Category Archives: Renovation Tips

Your Much-Needed Mud Room Ideas for Winter

During the colder seasons, our decorating and home-making missions move inside. And sometimes, being trapped indoors all winter can make you feel like your whole house needs a redesign, but that isn’t always the best move.

If you are feeling frustrated with your inside decor and can’t seem to banish encroaching clutter, turning your attention to this often-forgotten space is key. It can help soothe your decor nerves until your outdoor furniture becomes front and center once again.

This space goes by many names. Some call it a mud room, others simply refer to it as the entryway or front hallway. Founder and CEO of Apartment Therapy, Maxwell Ryan, calls this area the landing strip, and he dubs it the most important room in your home.

This space becomes especially important during the winter months when our houses get cluttered with wet boots, soggy gloves, and mountains of holiday cards. So, if you’re jonesing to redesign, this is a great place to start.

Here are a few mud room ideas to make one of the most important rooms in your home stand out this season.

1. Determine Where Your Landing Strip Should Be

For a lot of homes, the entryway is pretty obvious, but for others finding the right space for your landing strip is difficult.

Ryan describes the landing strip as the space where the outside world gets filtered before you come inside. It’s where all your extraneous items like coats, keys and mail go before you fully enter the home.

For houses with two often-used entrances, determining this space is challenging. Some people use their front door as well as their garage or side door. If that’s the case, where do you put the landing strip?

Remember that this area is the filter between the outside and inside of your home. If you don’t want to build two landing stip areas, which is totally fine, choose the entrance that gets the most stuff dragged through it. When you come home with coats and scarves or mail, which entrance do you usually walk through?

The most important thing is to have one place where you put your keys. Having a landing strip in your home is to help you stay organized and leave the house with ease, and that purpose is defeated if you’re running between entryways to find your keys every day.

2. Five Items Needed to Complete the Space

Ryan outlines five key elements you need to complete your landing stip. You might already have an entryway area, but do you have all these pieces there? If not, would adding them add value to that space?

Here is what Ryan suggests.

Doormat – The doormat keeps the outside, outside. Dirt, leaves and snow should all be wiped off and left at the door. This becomes especially important during winter when salt used to melt ice can easily be tracked into your home and dirty the floors.

Coat Hooks – Whether these are hidden inside a closet or out in the open, having hooks to hang your coat, purse or dog leash is essential. Coats easily take up valuable closet space and get wet from snow and rain, so you want to keep them far away from your bedroom closet.

Side Table – A side table goes in the landing strip to keep clutter off other places like kitchen counters and dining room tables. This space should be small; just big enough to hold your keys and a mail organizer. If it’s too big, you’ll end up stashing other stuff there and making the clutter worse, instead of better.

Waste Basket – Somehow, that walk from the doorway to the recycling bin feels extra long when we get home from work. Save yourself the steps and keep a waste basket in your landing strip so you can instantly toss junk mail instead of creating a stack of papers you meant to throw away weeks ago.

Mirror – This isn’t an essential, but once you put a mirror in your landing strip area, you’ll never want to live without it. It’s good to double check your appearance before you leave the house and guests will appreciate a quick look before the dinner party.

Other items you may want to include in your landing strip are a shoe rack, lamp, or storage bins or drawers. Just make sure this space doesn’t become a doorway-sized junk drawer by designing it with just enough room for the essentials, and no more.

3. Design with Summer in Mind

The front door is not the only portal your home has to the outside. When the weather starts to warm up, the door to your backyard might get used more often than your entryway!

This landing strip serves the same purpose, keeping the outside from coming in, but may need some different design elements. This space could be a backdoor or the door to the garage, so think about the items that will be coming in those doors.

Although coat hooks and a doormat are still important, you may want to trade out the side table and wastebasket for a more robust storage system that can handle sports equipment and gardening tools.

It’s also important to consider your outdoor design. The landing strip can be the place where your outdoor and indoor designs mingle to create a seamless transition between the two spaces. Find creative ways to tie in design elements from both, like a colorful vase or patterned lamp that links the two areas together.


We know you miss your backyard furniture, but summer will be here before you know it! Choose to spend this time wisely by amping up those indoor spaces that will help you be better prepared when the seasons do change.

5 Great Ways to Repurpose Your Favorite Outdoor Furniture

outdoor furniture

Summer has come to a close and you may be wondering what to do with all your outdoor furniture that has run its course.

After a few years, especially in places that experience all four seasons, outdoor furniture can look a little haggard. If it looks like your outdoor furniture can’t take another cold winter, it’s time to repurpose it.

That’s right, you don’t have to throw your furniture away. In fact, there are a number of super simple ways you can repurpose or upcycle your rundown outdoor pieces just in time to bring them in for winter.

Here are a few ways to give some of your favorite outdoor pieces a second chance.

1. Paint Away the Problem

It’s amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do for just about anything.

Even the best outdoor dining sets get worn down over time, but that rough, cracked surface can be remedied with a simple paint job.

If you have a pretty wooden piece, it’s easy enough to sand it down and stain it to bring that wood back to life. But it might also be nice to completely transform the piece with a bright, new color. Try a soft turquoise blue or royal hunter green and use the revamped furniture to transform an interior room.

To really repurpose the item, use chalkboard paint. You can create a cute message board for the kitchen or fun piece of furniture for your child’s room with a simple coat of paint.

2. Side Tables Galore

Outdoor side tables are endlessly versatile. They can seamlessly move between indoor and outdoor spaces, they can stand alone or be gathered together, and they are always handy to have nearby.

Switch out your tired nightstand with a refurbished side table or create a collection of tables in your living room for an eclectic look that lets you cleverly mix styles without losing any utility.

With a lamp and stack of books, any outdoor table can easily become a part of your indoor decor.

3. Clean The Rug

Rugs are the silent heroes of decorating. These subtle accessories can completely change a room, and they’re fairly easy to replace and store.

Refresh your interior space with an outdoor rug. Because outdoor rugs are designed to withstand the elements, they should be fairly easy to clean with a power wash in the backyard. And their short fibers make outdoor rugs perfect for a home with hairy pets.

4. Pot Outdoor Plants

Save the remnants of your garden by bringing the foliage inside. Potted plants can really bring a space to life and will improve the entire feel of the house in the dead of winter. That greenery is good for more than just looks!

Brighten your kitchen and living room with pots of grass, herbs, and flowers. If the pots you were using this summer have some sun damage, pull out the paint and give your pots a fresh look that matches your interior space.

5. Hang it Up

You can completely transform a piece of outdoor furniture by simply hanging it up inside. Broken chairs can become coathangers, lattice can become a photo gallery, and a ladder can display pictures and books.

These hung pieces can add a unique and interesting look to your interior space. Whether you are going for a rustic look or something more eclectic, these repurposed pieces are the perfect way to achieve the aesthetic you want.


Save your favorite outdoor furniture from going to the dump. By repurposing outdoor pieces as indoor decor, you can breathe new life into your interior space while keeping the furniture that means the most to you.



How Do You Know It’s Time to Store Your Outdoor Furniture? 5 Things You Should Know

Store Your Outdoor Furniture

Feeling a slight nip in the air? Are you actually having to put on a jacket now when you go outside in the morning?

Brace yourselves, winter is coming…and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. The time for outdoor parties is quickly coming to an end and you need to make sure that your outdoor furniture is able to survive until the next party season.

When you see the leaves start to fall and tank tops being replaced with long-sleeved shirts and hoodies, you know it’s time to get ready to store your outdoor furniture for winter. For many unfortunate procrastinators, winter is a death sentence to patio or backdoor furniture.

If you’ve spent the money to make your outdoor relaxation time as comfortable as possible, do yourself a favor and make your investment last by keeping these five tips in mind as you get your outdoor furniture ready for winter.

1. Pay attention to what your furniture is made of!

Is your outdoor furniture metal? If so, what kind of metal is it? Is it the kind of metal that rusts when it gets wet? Is it made of plastic or wood? Are there any glass attachments? Are your cushions made of waterproof acrylic or some other kind of material?

All these questions play a huge factor in how you store your outdoor chairs and tables. A rule that can be universally applied to all types of outdoor furniture is to store it in a clean, dry place. Here’s a small checklist that you can use to make sure your storage area is up to the challenge of winter:

Are there any water leaks?

Are there termites or other bugs?

Does the storage area have any mold already?

Are there flammable hazards?

Will it get so cold that it will cause plastic to crack?

Could anything fall and break glass?

2. “Water Resistant” doesn’t necessarily mean “Waterproof”

Over time, furniture that is designed to be waterproof can lose some of its water repelling qualities. Many types of wood furniture collections are either chemically treated to be water-resistant or have naturally occurring water-resistant properties. However, no matter what kind of wood your outdoor furniture is made of, water always has the potential to be absorbed, causing furniture to crack or erode from the inside.

Before you get ready to store your wood furniture for the winter, make sure you apply a water-repellent finish to it. Most professionals in the woodworking industry recommend a finish that is lacquer based because it adds to the richness of the wood, dries quickly, and is incredibly strong.

3. Ignoring rust spots is a HUGE mistake!

If rust spots are already starting to appear on your furniture, it’s important that you get rid of them before you store the furniture away for the winter. If you don’t, the rust will spread and cause structural damage that will make the furniture unsafe to use. Plus, let’s be honest, it looks terrible!

Grab your drill, make sure that it has a metal bristle brush attachment, and buff out those rust spots before they start to spread. Just before you store your metal furniture, prevent new rust from forming by applying a high-quality paste wax to all areas that could potentially rust. In addition to applying a paste wax, make sure your metal furniture is also covered during storage.

4. Don’t just ignore a crack

Has anyone ever told you to get that small crack in your windshield repaired before winter so that it doesn’t spread?

Apply the same logic to your plastic outdoor furniture. If you don’t take care of any small cracks right away before winter, they will just get larger and larger, eventually leading to the furniture being damaged beyond repair. So, how do you fix cracking in plastic outdoor furniture?

Some larger cracks just aren’t fixable and that’s life. But in the case of small cracking, applying an epoxy resin can work very well. Just spread the resin over the cracked areas, making sure that it is applied smoothly. After the resin is applied and hardens, you can sand it down to get rid of any unseemly bumps.

5. Glass needs extra special attention

Glass table tops can be a whole other beast to store on their own. The obvious reason is because they are more fragile than the rest of your outdoor dining pieces, but the most important thing that you need to remember when you are storing outdoor glass is to keep it covered in a warm place!

If you let glass sit in cold places for an extended period of time, it is much more susceptible to getting weak and shattering when it is finally taken out of storage. Keeping it covered not only keeps the glass from getting nicked and scraped by the everyday happenings of life, but it also gives it a much needed layer of insulation. If you have any extra blankets lying around that aren’t being used, wrap your glass table tops in them and secure them on with rope or bungee cords. Once it’s wrapped, make sure it is stored in an area where things won’t fall on it and there isn’t a threat of it rolling away or falling over.


You have two options when it’s time to store your outdoor furniture for the winter.

You can either let winter be your furniture’s demise and watch your investment go down the drain, or you can take the necessary steps now to make sure that it lasts for years to come. You didn’t invest your money into outdoor furniture to watch it rust, crack, mold, or wither away after using it for one season.

These five tips will help you not only keep your outdoor furniture longer, but enjoy it longer too.

How to attract hummingbirds to your backyard

Many people stop dead in their tracks when they see a hummingbird fluttering in the backyard, and it's no surprise. These teeny, tiny birds are elegant, quiet and whimsical, and spotting one is usually a rare occurrence. It doesn't always have to be the case, though – many folks have hummingbirds flitting through their backyards all season long.They live all over the Western Hemisphere, and their requirements are simple: They just want somewhere they can eat, drink and hang out. The one caveat: They tend to form feeding (and resting) patterns, so it's a good idea to start now – before the warm season has really begun. Here's how to do it: 


To attract hummingbirds organically (see what we did there?), opt for nectar-rich flowers. Tubular flowers technically hold the most nectar, but there are many great options: 

  • Honeysuckles
  • Bleeding hearts
  • Petunias
  • Bee balm 

To up the ante even more, opt for flowers in red – hummingbirds find the color attractive. One important thing to note: Planning for a continuous blooming schedule means that these guys will always want to spend time in your backyard. Some flowers come ready to hang, while others take time to grow. Picking a mixture of both is your best bet. 

You can also add in a few vines to help expedite the process. A few examples:

  • Morning glory
  • Coral honeysuckle 
  • Scarlet runner bean 

Fun fact: Hummingbirds have no sense of smell, so they rely on sight to tell how nectar-laden a flower is. 


And then comes the more obvious tactic: feeders. They're usually filled with some sort of nectar mix, though you can fill them with your own, as well. Whichever kind of mixture you use, it's best to go all-natural so as not to harm the birds. Here's a helpful recipe:

  1. Mix one part sugar with four parts water
  2. Boil for 60 seconds
  3. Cool the liquid
  4. Voila!

That's it – just make sure you always keep the feeder halfway full so it doesn't mold. Spacing a few feeders out in your yard will help make sure the birds don't fight for food. 


Hummingbirds aren't keen on birdhouses, but they will build their own nests if you give them the right materials. Think cotton, string and plenty of shelter. The more comfortable they feel in your backyard, the better. 


Strange as it may seem, simply tying red or orange ribbon around the trunks of trees and bushes can be enough to catching a passing bird's eye. 


Avoiding the use of pesticides will help populate your backyard with insects – another hummingbird favorite. They particularly like spider webs, which they use to make their nests. 

A few additional things you can add to your yard to attract these tiny birds? A fresh source of water (like a fountain or a mister), and something to perch on. Things like clotheslines, plant vines and shrubs all offer them a place to hang out. Some people even plant entire hummingbird gardens that surround their feeders to maximize the effects of all these. So sit back on your outdoor sofa and watch the hummingbirds flock to your backyard! You'll have a spring show to remember. 

How to protect your pets from your yard

Yes, you heard us right – protecting your pets from your yard might seem a little backwards, but it’s just as important as protecting your yard from your pets. Creating a pup-proof backyard isn’t as tough as it may seem, though. Here’s how to do it:

Smooth it out

Those misshapen rocks may look great in your garden from an aesthetic perspective, but they aren’t so great for your pet’s paws. Instead, opt for a smoother variety – or better yet, ditch them altogether. Small stones can be ingested even by little dogs, and can potentially be a choking hazard.

Use a fence in your garden

For your actual garden, it’s important to fence it off entirely, as many plants are poisonous for dogs (and meant for human enjoyment, of course). You can choose from a variety of decorative options, such as a traditional lattice fence or plain old chicken wire. Regardless of which one you opt for, make sure it’s not too short or easy to knock over. You should also remove any barbed wire using a micro wire cutter to ensure your pets don’t get caught or cut. Be careful whilst removing it and always wear gloves, then dispose of it safely to ensure wildlife doesn’t become entangled in it.

Be careful with your fertilizer, bug repellents and pest poisons

Some of the things you spray on your plants and leave in your bushes can be incredibly dangerous for your pets, such as fertilizer, rat poison, or bug repellents. What’s worse, dogs often confuse fertilizer for food, meaning they don’t just accidentally eat it – they seek it out. It can be tough to nix these things when you’re seeking a gorgeous garden, but they aren’t worth the potential harm they could cause your pup. Fertilizers can also be damaging to your pet’s paws so you may want to ensure their paws are well protected. One way you could potentially do this is through protective items such as dog boots which can be found at sites like, Walkee Paws as well as other reputable websites that focus on the care and protection of your pet. Alternatively, you could invest in specially manufactured fertilizers that are pet-friendly and therefore designed to be gentle on your dog’s paws.

Don’t leave the grill open

There’s nothing better than grilling in the backyard, but it’s dangerous to leave your pet near a hot grill unattended. To mitigate the risk of something going awry, make sure the grill is always closed when you’re not actively putting on or flipping meat.

Get a good fence

This one is a no brainer – the fence surrounding your yard as a whole should be high enough that your pup can’t hop over it or slip through one of the cracks. You can even use an additional fence to surround a small area of your yard for your pet to hang out it when you’re not able to keep an eye on it. You can check out some custom vinyl fences so you can have it matched to your specifications, helping you protect your garden and animals.

Long live the dog house

“Dog house” might have a negative connotation when it’s used colloquially, but dog houses are actually great for pets, especially in bad weather. To get the most out of your backyard dog house, it’s a good idea to choose one that is insulated for the cold and entirely protected from the rain. As a bonus, this will also give your pup some shade when it’s super hot.

Keep them off the outdoor furniture

OK, so this tip isn’t exactly for your pet’s safety so much as it is for you sofa’s, but you get the idea. Training your pets to stay off the outdoor furniture means they won’t do any damage to those cushions – and they won’t fall off, either.

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.


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.

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. If the job gets too complicated, you can call in a Tree Removal service who can do the pruning for you, and maybe also get any old trees removed in the process. 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!

Whereas, this does not apply if a tree fell in your yard as a result of a severe storm and only the tree stump remains in that place. And, the tree stump is usually left in the garden because you may believe there is no harm in having that stump. However, dealing with the tree stump that has been left behind can be difficult. Although a tree stump could appear to be harmless, it is strongly advised that it be removed as soon as possible because it can pose a safety hazard on your property. Unwanted visitors to your yard can be attracted by a tree stump. Carpenter ants, termites, and other wood-boring insects are naturally drawn to tree stumps. Healthy trees and shrubs that become infected are vulnerable to infestation and disease. Worse, these dangerous pests may cause costly structural damage to your home’s wooden components. Hence, it might be a better idea to get the stump removal done in your backyard as soon as possible.

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!

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 might crawl into your house, which would, in turn, require professional help from firms like Pest Authority of Chattanooga or nearby places). Water consumption also plays into this – native plants typically don’t need much extra watering, as they are able to grow in your region 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.

Spring cleaning, backyard edition

You clean the living room, you clean your bathroom and you clean your closet, but have you ever thought about cleaning your … backyard? It might sound a little ridiculous, but sprucing up your backyard can go a long way when you’re trying to set up shop for the summer. Think of it this way: Your patio builds up more grime than any other part of your house, so it needs the most TLC. Before you put that spring cleaning list away for the season, make sure you add a couple of these items to your agenda.
You’ll be glad you did at your next pool party – trust us.

In fact, spring could be the best time to repair or maintain all HVAC systems. Since these systems are typically used during the summers and winters only, you may be able to save money by having them serviced during the off-season. You probably just need to contact experts from professional plumbing service providers like Flow Pros Plumbing to get the Water Heater Repair or replacement and save a few dollars.

Whack the weeds

Sprucing up the backyard starts with a little landscaping TLC, and that includes getting rid of any weeds that have crept up over the winter. Don’t limit your “weeding” to rogue plants, either – many times, stray twigs, branches and trash accumulate in backyards too, so make sure to pick those up as well.

Start with plastic

Even if you have a great selection of outdoor sofas, you probably still have a few plastic lawn chairs hanging around for big parties. After being cooped up inside all winter, they tend to get a little gross. Use a power hose to get all that gunk off and start summer fresh.

Hit the deck

Next up, it’s time to clean off your deck. Spray a cleaning solution (one that is wood-friendly or made specifically for decks) on the slats, then hit it with your hose. This gets rid of existing grime and helps ensure more won’t build up over time. Those of you who are fans of beautiful decks and want it to be ‘Monica clean’ can even hire a professional cleaning service such as Deck Seal. Alternatively, you can scout for “Deck Cleaning perth” or any other location you reside in to get a catalog of all the deck cleaning professionals nearby your area.

Check for pests

In the colder months, pests will quite often seek refuge in your backyard and home to protect them from the cold weather. So, be sure to check for pests and critters under your deck, in sheltered places, and in your conservatory. If you spot any, be sure to contact a company that specializes in pest control manteca california as soon as possible.

Perfect your patio umbrella

You probably had your outdoor sofa cushions and umbrella stashed inside during the winter months, so make sure they’re clean when you bring them out. The same goes for your hammock – especially if you left that outside, then it definitely needs to be washed. Simply lay it flat and hose it down with gentle soap and water.

Fire up the grill

Now that grilling season is back, make sure yours is nice and clean before cooking that first round of burgers. Start by wiping the exterior off with a little soap and water, then fire it up to let any extra char burn up. That’s it!

Freshen the pool

Last but not least is the swimming pool. Why not get some new pavers around pool for the new summer season? You could even install some water features or a slide! The most important part of this process is cleaning the filtration system and baskets. Fill up any water that’s evaporated and have the chemicals rebalanced by a professional. (Trust us on this one.)

Decorating tips for a small balcony

Small houses and apartments are great, but they don’t always offer us the most outdoor entertaining (and relaxing) space. Balconies aren’t necessarily inferior to backyards, though – they’re cute, functional and easy to decorate if you know what you’re doing. With the right outdoor furniture and accessories, you can create the most intimate and cozy balcony ever. Need a few tips to get you started?

Be prepared

Believe it or not your balcony might be harder to decorate than you would have expected. Often tools might be needed to make sure you can get a high-quality professional finish. You also might want to invest in equipment such as some ladders or platforms which may be found on websites similar to
or could possibly be also available at your local DIY shop.

Divide and conquer

Small spaces need a little more structure than larger ones, as you really have to maximize each square foot. The best way to do this? Take a look at your balcony and create a few zones. If you’re working with a long and narrow space, try using one side for comfy seating and the other for dining. If it’s shorter and more squared off, try combining both.

Find its function

What do you primarily do on your balcony? Do you spend time reading with a great book and a glass of wine? Or do you frequently find yourself eating at the patio dining table with friends? Your layout should be determined by what you actually do. Think of it like a formal living room – if you’re not going to spend time on the balcony, what’s the point of decorating?

Do not disturb

Want to spend time with friends outside but don’t want your neighbors watching your every move? Invest in a privacy screen on one or both sides of the balcony. The higher walls create a more intimate space while creating the illusion that the space outside your building is all yours.

Don’t ditch your green thumb

You might not be able to grow a full-sized garden on a smaller patio, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep any plants. Many people hang flowers on their balcony rails, while others use container gardens to add a little life to their space. Check this metal glue out, if you plan on making a vertical garden. You can grow fresh herbs, succulents, vertical gardens, and more the key is simply thinking of small vessels to keep all your plants in.

Think multi-functional

The smallest of balconies pose one major challenge: Offering both seating and dining space. In situations like this, you can opt for furniture with multiple functions. Outdoor sofas and coffee tables can be the main dining table when you have outdoor placemats and dinnerware, while bistro tables with throws and seat cushions are just as good for reading and relaxing as they are for eating. Additionally, while planning, you can remove planters to make space for sitting and create a wall garden to incorporate the plants. You could look for necessary equipment like wire trellis systems, wire mesh, balustrade cables, tensioned garden wires, etc., to build a vertical garden.

Keep it cozy

On that note, making your balcony cozy is crucial toward its functionality. If yours is covered, try adding a few throws in the mix, plus plenty of pillows (and comfy sofa cushions). Smaller areas are inherently more intimate, and the more you play this up, the happier you’ll be having a little balcony.

One important thing about decorating any outdoor space? It’s not number the square feet you have, but the friends and family you fill them with. Late-night glasses of wine with friends on the balcony will be just as memorable as dinner on the patio.