitchen. With all of its previously mentioned benefits, an outdoor kitchen will make your home more appealing to prospective buyers, resulting in a higher resell value.

According to one study, outdoor kitchens increase the resell value of U.S. homes by an average of 100% to 200%. If you spend $10,000 to build an outdoor kitchen for a $200,000 home, for example, it should increase your home’s value to $210,000 or $220,000. That’s a pretty strong return on investment (ROI) that’s difficult for homeowners to ignore.

In Conclusion

Building an outdoor kitchen requires an investment of your time, energy and money. Once it’s complete, though, it will provide you and your family with a wealth of benefits. You can use it to grill and smoke food, host parties, lounge and more. To determine if an outdoor kitchen is right for your home, weigh the pros and cons while also considering how frequently you’d use it. But considering that it has an average ROI of 100% to 200%, an outdoor kitchen is usually a smart renovation project that pays off in multiple ways.

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 Create a More Relaxing Patio

Want to make your patio more relaxing? A patio is the perfect space to rest, unwind and relax. When you get home from a long day at work, you can kick back on your patio while enjoying the fresh air. However, to get the most use of your patio, you should design it with relaxing furnishings and elements. Here are some tips to create a more relaxing patio.

Add a Hammock

We’ve discussed a variety of comfortable patio seating options here on our blog, but one we haven’t discussed is a hammock.

Consisting of a sling-like design made of fabric or netting that’s suspended between two anchor points, it offers the perfect lounging area for a patio. They are comfortable, easy to set up and look great in all styles of patio decor. Be warned, though, you may find yourself falling asleep when lounging on a hammock. Since they create a weightlessness feeling, it’s easy to doze off when lounging on a hammock.

Add a Fire Pit

A fire pit offers more than warmth; it also promotes a more relaxing environment. According to research cited by Scotsman, the mesmerizing appearance of a fire combined with its unique crackling sound reduces blood pressure while subsequently lowering stress levels. A similar study conducted by researchers from the University of Alabama found similar results.

After asking more than 220 adults to watch a video of a fireplace, they discovered that participants who watched the fireplace experienced lower blood pressure levels than their counterparts who didn’t watch it.

So, please go get a fire pit – for your health!

Screen It In

Assuming your patio is open, you should consider screening it in. Screened-in patios are more relaxing than open patios for several reasons. First, they provide a higher level of privacy, which naturally creating a more relaxing environment. Secondly, a screen enclosure keeps pesky bugs like mosquitoes, wasps, flies and gnats out of your patio. It’s difficult to lounge on your patio when you’re being bombarded by flying insects. If it’s screened in, however, you won’t have to worry about this. You and your family can enjoy this outdoor extension of your home without the threat of pesky bugs.

Create a Cozy Area

Let’s face it, cozy areas are more relaxing than open, spacious areas. When designing your patio, you should create a cozy lounge area by placing furniture and furnishings in close proximity to each other. Just because you have a large patio doesn’t necessarily mean that you should space out the furniture and furnishings. If it’s spread out, it

Add Relaxing Colors

Don’t underestimate the importance of using the right colors in your patio decor. According to research cited by Fox News, some of the best colors for reducing stress include lavender, pale gray, blue, aqua, pale pink and beige. Of course, these are just a colors to consider when decorating your patio. On the other hand, black has the opposite effect by raising stress. Focus your patio decor around stress-reducing colors to enhance the environment and make it more relaxing.

Use Mood Lighting

Rather than using traditional overhead lighting on your patio, consider using mood lighting. Mood lighting is a more subtle form of illumination that, as the name suggests, enhances the mood of the surrounding space. You can install track lighting or wall sconces on your patio, for example, to improve the decor and mood. For an added touch, install a dimmer on your mood lighting. When you want to relax in the evening, you can turn down the brightness of your patio lighting.

Add Plants

Even if you’re not a “green thumb,” you can still take advantage of the relaxing, stress-reducing properties of plants. Adding a few colorful container plants to your patio, for instance, creates a more relaxing environment. Furthermore, plants improve the air quality around your home by filtering impurities and releasing fresh oxygen.

Keep It Clean

You can’t expect to create a relaxing patio if it’s dirty or cluttered. And with spring right around the corner, there’s no better time than the present to clean up your patio. This means sweeping off leaves, scrubbing the deck or flooring, and cleaning the furniture.

Symmetrical Design

Finally, arrange your patio furniture and furnishings to create a symmetrical design. When your patio features proper symmetry, it creates a more relaxing environment. Unfortunately, this is something that many homeowners overlook when designing their patio. They assume it’s okay to arrange their furniture and furnishings in unsymmetrical designs. In doing so, they create a poorly balanced decor that’s not particularly relaxing.

These are just a few tips to create a more relaxing patio. With a relaxing patio, you and your family will be able to fully enjoy this extension of your home.

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 Protect Your Patio From Mildew

It’s frustrating when you step outside to rest and relax on your patio, only to discover that it’s covered in mildew. While it typically doesn’t cause any immediate health concerns, mildew can turn this otherwise attractive area of your home’s exterior into an eyesore. And if there’s a significant amount of mildew on the floor, it may pose a slip-and-fall hazard for you, your family members and anyone else using the patio. You can protect your patio from mildew, however, by following some simple steps.

What Is Mildew? And Why Does It Grow on Patios?

Mildew is a type of fungus that’s closely related to mold (also a fungus). It’s typically thin with a white or light green color. Because they are classified as a fungus, both mold and mildew need a few things to survive. This includes oxygen, organic matter and moisture. Without a readily available supply of these three elements, neither mold nor mildew will take hold on your patio. Mold- and mildew-causing fungi actually feast on organic matter. Whether it’s tree leaves, grass clippings, tree sap or even the wood, fungi will feast on organic matter as a source of food. Combined with accessibility to oxygen and moisture, mildew-causing fungi can easily thrive on your patio if certain precautions are not taken.

Embrace the Sunlight

You may discover that shaded areas of your patio are more susceptible to mildew than those exposed to the sun. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays inhibit the growth of mold- and mildew-causing fungi. eHow explains that fungi doesn’t have the same photosynthesis properties as plants. While plants convert sunlight into food, fungi do not. Instead, they tend die from exposure to the UV rays. As a homeowner, you can use this to your advantage by embracing sunlight on your patio. If you have a large table umbrella preventing sunlight from reaching your patio, take it down at the end of the day. The more sunlight that hits your patio, the better protected it will be from mold and mildew-causing fungi.

Clean the Debris

Allowing debris to accumulate on your patio doesn’t just hurt your home’s curb appeal; it opens the doors to mold and mildew. All forms of fungus need organic matter to thrive. As a result, mildew often forms in areas where organic debris — tree leaves, branches, grass, etc. — have accumulated. To keep your patio free of mildew, you must clean this debris on a regular basis. The easiest way to clean debris off a patio is to use a leaf blower. If you don’t have access to a leaf blower, though, you can use a push broom. Just remember to get into the habit of cleaning your patio at least once a week to discourage the formation of mildew.

Check for Drainage and Runoff

It’s also important that your patio has proper drainage and runoff. In other words, water should flow away and off your patio rather than accumulating on it. As previously mentioned, mildew needs moisture to survive. If water pools up in the center or anywhere else on your patio, it will likely contribute to the formation of mildew. The good news is that most patios with a wood or composite deck are designed with many individual planks, each of which are separated with a few centimeters of space. When it rains, gravity will pull the water off the patio and through the cracks between these planks. There are times, however, when water may collect on a patio, resulting in the formation of mildew.

Seal It

The single most important thing you can do to protect your patio from mildew is to seal it. There are both wood sealers as well as brick sealers. Regardless of which material your patio floor is made of, you can use a sealer to create an invisible protective layer over it. Sealers work by creating a layer over the brick or wood floor. In doing so, mold- and mildew-causing fungi is unable to penetrate your patio floor. You can find sealer products available for sale at most home improvement stores.

Choose the Right Furniture

Certain types of patio furniture are more susceptible to mildew than others. Most untreated wood furniture, for example, carries a high risk of mildew because it contains organic matter that fungi can feast on. In comparison, plastic and synthetic furniture is naturally protected from mildew because it lacks organic matter. Alternatively, you can choose teak furniture for your patio. Although teak is a natural hardwood, it has special properties that protect it from mold and mildew. You see, the oils within teak deter insects and fungi alike, making it the ideal material for outdoor chairs, benches, tables and other patio furniture.

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 Mistakes to Avoid When Storing Firewood for Your Fire Pit

If you’re planning to use a fire pit, either on your patio or other outdoor living area, you’ll need to stockpile plenty of firewood. The right firewood will keep your fire pit going long into the night, allowing you to get the most use and enjoyment out of this accessory. Whether you purchase a full cord, face cord or half cord, though, you should avoid making the following mistakes when storing firewood for your fire pit.

#1) Storing Firewood Against Your Home’s Exterior

The exterior of your home may seem like an ideal place to store firewood, but this isn’t recommended. Firewood can attract all kinds of pests, including termites, spiders, roaches, centipedes and scorpions. And if you store it directly against your home’s exterior, some of these pests may find their way inside your home. To prevent this from happening, store firewood at least 20 feet away from your home.

#2) Storing Firewood on the Ground

Why shouldn’t you store firewood on the ground? If it’s placed directly on the ground, it will absorb moisture from the soil. Over time, firewood can absorb so much moisture that it’s unable to light or stay lit. A simple solution is to store your firewood just a few inches off the ground using a wooden pallet. It doesn’t have to be particularly tall; just 2 or 3 inches off the ground should keep your firewood protected from ground moisture.

#3) Leave It Outside and Uncovered

Never leave your firewood outside without some form of shelter or cover. It’s perfectly fine to store firewood outside, but it needs a shelter or cover to protect it from the elements. When left exposed to the elements, firewood will absorb moisture from rain, sleet and snow. This is concerning because wet firewood has a lower combustion efficiency than dry firewood, meaning it produces more smoke and less heat. If you’re going to store firewood outside, consider placing it in a utility shed. Just remember to keep it off the ground as well. When stored in this manner, firewood will stay dry for months or even years.

#4) Treating It With Pesticide

Some homeowners have gone to the extreme to protect their firewood from damage by treating it with pesticide. Whether it’s a liquid- or powder-based, though, applying pesticide to firewood is never a good idea. It introduces a plethora of toxic chemicals and compounds that are absorbed into the wood. When you get ready to burn the firewood in your fire pit, those chemicals and compounds will be released into the air as toxic fumes. If you’re worried about

#5) Storing the Wrong Type of Firewood

It’s also important to store the right type of firewood. You can’t burn just any type of wood that you find lying around your home or yard. Pressure-treated wood, for example, is typically used and construction and contains liquid preservatives to deter microorganisms, pests and decay. When burned, pressure-treated wood will release toxic fumes because of its preservatives. So, what type of firewood can you store? The best type of firewood is dry, untreated wood logs from hardwood trees. Hardwood trees are denser than softwood trees. And with more organic matter, they burn longer than softwoods.

Some of the best types of hardwood firewood for use in a fire pit include:

  • Oak
  • Hickory
  • Maple
  • Walnut
  • Beech

#6) Overlooking the Need for Airflow

Arrange your firewood in alternating rows of logs so that air is able to easily pass through it. Some homeowners simply stack their firewood so that the logs are flush with one another, neglecting to create space through which air can flow. Without adequate airflow, however, your firewood won’t be able to dry out. Rather, moisture will get trapped inside the wood, causing it to rot or develop mold. If you discover that your firewood has rotted or developed mold, you’ll need to throw it out and start back over.

#7) Not Storing for Long Enough

You might be eager to build fires in your fire pit after acquiring some firewood, but you need to make sure that it’s dry first. If it’s fresh wood that was recently harvested, you must wait for it to dry — a process that can take up to a year for certain types of wood. Retrieving firewood from your storage area prematurely will result in a low-quality fire that produces minimal heat and a lot of smoke. Therefore, you should remain patient while waiting for your firewood to dry. Also known as seasoned firewood, dry firewood has a lighter color than fresh firewood of the same type. Most hardwoods have a brown/tan color when fresh. After drying for up to a year, however, they turn to a light brown color, indicating that it’s ready to burn in your fire pit.

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 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/

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How to Protect Your Outdoor Furniture From Fading

It’s not uncommon for furniture to fade outdoor furniture to fade over time. A table that was once midnight black may turn to a lighter, charcoal gray color. This typically doesn’t happen overnight. Rather, it takes months or years of exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays to cause any noticeable change in color. As a homeowner, though, seeing your outdoor furniture fade can be frustrating. You purchased your furniture with the assumption that it will retain its color, only to discover this isn’t the case. So, what can you do to protect your outdoor furniture from fading?

Choose High-Quality Furniture

Don’t try to cut corners with your outdoor living space by purchasing cheap, low-quality furniture. You may save a couple bucks, but there’s a greater risk of fading. A cheap plastic chair, for example, will probably fade more quickly than a high-quality teak wood chair. This is because manufactures use thin coats of paint on low-quality furniture to save money, thereby making them more susceptible to fading from sun exposure. High-quality furniture, on the other hand, is made with thicker coats of paints to achieve greater protection from the elements.

Apply UV Protectant

Perhaps the most effective solution is to keep your outdoor furniture from fading is to apply a UV protectant product. These products live up to their namesake by protecting fabrics and surfaces from UV light, which is the catalyst of fading. Like sunscreen, it’s designed to reflect the sun’s UVA and UVB light. By blocking out these otherwise highly penetrating rays of light, UV protectant is able to keep your furniture from fading.

You can use UV protectant on a wide variety of furniture types, including plastic, vinyl, rubber, fiberglass, wood and more. Furthermore, it’s easy to use, as mot UV protectant products come in a spray bottle. Just spray the product over the surface of your furniture, and it will remain protected from the sun’s UV rays. Keep in mind, however, that it’s effects will wear off. For maximum, long-lasting protection, it’s recommended that you reapply the UV protectant once every few months.

Place in Shade

Conventional wisdom should lead you to believe that placing your furniture in the shade will protect it from fading. If it’s not exposed to the sun, it won’t fade — not fast, at least. Your furniture will still receive some indirect sunlight, but it typically takes many years of exposure to indirect sunlight for outdoor furniture to fade. Therefore, you should consider placing your furniture in the shade. Assuming your patio or outdoor living space has a roof, place the furniture in an area that receives the least amount of direct sunlight. If it doesn’t have a roof, on the other hand, use a large patio umbrella or awning to create shade. By reducing the amount of direct sunlight your furniture receives, you’ll discourage fading and, subsequently, retain your furniture’s original color.

Clean Furniture

It’s important that you clean your outdoor furniture on a regular basis. When left outdoors for a long period of time, furniture will attract dirt, pollen, dust, insects and other debris. As this debris accumulates on your furniture, it can wear down the fabric or outer layer of paint, thus increasing the risk of fading. The good news is that you easily clean most outdoor furniture by spraying it down with a garden hose. There’s no need for a pressure washing, as it typically does more harm than good by blasting away the outer layer. Instead, spray your furniture down with a garden hose every few months to keep it clean and protect it from fading.

Bring Cushions Indoors

For outdoor furniture with fabric-based cushions, you can prevent fading by removing and bringing the cushions indoors when they aren’t being used. Most outdoor chairs, benches and other fabric-based furniture feature removable cushions. Bringing these cushions indoors will reduce their exposure to the sun and protect them from fading.

Use It

The more you use your furniture, the less likely it is to fade. If you and your family sit in chairs, for example, those chairs will be protected from the sun. You can’t expect to use your outdoor furniture 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Nonetheless, this can still help to protect your furniture from fading, especially when combined with the other tips listed here.

What If My Furniture Has Already Faded?

If you discover that your furniture has already faded, there are a few options to restore it. If it features a painted surface, you can repaint it with a fresh coat of the same color. Alternatively, if you faded furniture has cushions, consider replacing the cushions with new ones of the same type and color.

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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8 Mistakes to Avoid When Designing an Outdoor Living Space

Are you looking to design an outdoor living space for you and your family? Well, you aren’t alone. According to the AIA’s Home Design Trends Survey, it’s the single most popular “special function room” among homeowners in the United States. The survey found that consumer demand for outdoor living spaces increased by 38% from 2012 to 2017, attesting to its popularity. While an outdoor living space can open the doors to new activities and entertainment for you and your family, you should avoid making the following mistakes when designing it.

#1) Insufficient Lighting

If you intend to use your outdoor living space in the evening or at night, you need to design it with sufficient lighting. When the sun goes down, you should be able to illuminate this spaces so that you and your family members can use it. There are countless lighting solutions available for outdoor living spaces, including string lights, solar lamps (they work at night), pendant lights, sconce and traditional overhead fixtures. To save money on power, choose a lighting solution that uses an energy-efficient bulb like compact fluorescent lighting (CFL) or light-emitting diode (LED). CFL and LED use a fraction of the energy of conventional incandescent bulbs, making them a smart investment for your outdoor living space.

#2) Incohesive Decor

It’s important that you use a cohesive decor when designing your outdoor living space. Some homeowners make the mistake of using a half-dozen colors and multiple decor styles, only to create an eclectic eclectic design that hurts their home’s curb appeal. Stick with a single color scheme and design style to create an attractive, lively environment that reflects positively upon your home’s aesthetics.

#3) Installing Non-Water-Resistant Appliances

There’s nothing wrong with installing appliances in your home’s outdoor living space, but they need to be water resistant. Even if the area is covered with a roof or awning, your appliances will still be susceptible to moisture damage from humidity exposure. It may not happen immediately, but constant exposure to high humidity will eventually damage these outdoor appliances. A simple solution, however, is to choose water-resistant appliances that are specifically designed for outdoor use. Whether it’s a refrigerator, stove, grill or even a TV, it must be designed for outdoor use.

#4) Overlooking a Fire Pit

What’s the most important element for an outdoor living space? According to a survey cited by Kleber and Associates, that accolade goes to a fire pit. Unfortunately, many homeowners overlook this feature when designing their outdoor living space. Instead, they use a traditional charcoal or propane grill. Just because your outdoor living space features a grill, though, there’s no rule stating that it can’t have a fire pit. In fact, adding a fire pit will create a more attractive, entertaining area. You can use it to set a relaxing ambiance for nighttime parties, ward away mosquitoes, roast marshmallows and more. The bottom line is that all outdoor living spaces should feature a fire pit.

#5) Choosing Seating Based Solely on Aesthetics

When choosing seating for your outdoor living space, consider both aesthetics and function. Even if a chair or bench is attractive and flows cohesively with the rest of your space, it might be comfortable to use. And without comfortable seating, you probably won’t use your outdoor living space very often.

#6) Too Big or Small

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for an outdoor living space. Rather, you should design it according to your own needs. If you plan on hosting large outdoor parties with all your friends, family and neighbors, you should design it large to accommodate these people. But if you live by yourself, you should design it small. An appropriate size will help you get the most use out of your outdoor living space while minimizing maintenance and upkeep requirements.

#7) Inaccessibility

Your outdoor living space needs to be easily accessible. In other words, neither you nor anyone else should be forced to walk a long ways — or through difficult terrain — to reach it. This is why many homeowners create their outdoor living space on their patio or back deck. You can still create it farther away from your home, but it’s recommended that you use pavers or stones to form a walking path.

#8) Overlooking the Direction of the Sun

Don’t forget to consider the direction of the sun when designing your outdoor living space. If the sun beams directly down on your outdoor living space, you may find it unbearable to use during the “dog days” of summer. Of course, there are ways to overcome this challenge. You can build a roof or install an awning, for instance, to create shade. Another idea is to install a misting system that sprays a cool water mist over your outdoor living space.

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 Things to Consider When Building a Patio

A patio is an invaluable upgrade to your home that extends its living space to the outdoors. You can use it to host backyard barbecues, parties or just lounge under the sun. But if you’re thinking about building a patio, there are a several things you must consider.

#1) Location

Where exactly do you want the patio? Most homeowners choose to build a patio either on the front or rear of their home. When choosing between these two locations, consider privacy. Building a patio on the rear of your home will likely provide you and your family with greater privacy. The downside, however, is that it won’t have the same positive impact on your home’s curb appeal.

#2) Size

it’s also important that you consider the size of your patio. A larger patio will provide you and your family with more space, but it also requires more materials and resources to build. According to The Concrete Network, the average size of a patio in the United States is about 16 feet by 18 feet. This is an appropriate size that allows for a pleasant outdoor living space without requiring a substantial amount of materials and resources to build.

#3) Raised vs Ground Level

Building a raised patio requires more work than building a ground level patio. You must include the appropriate supporting structures, and ensure that the foundation is solid and not vulnerable to erosion. Otherwise, you may find yourself with a sinking patio in the near future. While optional, many homeowners also install stairs on their raised patio so that they can access their yard. A ground-level patio is undoubtedly easier to build for these reasons, but you may or may not have this option depending on your property’s layout.

#4) Materials

Of course, you should consider the materials used in your patio’s construction. Most patios are constructed with either wood or concrete (or both). Concrete is an excellent choice for ground-level patios because of its superior strength, longevity and ease of use. Wood, on the other hand, is preferred for raised patios, as it’s lighter and more structurally sound. You can also stone and brick for ground-level patios, both of which offer similar benefits as concrete.

#5) Roof

A can improve the functionality and aesthetics of your patio in several ways. First, it creates a more comfortable space for you and your family by casting shade. A roof will keep the sun out of your eyes, allowing you to enjoy your patio just a little more. Second, it will protect your patio furniture from sun and moisture damage. Without a roof, furniture will be exposed to the elements, resulting in faster degradation. Third, a roof enhances the appearance of your patio, and home, by adding a new design element. So, if you’re willing to make the investment, add a roof to your patio.

#6) Maintenance

How much maintenance will your patio require? It’s difficult, if not impossible, to determine exactly how much work is required to maintain a patio until it’s constructed. At minimum, you’ll need to clean your patio’s surface on a regular basis. This can be done by scrubbing it or by using a power washer. For wooden patios, you may also need to inspect the fasteners — nails, screws, anchors, etc. — to ensure they are secure. When fasteners begin to work their way out, you must drive them back in place to preserve the structural integrity of your patio.

#7) Utilities

Consider the location of utilities like underground electricity, water, plumbing and gas lines when building your patio. Never perform any construction that requires digging into the ground without first identifying the location of all underground utilities. If you aren’t sure where these lines are located, contact your utility providers. Alternatively, hire a contractor to build your patio.

#8) Lighting

You won’t be able to fully enjoy your patio at night unless there’s adequate lighting. Therefore, you should consider lighting when building your patio. Just a single high-lumen fixture should suffice for most average-sized patios. Of course, you can install other lighting solutions like string lights, solar lamps or tiki torches as well.

#9) Building Codes

It’s always a good idea to check your city or county building codes before constructing a new patio. Many municipalities have strict laws regarding residential construction, and failure to comply with these laws could result in a fine and forced removal of your patio.

#10) Furniture

Finally, consider the type of furniture that you want to use on your new patio. At minimum, you should include chairs or other forms of seating on your patio. Additionally, however, you may want to include a fire pit. With a fire pit, you can cook foods, roast marshmallows and create a warm, comfortable environment on your patio during the otherwise cold winter months.

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 Protect Your Patio Furniture From Rusting

It’s not uncommon for patio furniture to rust when left outdoors for long periods of time. Whether it’s a chair, table, bench, etc., any furniture that’s made of metal may rust when certain safeguards aren’t taken. And once a piece of furniture begins to rust, it can quickly eat through the metal, causing permanent damage that’s difficult or impossible to repair. So, how can you protect your patio furniture from rusting?

Why Patio Furniture Rusts

Rust is the result of the oxidation from oxygen and moisture exposure. Of course, not all objects are susceptible to this phenomenon. Rather, rust only occurs in objects and materials that contain iron. Unfortunately, iron is all around us; it’s even steel. If you have patio furniture that’s made of iron, steel or other iron-containing metals, it may rust when exposed to moisture.

Choose Non-Metal Furniture

Because rust involves the oxidation of iron, you can protect your patio furniture from this phenomenon by choosing non-metal furniture. As long as your furniture isn’t made of metal, it won’t rust. The downside to choosing an alternative material, however, is that it may lack the strength and durability of metal.

Some alternative, non-metal materials for patio furniture include the following:

  • Wicker
  • Rattan
  • Plastic
  • Teak
  • Resin
  • Polymer
  • Vinyl

Cover Your Furniture

Try to keep your patio furniture covered so that it isn’t exposed to the rain and elements. When you’re finished using your patio for the evening and ready to go inside, store your furniture under a covered area. Leaving it exposed to the rain and elements will only increase the risk of it rusting. After just a few days of exposure, patio furniture can develop rust.

If your patio doesn’t have a covered area under which you can store furniture, consider investing in furniture covers. Most home improvement stores sell covers for as little as $15 a piece, which is a small price to pay considering the protection they offer from rusting. The covers are usually made of a heavy-duty, waterproof material that keeps your furniture dry even when it rains. Just toss a cover over each piece of metal patio furniture to protect it from rusting.

Dry Your Furniture

Even if you cover your patio furniture, it may still rust. This is particularly true if you live in a region with a humid climate, such as the Southeast. Humidity is essentially nothing more than moisture vapor in the air. When there’s a high level of airborne moisture vapor, the air is humid. When there’s little or no airborne moisture vapor, the air is dry. Humidity can saturate the exterior of metal patio furniture with water droplets. And when left unchecked, these water droplets will serve as a catalyst for rust, causing your furniture to rust and corrode over time. This is why it’s important to hand-dry your furniture on a regular basis. If you discover your furniture is wet — regardless of whether it’s stored under a roof or furniture cover — wipe it dry with a clean towel.

Apply Rust-Protective Coating

There are dozens of anti-rust products that you can use on patio furniture. Most paints, for example, will create a waterproof barrier over your furniture’s metal exterior, preventing the intrusion of moisture and, subsequently, protecting it from rusting. There are also transparent products that, when applied to furniture, protect it from rusting. Rust-Oleum makes an entire line of rust-protective coatings, which are available for as little as $4 a bottle. Assuming you have just a half-dozen pieces of patio furniture, you should be able to cover them with two or three bottles.

Wash Your Furniture

Washing your patio furniture on a regular basis will help protect it from rusting. Using a small amount of mild dish soap with water, scrub down your furniture to remove any lingering mildew or grime. While mildew and grime may seem harmless enough, it holds a significant amount of moisture — and this moisture can lead to rusting. You can easily clean your patio furniture, however, using mild soap and water.

Clean Rust

Following these tips should protect your patio furniture from rusting. But what if your furniture has already rusted? Don’t haul it off to the local dump just yet. With a little work, you can often restore rusted patio furniture back to its original condition (or close to, at least).

To clean and remove rust from your patio furniture, scrub the affected area with a piece of steel wool or wire grill brush. The abrasive properties of steel wool and a grill brush will remove the rusted metal, thus exposing the underlying layers of the furniture’s metal, which aren’t rusted. After you’ve cleaned the rust from your furniture, add a fresh coat of paint for increased protection.

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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Common Patio Pests and How to Prevent Them

As the weather continues to warm, you’ll probably find yourself spending more time outside. A properly designed patio with comfortable seating and a fire pit is the perfect area to enjoy the warm and sunny summer weather — but only if it’s free of pests. Unfortunately, pests are a common occurrence on patios. From mosquitoes to termites and bees, these pests can wreak havoc by inflecting pain or causing structural damage. Here are a few of the most common patio pests and how to prevent them.

Mosquitoes

It’s difficult to enjoy your patio when you’re being constantly bombarded by blood-sucking mosquitoes. Normally, mosquitoes are only problem if there’s standing water on or near your patio. Female mosquitoes lay about 100 eggs in water every third night after they mate. By eliminating areas of standing water around your home, you’ll discourage mosquitoes from reproducing and create a more harmonious outdoor living space.

Adding the following plants to the landscape surrounding your patio may also help to deter mosquitoes:

  • Lavender
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Lamongrass
  • Basil
  • Thyme
  • Marigold
  • Rosemary
  • Mint

Fleas

If you own a cat, dog or both, you may notice fleas on your patio. Research shows that a single female flea can produce 600 eggs per month. Like mosquitoes, fleas feast on blood, though they generally prefer the blood of small animals rather than humans. Therefore, eliminating them from your patio requires treating your pets. Talk to your veterinarian about a flea treatment regimen for your cat or dog. He or she should be able to recommend an effective flea prevention and treatment product, such as Fipronil. Additionally, applying a layer of cedar mulch across your lawn can deter fleas and other common pests. Cedar contains a combination of unique oils that, for whenever reason, fleas hate. By adding it to your lawn, you’ll discourage fleas from taking refuge.

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants (Camponotus spp.) aren’t your typical fire ants. While fire ants are bad enough, carpenter ants are particularly concerning because of their ability to destroy wood. They don’t necessary consume it for nutrition but, instead, for building nests. Using their long mandibles, carpenter ants can chew through a wooden patio, leaving behind holes and tunnels. Over time, the presence of these holes can create an unsafe environment for you and your family.,

Termites

If your patio is constructed of wood, you should inspect it for signs of termite damage on a regular basis. These wood-boring pests cause billions of dollars in property damage to houses each year in the United States. The most effective way to prevent termites on a patio is to use pressure-treated lumber. As you may know, pressure-treated lumber is sprayed and treated with chemicals to protect it from pests, rot and decay. You can expect to pay more pressure-treated lumber than non-pressure-treated lumber, but it’s a smart long-term investment because of the increased protection that it offers.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also offers some helpful tips to protect against termites, some of which include filling cracks in the foundation, storing firewood off the ground (don’t store it directly on your patio), finding and fixing water leaks and ensuring your lawn has proper drainage. And if you discover termite damage on your patio, have it repaired as soon as possible to mitigate the damage.

Yellow Jackets

Normally, bees and wasps will keep their distance from humans unless provoked, but there’s one common exception: the yellow jacket. Classified as a wasp, these aggressive pests may seek out and sting nearby people unprovoked. It’s important to note that yellow jackets feed on protein, so keeping them off your patio requires removal of protein sources. If you grill burgers or cook other food on your patio, be sure to bring it indoors when you are finished. Leaving protein sources on your patio will only attract yellow jackets and other pests.

Yellow jackets are also attracted sugar. Whether it’s a watermelon rind, cup of sweet tea or plate of leftover dessert, you should avoid leaving sugary foods or beverages on your patio.

Flies

And then there are flies. The good news about flies is that most species have an average lifespan of just one month. The bad news, however, is during that time a fly can lay up to 500 eggs, so you need to take action to keep them off your patio. A simple solution to keep flies, mosquitoes and other flying pests away from your patio is to build a fire. The smoke from a fire is a natural insect repellent and will deter most flying pests. You can also keep flies away from your patio by using a fan. Assuming your patio has an overhead fan built in, turning it on will literally blow away the flies so that they can take over 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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Why Your Home Needs an Outdoor Living Space

Does your home have an outdoor living space? If not, you should consider creating one. Whether it’s a patio, porch, garden or even an area of your lawn, an outdoor living space will open the doors to new opportunities for you and your family. Of course, some homeowners believe they aren’t worth the time and energy to create. While setting up an outdoor living space certainly requires work, it can pay off in the following ways.

Host Parties

With an outdoor living space, you can host parties with friends, family members and neighbors. Just set up some chairs around a fire pit, and you’ve got the perfect space for a party. You can even host parties year-round by installing a patio heater. These outdoor heaters are designed to warm the surrounding space, typically using propane or gas. Even when the otherwise cold fall or winter weather arrives, you still host outdoor parties using a patio heater such as this.

Health and Wellness

An outdoor living space also promotes health and wellness. Statistics show that up to three-quarters of Americans suffer from vitamin D deficiency. Known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is essential because it allows our bodies to absorb calcium and build stronger bones (among other things). Although certain foods contain vitamin D — salmon, beef liver, cheese, eggs, etc. — the easiest way to get vitamin D is to lounge outdoors under the sun. Spending just 20 minutes under the midday sun will trigger your body to produce the recommended daily intake of vitamin D.

Increased Property Value

A lesser-known benefit of outdoor living spaces is increased property value. Prospective home buyers today pay close attention to a home’s exterior. If it’s poorly designed and lacks an outdoor living space, they may choose a different home to purchase. As a result, adding an outdoor living space can increase your home’s property value. The key thing to remember, however, is that you need to create an appealing, functional space that’s easy to maintain. Installing a swimming pool may sound like a good idea, but the labor and costs of maintaining a pool may deter some buyers. So, design your outdoor living space with aesthetically pleasing, functional elements while ensuring that it’s easy to maintain. Otherwise, it won’t have a positive impact on your home’s property value.

Improved Curb Appeal

You can increase your home’s curb appeal by creating an outdoor living space. Some homeowners assume that their lawn defines their home’s curb appeal, but this isn’t necessarily true. Although it plays a role in curb appeal, the overall design of your home’s exterior — including the presence of an outdoor living space — will ultimately define its curb appeal. To take advantage of this benefit, though, you should design your outdoor living space with a cohesive theme. In other words, don’t use colors or design elements that clash with one another and, instead, stick with a central design theme.

Saves Money

You have to think of an outdoor living space as a financial investment. You’ll have to pay for furniture and accessories, but it can save you money in the long run. Once your outdoor living space it set up, you and your family can use it instead of driving to the local park and performing other paid activities. Over the course of a year, or several years, the cost-savings benefits of an outdoor living space really add up.

Cooking Outdoors

Tired of cooking in the kitchen? With an outdoor living space, you can grill and smoke foods outside. There are several different outdoor cooking accessories that you can use for this purpose, including a grill (propane or charcoal), fire pit or even a complete outdoor kitchen. Of those options, however, a fire pit is arguably the most versatile. You can use a fire pit for grilling or smoking, and you can even experiment with different types of charcoal and/or wood chips.

Shade and Comfort

It’s hard to enjoy the outdoors when the midday sun is glaring down on you. Depending on the angle, it may create a glaring, blinding light. Thankfully, an outdoor living space with shade can protect you from this phenomenon. You can install an awning over your outdoor living space, for instance, to create shade. Alternatively, you can set up a table with a patio umbrella. These are just a few ways to turn your home’s outdoor living space into a shaded, comfortable oasis for you and your family to enjoy.

Easy to Set Up

Furthermore, an outdoor living space is relatively easy to set up. Even if you have little or no experience with do-it-yourself home renovation projects, you can still create an outdoor living space. All it takes is some chairs, a fire pit and a few decorative accessories.

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 Protect Concrete Your Driveway and Sidewalk From Cracking

If you have a concrete driveway or sidewalk, you should take a few basic precautions to protect it from cracking. When properly installed, concrete typically lasts for decades, offering you and your family countless years of use. There are times, however, when it may develop hairline fractures or cracks. And when left unchecked, these otherwise small cracks can develop into larger cracks that jeopardize the structure integrity of the driveway or sidewalk. So, if you have a concrete driveway or sidewalk, you should familiarize yourself with the following tips to protect it from cracking.

Mix Correctly

First, it’s important to understand what causes concrete driveways and sidewalks to crack. While cracking can occur from any number of issues, one of the most common causes is an improper ratio of water to concrete. When too much water is added, the moisture will evaporate as the concrete sits, causing to shrink and, eventually, crack. It’s not uncommon for concrete slabs to shrink by as much as 0.5 inches per 100 feet. Therefore, it’s important that homeowners, builders and general contractors alike use the proper mixture of concrete and water.

Grade and Compact the Soil

In addition to using an appropriate ratio of water to concrete, you should also grade and compact the soil when installing a concrete driveway or sidewalk. When concrete is poured on uneven or loose soil, it increases the risk of cracking. Over time, the soil will shift and place stress on the concrete. As this stress increases, it can literally pull apart the concrete, leaving large cracks or fractures behind. By properly grading and compacting the soil, however, you can prevent this from happening. Again, this is why it’s important that all homeowners, builders and general contractors invest the necessary time and energy to prepare for proper installation.

Use a Sealer

Once you’ve installed concrete, you should use a sealant product to protect it from moisture. Freeze-thaw damage often creates cracks in concrete sidewalks and driveways. This phenomenology occurs when water seeps into the porous holes of the concrete and turns into ice. This creates pressure that loosens the concrete, causing it to crack. A simple solution to protect concrete from freeze-thaw damage is to use a sealer. Available at most home improvement stores, a sealer will create an invisible waterproof barrier over your concrete, protecting it from the intrusion of moisture and subsequent cracks that may develop from the freeze-thaw cycle.

There are many different types of concrete sealant products available for sale. While they all serve the same basic purpose of sealing concrete, there are subtle nuances between them that shouldn’t be ignored. See below for a list of the three main types of concrete sealers and how they differ:

  1. Penetrating Sealer: As the name suggests, penetrating sealers are designed to penetrate deep into concrete to create a superior level of protection from moisture and debris. They are often preferred in harsh environments where there’s a high risk of damage. Penetrating sealers are an excellent choice for protecting your concrete driveway or sidewalk from freeze-thaw damage.
  2. Decorative Sealer: Available in a wide variety of sheens and tones, decorative sealers offer an exceptional level aesthetics when compared to other concrete sealant products. They also dry and set more quickly than other sealers. The downside to decorative sealers, however, is that the lack the protection offered by penetrating sealers. Therefore, they should only be used in applications where there’s low risk of cracking of structural damage to the concrete.
  3. Durable Sealer: The third type of concrete sealer, durable sealer, offers a longer lifespan the aforementioned types. It’s designed to create a strong, long-lasting barrier of protection over the concrete. Durable sealers are also available in a variety of sheens and tones, and they are usually resistant to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays.

Ensure Proper Drainage

While there’s no substitution for a high-quality sealant, you can further protect your concrete driveway or sidewalk from cracking by ensuring the surrounding landscape has proper drainage. Poor drainage is a common cause of cracking in concrete. When water collects on or around a concrete driveway or sidewalk, the excess moisture will seep under the concrete, causing the land to shift, thus stressing the concrete. This usually doesn’t happen overnight, but rather it takes months or even years for cracks to develop.

You can reduce the risk of cracking in your concrete driveway or sidewalk by ensuring it has proper drainage. Check your downspouts to ensure they are directed away from your home and towards a nearby storm drain. And the next time it rains, pay attention to your landscape to see where the water flows. If it’s pooling up in certain areas, you need a new drainage solution to keep the moisture away from your driveway or sidewalk.

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 Prevent Your Lawn From Becoming Waterlogged

Water is usually good for lawns. Whether your lawn has fescue, bluegrass, ryegrass, bentgrass, St. Augustine, Scutch grass, crowngrass or any other common variety, it needs water to survive. Your lawn might be able to go a couple weeks without water, but it will gradually turn brown and die shortly thereafter. With that said, too much water — combined with poor drainage and runoff — may cause waterlogging. When this occurs, water collects at the top of the lawn rather than flowing away.

Aside from its unattractive appearance, a waterlogged lawn presents several challenges for homeowners. When the soil remains saturated over a long period of time, grass roots will literally rot. Known as “root rot,” for obvious reasons, it’s the beginning of a slow death for your lawn. Furthermore, a waterlogged lawn contributes to fungal disease, which is another key problem. And depending on where you live, you may find a higher number of pests like mosquitoes and gnats when your lawn is saturated with water. So, what can you do to prevent this from happening to your lawn?

#1) Check Downspouts

First, check the downspouts to ensure they are directed away from your house. If possible, connect the end of your downspouts with tubing that runs to a nearby creek or drainage ditch instead of the base of your home. If your lawn isn’t properly graded (e.g. angled away from your home), water will collect on the surface and contribute to waterlogging. By guiding downspouts away from your home, you’ll protect your lawn from excessive runoff.

#2) Check the Gutters

Of course, you should also use this opportunity to check the gutters attached to the downspouts. If there are trees growing next to your home, there’s a good chance your gutters will fill with leaves and debris. Over time, this debris will restrict the flow of water, causing it to pool up and flow off the sides instead of down through the gutters and downspouts. You can prevent this from happening by cleaning your gutters on a regular basis. Using a ladder, carefully climb and access to the top of your gutters, removing any leaves, limbs or other debris. When you are finished, flush them with a garden hose.

#3) Aerate the Soil

Aerating the soil can help protect your lawn from becoming waterlogged. Waterlogging often occurs when the soil is too compact for moisture to drain properly. Normally, water will soak into the soil. When the soil is compacted, however, it sits at the top and contributes to waterlogging. A simple solution is to aerate your soil, which involves scoring your landscape with many small holes. Not only will this prevent moisture problems, but it also encourages nutrient penetration, thus promoting a lush-green, healthy lawn.

#4) Reseed

Reseeding your lawn can reduce the risk of waterlogging. Grass acts as a natural barrier against erosion. When there are bare patches of missing grass on a lawn, rainwater may erode the soil and contribute to waterlogging. Thankfully, you can prevent this from happening by reseeding your lawn. Wait until you’ve aerated the soil, after which you can spread a mixture of grass seed and fertilizer. When the grass grows in, it should reduce or potentially eliminate drainage problems with your lawn.

#5) Dig a French Drain

If your lawn has severe drainage issues, consider digging a French drain. As explained by The Spruce, this otherwise simple drain consists of a buried pipe with gravel on top. When water lands on the gravel, it soaks through and into the pipe, at which point it’s carried away from the lawn. A French drain is a simple yet effective solution for waterlogging. Aside from a few bags of gravel, some plastic tubing and a shovel, it really doesn’t require anything else to build.

#6) Add a Top Dressing

Adding a top dressing to your lawn can protect it from drainage problems. Top dressing is essentially sand, leaves, mulch or soil that’s placed over the surface of the lawn. It offers a variety of benefits, including supplying your grass with additional nutrients, discouraging weed growth and preventing drainage problems. Simply add a 1/2-inch layer to the top, ensuring that the grass is still visible (the top dressing shouldn’t cover the grass completely).

#7) Don’t Walk on Your Waterlogged Lawn!

Finally, try to avoid walking on your lawn when it’s waterlogged. When grass is waterlogged, it’s susceptible to stress and damage. Even minor pressure like your foot pressing against the surface may damage or kill it. So, wait until your lawn has fully dried out before walking on it. If necessary, walk around the waterlogged portion of your lawn when entering and exiting your home. By following these tips, you’ll be on your way to healthier, drier lawn.

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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6 Springtime Landscape Maintenance Tips All Homeowners Should Follow

Spring is in the air, which means the temperatures will become warmer and the days longer. This seasonal transitional offers the perfect opportunity for homeowners to touch up their landscape and enhance their home’s curb appeal. Doing so will not only improve the appearance of your landscape but will also make it more functional, allowing you and your family members to enjoy this outdoor extension of your home. Here are a few tips to enhance your landscape this spring season.

#1) Aerate the Soil

There’s no better time than the beginning of spring to aerate your lawn. As you may already know, aeration involves perforating the top inch or so of soil with small holes so that nutrients and water can pass through more easily. When soil hardens during the winter, it prevents water and nutrients from flowing, thus restricting the growth and health of your grass. By aerating, you’ll promote a healthy, lush-green lawn.

#2) Knock Out Weeds

Whether it’s dandelions, crabgrass, bindweed, chickweed, bluegrass, etc., you should knock out any weeds attempting to grow on your lawn. During the transition from winter to spring, weeds — like grass and plants — will emerge from their state of dormancy. And if left unchecked, they can quickly take over your lawn while consuming valuable nutrients that could otherwise be used by your grass.

Rather than using a store-bought herbicide, though, consider making your own DIY weed killer. It’s actually pretty easy and highly effective when done right. Simply fill a spray bottle with distilled white vinegar and add 1 or 2 tablespoons of liquid dish soap. Shake thoroughly to ensure the ingredients are mixed together, after which you can spot treat any weeds you discover on your lawn.

#3) Mulch Flowerbeds

Add a layer of mulch to your flowerbeds to keep the area weed free. Mulch is designed to block out the sun so that weeds and grass can’t grow in areas where they shouldn’t (like flowerbeds). Additionally, some mulch contains valuable nutrients that will stimulate plant growth, allowing flowers to bloom more easily during spring.

Some of the most common types of mulch for flowerbeds and landscapes include the following:

  • Cocoa
  • Straw
  • Wood chips
  • Sawdust
  • Lava rocks
  • Bark
  • Grass clippings
  • Rubber pellets

Tip: even with mulch, you may discover weeds growing in your flowerbeds. This is particularly true when using nutrient-rich mulch as opposed to inorganic mulch. If weeds are still a problem, and you don’t want to constantly spot treat them, try placing landscape fabric around your flowerbed and then cover it with mulch. Landscape fabric is impenetrable, preventing weeds or other plants from growing through it.

#4) Reseed Bare Patches

Just a single bare patch will make your lawn look messy and unkempt. In some cases, though, bare patches will correct themselves. Healthy grass adjacent to the voided area will fill it in, creating a more complete appearance. In other cases, you’ll have to reseed the patch.

There are a few ways to reseed bare patches, one of which is to apply grass seed and fertilizer by hand. Sprinkle a generous amount over the patch, give it some water, and wait for it to grow in. Alternatively, you can use a lawn patch product that already has a combination of grass seed and fertilizer. Regardless of which one you prefer, go through your lawn and treat bare patches. Ignoring them may result in other patches appearing, which takes a toll on your home’s curb appeal.

#5) Tune Up Your Lawn Mower

When was the last time that you tuned up your lawn mower? If it’s been a while, you should perform some basic maintenance to ensure your mower is ready for the spring season. Depending on where you live, you’ll probably need to mow your lawn about once a week. If your mower isn’t properly maintained, you may struggle to keep it running.

To tune up your mower, replace the air filter, spark plug and oil. Additionally, you should check the blade to ensure it’s sharp. If the blade is cracked or otherwise dull, replace it with a new blade. You can buy mower blades at most improvement stores for about $10 to $20. A sharp new blade will make a world of difference in the appearance of your lawn.

#6) Prune Trees, Plants and Shrubs

Finally, use this opportunity to prune overgrown trees, plants and shrubs. When pruning, use a pair of sharp gardening shears to cut “rouge” branches and shoots. You don’t have to trim a lot. Rather, trim just enough so that you can reshape it according to your liking.

Not only does pruning improve the appearance of trees, plants and shrubs, but it also promotes healthy growth. By removing overgrown branches and shoots, you’ll reduce the nutritional needs of the respective tree, plant or shrub. Therefore, it will grow more easily through spring and into summer.

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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Choosing the Right Outdoor Rug for Your Patio

When designing your patio or outdoor living space, you should include a rug for aesthetic and functional purposes. Among other things, it helps to define the space while adding new color and style to the decor. Regardless of your patio’s size, chances are it will benefit from the use of a rug.

However, you must choose the right type of rug for your patio. Not all rugs are able to withstand the outdoor environment. When left outdoors for long periods of time, it’s not uncommon for rugs to develop mold and mildew — something that you don’t want to discover on your rug. So, consider the following tips when choosing an outdoor rug for your patio.

Waterproof Material

Any rug you intend to use on your patio needs to be made of a waterproof material. Traditional wool rugs are a poor choice due to their ability to attract and hold moisture. Instead, consider a synthetic material. There are four synthetic materials specifically that are great for use in outdoor rugs, including the following:

  1. Vinyl: Also known as polyvinyl chloride (PVC), vinyl rugs are strong, durable and waterproof. Because of these characteristics, they are also easier to maintain than many other rugs, making them an excellent choice for patios and other outdoor living spaces.
  2. Polyester: A second material to consider for your outdoor rug is polyester. This synthetic material is inexpensive and readily available. The downside, however, is that it’s not as durable as vinyl or nylon. Assuming your patio receives minimal foot traffic, this may not be a problem. If you use your patio daily, however, you should consider an alternative material for your rug.
  3. Nylon: Nylon rugs are an excellent option for outdoor environments. Nylon is a touch, durable and lightweight synthetic material that’s used to make a variety of products, including rugs. Nylon rugs are highly effective at resisting moisture and stains. Furthermore, they are less susceptible to fading when exposed to sunlight, which is one more reason why homeowners prefer using them outdoors.
  4. Polypropylene: Finally, polypropylene is a synthetic material that’s frequently used in the construction of outdoor rugs. It’s made of a plastic polymer that’s strong, durable and waterproof. With that said, polypropylene rugs can feel somewhat rough and rugged. Nonetheless, they are still a popular choice for patios and outdoor living spaces.

Size and Shape

In addition to choosing an outdoor rug made of a waterproof material, you should also consider its size and shape. Outdoor rugs are available in a wide range of shapes and sizes. You can find large 10-foot-by-10-foot rugs, as well as smaller “runner” rugs. So, which size and shape should you choose?

It really depends on how your patio is designed. Ideally, the rug should feature a similar size and shape that corresponds with your patio. If your patio has a large open area, perhaps a traditional square-shaped area rug will suffice. On the other hand, if your patio features a smaller rectangular-shaped are, you should consider using a runner rug. Just remember to choose an area rug in a size and shape that’s relative to the surrounding environment in which it’s used.

Color

Don’t underestimate the importance of choosing an area rug in the right color. Color can make or break your patio decor. An attractive patio design should feature a cohesive color scheme in which all of the decorative accessories and furnishings flow together in a natural, fluid manner. Outdoor rugs are available in just about every color under the rainbow. Some feature a single color, whereas others feature two or more colors. Ultimately, the color of your rug should flow — not necessarily match — with the rest of your patio decor.

Tips on Maintaining Your Outdoor Rug

Of course, you’ll also need to care for your outdoor rug to preserve its appearance and integrity. While outdoor rugs require less maintenance than most indoor rugs, you’ll still need to clean them on a regular basis; otherwise, they’ll accumulate dirt and debris.

Thankfully, cleaning an outdoor rug is relatively easy and straightforward. Assuming it’s made of a waterproof material like nylon or polyester, you can clean it using water, liquid laundry detergent and a scrub brush. First, create a soapy mixture of detergent and warm water. Next, pour a small amount of the rug, after which you can scrub it clean. Place the freshly cleaned rug in an area where it will dry fast, and you’re done!

For stubborn stains, you may want to use a fabric cleaner on your outdoor rug. However, it’s a good idea to test any new cleaning product on a discreet area. This way, if it causes additional staining or discoloration, you can stop using it.

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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Help! My Patio Deck is Turning Green!

Have you noticed your wooden patio deck turning green. Unfortunately, this is an all-too-common problem experienced by homeowners. It typically doesn’t happen overnight, but months or years of exposure to moisture can turn an otherwise clean patio deck to a yucky green-tinted mess.

Not only is a green patio an eye sore, but it can also cause structural damage if left unchecked. So, what causes this phenomenon and how to protect your patio from it?

What is the ‘Green Stuff?’

The green stuff that forms of patios is typically either mold, mildew or algae. Although you can’t see it — not without a microscope, at least — wood contains thousands upon thousands of small holes in its surface. These holes, also known as “pores,” are constantly absorbing and releasing moisture, depending on the surrounding environment. When the environment is humid and moist, they absorb moisture. When it’s dry, they release moisture.

A wooden patio may turn green when excess moisture is held inside the pores for a long period of time. Mild, mildew and algae thrive in moist conditions such as this. If the wooden patio doesn’t dry out, it may develop a slimy film while simultaneously turning green.

Increase Sun Exposure

There are steps you can take to protect your wooden patio from turning green, however, beginning with increasing the amount of sunlight it receives. Sunlight discourages mold, mildew and algae from growing in several ways. First and foremost, it dries up excess moisture. Secondly, the ultraviolet (UV) rays can destroy many forms of fungi on contact.

You can’t necessarily control the direction of the sun, but you can remove overhanging branches or brush that’s obstructing sunlight from reaching your patio. Even if only half of your patio is shaded, that half may turn green while the other doesn’t. The bottom line is that your patio needs direct sunlight to keep mold, mildew and algae at bay.

Ensure Proper Runoff

Does water collect and pool up in certain areas of your patio instead of draining off? If so, this could contribute to it turning green. Along with darkness, mold, mildew and algae thrive in moist environments. When water collects on a patio, it creates the ideal environment in which these microorganisms can thrive.

Normally, runoff isn’t a problem with traditional wood plank patios. Excess water will flow through the cracks and crevices between the wood planks. There are times, however, when this doesn’t happen. Maybe the wood planks are sealed, or perhaps they were constructed unevenly. Regardless, you need to ensure your patio has proper runoff; otherwise, it may develop mold, mildew and algae.

Remove Leaves and Debris

You should also get into the habit of removing any leaves, pine straw and other debris from your patio deck. When yard debris such as this accumulates, it increases the risk of mold, mildew and algae. Again, these microorganisms thrive in moist, dark environments. If there’s leaves covering your patio, the wood planks underneath will remain dark and moist.

Whether you use a push broom or leaf blower, clean your patio at least once a week to discourage it from turning green.

Restoring Your Patio’s Color

If your wooden patio deck has already turned green, you can typically restore its color by cleaning off the mold, mildew or algae. Start by pressure washing your patio, beginning with the lowest PSI setting and gradually increasing it until you find a PSI that works. You don’t want to use the highest PSI setting, as this may damage the wooden planks. Once you find a pressure setting that’s strong enough to remove the green slime without damaging the wooden planks, you should be able to clean your patio.

The Spruce also recommends cleaning green patios with a homemade solution of vinegar and Borax. After hosing down your patio — either with a pressure washer or garden hose — combine 1/2 cup part distilled white vinegar and 1/2 cup Borax in warm water and place the mixture into a spray bottle. While wearing protective rubber gloves, spray the solution onto your wooden patio, allowing it to sit for five or so minutes. Once soaked into your deck, scrub your deck by hand until it comes clean.

What About Concrete Slab Patios?

While wooden decks are most susceptible to this phenomenon, concrete slabs can also turn green. Like wood, concrete is also highly porous; thus, offering the perfect breeding grounds for mold, mildew and algae. Protecting a concrete slab patio from turning green requires a similar approach as wooden patios, however. This includes keeping it dry, well-lit with sunlight and ensuring proper runoff. And if your concrete slab patio has turned green, you can clean it by pressure washing it or using the vinegar and Borax solution as described above.

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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6 Cool and Comfortable Shade Solutions for Your Patio

A little shade can make a world of difference in your comfort level when lounging outdoors on an otherwise hot spring or summer day. With the shade protecting you from the sun, you’ll feel cooler and more comfortable, allowing you to enjoy your patio. Shaded areas technically aren’t cooler than adjacent sun-exposed areas. However, it feels up to 15 degrees Fahrenheit cooler because of the lack of solar radiation. So how can you create a cool and comfortable shaded area on your patio?

#1) Shade Sail

A shade sail is a simple and inexpensive solution to create a shaded area on a patio or outdoor living space. With origins dating back to Ancient Rome, it’s also a time-tested method that’s been passed down for centuries. A shade sail consists of a lightweight membrane fabric that’s stretched and anchored between three or or more points. You stretch the shade sail across your patio, securing the corners to anchor posts. Because of their simple design, shade sails have become a popular choice among homeowners.

#2) Awning

Of course, another shade solution to consider using for your patio is an awning. Also known an overhang, it consists of a fabric that’s stretched over a frame and secured to the side of a home or building. Once installed, it creates a supplemental roof, protecting the space underneath from sunlight, rain and the elements. Although there are dozens of different types of awnings, most fall into one of two categories:

  1. Manual: As the name suggests, manual awnings are operated by hand. You must turn a lever or similar control mechanism to take down or bring up the awning. Manual awnings typically contain less parts than their motorized counterpart, and they are also less expensive.
  2. Motorized: These awnings have a motorized function in which the homeowner presses a button to take down or bring up the awning. Because of their additional motorized parts, there’s a greater risk of failure. However, many homeowners prefer the ease of use offered by motorized awnings.

#3) Plant a Tree

If you’re willing to wait a while, you can always create a natural shaded area on your patio by planting some trees on the sun-facing side. When choosing trees, look for species that grow tall and fast. Some excellent choices include red oak (Quercus rubra), green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) and London planetree (Platanus × hispanica). Just remember to plant them on the side of your patio that faces the mid-day sun. Otherwise, it’s not going to offer much protection from the sun’s rays. As a side benefit, studies have shown that adding trees to a landscape increases the home’s selling value. The Arbor Day Foundation (ADF), for instance, says that mature trees have an appraised value of $1,000 to $10,000. So, even if they cost money and time to plant, it will pay off in the form of a higher home value.

#4) Umbrellas

Another simple shade solution for your umbrellas is an umbrella. No, I’m not talking about a traditional umbrella that hold while walking to protect yourself from the rain. There are special types of large, heavy-duty umbrellas designed specifically for use on patios and other outdoor living spaces. They offer a larger coverage area than traditional umbrellas, and they are usually made of durable materials to withstand the harsh outdoor environment for long periods of time. Some of these patio umbrellas mount directly to the top of a table, while others are freestanding. If you already have a table on your patio, consider the former. If you don’t have a table, the latter is probably the best choice for your patio.

#5) Pergola

A lesser-known shade solution for the patio is a pergola. Typically found in gardens, it consists of multiple horizontal beams that are often covered with plants, flowers or fabric. Some people assume that pergolas are the same as arbors. While they share some similarities, though, they are two unique designs with their own specific characteristics. An arbor, for example, is usually characterized by a wooden bench or seats with an overhanging roof that’s enclosed by lattice panels, whereas a pergola is a larger and more open  structure that doesn’t necessarily have seating underneath.

#6) Roof

Finally, you can always a build a roof over your patio for shade and protection from the sun. This is probably the best solution in terms of sun protection. However, it’s also the most expensive. According to The Nest, a wood-framed root can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000. If you’re on a tight budget, consider a lattice-top roof, which usually runs around $1,000. You can then cover the lattice with a fabric or other material to block sunlight.

These are just a few ways to create shade on your patio. Regardless of which one you use, make sure the design flows cohesively with the resto f your patio 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/