Monthly Archives: July 2015

7 Easy Ways to Spice Up Your Front Yard

Your front yard is the first thing people see when they come to your house, and you want to make the best first impression possible. Believe it or not, it doesn’t take a full-on renovation or home improvement loan to increase your curb appeal. Some sweet outdoor furniture might be all you need.

Here are seven creative, easy ways to spice up your front yard.

1. Make Your Porch Say, “Welcome!”

If you’re lucky enough to have a front porch, make sure you do it justice by creating an inviting, cozy space to share a cup of coffee or enjoy a brilliant sunset. Depending on the size of your porch you can create a French café feeling with cute bistro furniture or bring the beach home with a comfy hammock.

No matter how you choose to say hello, accent your furniture with brightly-colored cushions and pillows, a unique welcome sign, and a durable outdoor rug. Consider adding extra touches like string lights or candles to make your porch the place to be day and night.

2. Bloom into Color

Flowers are one of the best ways to give your front yard new life. Add fragrance and color in beds or with containers and window boxes. Durable flowers like petunias will bloom all summer and require minimal maintenance. To keep the flower show going year after year, mix perennials like tulips and daisies with annuals such as pansies and geraniums.

If putting together your own floral creation feels a little intimidating, you can buy pre-made pots and window boxes at your local nursery. Just be sure to get the right plants for the type of sun in your front yard. Different flowers need full sun, while others do better in the shade.

3. Show Your Personality

Pink flamingos and garden gnomes may not be your thing, but there are plenty of tasteful ways to express yourself in the front yard. Scour garden stores for interesting sculptures and lawn ornaments. If you want a Zen vibe, look for stone waterfalls or consider converting a flower bed or troublesome lawn spot into a Zen garden.

Lawn ornaments like gazing balls and delicate windmills can be an attractive addition that makes your yard stand out. Be careful not to go overboard when it comes to law décor, though. It’s easier than you think to go from classy to tacky by adding too much of a good thing.

4. Keep It Neat

It nearly goes without saying, but a neat, tidy yard is an instant boost to your home’s aesthetic. Make sure all flower beds are regularly weeded, and stay on top of mowing the lawn. Regularly edging your yard makes your home look extra sharp.

You can also spruce up tired walks and driveways with a fresh coat of sealant and repair any cracks right away with patching cement. Staying on top of your drive and walkways can save you lots of money in the long run.

5. Just Add Water

A water feature will instantly take your front yard from boring to beautiful. It’s easy to install a small fountain or waterfall. In fact, many come in easy-to-assemble kits that tie right into your existing outdoor water supply.

If you really want to make a splash, consider adding a koi pond. They don’t require a huge amount of space, and this is one lawn feature you’ll be able to enjoy all year-round—even if you live in a snowy climate.

6. Make It Glow

Just because the sun goes down doesn’t mean your yard has to call it a night. Between solar-powered lights and stones and pebbles that glow in the dark your yard will stand out round the clock.

Add solar lights sparingly. It’s tempting to sprinkle them throughout all your flower beds and along borders, but this is a case where less is definitely more. When it comes to laying glow stones or pebbles, select one pathway or bed to highlight and leave the rest alone.

7. Go for the Upgrades

Mailboxes and house numbers are easy to overlook, but upgrading these everyday items can add extra polish to your house. Adding a decorative mailbox is an easy way to help your home stand out. And heavy-duty, designer house numbers are an affordable, instant makeover.

You may also want to think about painting your front door a bright, welcoming color. Look at the colors used in your yard or on your porch décor for ideas about the perfect shade. If painting isn’t your bag, consider replacing a boring door with a new one that features interesting details.

No matter your budget or DIY skills, there are plenty of creative ways to update your yard and inspire envy in your neighbors. It’s time to get going and make sure the first impression your house makes is one to remember.

Sources

http://www.redbeacon.com/hg/10-secrets-welcoming-front-yard/
http://www.sheknows.com/home-and-gardening/articles/952577/decorating-diva-10-exterior-upgrades-to-give-your-home-instant-appeal
http://keithandson.com/uncategorized/landscape-design-spice-front-yard/
https://www.pinterest.com/elphineas/small-garden-ponds/
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/63472675975688823/

The best plants to get your backyard through the dog days of summer

While the first month of summer can be a blessing for those of us trapped indoors during the winter, the dog days of the season can bear down with heat, leaving you to wonder, "how can I landscape my backyard without it looking like desert?" Don't fret. There are plenty of plants and flowers that will complement your outdoor furniture and design while keeping your backyard looking just as fresh and green as the middle of spring. The blossoms will also make a wonderful conversation starter for your next outdoor dinner party.

Here are just a couple of styles to add some green to your backyard: 

Tropical garden
If you're looking to create a tropical-like environment to go with your outdoor lounge chairs and furniture sets, you can't go wrong with the purplish, light blue flowers of the plumbago. The vines can grow to about 10 feet and do well in humid environments. 

Another bush with beautiful blossoms is the Madagascar periwinkle, and its reddish flowers flourish in both humid and dry conditions. The shrub can add a pop of color to your backyard while the plumbago can grow around a fence to give your yard a lush vibe even in the punishing heat of August. The flowers' colors also go great with neutral-colored outdoor seating and hammocks.

If you want to add some more violet hues to your patio's palette, consider planting some Angelonia angustifolia. The tropical plant does well in late summer and can grow in pots or in the yard.

For a plant that'll give you larger flowers in a humid environment, try sky vines for a verdant and luxurious feel. The big sky-blue blossoms attract many species of butterflies to their nectar and can make your garden a veritable paradise.

A plant that can complement any backyard with a pool or lounge chairs is the canna. Its many colored flowers will liven up any deck or patio. 

California beauty
Even if your home is undergoing dry or drought-like conditions, you can still have a beautiful garden to look at while relaxing in your lounge chair. The salvia plant is just as tough and drought-resistant as it is beautiful when it sprouts its indigo blossoms. 

A plant that can take the summer's heat but is easy to plant and maintain is the solanum bush. Its dark violet flowers can grow with just a little water.

If you want to lie out on the hammock without having to deal with the sun's rays, planting bamboo in large pots can help. And, it can give your deck or patio some privacy. The fast-growing plant can grow up to 20 feet and provides a natural green curtain for your backyard. 

However, if you're more in the mood to embrace a desert setting without having to skimp on the greenery, agave plants can give your porch or patio a wonderful look with their bluish greens. Place these desert plants in a container and watch them bloom in dry conditions. 

9 Outrageous Outdoor Decorating Ideas for Small Patios

outdoor decorating ideas for small patios

Look around, it’s easy to see the urban landscape booming all around us. Quaint neighborhoods are becoming busy epicenters, and more and more people long for a metropolitan lifestyle.

Apartment living has a lot of perks. It puts you walking distance from almost anything you need, it creates close relationships with neighbors, and it can be an affordable way to live in the city. But, apartments often lack extra space for patio furniture that ground-floor homes afford us.

If you live in an apartment and have given up on your patio space, it’s time to reopen those sliding doors with these space-maximizing techniques. There are lots of tricks and petite patio pieces that are designed to open up your outdoor space and create a cozy oasis you’ll love to escape to.

Here are a few outdoor decorating ideas for small patios that won’t overcrowd your lovely little balcony.

1. Give Yourself a Place to Sit

Because your patio space is small, outdoor chairs should be the focal point. If you can’t relax and enjoy your balcony, what’s the point?

This will most likely be the largest piece of furniture out there, so finding a multifunctional piece is a plus. An ottoman that doubles as a coffee table, or extra storage that masquerades as a bench are perfect pieces to put on your small balcony.

Also, find see-through furniture to maximize your space by giving the illusion of more room.

Small, iron bistro furniture or a glass table create more transparency within your space, letting the eye flow between pieces instead of getting stopped by bulky furniture.

2. Bring the Green

Plants are essential to any outdoor space, but they especially liven up apartment patios. Adding some fun foliage to your 10th floor balcony can create a revitalizing sanctuary no matter your elevation.

If you’re worried about potted plants overtaking your space, try vertical gardening. Hanging plants on the wall maximizes your vertical space and leaves the floor open for furniture. Even if you don’t have a green thumb, there are plenty of desert plants that require little maintenance and will really bring your balcony to life, like ferns, calla lily flowers and the moon cactus.

3. Create Some Privacy

It’s great to be close to your neighbors, but sometimes you need some alone time. Creating privacy on your balcony will help you relax and keep out noise and light pollution.

By hanging a simple tapestry or adding a folding room divider, you can create a temporary wall that can be used or removed when needed. For something a little more permanent that will still let the breeze flow through, put up a trellis latticework or bamboo screen.

4. Let There Be Light

Lighting is crucial to decorating any space, your balcony included. When using such a compact area, the ambiance you create is essential to giving that room the atmosphere you desire.

Again, maximizing vertical space is key. Hang battery-powered LED lights or twinkling Christmas lights around your patio walls to give your balcony a mystical feel. Imitate fireflies with lighting to immediately transport you to the midwestern countryside or hang pulsating lanterns for that campfire feeling.

5. Have Room to Sip Your Coffee

In a small space, you’re twice as likely to knock over that delicious cocktail you just made if it’s sitting on the floor. Protect your beverages, phones, and books from getting trampled by having an easily accessible spot to put these things when you relax outside.

This is where an outdoor bistro furniture set comes in handy, but there are a few other options for adding a table to a tiny space. Nesting tables take up a small corner when stored, but can be pulled out to create multiple table tops and even a foot stool. Or you can build a folding table into the wall, which can fold out at a 90-degree angle when you need extra space.

6. Mirror, Mirror On the Wall

Mirrors are a great decorating trick used in small spaces inside or outside. The reflective surface maximizes your visual space, so it gives any room the appearance of being bigger.

Hang small mirrors to reflect surrounding greenery or larger ones opposite your busiest corner to extend the feeling of your sitting area. Eclectic mirrors that reflect your lighting can also brighten up a dark corner.

7. Get a Rug

Finding the right fabric to cover your balcony floor can make or break the space. A rug ties the interior and exterior of your apartment together, making it feel more comfortable and homey when you’re outside.

Rugs can cover up less-than-perfect balcony floors and keep the area clean for walking out with bare feet. The rug can also work as a great accent piece. If you need to add a pop of color or want to introduce a fun, lively pattern, a rug is a great way to do it. Just make sure to buy a rug designed for the outdoors, you will need something that can withstand the rain and sun.

8. Go For Texture

To liven up your balcony, find interesting, comfortable textures to fill the space. A velvet pillow or fluffy throw will beckon you outside so you can take full advantage of your outdoor space.

A soft blanket to cuddle up with when the sun goes down is necessary for any outdoor sanctuary, but make sure none of your comfy textiles are permanent fixtures. You will need to take cushions and cover-ups inside during bad weather, so make it easy for yourself and choose textured pieces that are light to carry.

9. Be Bold, But Sparing

The trick to decorating small spaces is to be minimalistic with materials, but bold with items like outdoor accent tables. A collection of small items make a bitty balcony feel cramped and overloaded. But a select few larger items with bold statements open up the space and bring it to life.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with bright colors or interesting centerpieces. Keep micro-decorating to a minimum by eliminating small items on the floor or along the railing. Let the furniture speak for itself instead of bringing in themed trinkets to define the space.

Conclusion

Creating a dreamy, outdoor space can really open up your apartment and break up the monotony of skyscrapers and busy streets. You’ll quickly find yourself rushing home to your outdoor oasis for some rejuvenation and tranquility from the busy urban landscape.

If you haven’t been spending time on your balcony this summer, you are missing out on what could be your favorite space in the house. Add value and personality to your apartment with a beautiful balcony you’ll never want to leave.

Sources

http://www.tinyassapartment.com/2014/07/the-balcony-scene-7-tips-for-turning.html
http://www.improvenet.com/a/7-small-patio-ideas-for-creating-the-ultimate-urban-oasis
http://www.annsliees.com/journal/2014/5/22/tips-inspirations-for-your-apartment-balcony-and-porch-decor
http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/an-urban-oasis-cozy-balconies-for-dining-169357

Time For New Patio Furniture? 7 Things to Look For

new patio furniture

Outdoor furniture is an investment, isn’t it? For something that we use half the year and gets put through extreme weather conditions, new patio furniture is a hefty purchase.

You need quality pieces that can survive the elements and stylish items that create a comfortable living space, on your budget – which is probably why we hold onto old furniture for so long.

As much as we don’t like to admit it, furniture gets old.

It gets worn down after years of use and abuse. It gets outdated and becomes an eyesore in your otherwise beautiful yard.

How do you know when it’s time to part ways with your beloved backyard design? Here are a few guidelines that will let you know when it’s time to move on.

1. You’ve already lost a piece or two of the set

New patio furniture sets often come with a few pieces. A couple chairs, a table, maybe an umbrella or bench. As pieces get old, we can toss one or two items without the set looking to depleted, but over time those holes become more noticeable. Especially as you find new pieces to take their place that no longer fit in with the old set.

If you have half a set left on your patio, just get rid of it and start over with a new, full furniture set. That will serve you better than slowly replacing pieces and ending up with a hodgepodge of different styles.

Pro Tip: If some of the furniture pieces are still in fairly good condition, you can keep your favorite piece by performing a makeover. Paint the legs or replace the cushion so the piece matches your new furniture better and then insert it as an accent item.

But, this only works for one piece, so make sure to choose the one you can’t bare to give up.

2. The joints are beyond repair

A lot of patio furniture is fairly easy to fix using do-it-yourself remedies. A simple coat of paint, new bolts and screws or replacing the straps on your wicker furniture can make older items look like new. But there are some problems that are too hard to fix.

If your furniture requires anything other than a simple repair, it’s probably worth scrapping the piece and opting for something new. DIY repairs are great short-term fixes, but their quality rarely holds up over time. And the beating outdoor furniture gets speeds up the deterioration process. If it’s something you’ll just have to fix again next year, you might as well start over with something new.

3. Rust, mold or mildew has set in

These are three problems that are almost impossible to fix. The rate at which mildew and mold replicate means it’s simply better to get a new piece of furniture than constantly battle these growing fungi. And rust is not only impossible to reverse, it can be dangerous to leave unattended.

Once you start to see signs of rust, mold or mildew, it’s time to throw in the towel and move on.

And this time, figure out what went wrong so you don’t find yourself in the same situation in a few short years. Make sure you properly store your outdoor furniture during the winter months and clean and maintain your furniture regularly to extend it’s life in your backyard.

4. Your furniture is outdated

Just as design trends change inside the home, so do they evolve outside. In fact, as outdoor patios are increasingly considered extensions of indoor spaces, the importance of having up-to-date furniture grows.

When decorating your outdoor space, you should consider the area as a whole. Adding new, trendy pieces like a picnic table or bench is important, but you need to make sure they don’t clash with existing furniture. You will quickly notice that your backyard remodel is lacking if the furniture is left unchanged.

5. The interior design of your home has changed

Tying your home and backyard together is essential for creating fluidity and comfort between the spaces. This doesn’t mean that your living room and outdoor furniture set should match exactly, but certain design themes should exist in both spaces.

“By matching your outdoor design to your home furniture and decor, you’ll have a more comfortable, cohesive and organized feel to your entire space, whether you’re entertaining guests or just your own family,” says The Accent Wall blog.

Besides your outdoor furniture simply not keeping up with major trends, if your furniture isn’t keeping up with your own interior design then it’s time for a remodel. You’ll even be surprised at how fun it is to redesign your backyard with your favorite rooms in mind.

6. You’ve outgrown your current furniture set

As your family grows and evolves over time, so should your outdoor furniture pieces. That playhouse in the corner is probably rarely frequented by your now high-school-aged babies. Or perhaps you need more table space as the grandkids multiply.

Creating an eclectic furniture arrangement can be chic and trendy when done on purpose, but adding or removing furniture randomly leaves your backyard feeling unfinished or overpacked. Just as you upgrade your interior furniture with changing times, your backyard furniture should evolve with you.

7. You need to replace the cushions

If you are considering a few new outdoor cushions, it might be time to update your entire set.

If your color pallet has changed, new slip covers or cushions can be an easy fix.

Conclusion

Letting go of furniture you’ve had for a while can be difficult. But the excitement and revitalization that comes with a makeover is well worth the pain of moving on. And eliminating the safety concerns caused by old outdoor furniture is worth the change in and of itself.

If you’re ready for the next phase of your outdoor design, let RST Brands help you find the right furniture for your space. Besides sleek, timeless styles, RST offers high quality furniture that is sure to last you through many seasons to come.

Pint-sized gardens can still pack some serious punch

The benefits of eating locally sourced food are touted by farmers and nutritionists everywhere. Not only do homegrown veggies have higher vitamin content, but they're also significantly cheaper (not to mention really pretty). That said, it can be tough to carve out a full-sized garden in your backyard, especially if you've never had much of a green thumb. Luckily, all families can grow at least some of their own vegetables. 

When you're working with a small space, there's one principle to always keep in mind: Grow what you like! If you eat the produce you're growing regularly, you're that much more likely to appreciate and invest time in your garden. Whether you have a full-on plot of land, are opting for a raised bed or only have a few hanging baskets, you have plenty of gardening options. You simply need to choose vegetables that take up little growing space. It's also a good idea to grow things that are relatively expensive to purchase in stores, as you'll be able to enjoy them for just a few dollars at home – and expand your palate in the meantime! 

Basil 

Herbs are among the easiest (and most compact) plants to grow, and basil is one of the most flavorful. While it's best eaten fresh, you can also freeze and dry out basil to keep for the colder months. 

Shallots 

Are they onions? Are they garlic? Shallots are an interesting and incredibly delicious vegetable (and yes, they're part of the onion family – along with garlic). One bulb yields five or six shallots, meaning they require little planting space for a significant reward. 

Garlic

Speaking of garlic, it's also a great option for small-space gardens. As we said, it's a member of the onion family as well, and only requires you to plant a single bulb. 

Tomatoes 

Tomatoes are usually a mid-sized plant, but they grow well with other produce and won't take over your entire garden. The best part? One plant will last you the entire summer. (Just make sure it gets plenty of sunlight.) Cherry tomatoes are a particularly good option, as they will even grow in hanging baskets. How cute is that? 

Kale 

Kale is so "in" these days, and for good reason. It's incredibly nutritious and surprising beautiful to grow. Part green, part purple, kale looks great and is long-lasting, particularly when you harvest just a few leaves at a time. 

French beans

French beans take up little horizontal space but a great deal of vertical space, as they're climbers. (No, really – they will climb everything within reach, including your outdoor furniture.)

Lettuce

Like kale, lettuce takes up little space and usually tastes much better fresh than it does when you buy it in stores. 

There are also a few plants you should flat out avoid if you're trying to conserve space, such as potatoes, Brussels sprouts and squash. Even the smallest garden is rewarding, though, and even if your first try is unsuccessful, you'll still enjoy the view. 

Get weeds out of your backyard garden

If you have a beautiful outdoor setup with decorative storage, hammock beds and game tables, the last thing you want is weeds in your accompanying garden. Luckily, there are a few ways to get rid of weeds so they don't come back and smother your beautiful plants. Beyond the simplest and easiest solution, which is to use a container garden to control your garden environment, here are a few tips. 

Kill it with fire
Perhaps the most caveman solution out there to the problem of weeds moving their way through a garden is to burn them out. You may be worried about hurting your other plants with this technique, but as long as the fire is very carefully applied, it is possible to do this without damaging nearby plants. Sometimes foliage wind up competing with each other for nutrients underneath the soil in such a way that their roots become intertwined and entangled. In order to keep yourself from having that problem, you need to get rid of weeds without accidentally pulling your vegetables up alongside with them. A brief burst of fire from a propane torch will destroy the cell structure of a plant and cause it to wilt, letting your nearby crops thrive.

Chemical warfare
The most commonly used chemical weed killer today is known as Glyphosate. It travels through the leaves of plants and moves into the roots to kill the plants. It should be noted that this killer does not discriminate – it will take down plants that are supposed to be there as well as any weed. Care must be taken to ensure that it does not destroy the very plants a gardener is trying to protect. 

Avoid altogether
Using a container to grow gardens in is a good way to avoid the problem of weeds altogether. When you grow vegetables, flower or herbs inside of a container, you rarely have to deal with the problem of weeds coming up in the jars. Even if they do, it is extremely unlikely that there will be much difficulty in uprooting the solitary weed. Using a box garden is a good way to do this while still having  it take up an appreciable amount of space. In fact, it can also greatly reduce the amount of water needed by plants, so it is great for areas that are suffering from drought.