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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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/
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The cost of a fire pit can range from just $100 bucks to over a $1,000. Because most consumers are unfamiliar with its pricing, it can lead to confusion when trying to choose one. You don’t necessarily want to purchase the cheapest fire pit, but you probably don’t want to break into your savings account either. So, how much should you spend on a new fire pit?
Remember the age-old adage “you get what you pay for?” Well, it holds true when speaking of fire pits. Far too many companies are only in the business of making and selling fire pits to earn a quick buck. They use low-quality materials that don’t perform as well as their higher quality counterparts. If you’re going to buy a fire pit, spend the extra money on a premium brand.
Another problem associated with cheap fire pits is the potential for dangerous chemicals and toxins. Just because a fire pit looks safe and clean doesn’t necessarily mean that is it. Companies will often outsource the production of their fire pits overseas, using harmful chemicals and toxins that are otherwise banned here in the United States.
To make matters worse, the average consumer never knows that he or she is being exposed to these chemicals. Choosing to purchase a premium fire pit that’s made in the U.S. eliminates this problem while giving you peace of mind knowing that you are contributing to the country’s economic job growth.
It should come as little-to-no surprise that premium fire pits are more effective at radiating heat than cheap fire pits. A high-quality stainless steel fire pit, such as those sold here at S&S Fire Pits, will create a superior level of warmth and comfort.
At first glance, it may seem like a financially smart decision to purchase a cheap $100-$200 fire pit as opposed to a $500 fire pit of higher quality. Doing so may save you a couple hundred bucks initially, but you have to consider its longevity.
Cheap fire pits are made with cheap, low-quality materials, increasing the risk of it degrading and breaking down in a short period of time. It may work just fine for six months or even a year, at which point it rust begins to eat through it, rendering it useless.
If you have any questions regarding how much you should spend on a fire pit, give us a call; We can help. https://ssfirepits.com/contact/
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Taking these factors into account will help you choose the perfect deck box for your patio storage needs.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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 (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.,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Arizona rooms have become a popular renovation project for countless homeowners. While originating in the Copper State from which it receives its namesake, they’ve since made their way throughout the country. So, what is an Arizona room exactly, and how do you create one?
An Arizona room is a covered and screened-in outdoor extension of a home that’s typically used for recreational and leisure purposes. They are typically found in the back yard, attached to either the kitchen or living room. Arizona rooms generally follow the same decorative style as the rest of the home to create a cohesive appearance in which all of the colors and accessories flow together naturally.
It’s no secret that Arizona is one of the hottest states in which to live. Statistics show that during the summer, temperatures in the Copper State can reach up to 106 degrees Fahrenheit. As a result, many homeowners prefer to relax in Arizona rooms to cool off. The Phoenix-based newspaper The Arizona Republic explains that residents here slept in Arizona rooms during the summer before air conditioning was invented to cool off. The open nature of Arizona rooms combined with the flow of air offers the perfect environment for cooling off.
Some homeowners assume that Arizona rooms are the same screen rooms, but this isn’t necessarily true. While both typically feature a screened-in enclosure, there are some stark differences distinguishing them from each other.
Screened rooms usually begin as open patios and back decks that are later converted into screened-in enclosures. They are constructed with different materials than the rest of the home, and they feature a different design. In comparison, Arizona rooms are constructed as extension of the home, with an emphasis on maintaining a cohesive style and decor. Screen rooms are also smaller than their Arizona room counterparts, restricting their usability.
Perhaps the biggest difference between a screen room and Arizona room, however, lies in its purpose. As previously stated, Arizona rooms are designed for recreation and leisure. They often feature comfortable seating, stereo speakers, televisions, games and more.
Arizona rooms offer several benefits to homeowners and their family members, one of which is the ability to cool off without relying on the home’s central air conditioning unit. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), heating and cooling accounts for 47% energy usage in the average home. In Arizona, homeowners can expect to pay a premium to keep cool during the blistering-hot summer months. With an Arizona room, however, homeowners and their family members can cool off outdoors. With its covered top and screened-in design, it’s the perfect place to cool off.
Of course, an Arizona room is also an excellent place for outdoor living. According to a survey conducted by the American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA), 71% of consumers with outdoor living spaces want to enhance these spaces. With an Arizona room, you can easily improve your outdoor living space by adding attractive furniture and furnishings. Since it’s enclosed, you don’t have to worry about weather damaging it.
Additionally, Arizona rooms are typically protected against insects. Whether it’s mosquitoes, gnats, bees or flies, insects can force homeowners and family members to seek shelter inside their home. This isn’t a problem with most Arizona rooms, however. Because they feature a fully enclosed environment with mesh screens, there’s a barrier of protection between family members and bugs. Therefore, family members can enjoy this versatile outdoor living space without being bombarded by pesky insects.
An Arizona room is also the perfect place to grow container plants. Although it’s typically covered, some sunlight will inevitably shine through. For homeowners looking to grow container plants, an Arizona room is an ideal growing location.
If you’re planning to add an Arizona room to your home, you should use an attractive, functional design. Normally, Arizona rooms follow the same or similar design as the rest of the home. This is one of the ways in which Arizona rooms differ from screen rooms. With that said, it’s perfectly fine to use a different design.
Here are some tips to follow when designing an Arizona room:
To recap, an Arizona room is an enclosed, covered extension of a home that’s used for recreational and leisure purposes. They originated more than a century ago in the state of Arizona, where homeowners and family members used them to cool off. Since then, Arizona rooms have become a popular home renovation, not just in Arizona but throughout the entire country.
Photo credit: John Coley
When properly maintained and cared for, patio furniture can last a lifetime. Unfortunately, many homeowners neglect their outdoor furniture, believing it will withstand the hands of time without any additional work. Granted, some furniture is stronger and more resilient than others. If you want your patio furniture to last, though, you should take some basic precautions by following the tips listed below.
Choosing the right type of patio furniture is essential to making it last a lifetime. As explained in a previous blog post, wicker furniture is inexpensive and easy to care for. However, it’s also susceptible to damage. Typically made of either natural reed or synthetic PVC nylon, it’s easily damaged from falling tree limbs, weather and even regular use.
Instead of wicker, you should consider stronger and more durable furniture for your patio. Teak is arguably one of the best materials for patio furniture. This tropical hardwood is characterized by a pleasant leather-like smell and a rich mahogany finish. The greatest feature of teak, though, lies in its composition of natural oils. You see, these oils work to repel mold, mildew and bacteria; thus, protecting teak — and furniture made of teak — from rotting. You can expect to pay a premium price for genuine teak furniture, but most homeowners will agree it’s a smart investment.
Don’t leave metal furniture on your patio for long periods of time, especially during the winter. While teak furniture may hold up under the cold winter temperatures, metal furniture will not. This is because metal furniture contains iron, and when exposed to moisture, iron turns to rust. Some metal furniture is less susceptible to rusting than others, but the fact remains that all types can and will rust when left outdoors for long enough. The only way to completely safeguard your metal patio furniture from rusting is to bring it indoors when you aren’t using it.
If possible, try placing your patio furniture in a shaded area. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays will take a toll on uncovered furniture, causing it to fade. A chair that was once a pristine forest green color may not possess a lime green color. By placing your furniture in a shaded area, however, you’ll protect it from this phenomenon. Furniture, placing your furniture in the shade will protect it from bird droppings, falling limbs and debris, hail and more.
Alternatively, if there’s little-to-no shade on your patio, consider adding a UV-protective finish to your furniture. Many commercial varnishes are designed to protect against UV and moisture. Once applied, it creates a barrier of protection between your furniture and the outside elements.
Assuming your patio furniture has cushions, consider storing the cushions in a storage container or box. Seat cushions don’t handle the heat and moisture of being outdoors. If not properly cared for, they’ll develop mold and mildew, which is nearly impossible to fully remove. Bringing your seat cushions indoors is one way to protect them from this type of damage, though you can also use a separate storage container. There are actually some containers designed specifically for storing patio seat cushions. They are large, heavy duty and waterproof, making them ideal for this purpose.
There’s no other way around it: to make your patio furniture last, you must wash and clean it regularly. As long as it doesn’t have cushions, you can typically clean patio furniture by hosing it down with a garden hose. Some consumers go the extra mile by using a pressure washer, but this usually isn’t necessary. In fact, the high PSI of a pressure washer can damage certain types of furniture. Because of this, it’s recommended that you clean your patio furniture with a basis, low-pressure garden hose.
If a garden hose doesn’t suffice, use mild dish soap and a bucket of water to scrub your furniture by hand. With a little bit of elbow grease, it should come clean
In addition to cleaning your patio furniture, you should also clean your patio. Allowing your patio to accumulate leaves, pine straw and other debris can shorten the life of your furniture — not to mention the fact that it’s difficult to use a dirty patio. When debris such as this begins to accumulate, it encourages mold, mildew and insects, all of which can damage your furniture. So, if you want your furniture to last, try to get into the habit of cleaning your patio on a regular basis.
Of course, you can also prolong the life of your patio furniture by covering it. Most home improvement stores sell vinyl covers for patio furniture. You can toss them over your furniture, protecting it from rain, insects, hail and more.
Outdoor living isn’t just another fly-by-night trend that’s here today and gone tomorrow. It’s here to stay — and for good reason. Patios, porches, decks, gardens and other outdoor living spaces allow homeowners and families to enjoy the outdoors. But if you want to take advantage of your home’s outdoor living space, you should include the following “must-have” items.
When the sun goes down, you’ll need lighting to illuminate your outdoor living space. Granted, you may already have an overhead fixture available, assuming it’s a patio or back deck. However, you can still incorporate other, more stylish lighting options into your outdoor living space. This includes string lights, globe lights and free-standing lamps. Just remember to stick with an energy-efficient bulb type, such as compact fluorescent lighting (CFL). While CFL bulbs cost more than incandescent, they last longer and consume less energy, making them a smart financial investment in the long run.
Depending on where you live, you may have trouble enjoying your outdoor living space due to the presence of insects. Mosquitoes, for instance, are a common occurrence throughout the Southeast. Although small in size, these blood-sucking insects can create serious chaos for homeowners and their families. There are a few ways to keep them away from your outdoor living space, however. One option is to enclosure the space with a mesh screen. Alternatively, you can install citronella tiki torches around your outdoor living space. Either way, you need some form of insect protection to enjoy this space.
A third must-have item for an outdoor living space is a fire pit. This versatile, multi-purpose item will open the doors to a whole new world of activities for you and your family. With a fire pit, you can grill foods, roast marshmallows, create warmth and provide a more relaxing ambiance. And unlike a fireplace, you can always move your fire pit to a new location. Perhaps this is why fire pits consistently rank as one of the top accessories for outdoor living spaces.
It’s also a good idea to incorporate some type of share over your outdoor living space. Whether it’s a table-top umbrella, awning or a newly constructed roof, shade is an invaluable component for a relaxing and enjoyable outdoor living space. Without shade, the blistering-hot summer sun can make it difficult to fully enjoy this space.
You can’t expect to fully enjoy your home’s outdoor living space without comfortable seating. Don’t just toss some old plastic chairs here and call it a day. Instead, consider using more comfortable, stylish chairs that flow cohesively with the space’s decor. High-quality wood chairs are always an excellent choice, although they typically require staining to protect against mildew and mold. One exception is teak wood, which contains natural oils that repel mildew, mold and decay. Alternatively, another idea is to use wicker chairs. We talk about wicker chairs in a previous blog post, but basically they consist of woven organic material that’s lightweight and inexpensive. The only downside to using wicker furniture is its susceptibility to damage.
Why do you need a storage chest for your outdoor living space? Well, to store small items when you aren’t using them. Assuming you use your fire pit to cook foods, for instance, you’ll probably need a wire grill brush and tongs. If you have a storage chest, you can stash these and other similar-sized items inside. A popular storage solution for patios and other outdoor living spaces is a storage ottoman. Like indoor storage ottomans, it doubles as a footrest and storage chest. You can place it in front of your chairs or seating to use a footrest. And when you’re ready to go inside, you can lift the top to stash small items inside.
You should also include an outdoor rug in your outdoor living space. A rug will define your outdoor living space while adding new color and style to the decor in the process. Keep in mind that any rugs used in your outdoor living space should be made of a synthetic material that’s not going to mildew or otherwise become damaged from the outdoor elements. Traditional all-wool rugs are a poor choice. Instead, synthetic materials like polypropylene are recommended. You’ll still need to wash your outdoor rug on a regular basis, but it shouldn’t sustain damage from being outdoors.
Finally, your outdoor living space needs a table. It doesn’t have to be a full-sized table. On the contrary, smaller tables often look and function better in small spaces. You can use your table to place drinks, plates and other items. However, you should choose a table that matches the chairs and surrounding decor.
Trees are an invaluable element of a home’s landscape. Unfortunately, some homeowners view them as nothing more than added maintenance, so they avoid growing them. However, trees can benefit your home and landscape in several ways, some of which we’re going to discuss in this blog post.
Thanks to the natural shade they produce, adding trees to your landscape will create a cooler outdoor space. The actual temperature underneath a tree isn’t lower than a non-shaded area. However, it feels cooler here because there’s less solar radiation. The temperature of a shaded area and non-shaded area are the same, but the former feels cooler due to the lack of solar radiation. So, growing trees on your landscape will create a cooler outdoor space for you and your family to enjoy.
Of course, trees also encourage outdoor living. It’s difficult to fully enjoy your home’s outdoor living space in the summer with the blistering-hot sun. As the mercury rises, you and your family may be forced to seek shelter from the heat. This isn’t an issue if your landscape has trees, however. The natural shade will keep you and your family cool while also protecting against sunburn. As a result, you’ll be able to fully enjoy your home’s outdoor living space.
Can growing trees in your landscape really increase your home’s value? Quite possibly. The Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers (CTLA) says that a single mature tree adds roughly $1,000 to $10,000 to the respective home’s property value. Other studies have shown that homes with an attractive landscape are worth 10% to 15% more than their counterparts with poorly designed landscapes. The bottom line is that homebuyers want landscapes with trees, so growing them in your landscape can potentially raise your property’s selling value.
You might be surprised to learn that trees can lower psychological stress. Statistics show that 77% of U.S. adults experience physical symptoms caused by psychological stress, some of which include high blood pressure, sweating, headaches and trouble sleeping. When symptoms such as these manifest, it can affect other aspects of your life. Growing trees in your landscape, however, can help by lowering your stress levels and potentially eliminating some of the symptoms associated with stress.
Researchers from the University of Hong Kong and University of Illinois conducted a study in which participants were asked to rate their level of stress after viewing images of forests in varying densities. Researchers found that the participants were the least stressed after viewing the most dense forests. Basically, viewing images of trees and forests reduced participants’ stress levels by making them feel calmer and more relaxed.
There are countless ways to reduce energy usage in a typical home, including the use of compact fluorescent lighting (CFL), installing blackout curtains, low-flow showerheads, and adding extra insulation to the basement and attic. However, growing trees in your landscape can also reduce your home’s energy usage. The National Arbor Day Foundation (NADF) explains by saying that trees planted on the east, west and northwest sides of a home will lower its cooling needs during the summer by up to 35%. Trees essentially prevent solar radiation from reaching the windows and siding; thus, keeping the home cooler and subsequently taking some of the burden off the central air conditioning system.
And don’t assume that it will take a tree forever to grow. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), a 6- to 8-foot deciduous tree will begin shading the home in its first year. Furthermore, trees typically begin shading the home’s roof within 5 to 10 years. So, go ahead and plant a tree today if you want to reap its energy-saving benefits.
Trees require very little work or time to maintain. Unlike grass or flowers, you typically don’t have to water or fertilize trees. The only exception is during a young tree’s first few seasons, in which case you should water it. Once the tree has matured, however, the only maintenance you’ll need to do is inspecting it for disease and damage, as well as occasionally pruning away unnecessary branches. Other than this, trees don’t require much effort to maintain.
Finally, growing trees in your landscape will create cleaner air. Just because the air looks clean outside your home, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is. Air pollution is a serious threat that’s particularly problematic in busy cities. Growing trees, however, is one of the easiest way to promote cleaner air. Trees absorb airborne pollutants, such as nitrogen, ammonia and sulfur dioxide, and they also release fresh oxygen back into the atmosphere. This, of course, is one of the reasons why many cities and municipalities grow them.
70% Seventy percent of all homes in the United States have an outdoor living space, and roughly 70% of these households use their outdoor living space at least once per week, according to a study conducted by the American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA). An outdoor living space allows homeowners and family members to enjoy the beautiful outdoors. Rather than staying cooped up indoors, they can go outside to cook, host parties or simply relax.
However, one of the most common reasons cited by homeowners for not creating an outdoor living space is the cost. Some homeowners assume that outdoor living spaces are too expensive to create. Like most renovations, it usually requires an upfront monetary investment, but there are ways to reduce these costs. So, if you want to create an outdoor living space without breaking into your savings account, check out the following tips.
You don’t have to spend a fortune on an expensive privacy fence for your outdoor living space. An easy do-it-yourself alternative that costs a fraction of the price is a lattice fence. You can typically buy large panels of lattice for about $10 to $50 bucks a piece. Using just a few of these panels, you can create an attractive privacy fence that’s perfect for your outdoor living space.
When choosing lattice for your outdoor living space, make sure it’s pressure treated to protect against rot, decay and termites. Additionally, consider the color and how it conforms to the surrounding decor. The color of the lattice should flow cohesively with the space’s decor.
No outdoor living space is complete without a source of fire. When the sun goes down and the temperatures drop, a fire will allow you and your family to continue enjoying this space. If you’re on a budget, though, you should choose a portable fire pit instead of a fireplace.
As explained by ImproveNet, the average cost of a professionally installed outdoor fireplace in the United States is between $1,400 and $20,000. A more budget-friendly solution is a portable fire pit. High-quality fire pits are available for just a few hundred bucks. As an added bonus, you can easily move them to different areas — something that can’t be said for an outdoor fireplace.
You can enhance the decor of your outdoor living space by adding some potted plants to it. Before buying new plants at your local gardening center, however, try cloning some existing plants in your landscape. Cloning involving cutting a steam off a parent plant and placing it in damp compost, either with or without growth hormones. When done correctly, the stem will grow into a new plant. It may sound difficult, but it’s actually pretty easy. And best of all, it allows you to grow new plants for your outdoor living space without paying a dime (except for the pots and containers).
If your outdoor living space isn’t shaded or covered, consider investing in a large patio umbrella. This otherwise simple accessory will protect you and your family from the sun’s blinding rays as well as rain, snow and falling leaves.
You can find patio umbrellas available in free-standing models or table-attached models. Free-standing patio umbrellas are designed to stand upright on their own, without the need for additional support. A table-attached umbrella, on the other hand, is designed to sit atop a table, covering the surrounding space. Both styles are perfectly fine, though the former usually costs more than the latter.
Perhaps the most important element of an outdoor living space is seating. Without seating, neither you nor anyone else will be able to enjoy this extension of your home. You can check out some of our previous blog posts for more ideas on outdoor seating, though some of the top choices include wicker chairs, teak lounges, benches, hammocks, Adirondack chairs and swings.
According to the decorating experts at HGTV, you can enhance the decor of small outdoor living spaces by using tall decorative accessories. Tall vases or bamboo plants in a container, for instance, create the perception of a larger and more open area. Furthermore, tall decorative accessories such as these add color and vibrancy to the surrounding space.
If your existing outdoor furniture is approaching the end of its lifespan, you might be able to squeeze a little more use of out it by painting or finishing it. Buying an new set of outdoor furniture can be expensive. However, painting and finishing is a cheap alternative to revitalize your old, aged furniture. Just remember to choose a color that matches out outdoor living space’s existing decor.
If you want the best looking house in the neighborhood, you need to spend some time cleaning and improving the exterior. While there are plenty of professional service providers out there, there are also projects you can do yourself. Here are the top nine do-it-yourself projects to improve your home’s exterior.
Assuming you don’t already have one, create an outdoor living space on your property. According to the Spring Houzz Landscaping Survey, 56% of homeowners plan on improving their yards for entertainment. You can instantly improve the aesthetics and functionality of your home’s exterior by designing an outdoor living space. For instance, this may include a basic lounging area with chairs, benches and a fire pit.
When was the last time that you cleaned your gutters? Experts recommend cleaning them between two and four times a year, depending on the surrounding trees. If you have lots of overhanging trees, you should clean them four times a year; otherwise, twice annually should suffice. Failure to clean your gutters will result in the accumulation of leaves and debris on your roof. While this may seem harmless enough, all of that debris can hold moisture can contribute to rot/decay.
Cleaning your home’s windows can instantly improve its curb appeal. Over time, windows will attract dirt, mildew and grime. Thankfully, this won’t harm the windows’ structural integrity, but it will leave your home looking dirty. Using a half-and-half combination of hot water and distilled vinegar, thoroughly coat your windows and wipe them down. For tall, hard-to-reach windows, use an squeegee with an extension handle. Don’t just clean the outside of the windows; be sure to clean the inside as well.
If you really want to create a comfortable outdoor living space — and enhance your home’s exterior in the process — install a ceiling fan on the patio. Aside from any electrical wiring costs, you can buy a basic ceiling fan for about $50 bucks. Once installed, it will make your patio cooler and more comfortable. And since it’s placed near the front door, a ceiling fan will boost the aesthetics of your home’s exterior, possibly even raising its value.
Finishing a wood deck offers several benefits. First, it reinvigorates old, sun-faded decks with new color. Secondly, it protects the deck from mold and decay. There are several different finishes from which to choose, however. If you prefer the current look of your deck but still want protection from mold and decay, you can use a clear finish. On the other hand, if you want to darken your deck with a new color, you can use a stain finish. When staining a deck, the most important thing is to keep it dry and dust-free. If it’s wet, the finish won’t stick. If it’s dusty, imperfections will show.
Pressure-washing the siding of your home can make a world of difference in its appearance. Whether the siding is vinyl, brick, stone, synthetic stone, fiber cement, etc., it’s a simple and effective way to improve your home’s exterior. Also known as “power-washing,” it involves the use of a pressurized water to remove stubborn dirt and debris.
Painting your home’s exterior may sound a bit too tedious and time consuming. However, you can still improve your home’s exterior by painting just the trim. It’s not uncommon for homes to feature white trim with an alternate color for the siding. Going over the trim with a fresh coat of paint is a simple and inexpensive way to make your home look cleaner and more attractive.
If you have damaged or missing shingles on your home’s roof, consider replacing them. Granted, a single missing shingle shouldn’t cause any serious problems. If your roof is missing several, however, water may seep through the roof and into your home. Of course, this can lead to a world of other problems, including mold and structural damage. This is why it’s recommended that you inspect your roof for damaged shingles on a regular basis. And if you discover any, replace them as soon as possible.
Finally, updating your patio with new furniture can enhance your home’s exterior. You can check out some of our previous blog posts for outdoor furniture ideas, though some of the most popular choices include teak lounge chairs, Adirondack chairs, benches and wicker furniture. Just remember to stick with a cohesive theme when choosing patio furniture.
Following these tips will help you create a more attractive home. Best of all, you can do these projects yourself. So, the next time you’re sitting around the house with nothing to do, head outside to perform one of these projects.
Outdoor furniture is available in a wide range of materials, including bamboo, wicker, cast iron, plastic, concrete, wood and more. However, one of the most versatile materials in which outdoor furniture is made is teak. Found throughout Southeast Asia, teak (Tectona grandis) offers some qualities and characteristics that simply aren’t found in other materials. To learn more about teak and why it’s the perfect material for outdoor furniture, keep reading.
Teak is a deciduous tree that grows up to 131 feet tall. It has gray and brown branches with green leaves and white flowers. The flowers of the teak tree are believed to be pollinated by insects. A study conducted in 1996 found that Ceratina bees were the main pollinator of teak flowers in Thailand.
The wood harvested from the teak tree is brown and red, usually with various spots of darkness and lightness. It’s a hard, porous wood with a density of approximately 720 kg/m3.
Teak is used to make a variety of outdoor furniture, some of which includes:
Teak is also commonly used to make boats. Its buoyant characteristics combined with a natural resistance to mold and rot make it a viable material for constructing boats.
So, why should you choose outdoor teak furniture over other types? First and foremost, it offers a premium, high-end style that’s guaranteed to enhance your patio or outdoor living space. As shown above, teak is a clean, structurally intact material that looks amazing. Regardless of your personal style, there’s no denying the innate beauty of genuine teak. It’s the perfect way to upgrade your patio and create a more vibrant, aesthetically pleasing environment. However, the stylish appearance of teak is just one of many reasons why it’s such an excellent choice of material for outdoor furniture.
Teak furniture is also long lasting. It’s not uncommon for teak benches, chairs and other furniture to last for 70 years when properly maintained. In comparison, a similar type of furniture made of wicker may only last five to 10 years. If you want furniture that’s going to withstand the hands of time for countless years to come, you can’t go wrong with teak. Granted, plastic and various synthetic materials will also last a long time, but they don’t offer the same stylish appearance as teak.
Perhaps the most notable benefit of teak furniture is its natural resistance of mold, mildew and decay. Usually, only synthetic materials are protected against fungi and subsequent rot. Teak, however, is unique because it’s a form of hardwood. Teak wood contains natural oils that allow it to survive in tropical, humid climates. In addition to helping it survive harsh climates, these natural oils protect it from mold, mildew, decay and even certain types of pests. As a result, you can leave teak furniture outside year-round without fear of it becoming damaged.
If you plan on buying teak furniture for your patio or outdoor living area, you’ll need to decide whether or not to treat it with a finish. While teak doesn’t rot or otherwise sustain damage when left outdoors for long periods of time, it will fade when exposed to sunlight. Over time, the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays will turn its rich brown color to a soft grayish silver. Again, this fading doesn’t affect its strength or structural integrity; it only affects its appearance.
Some people prefer the vintage look of naturally aged teak. Others, however, prefer the original color of teak. If you want to keep your teak furniture looking new and protect it from sun fading, you have one of two options from which to choose: you can either store your teak furniture under a covered/shaded area, or your can apply a finish to it. Visit your local home improvement store to find a finish or varnish for your teak furniture.
Teak furniture requires little maintenance, which of course is one of the reasons why it’s so popular. With that said, you should still perform some basic cleaning to preserve its pristine appearance. You can usually clean teak furniture by wiping it down with a damp washcloth and a small amount of dish soap. Avoid power washing
There’s also teak oil that’s designed specifically for teak furniture. Teak oil, however, is not the actual oils contained in teak wood. Instead, it usually consists of linseed oil. When applied to teak, it adds a barrier of protection over the wood, further protecting it from damage as well as sun fading. You can buy teak oil at most furniture stores and home improvement stores.
Is your patio prepared for the upcoming winter season? With winter comes cooler temperatures, drier air and the possibility of snowfall, all of which can affect your patio. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to stop using your patio for the season. Rather, you should take the necessary steps to “winterize” it beforehand. Doing so will allow you and your family to enjoy this outdoor extension of your home throughout the year.
The first step in winterizing a patio is to clean it. Using a broom or leaf blower, remove any lingering leaves, pine straw or branches that have fallen on your patio. Neglecting this otherwise simple step can result in a stained patio deck. Moisture will accumulate in this debris, causing colored compounds to leave onto and into your deck.
If you have a grill or fire pit on your patio (or both), you should cover it with a protective tarp. Depending on where you live, you may not receive much rain during this time of year. However, you may still receive some snowfall — and that snow can cause metallic objects like a grill or fire pit to rust. Covering them with a vinyl tarp prevents the intrusion of water while protecting against rust and corrosion.
Alternatively, you may want to bring your grill or fire pit indoors for the winter. Bringing a large grill indoors isn’t always feasible, though. But if you own a small, portable fire pit, you can certainly bring it indoors. Just remember to wait a full 48 hours after lighting it to ensure it’s fully cooled before bringing it inside.
You can further protect your patio from damage by staining it with a water repellent product. Most home improvement stores, including Lowe’s and Home Depot, sell a variety of water-repellent stains. You typically apply them just like paint, and once they are finished drying, it creates a waterproof barrier over your patio. Staining a full-sized patio is somewhat tedious and time-consuming, so be prepared to invest a full 1-2 days to this project.
When winterizing your patio, you’ll need to take measures to protect your furniture from damage. Generally speaking, the material from which the furniture is made will determine the best method of winterizing it. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most common patio furniture materials and how to winterize them.
Patio umbrellas offer an excellent source of shade. Whether they are secured to a table or to the patio deck, it’s a great way to enhance your patio. For the winter, however, you should take down any umbrellas overhanging your patio. If it happens to snow, excess snow may accumulate on the umbrella, causing it to buckle and sustain damage.
If you have potted plants on your patio, go ahead and bring them indoors. While different plants are more tolerant to cold weather than others, it’s usually best to err on the side of caution by bringing them all indoors. Placing them in a sunny location next to a large window will ensure they stay warm throughout the winter season.
Of course, you may not be able to bring all of your plants indoors. Assuming you have plants growing in the ground near your patio, you should follow some basic precautions to help them survive winter. Adding a layer of mulch around the base of your flowers, plants and trees, for instance, is a simple and effective safeguard for the winter weather. Mulch acts as natural insulation, reducing the loss of heat while subsequently protecting against frost shock.
For evergreen plants, consider making a burlap shield. Evergreens are particularly susceptible to cold weather damage, as sub-freezing temperatures prevent the roots from absorbing water. And if they aren’t getting water, they will likely turn brown and die. To prevent this from happening, set up four stakes around your evergreens, securing a burlap screen to the stakes. In addition to keeping your evergreens warm, this also serves as a windbreak, protecting your plants from strong winds.
Curb appeal refers to the collective landscape, colors, furnishings and other visual elements of a home’s exterior. By investing in a little time and energy into your home’s curb appeal, you’ll create a more pleasing outdoor environment for you and your family to enjoy. Furthermore, studies show that home’s with an attractive curb appeal have a higher selling value than their counterparts with little-to-no curb appeal. So, whether you plan on staying in your home or selling it, you should follow the tips listed below to enhance its exterior.
A fresh coat of paint on the front door can make a world of difference in your home’s curb appeal. Over time, paint will fade due to sun exposure, resulting in a lackluster appearance. Your home’s once fiery-red front door may now have more of a dark maroon tone. With a gallon of paint and a brush, however, you can revitalize it with new color.
In addition to repainting the front door, you should also decorate the area around the front door. If you have a wooden patio deck, ensure that all boards are secure and not loose or otherwise damaged. Next, place a doormat in front of the door, using a color that corresponds with the surrounding decor. You can also enhance your home’s entryway by adding attractive light fixtures, door knobs and planters.
A commonly overlooked element of curb appeal is the mailbox. While it may seem insignificant compared to the front door and entryway, the mailbox still plays an instrumental role in setting the tone for your home’s exterior. The real estate experts as Zillow recommend using a heavy-duty “premium” mailbox along with statement house numbers. A high-quality mailbox should only cost about $150 to $300, while house numbers run about $5 to $10 a piece. For the price, it’s a smart investment that will pay off in the form of a better looking home.
While there are dozens of different seating and furniture options from which to choose when designing your home’s exterior, lounge furniture is arguably one of the best. According to the 2017 Houzz Landscape Study, lounge furniture is the most popular outdoor living element among homeowners. As the name suggests, lounge furniture places an emphasis on comfort and relaxation. A chaise lounge, for instance, features a long and adjustable reclining back. Often made of premium teak hardwood, it’s the perfect addition to any patio or outdoor living space.
Adding a layer of mulch to your flowerbeds will create a cleaner and more complete curb appeal while also protecting your flowers from frost. In winter, the sub-freezing temperatures can send flowers into a state of shock, causing them to either go dormant or die. With a layer of mulch, however, your flowers will have an extra layer of protection from the winter weather. Mulch acts as insulation, reducing the rate at which your flowers lose heat. Most importantly, though, mulch prevents the growth and intrusion of weeds; thus, creating a cleaner and more attractive landscape for your home.
In addition to lounge furniture, another accessory to consider using on your patio or outdoor living space is a fire pit. According to the same Houzz Landscape Study cited above, fire pits are the second most popular outdoor living element; they are even more popular than grills and patio heaters. Installing a fire pit on your patio will create a more “lived in” appearance while also providing functional benefits in the process. With a fire pit, you can cook, roast marshmallows or simply enjoy a quiet evening with friends or family.
Of course, you should also manicure any shrubs and trees in your home’s landscape. Neglecting this basic form of lawn maintenance will result in overgrown brush, which doesn’t exactly help your home’s curb appeal. Whether you do it yourself or choose to hire a professional landscaper, you need to manicure all trees and shrubs on your property.
A few strategically planed container plants can brighten your home’s curb appeal. Even if you have flowers or plants growing around your home, you should still consider adding container plants next to the front door. Doing so adds color and vibrancy, which can help define your home’s exterior decor.
Finally, consider pressure-washing your home’s exterior. Depending on the material of which it’s constructed, it may develop mildew, dirt and grime. A simple solution, however, is to pressure-wash it. The pressurized stream of water will make easy work of even the dirtiest siding. And for stubborn areas, you can pre-treat it with soap or detergent for maximum cleaning power.
If you’re planning to update your patio with new furniture, you’ll need to choose the right material. Patio furniture is designed using a wide range of materials. However, one of the most popular is wicker.
While most people have seen or at least heard of wicker, few know what the material really is. As shown in the photo to the left, wicker furniture is characterized by a woven design, typically using natural cane materials like rattan, reed, bamboo or willow. Because of this, wicker isn’t a material itself. Instead, it’s a type of furniture featuring a woven design with one or more cane-like materials.
It’s a little-known fact that wicker has origins dating back to Ancient Egypt, specifically around 3,000 BC. Archeologists have unearthed wicker furniture made of reed and grasses from the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs. The reed and grasses used in the wicker furniture were native to the surrounding Nile river. In addition to furniture, Egyptians also made wicker baskets, wig boxes, toys and other items.
While this doesn’t apply to all types of wicker furniture, most have some common characteristics, including the following:
Most wicker furniture is made of natural, organic plant matter, such as reed or rattan. However, some are made of a synthetic material. Also known as “resin wicker,” synthetic wicker furniture is made of PVC, nylon, polyethylene or a combination thereof. These are the same synthetic materials that you’ll find in other furniture, especially outdoor patio furniture.
To the unsuspecting eye, both natural and synthetic wicker appear similar. They have the same woven construction with similar-looking material. However, natural wicker furniture is made of organic material, whereas synthetic wicker is made of inorganic, man-made material. This is the fundamental difference distinguishing the two.
So, why should you use wicker furniture on your patio? Wicker offers several noteworthy benefits, one of which is aesthetic value. With its woven construction, wicker furniture will enhance your patio decor to create a more attractive living space. This isn’t something you’ll find in other types of furniture either. On the contrary, only wicker furniture boasts this unique woven design, which is one of the reasons why homeowners choose it for their patio.
As previously mentioned, wicker furniture is also lightweight. It may take two people to move a heavy hardwood lounge chair, but wicker chairs are easily moved by just a single person. Therefore, you shouldn’t have a problem moving it. If you want to bring your wicker furniture inside, for instance, you can easily do so without straining your back.
Furthermore, wicker furniture is relatively inexpensive when compared to other types of furniture. If you’re looking to decorate your patio without spending a fortune, you should consider wicker for this very reason.
There are also some disadvantages to using wicker patio furniture, however. Compared to other types of outdoor furniture, wicker is somewhat large and bulky. Assuming you have a large patio, this shouldn’t be a problem. But if you have a small patio with limited space, you may want to choose a different type of furniture.
Natural wicker furniture is also susceptible to damage. Granted, synthetic resin furniture can sustain damage too, but it’s stronger and more durable than its counterpart. Over time, it’s not uncommon for natural wicker furniture to become torn and unraveled. And when this happens, there’s usually no easy way to fix it.
If you’re interested in using wicker furniture on your patio, you should first plan the design. In other words, determine what pieces of wicker furniture you want to use and where you want to use them. Wicker chairs are always an excellent choice, though you’ll also find wicker sofas and recliners as well.
Sitting on a hard wicker surface isn’t exactly comfortable. Thankfully, most manufacturers offer soft cushions with their wicker furniture. Depending on the company, however, you may have to pay extra for it. If you intend to use the wicker furniture for decorative purposes only, you probably don’t need the cushions. But if you plan on sitting and using the furniture — which you probably will — it’s recommended that you invest in cushions.
Whether it’s natural or synthetic, all wicker furniture is lightweight. And because of its lightweight properties, it may blow over during storms and bad weather. To prevent this from happening, you should either anchor it to your patio or bring it indoors before it storms. Hopefully, this gives you a better understanding of wicker patio furniture.
Your Name (required)
Your Email (required)
Please leave this field empty.