Category Archives: Landscaping

How durable is your retaining wall?

Do you already have a retaining wall on your property? Is it starting to show its age or even falling apart? How long do you expect it to continue doing its job? If it is time to upgrade your old retaining wall, contact Verti-Crete for the best concrete mold retaining walls on the market.

When you order a precast concrete retaining wall through Verti-Crete you can expect to find representatives who are willing to work you, and find out exactly what your property needs and what you want. Designed to stand up to harsh weather, heavy traffic, and wear and tear your new wall is going to look great for many years to come. With solid concrete panels, steel reinforcements and footings, you can be confident that this retaining wall will be more durable and do its job longer than a retaining wall built out of any other materials. They even offer UV fade-resistant concrete stains to make your concrete retaining wall appear to be made of stones and become a beautiful part of your landscaping.

Photo By: Grendelkhan

Verti-Crete designs retaining walls to meet your specifications. Their molds can produce as many precast panels as your project requires. Depending on your project, the panels may be poured into forms at a production facility and brought to the project site, or the forms may be brought to your location and they cast the panels right there. Each 8-foot panel can hold back up to 8 feet of earth. The panels are designed to join with one another giving you a seamless, complete retaining wall. Clients can also choose to add graphics or logos to their customized concrete mold. You can even select natural stone-looking concrete retaining walls!

No matter your project, Verti-Crete’s concrete mold retaining walls will be an investment you are pleased with for many years to come.

Safe Swimming Pool Chemical Storing

Keeping the water within your personal swimming pool germ free is something that every swimming pool proprietor should be serious about. If you forget to pay close attention to your water inside the pool, the naturally growing organisms and germs will quickly take your water basin over and turn it from a clean and refreshing pool into a terrible looking, green filled muck.

It’s fairly obvious that once you neglect this problem for a long enough period of time, people are going notice it and begin commenting on how unsightly your pool actually is. Nobody will try and swim in it.

I’m sure that as soon as you become aware as to how vital it is to immediately pounce on bacteria living within your pool, the next plan of attack for you to take will be to immediately buy cheap pool chemicals to get rid of the germs and restore your pool water.

While purchasing pool chemicals should certainly be considered a very pivotal stage in pool ownership, it can definitely not be called the end all be all method to pool maintenance.

By far, the most important precaution to take when handling swimming pools chemicals is to take the necessary steps to ensure that the chemicals do not fall into the wrong hands and potentially harm someone who isn’t aware of what they’re doing. Without storing these potentially dangerous mixtures in a safe and secure location, it is highly possible that they will cause irreparable damage.

For example, many people might simply thing to leave the chemicals outside on the deck of their home, this is obviously a bad idea. There will often be many people around your pool area who have children and small animals in tow. Small animals in little children are very curious creatures and are likely to wander around the chemicals, potentially getting into them and harming themselves severely.

In an effort to prevent these unfortunate circumstances from becoming a reality, it is highly recommended that you store your swimming pool chemicals in a safe place, such as a high up a shelf in a garage where small and animals and children cannot reach them.

Some Frequently Asked Questions About Hardscaping

Adding concrete pavers to a home, garden, or business is a great investment, both in the aesthetic and financial values of the site. Making a purchase decision and installing the pavers is a serious decision, however, and requires much forethought. Many people have questions about hardscaping installation, design and maintenance – this article seeks to answer just a few of those questions.

Why pick concrete pavers in the first place?

Concrete paving stones can be expensive, especially for large projects, but their value increases over time. They do not need to be replaced or maintained as often as projects constructed from other materials, like stone, asphalt, or poured concrete. In addition, the design, color, and pattern options available far outclass those for other options, providing the home or business owner the freedom to complement his or her home/business design with the design of the paver installation.

What is this white, chalky residue appearing on my pavers? It wasn’t there before!

This is a normal part of the paver process. The white material you see is called “efflorescence,” and occurs as the pavers “age,” especially when they are installed over concrete. It will fade over time. If you aren’t patient to wait, there are commercial cleaners available that will expedite the process.

Will weeds grow up in between the pavers (in the joints)?

Depending on the joint material, this is possible. If the pavers are mortared, or if a special joint material is used, few if any weeds will grow. However, if fine (concrete) sand is used, weeds could grow over time. Sealing your pavers will help prevent this. If you don’t want to seal your pavers, commercial weed killer may help eliminate the pesky plants.

My pavers have developed a dip! What gives?

The one weakness of concrete paver installations is that they settle over time. Your contractor hopefully warrantied your project for at least the first year. If not, it’s an easy fix for you – just pull up the offending brick, reset the base, relay the pavers, and compact.

Options For A Better Summer Patio

Anyone who has a patio in their yard or the back of their house can do a lot of different things to make it look better. When you take advantage of some creative patio ideas, you will be adding to the appearance of you house and you will be making it easier to sell as well. A nice looking patio that people want to use actually adds to the living space you have in your home.

If your patio is abandoned, you need to take a fresh look at it and the surrounding to see what can be done. Any patio that is dirty or not maintained well need to be thoroughly cleaned and made to look its best. If it’s best is still not very good, you may have a bigger project on your hands than you first thought.

One of the things that can immediately improve a patio is new furniture. Make sure whatever you get will stand up to the weather elements for years or get something to  cover it. Redwood or teak wood patio chairs look great as does all kinds of wicker furniture. If you go around to all your home improvement stores as well as the furniture stores in your city, you will then be able to have a wide variety to choose from. Of course, the biggest selection of patio furniture can be found in stored in the springtime right around the time everyone is thinking about summer.

Adding a fire pit to your patio is an inexpensive way to add light and hours to the time you can use your patio every evening. Additionally, everyone loves a fire so that is always a popular purchase. More patio lighting ideas include installing tiki lights or solar lights to add atmosphere to your patio.

Make sure you pay attention to your patio’s surrounding area as that plays a big part in what your patio looks like. Having a yard or garden that is well groomed and taken care of will make your patio look likes it blends into the scenery. You can add vines, flowers, and planters that create the look you desire. A creative person will find that there are unlimited possibilities to make a patio look great for any season.

3 Reasons To Get Your Family Swimming Pool Noodles

Each and every year, more and more people purchase their own swimming pool for their home in an effort to increase the amount of fun they have during the summer months.  This is definitely something that can increase the amount of fun you have during that part of the year, due to the fact that nearly everyone loves the feeling of jumping into a cool pool of water during a day of extreme heat.  Additionally, swimming pool accessories can further increase the amount of fun you’re likely to have during the time you spend in a swimming pool.

One of the most popular accessories of a swimming pool is the swimming pool noodle, commonly referred to as a water log.  To further explain why this is such a popular accessory, I’ve provided three of the most popular reasons for why people buy this particular item.

  1. They allow for constant floating above the water without having to actively tread or swim.  They are made of Styrofoam and can support a fully grown adult above the water.  All you need to do is lay on top of the noodle and the object does the rest for you.
  1. They can be used to build large objects such as rafts and other floating devices.  This is a very popular pastime for children to partake in while swimming in your pool.  These necessary objects which are required to form these rafts are also incredibly inexpensive, much like the standard swimming pool noodle.
  1. They can be used to provide aid for someone who is struggling to stay afloat in the water.  This is a very important reason due to the fact that swimming pools have such potential for danger.  If you spot someone struggling to stay afloat in the pool, holding out a pool noodle for them to latch onto is a very smart idea.

For more information on swimming pools and everything about them, please visit the Swimming Pool Hut and your questions are likely to be answered.

Types of Solar Lights and Brightness Levels

There are many benefits to choosing solar lights over conventional lighting solutions. Some are obvious such as the free electricity due to the self generating design of the unit with solar panels and a battery pack. It also saves you from having to dig up the yard to run lines and without wires there is no risk of damage to your wires. Now with brighter and more energy efficient lamps among other improvements in other components there is now such a range of types of solar powered garden lights that there is something for every need.

Accent solar lighting is the cheapest of the various types of lights because of the low quality requirements. They provide a soft gentle glow all night long that is used to complement the décor of outside living spaces such as a patio or yard. The lights use such little energy that it can usually stay light for two nights on a single day’s charge. This is unlike the other types of solar lights which require higher brightness levels and thus will go require a lot more battery charge.

Pathway lights are important for the safety of people using the outdoor space. It can guide people through a walkway, through steps or guide vehicles along a driveway. This type of solar lighting fixture requires more brightness and thus will use more electricity. It is important to position these units in a place where it can get a sufficient charge during the day.

Tasks lights or spot lights use more energy to cast a focused beam of bright light at an object or other focus point. Think about a flag at night with a spot light pointing upward from the ground to get an idea of functional uses for solar spot lights. For more information about solar spot light, accent lights or pathway light visit Solar Lights Design where you will also find details about specialty function solar lights such as security and shed lights.

How to Maintain Above Ground Pool Liners

When hot weather season rolls around most people start to dream about cooling off in a body of water somewhere.  If it is in the back yard it is either an inground or above ground pool.  A pool liner is the visible interior part that gives the pool its character and charm. It is the image that is seen when the swimmer takes a dive.

The above ground swimming pool version is usually 6 feet deep as opposed to the 3 to 10 and 12 foot options inground versions offer.  Common shapes include circle, rectangular or oval.  Kidney, and other custom shapes are most commonly seen inground.  Vinyl above ground pool liners come in several different styles such as:

A. Overlapping

B. Beaded

C. Unibead – J, V, Hang, Hung or Universal as also known

The overlapping option is most often chosen.  A doughboy selection makes circle and oval shapes expandable.

Liners are easy to install, and most owners do install them on their own.  Each section is usually clamped together until the last section is completed.  At that point assistance is needed to hold the pool while the last sections are secured.  They are secured with duct tape, masonry sand, and/or mortar.  Finally coping strips separate the sections.  If the beaded or universal is chosen, the process is just as easy as the liner is hung over the ledge with a beaded track.  Installation instructions are available on many sites where liners are sold.  They are also included with purchases.  The process only takes about six hours to complete.

Above ground pool liners will last for several years as long  as they are maintained properly.  Gorilla guard is used to coat the liner.  The owner should periodically check for cracks, rips and loose gaskets or faceplates.  Coping strips need replacement when they become brittle.  For safety all pools should be covered during seasons when not in use.

Keeping Cool with an Above Ground Swimming Pool

It is summertime again and that means swimming for many people.  Many towns have local pools, but what if you want one of your own?  Many people can not afford the expense of an in ground pool, so they turn to above ground swimming pools.

Above ground swimming pools are available in many different sizes, styles, and options.  They range from small to rather large.  They can be priced from around thirty dollars to over one hundred.  The less expensive above-ground swimming pools are usually inflatable and about three feet deep.  They are excellent for younger kids to play in and adults to relax in.  The more expensive you go the better the above the ground swimming pool get.  Some can be up to five or six feet deep and ten or twenty feet long.  They can be excellent for relaxing and having fun in.  Some of them can be built in and do not need to be taken down at the end of every summer. An above ground pool can be an excellent alternative to an in ground pool.  They are easy to install and take less time and expense than an in ground unit.  Setup can be done by yourself or with the help of a pool company.  The only downside of an above-ground unit is that they have one uniform depth.  They can not be made with variable depths, so choosing a depth that the whole family can enjoy is key.

A swimming pool is a great investment for any home.  They have many advantages over an in-ground and are excellent for any home.  They have a wide enough price range that can make one affordable for anyone.  They are available in any pool store, or home improvement store.  Keeping cool this summer is easy with a pool.

The Top Three Evergreen Fast Growing Trees

Everyone enjoys trees. They look amazing all year, with their full bodied green leaves in the summer and their spindly bare trunks in the winter. They take on fiery radiance in the fall. Many people still like to see green leaves in the winter.

Fortunately, there are many varieties of fast growing trees that keep their leaves year round. There are many cheap evergreen trees that reach maturity at a fast pace. The different species are even spread throughout the different climate zones, so no matter where you live, there are fast growing evergreens for you.

Where to Look

There are a few options here. You could get a mature tree transplanted, but this is often a lot of expensive of an option. But don’t worry, there are lots of ways to get a hold of young trees. You can even find evergreens on the web! There are also probably local businesses near you to chose from. What Your Choices Are Thankfully, there is no shortage of options in the evergreen department.

Here is a quick guide to help you make the right decision.

* Thuja Green Giant

This Thuja grows the fastest of all evergreens. It grows at five feet a year, and has a wide range of environmental tolerances. Poor soil conditions won’t even stop it, and it can take lots of abuse from snow, ice and drought.

* Nellie Stevens Hollie Tree

This Hollie grows at a pace of three ft/year. It is great for making privacy fences. Planted six feet apart, you’ll have a seamless barrier to keep out peeping toms. They survive in climate zones six up through nine.

* Emerald Green Thuja

This is a great hedge to grow. It will thrive in climate zones three through eight, with a maximum height of twelve feet. It is very tolerant of inclement weather as well as drought.

There are lots of evergreen trees. These three are great choices, but they are but a small portion of what you can chose from. There are so many options, it should be no problem for you to find the right fast growing trees for you.

If you thought this was helpful, you can learn more great landscaping tips and tricks at The Nature Walk.

Seeking out the Right Outdoor Wall Lights

If you are looking to find decent outdoor wall lights and outdoor pole lights you should be very pleased at what is available. The huge amount of styles, designs and ever improving product lines not only assure that you will be able to find the perfect items you seek, though you may have some problems deciding which one to ultimately choose.

The number of choices involved in outdoor wall lights is already a vast number, and quite frankly it seems to be an ever growing one particularly as continued efforts are made to improve the quality and efficiency of the products goes on. Today, in addition to the multitude of finishes available such as antique or polished brass, satin aluminum and various hand painted finishes in assorted colors for just a few and the diversity of styles from antique to contemporary, the list goes on and on. And the constant advances relating to energy conservation and efficiency seem to produce new breakthroughs daily.

For example, there are Energy Star qualified fixtures on the market that use 75% less energy and will last up to 10 times longer, as well as photocell dawn to dusk models that are prompted by the detection of surrounding lights and respond accordingly. The marvels of modern times never cease to amaze.

As with almost everything in today’s world, the easiest and best place to begin the journey seeking information and direction is the internet. The sales of outdoor wall lights and outdoor ceiling lights online have multiplied dramatically in recent years and the reasons easily become obvious. One can have at their fingertips a vast array of product to choose from, clear cut and straightforward explanations of those products and often sensational bargains and deals designed to pass on the savings these companies enjoy by being able to maintain low overheads. It truly is a win-win situation for all parties involved.

Outdoor Kitchen Designs

Outdoor kitchens may be the place to get away to after a long day at work; it really deserves some minutes of your time to think about them first. To build a cookout where you like to make your food or give a party, you need to go through a few important points in planning the layout, appliances and space allocation.

When developing outdoor kitchen designs the first thing you should decide on is the spot of the grill. It is the heart of all cooking places so make sure that you know what you are doing. After you’ve decided on the model you can move on to placement. Grill is the middle of all the appliances, everything else needs to be in arm reach for the cook.

If you have a roof above the cooking isle, put the grill to the edge so smoke doesn’t get trapped under the roof and build up. Choose the orientation of the device so that wind doesn’t blow the smoke in the faces of your family or guests.

To have a refrigerator under the counter and possibly parasol lights, too, you need to dig trenches from the house to the site of your outdoor kitchen. To use a gas grill you need to dig two trenches to keep electric and gas lines separated from each other.

Refer to your local code to find out if there are any further requirements regarding the safety of gas piping and electrical wiring.

To avoid digging through your garden while bringing gas and electricity across, you may want to consider the possibility of putting your outdoor kitchen next to an empty wall of your house. It not only eliminates the problems described above, but gives an additional coverage to your appliances.

It may also make installing a roof easier. Locate all chairs at least two feet away from stairs. Even if it’s just a 3″ difference in level it can make the design of your outdoor kitchen safer.

Accentuate your garden with a Garden Pagoda

A great way to decorate a garden is to install a garden pagoda. Garden pagodas are a beautiful structure that will decorate your back yard of your garden in a very elegant way. They will bring and ethnic feel that will bring peace and good vibes to your garden.
The most common style of pagoda is the Japanese Garden Pagoda. These have been featured in many decorating magazines and television programs and are always revered as great ways to accentuate gardens.
If you are installing a garden pagoda statue, it is important to have a leveled surface. Stone structures are usually heavy and might be a safety hazard if not installed properly. A good way to level the surface is to install a two-foot by two-foot wooden deck to place the pagoda on. This will ensure that your structure is well placed and is not prone to be knocked over by someone. If you are installing the pagoda as the centerpiece of the garden, it is advisable to plant flowers or any other foliage around it. This is good for limiting the direct access to the statue and will help maintain the safety in the garden.
It’s a good idea to go to your local hardware chain store. They usually sell pagodas and might offer some advise on how to install the statue in your garden. Some store offer delivery and installation services that might provide some security in the installation process.

Always browse through the web for pictures and installation ideas. If you have a clear picture of what you want for your garden you will save a lot of time and money. Remember that garden pagodas are usually outdoor structures; find a good quality product that will last under the sun and rain that falls on it. But most important of all, have fun decorating.

Choices in Outdoor Wall Art

You are probably one of the many homeowners who fill the interior walls with just about every sort of art from unique wall clocks to expensive paintings but leave the outdoor walls as bare as can be. Well, that’s a shame especially as outdoor wall art adds style, panache and passion to the home.

Lest you think that outdoor wall décor means painting a mural or doing a mosaic on the walls in the grand tradition of extreme home makeovers, think again. You have so many choices in wall art for outdoor areas, all of which can be bought in stores and sites.

And speaking of choices, you will find three basic types of outdoor wall art. Your role is to choose which one suits the wall area the best in terms of color, symmetry and purpose. Yes, indeed, outdoor wall décor can serve a practical purpose as is the case with clocks.

First, you have wall sculptures made from lightweight, beautiful and durable materials like metal, glass and stone. Installation is very simple, too, since you just bore a hole through the wall, attach the sculpture and lock with bolts and voila! You have outdoor art sure to attract passersby and neighbors in a good way.

Second, you must also look into weather print paintings. These are simply the kinds of paintings you will hang on interior walls except that special treatments have been applied to these works of arts. Even when exposed to the vagaries of nature from sun to rain and snow, these paintings will keep their colors for a long time.

Third, your choice also extends to waterproof and weatherproof outdoor wallpaper. Just as in interior wallpaper, it can instantly transform the look of an outdoor wall with minimal fuss, cost and effort.

We must thank whoever came up with outdoor wall art. Our homes may not be all palaces but these decors can definitely add a wealth of beauty.

The Top Ornamental Grasses

Ornamental grasses are a great way to improve your backyard landscape without investing a lot of time and money. These grass-like plants are popular with homeowners for their attractive appearance and versatility in a number of gardening and landscaping projects. Here are a few of the top ornamental grasses to consider when you’re ready to start your next outdoor project.

Liriope

Liriope is an attractive ornamental with a dark-green foliage of long, slender leaves. There are two primary varieties of this flowering perennial. Liriope muscari is popular for use as garden edging, while the faster spreading liriope spicata is often used as a groundcover. These plants do well in temperate latitudes and once established are relatively easy to maintain.

Mondo Grass

Mondo grass is a versatile ornamental that is known in some circles as monkey grass. This plant is a little bit shorter than liriope muscari, with leaves reaching a height of six to ten inches. Mondo grass prefers a moist soil with at least partial shade, but is also drought resistant and tolerant of full sun. It can be used along borders or as a mass planting.

Fountain Grass

This perennial grass is identified by its mound shape and cascading leaves that give it a fountain-like appearance. The grass grows to a height of one to three feet and is adorned with violet flower spikes. Fountain grass can adapt to most types of soil, but is particularly successful in hot, dry climates.

Pampas Grass

Pampas Grass is a tall ornamental grass that can grow as much as ten feet tall. Due to its height it is a low-maintenance alternative to small, backyard trees. It makes for an impressive focal point in any yard and is perfect for rapidly filling in empty landscapes.

It’s easy to see why ornamental grasses are so popular with homeowners. These plants can be used in a number of ways and can help to transform the backyard landscape into a place you can really be proud of. Don’t be afraid to ask a landscaping professional about your various ornamental options when you’re ready to begin your next project.

Where Should You Place Your Solar Fountain?

If you’re wondering where you should place a solar fountain outside of your home, then you have much to think about since they can be placed in a number of places outside. There are many places you may come across that you think it will look nice, and the only way to find out if it belongs there is to try it out. This brings a nice addition to any front or back yard, or possibly even your deck. The choice is yours when you purchase one to place your solar fountain site somewhere around the yard or garden, or even within the inside of your home.

By placing the solar fountain in the garden, you want to make sure it is around the same height as the flowers you’re growing as well so it will have a nice placement within them without looking out of place. But it will be a great addition. If you place it to either side of your walkway it will allow visitors to take in the beauty of what it brings, and add a little more to your lawn. You will just have to move it when you mow to prevent any damage to it. Placing it on your porch is also an option, and allows you to view it from inside your home, or protect it from the weather.

Since there are so many options to choose from, you need to find out which works best for your tastes, or which you think would be the best placement for it. With all the endless options, there is no telling where you might put it, or maybe you can change it up by switching the areas it goes throughout the year. Find out where you can go to purchase one of these fountains by using the internet, or going to a store near you for more information.

Energy Saving Tips in Setting-up Landscape Lighting

Thinking about setting up landscape lights but worried about how much energy it would consume?  Fret no more.  This article will help you turn your yard into a night time oasis without worrying about spending too much on electricity bills, and there is a good chance that you will also increase the value of your home.

Read on to learn how to illuminate your yard without worrying about power consumption.

•Add outdoor landscape lighting only when necessary – you don’t need to light up your entire garden now do you?  Add lights ONLY to places you want to illuminate, whether it is a flower bed or a focal point in your garden.  Besides, over-lighting your yard will turn it into an absolute eyesore.

•Opt for energy saving options – to light garden paths or garden spaces, you can choose solar lights.  Solar lights are a perfect alternative to high voltage light fixtures as they do not need to be wired to your home line voltage.  Choose the type with daylight sensors so they automatically turn on when the sun goes down.  You can also opt for low voltage systems.  These inexpensive light systems come in easy to use kits and they consume less power as they use only LED bulbs which consume 80 percent lesser than incandescent bulbs.

•For spotlighting, uplighting or other lighting techniques which highlight the focal points of your garden, you can opt for fluorescent or HID lights.  Contrary to what most believes, they emit large amounts of light with lesser amount of light compared to incandescent bulbs.  Plus, they’re more durable than their incandescent counterparts.

If you’re opting to illuminate your yard for security reasons, go for motion sensing lights.  These lights only go on when it senses movement.  You can place them where potential trespassers are most likely to pass and this can be an energy saving alternative to floodlights.

Why Get a Gazebo Canopy?

gazebo canopyWhat is better than spending some time outside in the warm sun on a hot summer day? The sound of kids playing in the pool, the cool breeze from the wind, and the view of beautiful plants and birds flying in the sky can make it hard to stay indoors. Although spending time outside if fun and healthy for you on some level, you will need to make sure you realize the dangers of exposing your skin for too long of a period to the sun’s UV rays. This is one reason why you should get a gazebo canopy. There are actually a couple of benefits to getting one of these shading devices. Let’s take a look at some of them to help convince you that getting one will be a good decision.

Many people believe that all they need to do is put on a layer of sun lotion and they will be immune to the dangers of the sun. This isn’t true at all. If anything, applying the lotion can cause people to be overly careless. Sunscreen is great, don’t get me wrong, but if you’re going to put on one layer and expect to be protected for the rest of the day, then you’re wrong. Even with the protective lotion on, after some time, it will start to wear off. This is why you will want to reapply every couple of hours. Even then, you will want to limit your exposure to the sun. Shading in the yard can be limited depending the surroundings. Even if you have a couple of trees, the amount of shade that you will get will depend on the time of day.  This can limit to where you can sit back and relax.

A gazebo canopy can allow you to create shading anywhere you want. Not only will you be able to have more shading, you will also be able to relax more as well since you can add some chairs and a table, a fan, and anything else that you might need. Getting an outdoor gazebo canopy can make your yard more inviting and allow your family to spend more time outside instead of sitting in front of the TV all summer long. There are different sizes that you can buy as well as different levels of quality. For the most part, you will want to get one that is of high quality so that it will last longer.

Creating an outdoor entertaining area

outdoor entertainmentAn outdoor entertaining area is effectively an extension of your house, so start off by identifying the style and features that already exist in your home. This will help you to choose the lighting, flooring, furniture, decorations and plants which will look best in the outdoor area.

Whatever you have in mind, you’ll need smooth flooring and some sort of shelter in case the weather turns inhospitable. Outdoor floors come in all kinds of finishes from stone paving to wooden decking, bricks to gravel, tiles to painted concrete – even grass, if you can spare the time to maintain it. Shelter must be sufficient that you can use your outdoor entertaining area in rain or hot sun. Flooring and shelter are probably the most important investments as they are structural, so get them right and the rest will fall much more easily into place.

Lighting and furniture are the next major elements in creating the right outdoor space. Permanent electric lighting should focus on the entertaining area itself and any pathways or access which will be used at night. Consider also adding up- or down-lights to show off any particularly striking features of your garden, while candles and torches create a pleasant ambiance. When it comes to furniture, choose a set that’s the right size for the purposes it’s most often going to serve, in a style and material that complements your indoor décor. Make sure that you know about any maintenance requirements before purchasing!

Aromatic or flowering pot-plants can add sensory pleasure to your outdoor entertaining experience and are easily rearranged. Climbing plants such as vines or creepers on a lattice can form attractive screens or ‘ceilings’. Large decorative pots, garden sculpture, wind-chimes and any number of other features can then be added to provide the finishing touches to your outdoor entertaining area.

Rattan Outdoor Furniture Tips has more great advice on what kind of furnishings you can use for your new outdoor area.

Privacy Fencing Adds Beauty And Keeps Prying Eyes At Bay

privacy fencePrivacy fencing is one of a home’s most important features in terms of both keeping curious  onlookers form spying on you and at the same time adding unique style to your home. A properly installed and constructed privacy fence not only complements the design of your home but it is essential for maintaining a consistent look and feel in your neighborhood as well as  for building and securing a private area (like your backyard) for you and your family. If you live in a city or town and have neighbors next to you, you surely have experienced times that you wish you had a fence between you and them…and that’s true no matter how well you may get along with them.  In spite of the benefits that privacy fencing provides, many homeowners neglect to add this feature to the outside of their homes.  Lets examine the primary reason why… the perceived cost.

Many people do not put up a privacy fence because they fear that the cost is too high. In spite of the fact that a good quality fence could add a lot of charm to the looks of their homes, these people would simply rather not spend the money. The truth is however, that you can purchase privacy fencing that is very affordable, great looking and that serves it purpose very well. Of course design and durability do play a role in the price of these fences, as you can find both low and high quality fencing materials at prices that run the gamut from cheap to simply outrageous.

When picking out the right type of fence for your yard, you can select from standard unstained wooden fences all the way to highly detailed perimeter steel fences for example. Which type you choose is totally up to you. You should consider the style of your yard and the existing design of your house when deciding. The goal is to always try to choose something that will add to the look of your home (not take away from) while maintaining the uniqueness of your yard. By picking wisely,you are providing the property with a sense of balance and also  increasing its perceived value…which in turn raises the value of your home if you were to ever sell it.

No matter which type of privacy fence you select to have installed, whether it is a simple wood privacy fence or a PVC fence, be sure that you have the fence secured.  There are many good quality contractors that are experts at installing fences and gates for your home. Take the time to have the appropriate experts prepared and ready so that they can be sure to invest your money in quality materials and a job well done. This way you can enjoy the fence for many years and will not have to face replacing it due to structural damage because you used cheap materials or were hasty with the installation.

Building An Outdoor Fireplace

outdoor fireplaceBuilding a fireplace in your backyard is an affordable luxury and one that can bring a great deal of enjoyment to the whole family all year round.  When building this amenity in your backyard, you have many options to choose from.  You can make the structure very basic or very elaborate, incorporate it into a setting filled with other amenities or you can make it a standalone structure.  You also have many options of material choices and accessories to decide on when building your fireplace.

One very popular option for building a fireplace outdoors is to use travertine tiles.  The natural stone provides interest to the facade of the fireplace and the stone is durable enough to stand up to the heat of the fire.  There are of course other types of stone you can choose from as well, or you can use bricks, concrete and other types of materials.  The possibilities for materials you can use are vast and are limited only by their flammability factor and your budget.

Another consideration is the size and shape of the structure.  You can make the fireplace as large or small as you would like and don’t have some of the constraints as you have indoors in relation to size and style.  As long as you have the space and have a method of venting the fireplace through a flue and chimney, you can build to your heart’s content.
Accessories are also important, so you need to make sure you choose from among the right size and shape of fireplace grates to accommodate the size of your firebox and the type of fires you plan to make.  You will also need to consider other accessories such as a screen, and other tools such as a poker, brush, scoop and anything else you will need to keep your fire going and to keep the area around the fire safe.