Monthly Archives: June 2015

Quick, Easy (and Inexpensive) Ways to Spruce up Your Backyard for Summer

Don’t panic if you haven’t found the time to roll up your sleeves and spruce up your backyard for summer.

Summer just started, and there’s still plenty of time to transform your outdoor space. Whether you’re having out-of-town visitors or simply want to sit back and relax in your own, private oasis, we’ve got the solutions you need to create a warm, welcoming backyard without breaking your back – or the bank.

1. Paint Outdoor Furniture

It’s amazing what a little paint can do. You don’t need to scrap that old outdoor furniture because of a little rust.

You can give your classic patio furniture a lively facelift with a coat of bright paint. Iron furniture is a breeze to transform with a can of spray paint, and wooden furniture will look brand-new with a few coats of your favorite hue.

2. Make It Comfy

Adding outdoor cushions and pillows to your outdoor furniture can make your patio feel like a bonus room.

Re-purpose old throw pillows you no longer use or splurge on a few new cushions specially designed for outdoor use. Most outdoor pillows are very affordable, and you’ll love the weather-resistant material that keeps them looking like new no matter what Mother Nature throws your way.

Create a whimsical mood with fun patterns that remind you of the beach or sitting poolside.

3. Freshen Up Those Beds

Make your flowerbeds and garden areas look immaculately manicured by laying down rocks, bark, or fresh mulch. This extra layer will keep out weeds and give your beds an instant upgrade.

Friends and neighbors will envy how neat and fresh your garden looks and you’ll be able to revel in how easy it was!

4. Add a Bench

There’s something fun and fanciful about a bench tucked away under a tree or next to a fragrant flowerbed. And you don’t have to be an expert in patio furniture design. Create your own bench with a few cinderblocks and some long pieces of wood. This is a great way to use leftover fencing or other scraps from building projects.

Paint the cinderblocks a bright color, stand them on end, and slide in the lumber. Top it all off with a patterned cushion for extra comfort and style.

5. Define the Space

Create private sitting areas and secret nooks by using tall grass planted in galvanized or painted tubs as natural partitions. Ornamental grasses are easy to grow and require almost no maintenance. And if you use lemongrass, you’ll have the bonus of a natural bug repellent as well.

6. Create Some Romance

Use an old chandelier for romantic outdoor lighting – just replace the light bulbs with solar lights, hang, and enjoy!

Search yard sales and flea markets for the perfect, discarded chandelier to put that finishing touch on your patio. Add crystals or other baubles that will catch the sun during the day and bathe your patio in rainbows.

7. Make a Stone Walkway

Whether you want to add interest or cover up trouble spots in your yard, a stone path is just the thing.

Find interesting stones or pavers and create a trail leading from the patio to the garden or from one seating area to another. A walkway adds instant flair to otherwise boring parts of your yard and can be the perfect solution for problem spots that just won’t fill in no matter what you do.

8. Plant an Instant Garden

You don’t need a green thumb to have flourishing flower beds or an abundant herb garden. Buy flowers and herbs that are already planted in pots and then bury them – pot and all – right in your garden area.

Making a garden look neat and plentiful has never been easier. By leaving the rims of the pots above ground you have an instant border and create extra visual interest.

9. Make It Glow

Sometimes it’s the small things that make the biggest impact. Your backyard will be automatically upgraded by adding simple touches like candles.

You can place candles on tables or hang them from trees or along a fence. Look for jars, pails, or cans that you can turn into outdoor candle holders. Add twine or wire to hang them, drop in some citronella tea lights and you’ll add a cozy glow to those summer nights.

10. Expand Your Garden

Small potted herbs can make a big impact when kept out of the garden. Use a fragrant pot of lavender or basil as a centerpiece on your patio table. Or create a pretty border with several matching pots of your favorite herbs. Paint the pots with chalkboard paint and write the name of each herb on its pot to add a fun twist.

By using a little imagination it’s easy to spruce up your backyard for summer. These simple tips are so quick and easy that you’ll be able to kick back and enjoy your weekends instead of slaving away in the yard.

And the best part is it will look like you put in hours of work to create such a neat, welcoming space.

Sources

http://www.popsugar.com/home/Quick-Easy-Inexpensive-Ways-Fix-Up-Your-Yard-8400078#photo-8400078
http://www.rantchic.com/2014/05/21/23-clever-ways-to-spruce-up-your-backyard/
http://www.buzzfeed.com/peggy/brilliant-outdoor-ideas#.auWyz3De4
http://www.buzzfeed.com/peggy/easy-backyard-diys#.mpX5e7Ow3

Tree-pruning tips for newbies

Trees tend to add quite a bit of property value to backyards, and it's easy to understand why. They're beautiful, for one, and provide fantastic shade when you're hanging out on your outdoor sofa or sitting at the patio dining table. They also add an invaluable amount of character to your home, and many people hunt down homes with tall, old trees just for this reason. Whether you've planted your own small trees or were lucky enough to purchase them with the house, all trees take a little pruning. Some folks are quite sure how to tackle these guys, though.

One rule of thumb: If you're going to need a chainsaw, the tree is too big to trim yourself. And that's OK – that's what professionals are for! Smaller trees, luckily, can be tackled without the pros. Here are a few other principles to get you started:

Don't overprune 

While pruning is beneficial for aesthetic purposes, it can be detrimental to your trees if you go overboard. (Unfortunately, tree limbs are not like your hair in this way.) When in doubt, don't cut off more than a third of the tree's growth at a time. 

But don't underprune either

That said, there are a few reasons trimming your tree branches is important. They can grow too close to utility lines, obstruct an otherwise beautiful view of your house or pool and can get infected, spreading disease to the rest of your trees. In these instances, the branches need to go. Pruning stimulates growth (they are kind of like hair in this way), so it's an important part of keeping your trees healthy!

Look at the angles 

Generally speaking, tree branches have two different shapes: V-shaped angles and U-shaped angles. Us indicate strength and sturdiness, while Vs indicate weakness. Try not to trim branches with U-shaped angles. 

Leave the branch collar intact

When you're totally removing branches, don't chop off the branch collar. (It's that ring that circles the branch and lies against the trunk of the tree.) While, yes, removing the branch in its entirety may be gratifying, it's pretty unhealthy. The collar will also grow over the stub eventually.  

Watch for branches that might rub 

Every once in awhile, branches will start growing the wrong direction, rubbing up against other nearby ones. This can hurt the tree over time and prevent leaves from growing, so they are among the most important to clip off. 

Use the three-part cut

With branches thicker than 3 inches in diameter, you're going to want to use an approach called the three-part cut. If you were just to attack these branches from one side, they would eventually rip off under their own weight, totally undermining your tidy pruning. To mitigate this, start cutting 6 inches from where you'd like the final cut to be, cutting into the wood from underneath (or the way you'd like it to fall) until the blade is almost halfway through the branch. Next, saw into the branch from the other side, meeting in the middle and chopping off the branch entirely. Then all that's left is cutting off the stub – above the branch collar, of course! 

Get rid of those awkward stems growing from the base

You'll occasionally find stems growing directly from the base of the trunk, and they can sap nutrients directly from the rest of the tree. Clip away all of them! 

Anatomy of a backyard picnic

There are two kinds of picnics: the-PB&Js-in-a-plastic-bag variety, and the goat-cheese-and-pesto-crostini kind. There's nothing wrong with either one, of course, but when it comes time to host a midday backyard bash, which sounds more appealing to you? A picnic might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of hosting a party outdoors, but it's a fun, quirky opportunity to take a time-old tradition and make it totally fabulous. Need a few pointers? 

Layer up 

With blankets, that is. Even if you have the softest grass in the world, you're probably not going to want to sit directly on it for an extended period of time, particularly if you're entertaining guests. Find a few blankets you don't mind getting dirty (bonus points if you have outdoor blankets on hand already), and layer them as your picnic base. The more varied your selection, the more beautiful and elegant your picnic party will appear. 

Or you can just comfortably sit at your patio dining table. Your call. 

Get your game on

What's a picnic without a few great games? Bust out the bocce ball, the badminton rackets or even just a deck of cards. It's a great way to keep the event going all afternoon long and can be awesome for breaking the ice if not all your guests know one another. 

Crank up the music

The best thing about having a picnic right in your own backyard? Setting the mood is as easy as turning on the surround sound. While you can certainly play anything that strikes your fancy, it's fun to match your music to your food. Delicate hors d'oeurves pair well with Edith Piaf, while brisket sandwiches are awesome with a little AC/DC. This is a crucial part of creating a fun atmosphere, so spend a little extra time putting together the perfect playlist. 

Make it a potluck

Hosting a picnic for an extra large group? Ask every attendee to bring a favorite dish, and you'll have way more food than you even know what to do with. And trust us – that is never a bad thing. If you're trying to stick to a theme and worry the smorgasbord will be a little too random for your taste, simply let your guests know ahead of time. 

Find a tree 

A little sun is a great thing, but it can get really hot really quickly, especially during the dog days of summer. Your best bet for long-term picnic survival? Setting up shop underneath a big tree – or a nearby umbrella. Don't forget the sunscreen! 

Think outside the box 

Picnics might traditionally be a lunchtime activity, but that doesn't mean you have to stick to midday meals. These events are just as fun during brunch, at dusk or even after the sun is long gone. To set the mood when it's darker outside, just put up a few strings of twinkle lights.

Ultimate Guide to Throwing a Backyard Party

No season screams “PARTY!” quite like summer.

Beach bonfires, pool parties, and neighborhood BBQs are essentials during this hot, festive season. But you don’t need a beach, a pool, or even a grill to throw one of the best bashes of the year. All you need is a backyard, a hefty dose of enthusiasm, and our ultimate guide to throwing a backyard party your friends will be talking about for days!

Here’s everything you need to know to make your backyard soiree an outstanding summertime success.

Planning Your Party

Before you send out those invites, you need to pick the perfect day and time to maximize the friends, fun and frivolity.

Keep in mind that there are several holiday weekends in the summer months where people travel because they get bonus days off work. Avoid scheduling during Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, or Labor Day.

To make sure most of your friends can make it for some outdoor dining, ask them in advance about travel plans and pick a day or evening when the most people will be in town.

If you live in a hot region be mindful of the weather and avoid the hottest times of day. To keep your party guests cool, think outside the box and consider throwing a sunrise brunch or putting on a star-gazing, s’mores get-together.

For those of you lucky enough to live in more moderate locales, take full advantage of the nice weather and schedule your party during the middle of the day – think lawn games followed by dinner al fresco, or a light lunch before an afternoon of sunbathing.

Prepping the Yard

Since the backyard will be the venue for your rendezvous, you want to make sure that it not only looks great, but that it can accommodate the people and activities you have in mind.

Take a quick inventory of your outdoor furniture – if you don’t have a seat for every bottom, consider using this as a great excuse to add to your collection.

But if shopping for furniture isn’t in your budget, you can add seating with dining room chairs, oversized cushions, blankets, and even beach towels or tablecloths. Use items with similar color schemes to give your gathering a unified look that adds style to function.

Once you know how to make everyone comfy, you want to consider the flow of the party. Make sure to group seating in small clusters that invite your guests to mix and mingle. Centralize the food, and if you have games or other activities planned make sure that they won’t interfere with people filling their plates or hopping from one group to the next.

Finally, consider safety.

Look for potential hazards in your yard and get them out of the way. Put away all tools, fertilizers, potting soil, and anything else you might be “storing” behind your house. You don’t want your bestie’s daughter accidentally dipping into the MiracleGro.

In addition to removing obvious hazards, make sure any fire or grill is secured away from where games are being played and can’t be accessed by curious little ones. If you’ll be partying after the sun goes down, make sure you have sufficient lighting. String lights, paper lanterns, and candles can all add a magical glow to your midsummer night’s merriment.

Putting On the Ritz

One of the best parts of throwing any party is decorating. And it’s easier than you might think to transform your backyard into a patio party oasis. Create a cottage feel with mismatched vases and jars of wildflowers strewn on tables and buffets.

Take your friends on a mini-vacation by creating a beach vibe with small beach balls either hung overhead or used as centerpieces. Make your décor interactive by placing bubbles, sparklers, or paddleballs on the tables – and the bonus is these can double as party favors.

Umbrellas or tarps aren’t just great for keeping your guests cool – they can also be decorated with lights, lanterns, or fun cut-outs of images like starfish, anchors, seashells, or flip-flops. Use beach pails filled with sand to hold party favors like glow sticks, flags, sunglasses, or fireworks.

And don’t forget your dishes and utensils are part of the décor as well. Pick fun but sturdy paper plates and wrap up colorful plastic utensils in napkins tied up with string or ribbon. You can even add a flower or other whimsical item to make the event feel even more special.

Be Prepared

Make sure you’re prepared for anything by setting up a station with sunscreen, insect repellant, towels, hand sanitizer, and first-aid items like Band-Aids and antiseptic wash. These items can be cleverly displayed in colorful or galvanized buckets and your guests will be beyond impressed that you thought of absolutely everything.

Keep drinks cool and easy to find by grouping different types of beverages in separate ice buckets or coolers. By having dedicated places for water, soda, and alcoholic beverages you’ll make it easy for everyone to find the perfect solution to their thirst.

If you’re serving bottles that require an opener, tie a couple bottle openers to the handles on the bucket to make popping those tops a breeze.

Do as much of your food prep as possible in advance. That will leave you all the time you need for adding last-minute touches.

Start bagging ice from your ice maker days in advance to avoid needless runs to the convenience store for ice. Homemade salsas and potato or pasta salads taste better after giving the flavors a couple days to blend and reach their full potential.

Create a menu full of fruit and veggies and other items that don’t easily spoil or need to be served hot.

Add fun and variety by adding kale or veggie chips to your usual array of Cheetos and Doritos. But most of all, keep it simple. If you’re serving a full meal, limit the number of salads, and other side dishes. Or skip an entrée all together and offer a variety of fun finger foods like shrimp cocktail and veggie kebabs.

Kick Back and Enjoy

Thanks to your party-planning diligence you can actually sit back and relax during your party. Instead of running around after forgotten items or frantically trying to finish up the food, you can mix and mingle with your pals.

Be sure to make the rounds and personally welcome each guest, make sure they don’t need anything, and most of all share a few smiles and a lot of laughs.

Place several ample waste receptacles in easy-to-access areas to make sure everyone knows where to put their refuse. Put extra liners in the bottom so that if you do need to make a run to the dumpster mid-party, it’s seamlessly easy to keep every can in commission the whole time.

Take leftovers straight from the table to the fridge by serving foods in containers with lids. The easier your cleanup is, the more likely you’ll still be excited to throw another party when this one is over. And don’t be shy about getting everyone into the cleanup action. Make cleanup and tear-down (if you have tables and chairs to take down) part of the fun. Form committees and give a prize to the group that finishes their task first.

So, forget the beach or even the pool – your backyard is the perfect place to party.

Even if you’ve never thrown a party before in your life, with these tips and some entertaining gusto you’ll be able to leave everyone thinking you’re a party-planning pro.

Sources

http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/backyard-patio-party/
http://www.marthastewart.com/275330/60-outdoor-party-ideas/@center/276964/60-days-summer
http://www.backyardsimple.com/10-expert-backyard-party-tips/
http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/food-recipes/party-ideas/a24865/outdoor-entertaining-tricks/

Make your garden a little more … green?

With summer upon us, most of us are done with our spring planting and are enjoying the fruits of our labor from the comfort of our outdoor furniture. (If not, don't panic – there's still plenty of great stuff you can plant this season!) That said, maintaining a garden often takes just as much work as planting one. A lot of materials go into the process, and it can have a negative impact on the environment and your backyard if you're not careful. To make sure you're nurturing the environment (and not destroying it), try using a few green tips the next time you're exercising that green thumb:

Opt for organic fertilizer 

The type of fertilizer you use may not seem like it would make that much of an impact on the sustainability of your garden, but the organic variety is void of the harmful chemicals the man-made kind has. Some folks fear that natural alternatives won't be as effective when it comes to deterring pests, but that's usually not the case. Besides, the environment is well worth the sacrifice! 

Use as many native plants as possible

One of the cool parts about many gardening stores today is that they allow you to choose from plants you can find all over the world. The only downside? These plants can introduce a wealth of diseases (not to mention pests) that you'd otherwise never find. Water consumption also plays into this – native plants typically don't need much extra watering, as they were able to grow in your region on all on their own. When you choose shrubs from other regions of the world, you risk needing to put in a lot more work – and resources – to maintain them. 

Grow your own food 

This might not have a "green" effect on your backyard specifically, but it does reduce your carbon footprint overall. Growing as much of your own fruits and veggies as possible means that less food-related shipping and packaging is done in grocery stores.

Bring in the birds 

Birds eat all sorts of harmful bugs and pests, and incorporating a bird bath (and potentially a nesting box) into your backyard decor can attract them to your garden and help keep your plants healthy. As a bonus, birds are also pleasant to look at when you're sitting on your outdoor sofa

Reuse your green waste 

Recycling isn't just for paper and plastics – you can also repurpose your green waste, which is biodegradable waste high in nitrogen. One way to do this is by putting it in a container and routinely having a green waste company come collect it, or you can opt to turn it into your own compost and use it to fertilize your garden. Consider it plant inception. 

Recycle your packaging

Last but not least, make sure you're recycling all of your plant and gardening material packages after you're done using them. You can also recycle plastic containers from other areas of your home, like the kitchen, and use them to protect seedlings or serve as pots for other plants you might be growing.

Don’t Sit There! 11 Safety Rules For Your Outdoor Furniture

outdoor furniture

In the midst of organizing lemonade stands and backyard barbeques, you may not be thinking about setting up a safe space for summer fun.

To make sure no one leaves your backyard with anything but smiles, it’s important to take certain safety measures and establish good practices in your outdoor entertaining space.

Here are a few simple safety tips to get you started.

1. Lock Folding Furniture

A lot of outdoor furniture is made for easy winter storage. When you pull out folding furniture for the season, make sure the item locks in place, so that it doesn’t fold on someone using it. If the furniture doesn’t have a lock function, warn children about the dangers of playing on that piece of furniture and make sure you set the item up in low-traffic areas where no one can trip on it.

2. Check Table Tops for Cracks

If you have glass or sheetrock table tops, inspect them for cracks and chips when you wipe them down for summer. Even the smallest chips can result in cuts for unsuspecting children and cracks can quickly expand in the hot sun. If your furniture has a crack, make sure to replace that piece before the temperatures heat up too much.

3. Oil Umbrella Frame Joints

Nothing feels better in the hot summer sun than the shade of a patio umbrella. When you pull your umbrella out of storage this month, don’t forget to oil the frame joints. Umbrellas can be dangerous if they don’t open and close properly, especially around excited children. Set clear rules that kids shouldn’t play with the umbrella and make sure the joints move with ease before your first summer shindig.

4. Weigh Umbrella Down

It’s always a good rule to weigh your dining umbrella down, even in perfect weather conditions, but especially when it’s windy outside. In extreme storms, close your umbrella and store it in the shed or house to keep it from getting picked up by strong gusts. Umbrellas can become dangerous projectiles if they’re swept away by a storm.

5. Examine for Wear and Tear

When pulling out your outdoor deck furniture for the season, clean and inspect it with care. Straps can fray and woven seats can become worn over time, making it easy for an unsuspecting guest to fall through during your Fourth of July celebration. Also check metal frames for bent pieces or rusted metal. Fix any sharp edges before setting your patio furniture up for everyone to use.

6. Wax Wicker Furniture

Wicker is a popular outdoor furniture material, and although it is made much stronger than it used to be, the material can still become quite worn over time. After rinsing your wicker furniture, use wax to reinforce the material and make it more water resistant. With proper care, wicker furniture can last quite a while.

7. Repair With Non-Toxic Cleaners and Paints

When sprucing up your outdoor furniture for the summer, make sure you look for non-toxic paints and cleaners. Damage from use and weather can release toxins into the air or water supply around your house, creating a danger for family and pets. Non-toxic products are better all around, so make sure you buy the right stuff.

8. Provide Storage

Outdoor dining can quickly become hectic with kids, friends and pets running around. To avoid accidents, create plenty of storage spaces for tools and toys to go when they aren’t in use. Outdoor benches that double as storage containers are a great, efficient way to create more storage space in your yard. Also, make sure you have a secure space to store lawn care products and chemicals that is under lock and key.

9. Keep Flammables Away From Fire

The romance and excitement of a backyard fire is a cornerstone of summer fun. But that fun can end quickly when fire spreads outside the designated pit. To keep from a disastrous evening, move flammable furniture, such as seat cushions, hammocks and umbrellas, away from the fire area. Even fire resistant materials can be dangerous when they’re too close to the flames.

10. Create a Fire Safety Plan

Fire features are one of the most popular backyard items today. They’re fun for the family and can add value to your home. But remember through all the fun to set time aside for safety. Lay out clear rules for behavior around the fire with kids and set up some safety procedures in case of an emergency. Just dedicating a few minutes to fire safety will help you enjoy your backyard fire with peace of mind.

11. Establish Safe Structures

Potentially dangerous outdoor items like barbeque grills, fire pits and swimming pools should have protective structures around them to keep children and pets safe. Make sure you can cover open flames on your grill and fire pit and have a railing or fence around your pool to keep children from falling in.

Accidents happen, but many of them can be avoided with these simple safety tips and procedures this summer. All you should be worrying about is what book to relax with or what’s going on the grill tonight. Sail through the summer with ease and enjoy the best season yet without any trips to the doctor’s office.

Sources

http://furniture.about.com/od/outdoorfurniture/qt/safetyout.htm

http://www.lowes.com/projects/porch-deck-and-patio/care-outdoor-furniture/project

Outdoor Furniture Sale Tips for First-Time Homeowners

outdoor furniture sale

 

Perhaps you just bought your first home or have upgraded to a space with a bigger backyard, and you need to figure out how to decorate your patio. As the outdoors become increasingly more popular as extended living spaces, the variety and functionality of lawn furniture has vastly grown.

Make sure you’re filling your backyard sanctuary with the essentials. Here are some tips on shopping for lawn furniture and a few essential pieces you won’t want to live without.

1. Weather Resistant Cushions

Outdoor furniture is put through everything from blaring UV rays to snowstorms. Cushion fabric should be made for all weather and fade resistant. Look for Sunbrella outdoor fabric, a popular thread that will keep your furniture safe.

The foam inside the cushions is just as important as the fabric outside. Antimicrobial, waterproof foam is essential for keeping cushions clean and mold-free. And make sure you find comfortable cushions for long days spent in the sun. You don’t want to feel the wire frame poking through the cushions.

2. Buy Comfortable, Lasting Frames

When shopping for outdoor chairs or sofas, be mindful of the frame. It’s easy to replace cushions, but replacing an entire piece of furniture can be more expensive. Metal is the most durable and generally comes in two forms: powder coated, which is more expensive but longer lasting, or painted, which is easier on the wallet but harder to maintain long term.

You can also shop for wood frames, often made out of teak, which will stand the test of time, but may need to be sanded and restained after a few years. Or there is wicker, which wasn’t always very durable but has recently been made stronger with aluminum and rattan.

Also, make sure the frame is comfortable without the cushions, in case the furniture needs to be used when the cushions are wet.

3. Add a Pop of Color

To really make your backyard pop, add some color to your lawn furniture. Whether you want to find colorful cushions or sprinkle in a few colorful accent pieces, adding a creative hue will make all your furniture stand out and your backyard feel like home.

Use complimentary colors to decorate your backyard. Purple and yellow or blue and orange are classic combinations that always look good.

Pick one color to be the dominant shade and use the compliment in small pieces around the patio. A blue planters table with an orange pot, for example, really pops against gray furniture.

4. Bistro Style Furniture for Small Spaces

If you have a smaller patio, utilize the space with two small chairs and a bistro table. This classic look is perfect for your morning coffee or breakfast for two without dominating your patio with unnecessary furniture.

With limited space to decorate, turn the furniture into your accent pieces. Painted metal furniture can be found in an array of colors and can brighten up your patio, turning that small space into a cozy getaway.

5. Find Weighted Furniture

If you live in a windy area or use a rooftop patio, you may need to find weighted furniture that won’t get knocked over or, worse, blown away when the breeze picks up.

If you need heavier furniture, narrow your search to iron or steel pieces. You can still find small or dainty metal outdoor furniture that will stay put on windy days.

6. Invest in an Ottoman

Imagine coming home after a long day and putting your feet up on sun-warmed furniture. An ottoman is a versatile piece of furniture that fits in almost every space, is easy to move, and offers maximum comfort.

Instead of a chunky lounge or sofa, get the same potential for relaxation with an ottoman, and then move the stool out of the way when entertaining guests. Ottomans can even be used as small tables if you repurpose a TV tray, perfect for afternoon snacks or holding your tea while you read outside.

7. Prepare for Off-Season Storage

Don’t plan to just throw your cushions in the shed in the winter. Instead of finding your cushions full of mold and holes in spring, get an outdoor furniture storage bin.

Many storage bins can double as extra seating. Simply cover the bin with matching cushions and use it to store toys, spare cushions or gardening tools in the warm months. In the winter you can move the tools and toys into the garage and store cushions safely inside.

Conclusion

Decorating your patio and buying lawn furniture for the first time is an exciting experience.

Make sure you choose furniture that not only is made with quality materials, but reflects your personality and creates a space you want to share with family and friends. RST Brands outdoor furniture has all the essential pieces you need made with lasting materials that will survive the seasons.

Let RST Brands help you decorate your first backyard!

Sources

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/home/outdoor-furniture-for-2014/2014/06/10/3662125c-eb5a-11e3-9f5c-9075d5508f0a_story.html

12 Things You Should Know Before Building a Fire Pit

Fire pits have always been a fun addition to any backyard, but recently the trend of fire pits has taken over backyard design and landscaping.

There are a lot of reasons a homeowner would choose to build a fire pit. These cozy backyard additions provide a space and tool for year-round outdoor entertaining, they’re fun for families, and they add value to a home when built well.

If you’re thinking about building a fire pit in your backyard, there are a few things you should know first. Where and how you build your fire pit are important details that will determine the materials you use and the backyard furniture you’ll need to accompany it. Here are a few things to consider before you break ground on your pyro-addition.

1. How are you going to build?

When building a fire pit, you have a few options. The most cost effective is to do it yourself, but the construction can be tricky and time consuming. Make sure you do plenty of research and give yourself enough time if you plan to build it yourself.

If you don’t want to do all the work but still want a low-cost option, you can buy a prebuilt fire pit. Home improvement stores and online vendors are great places to find quality fire pits that won’t put too much of a dent in your wallet.

For more extravagant or complicated designs, you can reach out to a contractor. It will cost more, but you’ll get the exact design and efficiency you want. If you’re looking to build a fire pit that will add resale value to your home, this might be the best option.

2. Distance your fire pit from possible dangers

Finding the perfect location for your fire pit is paramount. Your pit should be at least 10 feet away from your house and any tall trees or fences, if possible. It also should not be underneath low-hanging vegetation or an awning.

The area above your fire pit should be completely clear, and the area surrounding the pit should also be free of flammable material. Don’t build your fire pit around tall or dry grass, and try to fill in the area around the pit with gravel or brick to keep flying embers from catching fire.

3. Research your city code

Most cities have building ordinances for backyard fire pits. Before you start construction, research what your city’s requirements are. You don’t want to spend the time and money to build a fire pit that the city won’t accept.
Some city ordinances ban open flames all together. If that’s the case, you may be able to use a cover over your fire to comply with fire safety codes. Make sure to approve construction with the local fire department before you start building.

4. Decide on your building materials

Before you can choose the material you’re going to use, you need to decide whether your fire pit will be permanent or portable. If you want the fire pit to be the focal point of your backyard, a permanent design gives you more creative freedom for making a statement piece. If you want backyard entertaining to be more flexible, a portable fire pit can easily follow the action or be stored for later.

Once you’ve decided on the permanence of your fire fixture, you can plan your materials.

Typically, stone or concrete fire pits give you more design and customization freedom, but they are more permanent and won’t be moved any time soon. Metal fire pits–copper for lighter weight or iron for better heat–are easily portable.

Fire tables are also a permanent or portable option. They sit at about the height of a coffee table and can include gorgeous fire pit glass. Outside fireplaces are also coming up in popularity, but for an easier build you can take advantage of chimney-style fire pits, which come in a variety of materials and designs.

5. Gas vs. Wood

This is the next big decision that goes into building a backyard fire pit. Gas or propane fire pits make for easy, instant fires. They aren’t as hot as wood fires and don’t come with that campfire smell. If you’re interested in a fire more for entertainment and decor than utility, a gas fire pit is a great option.

For those who desire a more authentic fire experience, woodburning is definitely the way to go. These fire pits will transport you to an idyllic mountain scene with that campfire scent and mystic smoke. But they’re more work. Wood fires have to be stoked, and you’ll need to maintain a steady supply of firewood.

If you can’t decide or have uses for both, there are some dual-fuel fire bowls and tables that will let you do both. Built-in, dual-fuel fire pits are another option, but they’re more difficult to design and expensive to build.

6. Size up the space

Once you know the location and materials of your fire pit, you’ll need to decide on the diameter and height. You will want the pit to be proportional to your yard, to fit with the furniture and landscaping in your backyard, and big enough for the whole family to gather around.

You don’t want to build a fire pit that’s too small and leave people out in the cold.

Consider the furniture that will surround your fire pit. Will you use small wicker chairs or larger, long benches? Will a table or barbecue be nearby?

These details can help you determine the scale of your fire pit. If you’re unsure, the general rule from designers is to go bigger rather than smaller. It’s easier to size up the furniture and have extra room to huddle than not enough.

7. Prepare for the cost

The type of fire pit you decide to build and the materials you use will cause the cost to vary fairly dramatically. DIY fire pits can cost as little as $100 if you are building a smaller space, and predesigned units from big box stores can also be budget friendly.

But be prepared to pay up to several thousand dollars if you use a contractor, want a custom portable design, or build a hybrid fire pit. If you’re looking to save cash, look for fixtures made with cast iron or build it using bricks. For a more upscale piece, spring for copper, which won’t rust and can easily be manipulated into a number of designs.

8. Fill your pit with the right materials

Sand or hard rock gravel can spark and even explode if it gets too hot. Especially when burning wood, it’s important to fill your fire pit with a material that can handle the heat. The answer? Lava rocks. Lava rock, or special fire pit glass, can handle the heat of a fire without sparking.

Even lava rock, though, can potentially explode when heated if there is moisture inside. Make sure your fire pit is dry and use caution the first time you use it after rain.

9. Get that added value

Fire pits, when done well, add a lot of value to an outdoor space.

They open the backyard up for year-round use, they can extend the square footage of a home, and they’ve consistently ranked as popular outdoor features with buyers over the last few years.

Use your fire pit as the focal point of an outdoor makeover. You can bring the indoors outside with elegant landscaping, quality furniture and consistent design. Use materials outside that are also represented inside to create a seamless flow from one location to the next and watch the value of your home instantly rise.

10. Complement your fire with ambient lighting

Although a fire will provide some light when the sun goes down, you’ll still need extra lighting to continue entertaining guests outside or see those s’more ingredients.

Keep the backyard fun going all night long with the right outdoor lighting.

Some simple options are to add light fixtures to the patio or use stringed lights. Light posts or torches are easy to install and add a unique feel to your backyard space. If you have trees or a covered patio, string lights across the yard. You’ll create a magical ambience and make the backyard even more inviting.

11. Find the right furniture

What really transforms a backyard from being foliage to fabulous is the furniture you use.

Outdoor furniture can be simple or eclectic, but should always create a consistent theme. Highlight your fire pit with comfortable furniture that looks beautiful around the fixture during the day and provides a comfy place for conversation at night.

RST Brands can help you find the perfect furniture for your backyard getaway. Create a classy, rustic space with our Zen Collection or embrace bright colors and cozy cushions with the Deco Collection.

Our outdoor furniture matches the quality and style you require when designing your outdoor space.

12. Don’t forget the extras

Enjoy the full fire pit experience with additional fire-friendly gear. If you’re burning wood, keep a bowl cover and fire stoker nearby to keep the area safe and the fire burning. If you have a gas fire pit, make sure you have a cleaning broom and clear the burners regularly to prevent blockage.

Be prepared for weekend s’mores with marshmallow roasting sticks and keep the bugs away with soothing citronella candles. Keep a flashlight or lantern nearby to tell spooky stories and in case you need to see farther than the fire’s glow.

Conclusion

Building a fire pit can not only be a wonderful addition to backyard parties, it can also be an investment in your home’s value.

Create lasting memories and become the envy of the neighborhood with a fire pit this summer. And don’t forget to complete your backyard haven with outdoor furniture from RST Brands.

Sources

http://blog.allstate.com/considering-backyard-fire-pit/
http://www.hgtv.com/remodel/outdoors/brick-and-concrete-fire-pits
http://www.pottedstore.com/fire-pit-instructions/
http://www.serenityhealth.com/firepit-buyers-guide.html
http://videos.hgtv.com/video/add-value-with-a-fire-pit-0187324

4 Unique Outdoor Furniture Pieces Your Yard is Missing

Unique Outdoor Furniture Pieces

Your backyard looks pretty good. You’ve got your outdoor furniture cleaned, your cushions fluffed, and your garden planted, but what’s missing?

If it has been a while since you’ve purchased outdoor furniture, and if it’s still in good condition, you might be wondering what is left to do. To help you figure it out, we’ve highlighted a few unique outdoor furniture pieces and trends that can bring your backyard up-to-date and refresh your outdoor space.

1. Mix and Match Furniture

Eclectic furniture has quickly risen to the top of indoor decor, and the trend is now making its way outside. Replace fading cushions with mixed patterns and bold colors or mix wicker and iron pieces for a contemporary, yet rustic feel.

If you already have a patio furniture set, try adding new pieces around your yard to spice things up. Introduce a shabby chic hammock or stressed rocking chair to the corner of the patio or bury a unique bench by the garden or in between the trees. Stashed furniture allows you to mix it up without disrupting your current set up and sits as a fun surprise for curious friends to find.

2. Add Flexible Pieces

Multi-purpose outdoor furniture items are fun to experiment with and maximize small spaces. When you’re perusing for new furniture, think of how a piece could be used in multiple ways to augment the possibilities of your purchase.

Folding tables are flexible, as are outdoor storage bins that can double as a bench or ottoman when you add a cushion to maximize your space and provide extra seating.

Many outdoor furniture items are designed to be fashionable as well as functional, so keep an eye out for those multi-purpose pieces

3. Throw In Some Clay

To break up the monotony of all metal or wicker furniture, use clay outdoor items or accessories around your yard. Clay is a beautiful, natural material that works well outdoors. It can hold up through sun and rain and the reddish hue compliments green foliage well.

Clay pots with herbs, wild flowers or cacti look beautiful around the patio. Or find a glazed clay garden stool to use as an end table. The stool can add a pop of color and be used to sport a potted plant or hold ice-cold lemonades on a hot day.

4. Pick Out a Picnic Table

Picnic tables have become a popular backyard accessory over the years. This vintage outdoor furnishing is great for people who entertain or eat outside regularly, as it provides plenty of conversation-starting seats. If you have time, visit barn sales or hunt through vintage shops to find a unique piece. Otherwise you can find quality long tables for a reasonable price online.

You can decorate a picnic table to elevate a backyard party. Find a chic tablecloth and classic dishware to dress up a barbeque or use the table to organize a brunch buffet with an eclectic food display. The decor possibilities of a picnic table are what has made it such a popular outdoor furniture item.

Conclusion

Spice up your backyard this season with creative, multi-purpose pieces. If you’re in need of new design ideas to bring your patio from drab to fab, RST Brands might be able to help.

Don’t let your backyard space go to waste this summer and open up its potential with quality outdoor furniture made from artful designs by RST Brands.

7 Amazing Outdoor Entertaining Tips You Can Use Today!

Summer is a great time to utilize those outdoor spaces for parties, barbecues and holidays.

Celebrate your recent grad in the fresh air and start prepping for your famous Independence Day bash with these simple outdoor entertaining tips that will help you host your next party with ease.

Sitting Pretty

To make sure your guests are comfortable outside, pad chairs with cozy cushions.

You can borrow throw pillows from the couch or invest in quality dining chairs. RST Brands outdoor chairs use high density, quick-drying foam for ultimate comfort and are covered in Sunbrella fabric to protect against sun damage.

Comfortable chairs will encourage guests to linger and conversation to blossom.

Crafty Cloth

Cover your outdoor dining table with brown craft paper for a fun design with easy clean up. Let the kids decorate this tablecloth as an entertaining activity or leave it clear for a rustic and chic feel.

When the festivities are over, cleaning will be a breeze as you simply toss the paper away.

Umbrella-ella-ella

Umbrellas serve multiple functions at outdoor events.

They provide shade, help define your dining space, and complement your outdoor furniture.

Picking the perfect umbrella for your dining set can turn your patio into a Caribbean getaway or chic bistro. If you’re entertaining a lot of guests, consider fashioning a few umbrellas or a shade tent to provide plenty of sun coverage.

Ambience Amplified

Don’t let your outdoor event be monotonous. Create a unique experience with themed decorations that give your party that extra ambience.

Turn your backyard into a tropical paradise with seashell centerpieces or keep it classy with studded napkin rings and an old-fashioned drink cart.

Divide & Conquer

Encourage guests to roam by setting food up at different stations.

Creating a table for drinks, food and dessert motivates guests to move and gives you plenty of opportunities to decorate. Keep it simple for kids and create a children’s table with drinks, condiments and snacks just for them!

Chill Trick

To keep food items chilled, such as salad or dairy-based dips, fill a large bowl with ice and sprinkle it with kosher salt before placing the dish on top.

The salt zaps the ice to keep it cool, even in the hot sun.

Twinkle, Twinkle

Creative lighting can take your outdoor celebration from average to amazing. Hang paper lanterns from branches for a charming decoration that will keep the party going into the night.

Use citronella candles or incense sticks for a festive technique to keep the bugs away. And use battery- or solar-powered lights to eliminate worries of wax and wind.

Conclusion

Be the talk of the town this summer with creative outdoor events that are sure to wow your family and friends. These simple backyard tricks will help your events run smoothly while being picture perfect and fun for everyone.