How To Decorate Your Outdoor Kitchen

How To Decorate Your Outdoor Kitchen

An outdoor kitchen provides endless opportunity for entertaining, dining al fresco, enjoying a beautiful garden or lovely weather, and simply relaxing. If you’ve achieved that outdoor kitchen dream but are looking to dress up the scene a bit more, consider these landscaping ideas. As well as offering significant utilitarian advantages, they’ll help you set an ideal culinary scene any time of the year.

Make a Roof

No matter where you live, roofs just make sense. In rainy or coastal areas, they help protect your cupboards, furniture and appliances from the elements so that they’ll last longer. In dry, sunny areas, they provide welcome shade and an anchoring point for awnings or swaying curtains. Luckily, it’s easy to make a simple roof yourself by installing panels across an arbor. If you need to for rainy areas, get help sloping the roof and installing drainpipes, and be sure to cover it with tarpaper or another water-resistant material.

Add More Seating

This is one of the easiest and best ways to make an outdoor kitchen cozy and inviting. You can either use scattered chairs, sofas or sectionals, or even throw some chaise loungers into the mix for a super-relaxed atmosphere. Side and end tables make nice accessories for setting down drinks and plates.

Plant Walkable Greenery

Since outdoor kitchens tend to be high-traffic areas, you want sturdy pathways leading to and from. This can either take the form of a stretch of greenery, or slate or stone paths with green growing in between. Unfortunately, while everyone loves a good lawn, sometimes shade, climate or other factors prevent you from growing a healthy stretch of turf. Instead of lamenting that fact, look for alternatives, such as steppable plants.

Light It Up

In addition to needing lighting if you’re going to cook and entertain at night, outdoor lights are a lovely way to add charm to your outdoor kitchen. Hardwiring overhead or wall lighting can lend the feel of an actual room, while stringing up fairy lights and large Chinese lanterns offers a more laid-back, casual aesthetic. If you go the fixture route, talk to your electrician about ensuring the space is properly protected from the elements.

Bring Floors Outdoors


Flooring is a beautiful way to give your outdoor kitchen a room-like feel without breaking the bank. Think about it: Everyone loves the look of a wooden-planked dance floor or a beautiful stretch of slate. For weekend warriors, this one’s a gimme, because it is relatively easy to level and prepare an outdoor space without a lot of prior experience. If you really don’t feel up to the task, however, contract with a professional to get the job done. Want to decorate outside the box?

Grow Your Privacy

Walls always make an outdoor kitchen feel a little homier and more private. Instead of just replicating a standard kitchen, however, why not give yours a genuine outdoor feel with living walls? Create a tight-knit hedge with plants such as juniper, boxwood or holly. Bamboo works well and grows quickly, though you have to watch out, as many species are very invasive. You can also train vines up trellises and over arbors. Plants that flower in the spring or summer put on a seasonal display that many find particularly appealing. Go for trumpet honeysuckle, clematis or mandevilla for showy blooms.

Outdoor kitchens are lovely ways to extend your living space into the great outdoors, so this spring, take the opportunity to spruce yours up with one of these landscaping projects. Before you know it, and without breaking the bank or your back, you’ll be cooking and dining in the kitchen of your dreams.

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Backyard Landscaping Tips: Staying Warm On A Cool Spring Night

Backyard Landscaping Tips: Staying Warm On A Cool Spring Night

Spring is around the corner in Minneapolis and surrounding communities. Minneapolis neighborhoods once again springs back to life, as soon as frost is no longer a threat. The thoughts of snow covered landscape of the community will yield to the cool and warm feelings of spring. Minneapolis home owners would once again be excited and looking forward to that time of the year when everything on their property springs back to green life. Have you thought about any special projects for your home this spring yet?

This is the time to begin planning ahead, getting ready to start that heartwarming spring Landscaping projects which will not only improve the property value of your home, but also enhance its looks to the admiration of your friends, neighbors and family members. The beautiful thing with the Minneapolis area is that there are great landscaping companies that will help you implement that special project of yours. These high quality landscaping companies have all the trained personnel and right equipment to help you do that special spring landscaping project you have always wanted to do.

If you are planning to plant some trees, for instance, professional Landscaping companies know the best trees that are native to your area. They also know the exact time to plant your tress both outside the front of your home or at your backyard. They will advice you on some backyard project ideas which will enable you to stay warm on cool nights. This article discusses some ideas for your spring landscaping projects.

Fireplace Pits/Fireplaces

Are you interested in building a new fireplace or even replacing your old fireplace altogether? This is an excellent idea for springtime landscaping. Your professional landscaper will offer you great ideas on choosing best accessories for your fire pit, and fireplace such as fireplace doors, mantels, fireplace inserts, logs as well as fireplace screens. This is a great time to start planning because the snow is melting and the chilly spring air is blowing in. The best thing about a fireplace is that you can use it year round!

Outdoor rooms, Patios, and outdoor Terraces

Adding an outdoor room or structures such as Patios, and outdoor terraces to your home is a great idea for a spring time project. It not only provides the family with additional space which your family needs, it also adds additional value to your home. Most families need more room and spaces in their house. An outdoor room can help decongest places like your garage when you move some outdoor furniture out of the garage to your newly build outdoor room. Patios and outdoor terraces are also great springtime projects which could be started early enough and completed in time for your family’s enjoyment when spring finally arrives.


There’s no greater way to enjoy a cool spring night than in a pool. Adding a swimming pool to your backyard is a great project you can also plan for this spring. A swimming pool will undoubtedly help your family enjoy your backyard no matter how low the temperature dips. It will also enhance the value of your home. Surprisingly the cost of adding a swimming pool may be smaller than the added value it brings to your property overall.

Heated lighting

This spring while planning your outdoor landscaping projects, you should also consider heated outdoor lighting as part of your spring time landscaping goals. This will come handy for your outdoor rooms, and provide some warmth during Minneapolis spring which can still have its cool and chilly moments occasionally.

Contact your Minneapolis professional landscapers today by filling out the form below. They will help you implement your chosen spring landscape projects.


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Best Ideas for Swimming Pool Landscaping

Best Ideas for Swimming Pool Landscaping

Get a head start when creating a high interest landscape look for around your luxury pools this spring and summer. Enjoy luxurious foliage, with renewed hardscaping ideas that pack a fabulous punch of color!

Green Foliage for your Pool Landscape

If your foliage is looking a bit overgrown after the winter, this is the perfect time to give your pool plants a good trim while your pool cover is still protecting your pool. Many homeowners enjoy using a garden plotting software program to set up their plants before purchasing them; you can design your pool area, and pool house landscape with the sunlight path in mind. Sun-loving plants need to be out front to catch the most rays, and you can use taller plant to shadow plants that need less sunlight. Another consideration is color patterns, combine good color combinations according to whether you love muted tone combinations or brilliant color contrasts. Bring tropical-themed family fun pools to life with brilliant purples, oranges, and hot pinks or fuchsia colored flowering bushes, against a backdrop of deep greens and lime green foliage with interesting large leaves. For a more sophisticated look of classic elegance, use a repetitive pattern of deep greens, and lots of white flowers in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, add exotic grasses and large leaf tropical greenery.

Mulch Around Your Pool

Once you select your garden theme and design to surround your luxury pools, you can decide if you want to repeat the same pattern of plants to match the areas leading to and around your pool house. If the purpose of your landscape in this area is to provide more privacy, you might decide to use larger versions of the same plants, or just mimic the color scheme with greenery that provides more screening. An essential way to tie in all of your landscaping areas is by using the same texture, and color of mulch materials around the property. The best thing about using mulch is the benefits mulch has for adding nutrients into the soil to keep your plants robust. Much keeps the temperature and moisture of the soil uniform, and it prevents erosion of soil as well. These types of mulch include finely shredded compost and the red tone shredded wood mulch that contrasts beautifully with green foliage and concrete colors. In addition to nutrient advantages, natural mulch cover is protective of your plant environments, and the eye appeal is the perfect finish to make your plant life areas look crisp and neat. For a statelier, formal appearance, use the black dyed mulch for great contrast. The dark color makes your garden look cooler and more shady and helped colorful flowers really stand out. It takes very little upkeep to ensure your pool area continues to look pristine, once you have mulch in place, because mulching also prevents the invasion of new weeds or unwanted growth. Mulch products have many benefits and purposes for your landscape, and it is an affordable option. Consider purchasing mulch in bulk quantities, instead of individual bags to save on the cost. Mulch will enhance the look of your luxury pools and protect your investment of plants, shrubs, and tropical plants. Keep in mind little, or large, bare feet running around the pool areas, the best mulch for these areas would be small or large rounded stone. The look of river jack pebbles or smooth stones is a bit rustic, with natural mixed colors that accent luxury pools and planting areas. You can use a variety of sized rocks to prevent wind blowing your mulch into your lovely pool and keep rain water in place while it drains. This is a great way to keep your plant’s roots moist and cooler in the summer heat. For an additional layer of protection, you can start with a layer of compost screened topsoil mix, or regular topsoil before the decorative mulch. This adds an insulation of nutrients to last the season, and it is going to stay in place where the plants need it beneath the top layer of mulch dressing. pool landscape The amazing transition you will see in your pool pictures will make these professional touches more than worth a few extra minutes in your poolside gardens. Everyone wants to feature their pool areas during this time of year when the barbecues, swim parties, and outdoor activities bring family and friends to your yard. Family fun pools with attractive eye appeal will be the height of social activity this year. People will be drawn to your pool house area if you have added an element of foliage privacy, instead of running back and forth through your house when they are wet.

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Spring Clean Up: 5 Tasks For A Better Yard

Spring Clean Up: 5 Tasks For A Better Yard

When the weather comes out of its long winter tirade, your yard will almost certainly look like a wreck, making the spring clean up tasks feel overwhelming. Especially if you live somewhere that sees a lot of snow (like the Gopher State!), the spring thaw might reveal a yard that needs serious work. Don’t worry though, your yard clean up in spring doesn’t have to feel like a huge undertaking. Break your tasks down into manageable chunks and dive into them, starting with the main steps outlined below.

Perform a General Tidy Up

Your starting point for spring yard maintenance should be a general garden tidy up. If you didn’t do it in fall, pull up old annuals that by now are likely dead or withered. Again, if it hasn’t been done yet, prune perennial grasses before they show signs of new green growth. Sweep or rake up pine needles, leaves or other yard debris you may have left as winter cover, and clean off manmade surfaces like patios and walkways. Pick up branches that have broken due to snow or ice, and either dispose of them or, if they’re bigger, chop them up for firewood.

Care for Trees and Shrubs

In many parts of the United States, spring signals the start of warmer weather. If you’ve used plastic, landscape cloth or burlap to protect your trees or shrubs, you can remove it now. Spring is also the best time to trim branches and twigs that show signs of winterkill, so add that to your list of spring clean up tasks. Many trees and shrubs also appreciate spring pruning for shape and health, but make sure to do so before they bud out or you’ll risk chopping off new growth. Others, however, shouldn’t be pruned at this time, since they flower on year-old growth. Make sure you know which is which before taking shears to your yard.

Divide Perennials

Your perennials stay in the ground year after year, and eventually they’re going to outgrow their planting areas. If you’ve maintained your yard for a while, chances are that at least a few of your tried-and-true garden mainstays will need to be divided and replanted every spring. Dig up perennials grasses and plants, separating them at the roots and replanting them.

Get Your Lawn Shipshape

spring dew on lawn

Over the winter, lawns and the ground they grow in tend to deteriorate at least somewhat. Soil becomes compacted from heavy rain, making it harder for water and nutrients to penetrate and causing unevenness. Some spots become patchy or bare, and weeds move in. End of winter lawn care is crucial to healthy grass in spring and summer, so start by leveling ground if needed and removing weeds, preferably by hand so you can avoid using pesticides where people walk and play. Then fill in bare patches with new grass seed, or start a new lawn if you really need to. Water the new grass seeds in unless the rain associated with normal spring weather takes care of it for you.

Repair Landscape Structures

One of the best ways to keep your yard looking sharp all year round is to care for its accents, like that granite stone patio or wooden deck. Winter can be hard on deck or porch wood, stone structures and even trellises, so take the time to care for all landscape elements. Remove old paint from fences and sheds, sand where needed and reapply paint or stain. Check supporting structures to ensure they’re still sturdy, and give trellises the wobble test to make sure they’re still bearing up under the weight of your plants. Scrub mold, mildew and accumulated grime off of yard structures with a simple solution of water and mild soap, with a dash of bleach if needed.

Spring cleaning outside can feel like a lot, so cut yourself a break and don’t expect to do it all in one sitting (or standing). Even if you are a weekend warrior, break up the tasks over the course of several weeks to keep in manageable and get your yard back into shape quickly.

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Spring Landscaping: 8 Tips For A Gorgeous Lawn This Year

Spring Landscaping: 8 Tips For A Gorgeous Lawn This Year

The frost will soon  be over and we’re sure you can’t wait to get outside and begin your spring landscaping. Have you planned for a garden according to your soil type, geographic location and local plants? Below are 8 tips for getting the best results for landscaping your yard.

1) Plant according to your climate

Before you rush out and purchase plants or seeds because of their exotic color or unusual features you should know the climate of your locale. This is crucial to successful gardening. Besides your town location, your own yard has a separate temperature in itself. Purchase plants that correspond to the various climates in your yard, sunny lawn spots, tree shaded areas, etc.

2) Do your homework

Plan exactly what you want your yard to look like in advance. Write down the details of what you plan to do and which sections of your yard you will begin with first. Get advice from professionals or the employees at your local lawn and garden stores. If you plan on hiring a gardening expert to help you, figure out the cost of that as well as what you will purchase for your yard.

3) Pest elimination

syrphid fly garden pest

Planting and watering aren’t the only components for achieving a great lawn and garden. There is also the threat of garden pests and wildlife which can ruin your handy work before you are finished. Consider fencing or wires to keep out the wildlife. Some natural plants are natural deterrents to insects and animals as well.

Plant at the correct time of year

Even though you are eager to begin planning your ‘dream garden’ right away getting plants in at the right season give the best results. Always look at the seed packages for the best time to plant. For pre-potted plants, look at websites that give tips about the best times of year to plant. Your plants and flowers will be healthier and last longer if you follow this advice.

Estimate growth

It is important to know just how large your shrubs, trees and flowers will grow in certain time spans and to estimate exactly how big they can get. Surrounding a small tree with a hedge may look pretty right then, but if the hedge grows to be taller than the tree it will ruin the effect – and the tree! Be sure to look at height and growth information of the plant before you purchase it. This way you will know what to expect beforehand.

Be prepared for maintenance

yard maintenance in spring

Growing a garden is not a touch and go project. Landscaping takes time, effort and care. Once your flowers and plants are in you have to water, fertilizer, trim off withered branches and plant parts, etc. Once you keep this factor in mind you can get the plants that require the least amount of care and attention for your location.

Landscape to compliment your home

The prime objective of landscaping is not only to beautify your yard, but also to give your home an aesthetic appeal. Create a horticultural ‘masterpiece’ by purchasing trees, hedges and flowers with color schemes to bring out the beauty of your home. If your house is white, choose plants that have rich, dark undertones. If your home is pale blue, nothing will look lovelier than bright yellow daffodils and vivid yellow tulips.

Your lawn

The lawn is the foundation of your yard and ironically it will be the last bit of horticultural ornamentation to go down. Choosing which grass types go best for your yard is determined by climate, soil and rain fall. Warm season grasses are:

  • Bermuda grass
  • Bahia grass

Cool season grass:

  • Bluegrass
  • Fine fescues

Special needs grasses: Shade:

  • Rye grass
  • Bentgrass

High traffic:

  • Bahia grass
  • Perennial grass

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6 Fun Suggestions For Springtime Landscape Design

6 Fun Suggestions For Springtime Landscape Design

The hazy days of winter are gone and it’s time to bring on the green! Whether you’re a Do-It-Yourselfer or getting some help from the professionals, chances are you want your yard to stand-out above the rest. Here are some simple design ideas to help make your garden the envy of the neighborhood.

Spice Things Up With Herbs

herb garden

Professional chefs have spouted the virtues of using home-grown herbs in the kitchen for years. Even if you’re not a creative cook these hearty little plants can give your landscape just the right sort of accent. Whether you border with mint, blanket with chamomile, or make a classy centerpiece with rosemary, herbs offer you a wide range of design options. (The scrumptious smells are a great bonus too.)

Integrate Your Flowers and Veggies

vegetable garden

Who says flowers, veggies, and herbs have to be in their own secluded spots? Many types of veggies and decorative flowers can play very nicely with one another. Not only can combining different vegetables and flowers add a new dimension of color and diversity to your yard, it can actually be beneficial too! Flowers attract pollinators and other “good” insects that can keep your veggies healthy and bring in better crop yields. Better yet, some destructive pests are repelled by vegetable and herbs, which can save your delicate flowers from harm.

Get Responsible (And Save Time) With Native Species

trillium flower found in minnesota

If you’re sustainability-minded, or just want a garden with easy up-keep, look into the rich catalogue of plants that are native to your area. Here in Minnesota we’re lucky to have thousands of natural local vegetation to choose from. Native plants are already adapted to the soil and climate, meaning they last longer and need less attention than foreign species. Need help with determining which plants are native? Ask local landscape pros or look into your local Department of Natural Resources.

Go Rustic While Recycling

From mosaics made from leftover tile, to terrariums made from empty beer bottles, to herb gardens planted in cutely-painted egg shells, there are countless design opportunities when you recycle. Why toss out those old, weathered shutters when they can become a fern’s new home? That tire that went bust over the winter can be transformed into a haute planter. Recycling in your garden is not only responsible, it’s a whole lot of fun!

Adopt A Tree

The tree-adoption movement is gaining nationwide popularity as a way to conserve and increase our rapidly depleting tree population. In Minneapolis we have the “City Trees” program, encouraging residents in even urban neighborhoods to plant trees. Our state tree is the Norway pine, which naturally does very well throughout the year. Other smart adoptables are the River Birch, Northern hackberry, and Matador maple. Some fruit trees are hearty enough to survive our notoriously harsh winters too. You might want to steer clear of ash trees, though. The species is experiencing a lot of issues with beetle infestations that can ruin a tree before it has a chance to grow. Other hazards include deadly Dutch elm disease and oak wilt. Keep these in mind when selecting a tree to adopt.

To Seed or To Sod? That Is The Question

Seeding and sodding are two different grass-growing methods that have their own distinct pros and cons. While seeding is cheaper and offers more variety, it takes longer to establish and there is only a small window of time to seed (typically late summer through fall). Sodding, on the other hand, can be placed any time during growing season, establishes quickly, and is great for tough areas predisposed to erosion. Sod is more expensive and doesn’t offer as much selection, but it can be the perfect solution for those who need a perfect landscape early. (One other note, sod is notoriously more labor-intensive, so it’s best to leave it to the professionals.)


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Garden Wars: 5 Allies Who Can Make You Victorious

Garden Wars: 5 Allies Who Can Make You Victorious

War! You have spent many long hours working to grow a vegetable garden in your backyard when one day you notice that your precious veggies are under attack by garden pests. You have two choices: you can throw in the towel and let the garden pests win, or you can fight back. If you don’t take action now, your vegetable garden will become nothing but a memory.

If you are growing a vegetable garden, you will need to make sure you protect it from pests. Garden pests can eat your vegetables and destroy what you are working so hard to build. Fortunately, there are many ways to combat a garden pest infestation. You can use other insects to get rid of them! This article will discuss 5 different insects that will make garden pests think twice about invading your garden.

1) The Green Lacewing

green lacewing garden pest

It is only when green lacewings are larvae that they eat other insects. When they become adults, they give up their predatory ways and live on pollen and nectar. Before they grow up, however, they can be a great addition to your garden.

Green lacewings feed on smaller insects and their eggs. Their prey includes aphids, spider mites, thrips, and whiteflies. They tend to favor prey that is soft bodied.

When they hunt, green lacewings lay in wait for their prey. When their victim comes close, they pounce onto them and stab them with pointed mandibles. Then, they enjoy their meal. Lacewings are perfect allies to have because they will only feed on the insects that cause harm to your garden. They won’t cause any damage to your vegetables when they become adults. Additionally, they can also help cross-pollinate your garden as well.

2) Assassin Bugs

assassin bug garden pest

Assassin bugs are one of the most effective hunters you can have. They have various methods of catching and immobilizing their prey. These methods involve camouflage, trickery, or outright brutality.If you need a ferocious predatory insect, look no further than the dreaded assassin bug.

The good thing about assassin bugs is that they feed on many different types of pests. Their prey can include anything from beetles to caterpillars. They are exceedingly aggressive. They will even bite humans if they are agitated, so be careful when dealing with them.

The assassin bug’s method of attack involves sneaking up on its prey, then using its beak to stab it. After its victim is dead, the assassin bug will feed on its body fluids. Assassin bugs are a great solution for the more persistent garden pests.

3) Pirate Bugs

pirate bug garden pest

No, these are not bugs that sail around on the sea looking for other insect ships to pillage. However, pirate bugs can be a fierce weapon against garden pests.

Don’t let their size fool you. Pirate bugs are tiny insects that are every bit as ferocious as larger predators. They are only 1/16th of an inch in length. Their small size makes it easier for them to blend into their environment, as they are very difficult to see. This means they can catch garden pests unawares. Like green lacewings, pirate bugs tend to feed on aphids, mites, and thrips.

4) Syrphid Flies

syrphid fly garden pest

Syrphid flies can easily be mistaken for bees due to their black and yellow color. Similar to butterflies, they feed on pollen and nectar. Like green lacewings, syrphid flies are only predatory when they are larvae.

One of their methods involves hiding in the leaves where the aphids gather. Their prey comes to them.Then they attack. An added benefit is that they also pollinate your flowers when they become adults.

5) Ladybugs

lady bug

Not only are ladybugs deceitfully pretty, they are a great help when keeping pests from attacking your garden. Ladybugs feed on aphids, mites, scales, and other types of bugs.

You can actually purchase bags of ladybugs at nurseries. After you let them loose, they will wreak havoc on any and all garden pests that are infesting your garden. The only challenge when it comes to ladybugs is encouraging them to stay in your garden, especially after they have eaten all the pests. They tend to move on when there is no more food.

Getting rid of garden pests is essential if you want to protect your vegetable garden. If they are not controlled, they can cause a lot of damage. using predatory insects is a great way to eliminate the threat of garden pests without using harmful pesticides. This will keep your vegetables safe to eat and free of pests. If you’re having issues with garden pests these insects can help you keep your plants growing for a long time.


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How to Use Your Outdoor Fireplace Year Round in Minnesota

How to Use Your Outdoor Fireplace Year Round in Minnesota

Spring and summer nights are perfect for relaxing in from front of your outdoor fireplace, but an outdoor fireplace is also an excellent way to bring the warm and inviting ambiance of a fire to your backyard. Don’t let the cold weather prevent you from enjoying your outdoor living space. Here are some tips to help you enjoy relaxing in front of a fire all year round in Minnesota.

Choosing an Outdoor Fireplace
When shopping for an outdoor fireplace in Minnesota, there are a few factors to keep in mind. For example, a wall-mounted electric fireplace is perfect if you have children, because this type of fireplace is typically installed high enough to prevent small children from being able to reach it. Outdoor fireplaces can burn wood, propane or natural gas. When deciding what you prefer to burn, it is important to also consider what size and output is the most appropriate for the space.

Where to Install an Outdoor Fireplace
A proper outdoor fireplace installation in Minnesota will help you get the most beauty and warmth. The installation must be done to meet all local codes, which typically include firebricks designed to withstand the heat of an outdoor fireplace. This is especially important if the outdoor fireplaces shares an exterior wall with your home. The brick wall surrounding the fireplace should be installed close in order to absorb the heat and radiate it back out when you are relaxing in front of the fireplace. The base as well as the surrounding wall may be constructed with concrete, heat resistant tiles, stucco, stone or brick. Other tips for the installation of your outdoor fireplace include:

  • The fireplace should coordinate with your existing architecture and landscaping
  • The fireplace must be sturdy and weather resistant
  • Prevailing winds, snow and ice should be considered during the installation
  • Make sure the cleaning handles, gas fittings and all other maintenance items are easily accessed.
  • A masonry fireplace is heavy, so be sure to include a solid foundation

Outdoor Fireplace Emissions
One of the primary concerns in Minnesota is the air quality. Winter weather can cause an outdoor fireplace to create excess smoke, which is a major source of pollution, so it is essential to check with your county and city about the rules and regulations regarding outdoor fireplaces. In some situations, you may not be permitted to install a wood burning fireplace outdoors, but a natural gas, electric or propane may be permitted. There are low-emission styles of closed system fireplaces that meet the majority of emission laws for outdoor use.

Fire Prevention
An outdoor fireplace poses as many, if not more risks of a fire as an indoor fireplace. An outdoor fireplace can cause a house fire as well as a fire in the landscaping of your home. It is essential to take the proper safety methods to prevent a dangerous fire. Some tips to ensure you are safety using your outdoor fireplace during a Minnesota winter includes:

  • When storing firewood for an outdoor fireplace, it should be stacked at least 30 feet from your home and the fireplace.
  • Make sure the roof coverings do not have any openings that could allow entry of a fire. The eves that extend beyond the exterior walls must be constructed with fire resistant materials.
  • Keep the roof of your home as clear as possible of potential fire hazards, such as pine needles, leaves and other debris.
  • Remove tree branches that are hanging above vents, the chimney and/or flues.
  • All vent openings to the attic, foundation, soffits and/or eaves should be covered with a noncombustible and corrosion resistant small wire mesh screen to prevent flying ash and/or sparks from entering your home.
  • If the fireplace is on or near the deck, make sure the deck is sealed with an appropriate sealer that can withstand the heat of the fireplace.
  • Remove snow and ice from the deck, patio or foundation area of the fireplace to prevent an excess of melting snow and ice from flooding your home.

There are a wide range of benefits that come with installing an outdoor fireplace that can be used year round. A permanent brick or stone outdoor fireplace allows you to get out and enjoy the outdoors, regardless of the Minnesota winters. One of the best benefits of an outdoor fireplace is that it will significantly increase the resell value of your home. The fireplace will make the outdoor living area feel warm, comfortable and inviting, which is an important factor when trying to sell your home. However, it is essential for the safety of your family that the outdoor fireplace be installed according to the rules and regulations of your county and that you maintain the outdoor fireplace in the same manner as you would an indoor fireplace.

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How to Jazz Up Small Outdoor Living Spaces

How to Jazz Up Small Outdoor Living Spaces


Many people feel that because they have a small outdoor living space they can not have a beautiful and exciting outdoor living space as well. This is not true. With the right care and attention, even a small space can become a place where your friends and family will love to gather and spend time together out doors. Here are a few tips that can help you jazz up your small out door spaces.

Keep It Simple

When you have a small space the potential for clutter is great. If you try to do too much at once, the area will take on a cramped or overly busy look which will not contribute to the relaxing, enjoyable environment you hope to create. Streamlining the scope of your endeavors will lead to a more peaceful and relaxing area. Pinpoint a few elements that you would like to incorporate and then focus some real quality attention on those things, rather than trying to do several elements all at once.

Choose Size Appropriate Yard Furniture

If you are dealing with a small area, you will need to take that into consideration when purchasing lawn or patio furniture. Patio furniture comes in a lot of sizes and arrangements. Just like with indoor furniture, the size of the space must be taken into consideration when purchasing furniture. You may feel tempted to buy several pieces of furniture in hopes that you will have lots of visitors to your newly re done yard, however, it is better to purchase a few very tasteful pieces that will fit nicely into the area, and then have extra folding lawn chairs on hand, stored somewhere out of sight.

Do Not Let Landscaping Take Over Your Life

A nicely landscaped yard can make even a small lawn look beautiful and inviting, however, your landscaping should not be so complicated or involved that it will stress you out. If fewer plants, shrubs or landscaping elements can still make a statement without stressing you out, then go with less. It is very easy when planning a new outdoor space to get caught up in what a finished project is going to look like, but you must remember that what ever you establish in your new out door area, must be maintained until you decide to change it. During the fall and winter months, some of this maintenance can get pretty involved. This is especially true if you decide to incorporate elements such as fountains, ponds or fragile plants. Make sure that the elements you choose are things you are educated on and willing to maintain throughout the year.

Pinpoint Your Goal

It is helpful with landscaping, as with all aspects of our lives, to pinpoint our goal, and then work incrementally toward achieving that. With an out door space, pinpointing a goal can help you to better choose the elements you will want to incorporate. Is you main goal to establish a beautiful garden area for occasional sitting? Do you want a family friendly area where kids can play? Are you hoping to create the ideal weekend BBQ destination for friends and family? Each of these goals would require different types of planning and different elements. A person who just wants a quite flower garden to sit in would not need space for a swing set or sand box like a family with small children would. Someone who just wants a comfortable BBQ spot may not care very much about what kind of flowers or shrubs are planted in the out door area. Taking these points into consideration will help you plan your perfect small yard, or help you to better instruct the landscaping company that will be assisting you.

Create a Budget

Like with just about any household project, re doing an out door space can get pricey if you are not careful. Even re doing a small yard can get out of budget bounds when you do not pay close attention to how much you are spending. Do not underestimate the power of the thrift stores and yard sales while shopping for new things for your yard. You can often find great deals on the things you want by looking through other people’s things they are trying to get rid of. This is a great way to recycle, reuse and save money. You do not have to spend a fortune to have a great out door living area. You simply have to make some good, conscious decisions, plan carefully, and realize your tiny yard’s potential.

Small yards do not have to be boring or unusable yards. Keep it simple, plan carefully, stick to a budget and enjoy your lovely out door living space.


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Preparing your Backyard Garden for Winter

Preparing your Backyard Garden for Winter

In the fall, a lot of people want to just rake up the leaves in their backyard and put away their lawn mower. While it can be tempting to skip a lot of the backyard landscaping chores in the fall, it is important to use this time to plan your yard and garden for next year. Most people don’t really think of the fall as the time to plant a garden, but the truth is that this is the best time of year to prepare your soil and save the plants from your spring and summer garden that you want to keep for the coming year. If you simply let your back yard sit throughout the winter, you’ll have to spend a lot more time and money getting it ready for spring. Start with a thorough backyard clean-up. Rake up leaves, remove fallen branches, and make the kids pick up their toys and store them away for the winter. Anything left on the ground has the potential to block sunlight, water, and nutrients from reaching the soil. That means that after the snow melts in winter, your yard will show a lot of dead patches, and the grass and other plants will take a lot longer to turn green. In a backyard garden, soil that doesn’t get nutrients will be difficult to start seeds in come spring.

Backyard Fertilizing

Next, fertilize the soil in your garden. While a lot of people assume that they don’t need to fertilize until springtime, the truth is that the plants in your garden have been leaching nutrients from the soil throughout the summer. If you leave the soil unfertilized over the winter, any plants you want to save will have a hard time regenerating once warmer weather appears. Furthermore, fertilizing now is a good idea for an inexperienced gardener. Rather than worrying about “burning” the soil in the springtime with the wrong fertilizer mix, your soil will have months to recover from any mistakes before you have to worry about plants. By the time spring comes, your garden soil will have a lot of nutrients, making it much easier to get plants started. One easy way to fertilize your now empty garden beds in your backyard is to spread a layer of compost over the area. Compost will help to keep the ground warmer for longer (although you should not expect it to prevent freezing). As the garden beds accumulate snow and the temperature rises, the melting water will carry the nutrients from the compost into the ground. When spring comes, you’ll be able to start planting without a lot of prep work. After fertilizing, it’s time to make a definitive decision about which plants you want to save for next year. Pull out everything you don’t want to save and either discard or compost it. For the plants you are savings, it’s a good idea to take the time to protect them and prepare them for winter. In the case of trees, start by pruning back any dead or dying branches. If it hasn’t frozen yet, cut these branches behind the place where they fork. This will stimulate the tree to heal itself before the frost comes. It is important to note, however, that if it has frozen already, do not cut any live branches. Once the temperature drops below freezing the tree will not be able to heal itself, and this kind of “hard” pruning can do more damage than good. Dead branches need to be removed because they are a safety hazard. If they are weighted down with ice and snow, they could snap off and hurt someone. Also go ahead and remove any fruit that hasn’t already been collected. If you have vegetable, herb, and/or flowering plants that you want to keep, take steps to protect them from the cold. In the case of perennials you won’t have to do much. If they are native to the Minneapolis area, they should come back on their own. Warmer weather plants, however, will probably need to be covered for the winter. You might want to consider layering mulch or compost around the base of these plants. This will help the root and stem to keep some warmth. It’s important to realize, however, that in Minneapolis this will not prevent the plants from freezing. Believe it or not, now is also a good time to plant bulbs. Garlic, tulips, and other similar plants do well when bulbs are planted in late fall. These bulbs use the winter to send out roots into the soil, then in the spring they are ready to bloom. Of course, if you are going to plants bulbs, then fertilizing your garden beds is extremely important. Finally, don’t forget to drain any automatic watering system with buried or above ground pipes before freezing temperatures arrive. While every system is different, there should be a valve that allows you to drain the entire system. Frozen water in your pipes can destroy your entire sprinkler system.

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