Outdoor Spaces

Tips for Watering Lawn in Summer

Posted on

Watering the lawn efficiently and appropriately involves more than simply watering every day.

When the weather is hot, how can you tell if your lawn and garden are getting enough water?

First, it’s not necessary to water lawns and plants every day. As a general rule, more plants are killed through over-watering than under-watering.

Second, understand the properties of the soil in your area. Water penetrates and behaves differently in differing types of soil — e.g., sandy or loose soil vs. clay. Check with your local nursery for watering tips for your local area. Set up a system that allows effective watering with penetration of 6″ to 8″ below the ground surface.

The basic fact is that you’ll need to find out how deeply the water is penetrating into the soil. To do that, all that’s needed is a shovel. Pick an inconspicuous spot where you’ve been irrigating. About 30 minutes after watering, dig a small hole and use your hand to check how deeply the water has penetrated. In most lawn and garden situations, it’s best if water is penetrating 6″ to 8″ beneath the surface of the soil.

Check several locations to see if irrigation is even throughout the yard. If there are dry spots, you may need to modify your irrigation techniques.

Watering systems are not always uniform in how they disperse water. Even if you water regularly, you may find that there are wet spots and dry spots around your yard. To check whether your watering system is working evenly across your yard, here’s a trick you can use to test it. Take some plastic cups and place them around your yard before you water. You can place a few coins in the bottoms of the cups to prevent them from blowing over.

Once the cups are placed, turn on your sprinkler system. Water will collect in the cups as you water.

After watering for about 30 minutes, compare the level of water in each of the cups. You may discover that there is more water in some of the cups than in others. Frequently, areas within close proximity to the sprinkler receive less water than areas several yards away. You may need to check the directions that come with your sprinkler to make it apply water more uniformly.

For watering shrubs and beds, there are techniques and tools that are more effective than ordinary lawn sprinklers. Dripper systems use a hose attached to a faucet and timer. Small holes are placed at appropriate locations along the length of a polyethylene hose. Tiny adapters are inserted into the holes to allow small 1/4-inch hose branches to be installed along the length of the hose. Water emitters of various types are attached at the ends of the smaller branches.

Water emitters — such as small spray-heads — can be placed strategically beneath individual plants to deliver water exactly where it’s most needed.

2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Another useful tool is the soaker-hose system. Like the dripper system, the soaker system uses a timer and a main hose to which smaller branches are attached. In this case, the smaller hoses are manufactured with “weeping pores” that allow water to soak out all along their length. Once the porous branches are attached to the main hose, and placed strategically at the bases and root systems of plants, the water is turned on. The soaker hose allows moisture to soak gently into the soil.

Find this and more landscaping tips on www.diynetwork.com

15 Ways to Upgrade Your Outdoor Decor for $30 or Less

Posted on

Outdoor decorating season is finally upon us! To celebrate, we’re sharing our favorite finds that won’t break the bank.

Now that winter is finally behind us — well, hopefully — and the sun is starting to shine again, I’m beyond ready to start spending some quality time outside. Summer is coming, after all. But instead of just plopping a towel down on the grass, I’ve decided to take my outdoor decor up a notch.

A few eye-catching accessories can instantly take your backyard, patio or balcony from drab to fab. And the best part? You don’t have to spend a ton of money to upgrade your space. Check out the affordable outdoor decor below, and get ready for the most stylish spring and summer of your life.

1: Geometric Rug

$24; kohls.com

2: Batik Pillow

$19.99; target.com

3: Colorful Lanterns

$19.95-$29.95; cb2.com

4: Patterned Seat Cushion

$12.99; hm.com

5: Pineapple Garden Flag

$12.95; jossandmain.com

6: Terra Cotta Bird Feeder

7: Hanging Pot Holder

8: Mason Jar String Lights

$24.99; worldmarket.com

9: White Drink Pitcher

$29.99; TJ Maxx Stores

10: Floral Outdoor Pillow

11: Triangle Vases

$20-$26; jaysonhome.com

12: Lace-Inspired Lantern

$15.96; pier1.com

13: Cursive Welcome Mat

$28.99; allmodern.com

14: Moon Garden Stake

15: Mini Blue Grill

$19.99; Marshalls Stores
Posted by Bridget Mallon on hgtv.com

It’s a Catio, Daddio! Safe Outdoor Access for Frisky Felines

Posted on

Move over, man caves. The catio has arrived.

Jennifer Hillman with Little Lord Founterloy in the background

Anyone interested in feline enrichment knows how much cats love the outdoors. They also know how risky it is for cats to be free-roaming — they can be hit by cars, trapped in garages and just plain lost. Then there are the birds they kill (although windows also do major damage to bird populations).

Some of the world’s most forward-thinking cat owners have devised a solution: the catio.

It’s the animal-lover’s answer to the man cave, a space set aside to keep our feline companions safe and happy.

Basically, catios are screened-in porches glorified with stairs, shelves, cushions and scratching posts — as well as sturdy walls, roofs and floors to keep cats in and other critters out. Catios come in all shapes and sizes and can be homemade, custom made or ordered online.

Margo in her catio (photo courtesy of Jean White)

From these enclosed perches, cats can mock-chirp at birds and squirrels all the livelong day without anyone coming to harm.

‘Go on out; it’s beautiful out’

Jennifer Hillman of Seattle has two catios: one built in 2001 when she moved to a new house and did not want her five cats roaming the neighborhood, and the other built six years ago where her shed once stood. They’re connected by a little tunnel.

The cats tend to visit after meals, and Hillman jokes that she sometimes feels like a pestering mom — “go on out; it’s beautiful out!”

She figures her catios cost about $500 each, mostly for wood and wire.

Her catios were part of a recent Catio Tour in Seattle sponsored and organized by The Humane Society of the United States, where Hillman is director of strategic advocacy and campaigns; PAWS, a Seattle-area rescue and wildlife rehabilitation center; and Catio Spaces, a Seattle company that designs and builds catios.

Cynthia Chomos, founder of Catio Spaces, built her first catio in 2013 for her orange-and-white tabby, Serena, to “experience the sights and sounds and smells and stimulation of the natural world.”

Now Serena follows the sun between two catios — one in the backyard facing east, and one in a window box facing west — and Chomos designs and oversees the building of catios for other homes. They tend to measure 6-by-8 or 8-by-10 feet and cost roughly $2,500 to $5,000.

People can also buy Catio Spaces’ do-it-yourself plans for $49.95, with $5 going to an animal welfare organization.

One of Chomos’ most interesting projects was the building of a 26-foot catio that wrapped around a house to keep two “serial bird killers” and their two “canine cohorts” indoors. The owner — who can walk through the catio to reach the backyard — has since added a chicken to the mix, Chomos has heard.

‘A vet bill is way more’

Although that sounds like the cat’s meow, one catio set-up that would be hard to beat belongs to Dan Reeder, who built and bolted a three-story catio townhouse to his own house and connected it via a long tunnel to a catio large enough for Dan to join the cats in the backyard.

The retired math teacher and paper mache artist figures he spent about $3,000 on the structures, which are well-fortified with wire mesh even under the main catio floor, because “I didn’t want a possum to appear in the house.”

The catios were finished in time for his cat Riley to spend her last summer outdoors before she died at the age of 20.

His other two cats, Max and Eddie, continue to enjoy their outdoor time, and the catios have curbed Reeder’s guilt over Max waiting for him to play. “I used to feel guilty all day,” Reeder said.

Jean White of Bellevue, WA, bought her catio, which was also on the recent tour, for about $1,200 from the website Cats on Deck.

“It may sound pricey, but a vet bill is way more,” said White, who lives near a bus route and in an area where there are coyotes and raccoons.

Like most catios, hers is connected to the house by cat doors — in her case, one in the bathroom window and one connected to a sliding-glass door.

“Margo, the Siamese, loves it,” she said. When Jean first adopted Scout, a black-and-white tuxedo cat, she didn’t realize there was a cat door in the wall and thought Margo was disappearing into a curtain.

“She was so surprised!” Then Scout figured it out, and now the cats alternate between lounging and chasing each other in a loop, day and night.

Scout and Margo (photo courtesy of Jean White)

Posted by Melissa Alisson on Zillow

Get Out! 7 Tips for Making the Most of Your Outdoor Space

Posted on

When your mom told you to turn off the TV and play outdoors already, she knew what she was talking about. Hanging outside is good for your mental and physical well-being.

Matelly/Getty Images

As adults, having an outdoor retreat adds an economic component: Upwards of 80% of homebuyers said patios and front porches are “essential” or “desirable,” according to the “What Buyers Really Want” survey from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

So how come when we move into our dream home, we hardly ever use our decks, porches, and patios?

An anthropological UCLA study, described in the book “Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century,” blames our fascination with digital devices—tablets, computers, televisions, games—for keeping us cooped up. The UCLA research participants spent less than half an hour each week in their outdoor space. And these were Californians.

So this summer let’s make a pledge to pay more than lip service to outdoor living so we can be happier, create lasting memories, and generally take advantage of what home has to offer.

1.  Go overboard on comfy

Comfy outdoor space | Spaces Images/Getty Images

When you step into your outdoor space, your first sensation should be “ahhhh.” If you’re not feeling it, then your space is likely lacking the comfy factor. Comfy is easy to achieve and can be as low cost as you want. Start simple with a cushion or two or even a throw. Some other simple strategies:

  • Make sure your outdoor seating is as cushy as your indoor furniture. Today’s outdoor cushions aren’t the plastic-y, sweat-inducing pillows of the past. Plus, they can handle a downpour and spring back once they dry.
  • Lay down outdoor rugs so you’re just as comfortable barefoot as you are inside.
  • Give yourself some privacy. Create natural screens with shrubs, bushes, or even bamboo reeds. Or install prefab screens from your local home improvement store.

———

2.  Create a broadband paradise

Enjoy watching TV outdoors | Robert Daly/Getty Images

Our devices and electronics have conspired to keep us on lock down. Since we’re not about to chuck our digital toys, boot up your outdoor space so you can keep texting, posting to Instagram, and watching cat videos.

  • Wireless outdoor Wi-Fi antennas provide an extra boost so you can stay connected.
  • A solar USB charging station keeps your gizmos powered.
  • Wireless speakers make it easy to bring your music outdoors, and mask a noisy neighborhood.
  • An all-weather outdoor TV lets you stay outside for the big game.

———

3.  Blur the line between indoors and out

Inside? Outside? Both? | Astronaut Images/Getty Images

Creating a seamless transition between your home’s interior and exterior isn’t as simple or low cost as adding comfort, but it’s the most dramatic and effective way to enhance your enjoyment of the space. Plus, it can increase your home’s value.

  • The most straightforward, cost-effective solution: Replace a standard door opening with sliding or glass French doors.
  • Use the same weatherproof flooring, such as stone tile or scored concrete, outside as well as in the room leading to your backyard oasis.

———

4.  Light the way

Outdoor lighting | Cultura/Frank and Helena/Getty Images

When the sun goes down, don’t be left groping for your wine glass. Outdoor lightingdresses up your home’s marketability and appeal (exterior lighting is buyers’ most wanted outdoor feature, according to the NAHB study), makes it safer, and lets you spend more time outside.

  • Use uplighting to highlight trees, architectural details, or other focal points.
  • Add sconces or pendant lights to make evening entertaining, grilling, and reading easier.
  • Illuminate walkways, rails, and steps with landscape solar lights.
  • Hang fairy or string lights to set an enchanting tone.

———

5.  Make your mark

Outdoor oven | Dario Egidi/iStock

Let your style dominate your backyard space.

  • Create a path made with colored glass, brick, or other interesting found materials.
  • Craft a one-of-kind outdoor chandelier.
  • Build a pizza oven, custom seating, or other feature you crave.
  • Add personal décor that makes you happy.

In fact, make your outdoor retreat an ongoing project where you can hone your DIY skills.

———

6.  Don’t give anyone an excuse to stay inside

Fire pit | Neil Podoll Photography/iStock

Your outdoor space will magnetically draw family and friends if it has features they find appealing.

  • A fire pit is a proven winner. Food and fire have brought humans together since the dawn of time.
  • Give wee ones the gift of magical thinking with an outdoor playhouse.
  • Add whimsy with a chalkboard fence that both kids and fun-loving adults will enjoy.
  • Add a doggie window in your fence to entertain Spot. Installing a dog run may even boost your home’s value. FYI: It’s been said that pets are one of the top reasons why people buy houses.

Related: Outdoor Projects You Can Do with the Kids

———

7.  Rebuff the elements

Canopied outdoor area | dogayusufdokdok/iStock

Hot sun, rain, wind gusts, and bugs are the archenemy of good times. Here are tips and strategies to help you throw shade on Mother Nature:

  • Install an awning, canopy, or pergola. It’ll make it easier to read your Kindle or iPad and keep you dry during a summer shower. Look for products with polycarbonate panels, which block UV rays, too.
  • Rig glass fence windscreens to the keep your BBQ fires burning.
  • Screen in your porch or deck against bugs. But screening will be for naught if you forget the slats between wood planks. Cover the floor with outdoor carpet or staple screening to the underside of floorboards.

Related: Ideas for Living Privacy Screens

This story was written by Deirdre Sullivan and originally published on HouseLogic.

He Shed, She Shed—How to Customize a Shed for Work or Play

Posted on

If you’ve been dreaming of an addition for your home but don’t have the space or the funds, we have a solution for you: a shed.

No, we don’t mean those prefab metal contraptions available in the parking lot of your neighborhood Home Depot. The modern take on backyard sheds is anything but a bare-bones storage solution for lawn equipment and bikes. Sheds can be used as outdoor bars, yoga studios, relaxation and mediation centers, private retreats, and office spaces. Some are even nicknamed “she sheds,” the feminine equivalent of the man caves. Compact and customizable, they can even be beautiful. And they’re a great way to make the most of your existing property.

A light-filled shed, courtesy of Studio Shed
A light-filled shed, courtesy of Studio Shed

A shed of one’s own

A shed may have a small impact on your yard, but it could have a big impact on your life. Barbara Techel, a blogger and author, credits it with improving her marriage.

“I decided to become a writer at 40. I wrote my first children’s book at my kitchen table, and it was loud. My husband was in and out all of the time, and I really craved quiet time,” Techel says.

Her husband suggested the basement, but she needed a space that “felt like part of the world.” So Techel designed a 120-square-foot writer’s retreat in their backyard.

Barbara Techel's She-Shed, courtesy of Barbara Techel
Barbara Techel’s She-Shed, courtesy of Barbara Techel

Now, the space is something more than a work center. She uses the shed to practice yoga in the morning, read, and spend some quiet time for herself.

“I jokingly tell my husband, if there was a bathroom and kitchen out here I’d never leave,” Techel says.

Options for the exterior, from layout to siding

While interior possibilities are practically endless, designing your own shed-escape starts with the exterior. For the building’s shell, you have a few options.

Use the easy route. Companies such as Studio Shed in Louisville, CO, design and install customized modular sheds. Studio Shed offers spaces ranging from a small 6-by-8 structure to a massive 500-square-foot loft. You can customize everything from the layout to the siding to the foundation. Base prices for structures range from $5,000 to $12,000, with additional charges for upgrades such as french doors or premium siding.

A Signature Series shed, courtesy of Studio Shed
A Signature Series shed, courtesy of Studio Shed

If you already have a shed on your property, you can upcycle the old building into something new. The size of the project will depend on your sheddie goals. For example, adding a prebuilt bar—available at home improvement stores and home goods retailers such as Overstock, Amazon, and CustomMade—and a few stools is all you need for a simple pub shed. Swapping out the sliding door for swinging barn-style doors can open the whole space to the backyard, perfect for a tiki bar feel.

For workspaces and indoor retreats, you’ll want to add electricity and Internet access, which may require professional help. You’ll also want to add some curb appeal and functionality with windows.

“An interior shed space works best if it is filled with natural light,” says Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, founder of Studio Shed.

Of course, you could also build a shed from scratch like Techel did, but whether you’re upcycling or building, don’t forget the permits.

“What you’ll need varies by area, but generally most locations will allow for the construction of one 120-square-foot or smaller building, which is big enough for a small studio or creative space, without a permit. Once you get into the larger sizes, you’ll need a permit,” Horgan-Kobelski says. “You may also need a permit if you’re adding on to an existing shed.” Check with your local municipality before you build.

Make the space yours with smart design

The key to shedded bliss is in the design, but don’t let the small space stump you.

“I tried to utilize the space in the best way possible,” says Techel. “I have my writing desk in here, a bookshelf, a bigger table where I do some art, a petite gas stove … and an air conditioner.”

Start by adding the most functional pieces such as a desk or convertible sofa. To soften up the space, add personal touches like a colorful rug or your collection of souvenir shot glasses. Finish the space off by painting an accent wall to match your design, or adding some bright trim around the door.

Once you’re done, don’t forget to make the most of the space. “I loved hanging out in my studio shed more than my house. I sold my house recently, and I’ve been really missing my shed,” Horgan-Kobelski says.

Published by Angela Colley on realtor.com.

 

Top Outdoor Patio Trends for 2015

Posted on

These hot looks for outdoor spaces will make you want to linger long after the sun goes down.

Today, Zillow Digs announced the top outdoor patio trends for 2015, and three fads to ditch from last summer. The results were published in the Summer 2015 Zillow Digs Home Trend Forecast, a one-of-a-kind report that combines data from a survey of leading interior design experts and an analysis of the most popular photos on Zillow Digs.

So what are this season’s hottest trends? Check out the surprising results below!

Top outdoor patio trends for summer 2015

1. Lime green accent colors

Source: Urban West
Source: Urban West

Lime green will be the most popular accent color for summer 2015. Expect to see this fresh, natural hue manifest in a variety of materials and textures — from throw pillows and vases to outdoor umbrellas.

2. Vertical gardens

Source: Kerrie Kelly Design Lab
Source: Kerrie Kelly Design Lab

Low-maintenance plants and succulents will be very popular this season, especially in regions that have water shortages and drought. Vertical or wall gardens offer a sophisticated home for succulents, herbs and other low-maintenance plants, and will be one of this season’s biggest outdoor patio trends, especially in condo and apartment decks where floor space is limited.

3. Hurricane candles

Source: Marc-Michaels Interior
Source: Marc-Michaels Interior

Hurricane candles are this season’s most popular outdoor lighting solution, and will be equally prevalent among budget and luxury spaces. When grouped together on tables or lined up along the patio floor, hurricane candles are romantic and create a wonderful ambiance that can be enjoyed on any budget.

Three fads to replace

1. Tuscan colors

Source: Zillow Digs
Source: Zillow Digs

“Khakis or yellow-based neutrals are out, as well as anything muddy or Tuscan-inspired,” says Zillow Digs designer Marc Thee of Marc Michaels Interiors. While these muted hues can bring warmth in moderation, they feel heavy and out of place in outdoor spaces, and don’t reflect this season’s fresh, streamlined aesthetic.

2. Shabby chic furniture

Source: Zillow Digs
Source: Zillow Digs

Intricate, shabby chic patio sets will fade away, as summer 2015 is all about simplicity and clean lines. Detailed wrought iron patio sets will be replaced with sleek outdoor sofas and loveseats adorned with pillows and throws in this summer’s hottest citrus colors.

3. Excessive patterns

Source: Zillow Digs
Source: Zillow Digs

“People grow tired of busy patterns, so keep them to a minimum,” says Thee. Instead, add interest and texture with natural greenery and pops of citrus colors. Look for more solid color choices on pillows and throw blankets this summer.

Originally published on Zillow Blog.

Deck Out Your Patio for Summer

Posted on

Your outdoor space will be ready for a decadent staycation or lively entertaining with these budget-friendly tips.

Source: CB2

Published by Douglas Calhoun on Zillow Blog.

You’ve got your sunscreen out, your watermelon sliced, and your grill smoking. No matter if you’re on a balcony, patio or urban roof deck, outdoor entertaining is the best.

While you’re gathering supplies to enjoy a lemonade or ice cold brew with friends and neighbors, pick up a few decorative add-ons to enhance your outdoor space. Setting the mood for a party in the sun or under the stars is easy with these tips and treasures.

Classic bistro lights seal the deal

Twinkle no matter the occasion with these Edison string lights from CB2.

Hang a strand or two of Edison bulb string lights above your table or in the entry way to your patio. These classic string lights blend with almost any style of furnishings and work year-round.

Adding lights is a simple way to create ambiance — and since it isn’t permanent, it’s great for renters. They create a flattering light for your vainest of guests, and provide a gorgeous glow as the sun sets.

Snake eyes: decor and games are one and the same

Get rolling with these giant dice by Crate and Barrel.

These giant dice make for a cheeky center piece, and will inevitably add a lot of laughs — and possibly some competition — to your cookout.

Or for a no-cost decor-and-party-game combo, fold tons of paper planes in vibrant colors to populate the table. They’ll take flight later in the night, and guests of all ages can take aim at the horizon — or each other.

Bring the beach with hanging lanterns

Embrace the surf no matter how far away you are from the coast with these nautical Pottery Barn lanterns.

Hanging hurricane lanterns or these nautical lanterns modeled on vintage glass canning vessels creates a seaside vibe no matter where you’re celebrating. Candlelight is essential to your gathering, and hanging lanterns are perfect because they elevate the mood and won’t blow out.

Take a walk to easy seat

Pouf – they’re magic! Create instant seating with A&G Merch striped poufs.

Temporary seating is a must when entertaining outdoors. These red-stripped canvas poufs are ideal if you’ve got a smaller outdoor area.

A few of these placed in conversation clusters encourage a casual atmosphere while providing a comfy place to sip. Guests can scoot over easily to make room without having to handle clunky metal chairs or heavier seats. Poufs and large pillows are also easy to store away inside and bring out when you’ve got a party-crasher later on.

One-of-a-kind pillows, everywhere

Kick back with custom pillows by Society6 and the many talented artists on their roster.

When in doubt, just throw tons of pillows at your outdoor area. This abstract and summery design by a maker on Society6 is an affordable way to bedeck your deck with custom artworks.

A stack of five or six pillows on a canvas drop cloth or outdoor mat make for a coveted horizontal hang in the rays. No need for your patio to feel matchy-matchy — grab tons of different colors and styles of pillows and throws so folks can create their own plush arrangement.

Waste not, paper cutlery

Make it a Susty Party with paper-based tableware that is great for the environment.

Make big waves with small details in your plates and cutlery. You can stay stylish and eco-friendly with this delightful compostable pack of forks and knives.

No one wants to lug dishes and silverware outside and then back inside for the dishwasher. Have your guests toss these in the bin and recycle on your way downstairs tomorrow. An easier clean up and you can save the environment? Yes, please!

Chic and tiny table for two on the fire escape

The Manuela shelf table by Nimio – a miniature spacesaver that’s chic and simple.

From New York to Paris, this Euro-designed miniature wonder is exactly what we dreamed of. A table for two, perfect for sipping wine and people watching, or an opportunity to fly solo with coffee and a good book.

This attachable shelf is an ideal solution for morning meditation or evening imbibing on your balcony or fire escape. No matter how tight the quarters, you can create a cozy moment to share with friends.

A vertical garden: easier than you think

You don’t need a lot of space to get green with the Wally One from Woolly Pocket.

This modular garden container attaches easily to an interior or exterior wall in your home. Wally One is one of the smaller and streamlined versions. Start with one pocket and grow a vibrant plant or herb garden.

If your patio or deck is close to the kitchen, you can be the urban farmer you always envied, heading out to snag a pinch of basil or thyme. You can always order more pockets to expand your green thumb efforts all around your home.

Get more outdoor inspiration.