It's Time To Elevate Your Gardens

2' x 4' Elevated garden planter. Other styles available.   The experts form Outdoor Essentials want to help you go from landscaping to their version of yardscaping; that is, from the expensive maintenance of traditional lawns to creating outdoor spaces that require less money and effort, but are more aesthetically pleasing and functional.   Our last post explained how landscape rocks make a yard more interesting and easier to maintain, while hiding unseemly areas. Another way to add interest, color and functionality to a yard is with raised garden beds and planters. Planters differ from raised... read more

Begin "Yardscaping" With Landscape Rocks

Landscape rock in yard.   If your yard is wearing you and your wallet thin, it might be a good time to graduate from landscaping to yardscaping; that is, from the expensive and old-fashioned maintenance of grass, flowers and trees … to creating outdoor spaces that require less money and effort, but are more aesthetically pleasing, functional and – often – more environmentally friendly.   Welcome to Outdoor Essentials’ version of yardscaping 101. Over the next few blog posts, the team from Outdoor Essentials will share a few ways to create a yardscape that is easy on the budget and requires... read more

Tips For Better Gardening From The Outdoor Essentials Experts

  The products from Outdoor Essentials not only produce more aesthetically appealing gardens, they make them easier to maintain. We want you to get the most out of your garden, with the least amount of effort.   In that vein, the experts from Outdoor Essentials have compiled the following tips to help improve your gardening enjoyment – and your yields.   1. Determine your area’s early plantings. Typically, good early plantings include brassicas, a family of plants that includes kale, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbages.  Other cool season crops include radishes, beets, peas,... read more

2013's Hottest Decks are Crazy for Color

Use Ultra-Bright Accessories and High-Energy Hues on Your Deck this Spring and Summer to Stimulate your Senses and Boost your Spirits Color is everywhere this year. Gone (…yawn…) are neutrals’ days of design dominance. Just ask Pantone. Widely acknowledged as the leading authority on color trends, Pantone has named Emerald 17-5641 Color of the Year and forecasts Lemon Zest, Poppy Red and Nectarine to be popular as well. Likewise, Sherwin-Williams predicts June Day, Kumquat, Exuberant Pink and Gladiola will make a big splash this spring and summer.   For deck enthusiasts, there’s nowhere more... read more

Last Minute Holiday Gift Ideas for Deck-Lovers

  Top photo: Nate Salnick - 2011 Best Deck Contest Entry It may be cold and snowy out there, and parents may be busier thinking about their Elf on the Shelf’s next escapade rather than how to set a pretty dining table for their first barbeque next summer, but true die-hard deck-lovers dream of their outdoor living space all year round. Therefore, why not give the gift of anticipation during the darkest time of the year and bring a little taste of summer’s warmth of into their lives this holiday season? Some of the best gift ideas for the deck-lovers in your life include: Gifts for serving food... read more

Decorate for the Season with Homemade Ice Luminaries

Photo credit for images: Whether you find decorating for the holidays a joy or a chore, many of us focus more on making the inside of our homes merry rather than the outside. But as the days grow shorter and colder, a bright, colorful focal point outside your windows — enjoyable both day and night — can really boost your mood. One way to add decorative fun to your deck posts, front porch, steps or walkways is with homemade frozen luminaries. This craft project is perfect for one person or the whole family. Children of all ages can participate, but it’s an easy do-it-yourself for... read more

Make the Most of Outdoor Living this Thanksgiving

Temperatures in many parts of the country have been quite warm this fall; if this trend continues, your family could be treated to bonus time outdoors together over the long Thanksgiving weekend. So get ready to throw on a sweatshirt or heavy coat if necessary, and be sure to take advantage of the last pleasant days of autumn while you still can. Try a few new ideas for outside fun this holiday. You never know: you could start new family traditions! Let the kids create the Thanksgiving centerpiece – If your area hasn’t yet experienced a hard frost, chances are good your landscaping or... read more

Creating Cozy, Outdoor Conversation Nooks

  Finding the right feng shui for your deck can sometimes be a tricky business, because ultimately, you want your outdoor living space to offer at least a few different cozy seating areas for conversation. Achieving a comfortable balance between all your various deck features is key. After considering where to cook, dine, perhaps where to roast marshmallows or where to put your hot tub, you may be left wondering where you can simply snuggle into a couple of comfy chairs or a pair of soft chaises to relax with your family, a neighbor, a good book or a glass of wine. Here’s where the phrase... read more

How do I prepare my deck for cold weather?

Basic maintenance to prep your treated wood deck for cold weather can help ensure it will endure the cold or snowy season in great shape. Thoroughly clean the decking, posts and railings using an appropriate cleaning product. If your deck boards and deck railings are made of wood and showing some wear, consider giving them a fresh coat of stain or sealant. It’s also a good idea to check for nail heads popping up, loose or damaged boards, posts, and railings. Better to repair them now so you’re only worrying about how to enjoy your outdoor living space and not spring maintenance when the... read more

How do I deal with a tree that has grown too close to my deck?

It is not uncommon to discover a tree that was just a sapling when you built your deck has now grown up and is too close to your outdoor living space. Cutting the tree down is an option, especially if it is not healthy and a danger to your home. If you wish to keep the tree, you can preserve it by incorporating it into your deck design and expanding the deck around it. To do this, you will first need to run beams in front and back of the tree between two double wood joists. Fasten the joists on both sides of the tree with their load being relocated around the tree. Install diagonal supports at... read more

Building a Deck or Updating a Patio Takes the Family Room Outdoors

When you’re planning on building a deck or thinking about a deck renovation or patio project, consider how you’ll use your outdoor living space. Outdoor kitchens are popular, but you might also consider creating an outdoor family room with a cozy seating area and warming fireplace. Outdoor family time is a great way for family members to reconnect with each other while also enjoying the outdoors. When you’re planning your outdoor family room, keep in mind that you’ll want to incorporate many of the elements your family enjoys in their indoor environment. Your inside family room probably... read more

Ornate, metal vegetable markers, garden stakes and bird silhouettes add character to outdoor living area

Outdoor Essentials has added a full line of ornate vegetable markers, garden stakes and bird silhouettes to its product offering. Showcased during IGC 2011 in Chicago, these unique metal cutouts are designed for practicality and visual appeal for gardens and landscapes. About the products The rusted patina markers and garden stakes are made from laser-cut recycled metal. Each vegetable marker is welded to a 12-inch-tall metal stake and available in seven flat metal profile designs. The ornamental garden stakes are welded to 18-inch-tall metal stakes and are available in seven flat metal... read more

Updating Your Deck Railing: A small project that makes a big statement

With summer winding down and cooler weather approaching, it’s a great time to think about upgrading your treated wood or composite lumber deck. Updating your deck’s railing is one of the easiest, most versatile ways to make your outdoor living area unique and more appealing. If you’ve never really thought about the function and design of your deck railing, keep in mind a few key points: Railing is an important safety feature, especially if your deck is several feet off the ground. It’s important to maintain a code-compliant deck railing to ensure it provides adequate protection against... read more

Five ways to increase comfort in your home and reduce energy cost

Seal Air Leaks Many air leaks and drafts are easy to find because they are easy to feel — like those around windows and doors. But holes hidden in attics, basements, and crawlspaces are usually bigger problems. Sealing these leaks with caulk, spray foam, or weather stripping will have a big impact on improving your comfort level and reducing utility bills. Common locations for air leaks: Wiring and plumbing entrances Recessed lighting Basement rim joists Windows and doors Electrical and gas service entrances Outdoor water faucets Where dryer vents pass through walls Turn on Ceiling Fans By... read more

Outdoor kitchens quickly becoming the crowning glory for custom-designed decks and patios

For many of us, it just doesn't feel like summer until you’ve cooked outdoors. Dining and cooking al fresco is so popular, in fact, that according to the American Society of Landscape Architects, nearly 95 percent of residential landscape architects say kitchens and other entertaining spaces are their most frequently requested project. An outdoor kitchen can be the crowning glory of your custom-designed treated wood or tropical hardwood deck or composite wood deck or patio. Here are key features that every outdoor kitchen should have: Defined cooking space for custom decks and patios makes... read more

Top outdoor living and garden features for 2011

Top outdoor living trends for 2011 A survey by the American Society of Landscape Architects finds that light and fire are now the most sought-after enhancements for an outdoor living area. Fencing, arbors, and pergolas are the most popular structures, with decks (synthetic decking, lumber decking among others) ranking near the middle. Homeowners want function, efficiency and fire pits in their outdoor space, according to the 2011 American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Residential Trends Survey. The survey asked residential landscape architecture professionals to rate the expected... read more

Landscaping on and around your deck: Make your outdoor living area pop!

Enjoying your deck is definitely a high point of summer. But if you really want to ice the cake and put a big cherry on top, you need great landscaping to go with that awesome deck. Landscaping on and around you deck not only adds to the deck’s visual appeal, it can enhance usability. Many landscaping improvements are easy enough to be done in one weekend. Here are some deck design ideas to create the perfect environment on and around your deck: Planter post caps Made of cast stone, Deckorators’ planter post caps add the charm of flowers and greenery to a deck. Available in copper round... read more

Can I use pressure treated lumber with The M Brace in a raised vegetable garden bed?

If you're constructing a raised vegetable garden using The M Brace raised garden bed kit, you should have no reservation about using the latest in pressure treated lumber for your side and end walls. In the last five years a new generation of pressure treated lumber was developed and is know as Micronized Copper Azole (MCA) or by brand name – MicroPro, ProWood Micro and Home Depot's WeatherShield among others. When constructing a raised garden bed with The M Brace garden bed metal brackets you should have no fear using the MCA pressure treated lumber. Because (MCA) micronized... read more

Benefits of installing a radiant barrier in your attic

Reduced Energy Usage, Lower Utility Bills.Since traditional insulation does not prevent transfer of radiant heat, once the insulation has absorbed the maximum amount of heat, the heat is transferred to the space around it and eventually into the living spaces below. Easy to install radiant barrier foil (metalized film) like Enerflex can block up to 97% of the suns radiant heat absorbed through your roof surface, resulting in a 30-degree reduction in attic temperature and big time energy savings. See this short video clip on how to reduce utility bills by installing Enerflex Radiant Barrier... read more

What’s the difference between Insulation and Radiant Barrier?

Fiberglass insulation depends on R-Value (resistance) alone to insulate against summer heat gain and winter heat loss. Thin layers of fiberglass do virtually nothing to stop reflective heat or energy transfer. Fiberglass insulation is also affected by changes in humidity or moisture levels. A 1% to 1-1/2% change in the moisture content of fiberglass insulation can result in up to a 36% decrease in performance.Unlike fiberglass insulation, reflective insulation or radiant barrier foil products, such as Enerflex, are not affected by humidity and moisture changes and will continue to provide... read more

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