As many families prepare to ramp up their time spent outside, it can be helpful to keep the latest trends in mind while planning for outdoor living spaces. Since many people enjoy spending time in an outdoor living space, it’s fitting that the 2018 furnishing trends address the outdoor lifestyle experience.
Living Lavishly Outdoors with 2018 Trends
(Family Features) As many families prepare to ramp up their time spent outside, it can be helpful to keep the latest trends in mind while planning for outdoor living spaces.
According to research from the International Casual Furnishings Association, many people use outdoor rooms for things they can do indoors – from using cellphones for calls and games to working on computers, watching TV, eating, exercising and, of course, relaxing.
Since 70 percent of survey respondents said they enjoy spending time in an outdoor living space more than inside, it’s fitting that the 2018 furnishing trends address the outdoor lifestyle experience.
“Whether enclosed or open-air, outdoor spaces have come into their own as legitimate rooms in American homes,” said Jackie Hirschhaut, vice president of the American Home Furnishings Alliance and executive director of its outdoor division, the International Casual Furnishings Association. “Today’s outdoor rooms have it all – somewhere to dine, to relax and be entertained – with furnishings that function like they would for any room in the home and with style and flair that distinctly fits outdoors.”
Dining tables and chairs top many people’s outdoor shopping lists this year, followed by lounge chairs, lighting, fire pits, umbrellas and sofas. Leading the list of trends in the dynamic dining category is ultra-comfortable seating and a wide variety of table options.
Extra-large dining tables are popular for entertaining groups and al fresco dining. Yet manufacturers understand not everyone has a large outdoor space, so they also offer selections for small spaces, including dining sets suitable for apartment- and condo-size balconies, as well as sizes in-between.
The research also shows 68 percent of people use outdoor spaces several times a week in seasonally appropriate weather. Comfort, spaciousness and style were the most important factors in encouraging people to spend more time outdoors, which is why deep-seated chairs with high backs for relaxed comfort rank high on wish lists.
Often accompanying these group seating options are fire tables or pits, which continue to increase in popularity, according to the survey.
“We are seeing that fire of some sort for outdoors is topping many consumers’ wish lists again this year,” Hirschhaut said. “You just can’t beat a fire element for creating ambience.”
Much like spaces indoors, outdoor rooms are leaning more toward mixing rather than matching, both in individual pieces and in groups of pieces. To help meet this trend, try looking for pieces that incorporate several different elements such as aluminum, wicker and teak, as well as groups that pair, for example, wicker seating with iron or wood tables.
On the color spectrum, the survey found that after years of brown as a dominant color, shades of gray are increasingly peeking through as a more popular finish.
For more tips and information about creating a stylish outdoor living space, visit icfanet.org.
Photo courtesy of O.W. LeeSOURCE:
International Casual Furnishings Association
Over time, the appearance and function of any outdoor space can dull due to combinations of heat, precipitation and use. With some careful attention, you can quickly spruce up your outdoor living areas and get them back in great working order for patio season.
Spruce Up Your Outdoor Spaces
(Family Features) Over time, the appearance and function of any outdoor space can dull due to combinations of heat, precipitation and use. With some careful attention, you can quickly spruce up your outdoor living areas and get them back in great working order for patio season.
Take Care of Textiles
Declare Dust Off-Limits
Freshen Up Finishes
Blast Away Grime
When cleaning these surfaces, it’s important to find a power washer that can cut through the grime and rinse it away. In addition to gas-powered options, Briggs & Stratton offers a full line of electric pressure washers to help you tackle light-duty outdoor cleaning projects around the house. Some models, like the S1800, feature a turbo nozzle to give you the ability to blast away grime up to 40 percent faster than with a standard spray tip. When that power is combined with an onboard detergent tank, you can eliminate outdoor grime quickly and efficiently, so you can get back to enjoying your outdoor living space.
Getting started is simple. Just turn on the washer and begin with a rinse setting to loosen dirt and debris. Next, use the soap nozzle to apply the detergent in the tank. You may want to let the detergent sit for especially grimy areas, depending on the detergent’s directions for use. Rinse thoroughly and repeat the process if needed.
7 Safety Tips for Operating a Pressure Washer
As with any power equipment, it’s important to know how to operate a pressure washer safely and correctly. Even if you’ve had your unit for a while, it’s a good idea to refresh yourself on how to use it properly before you get started on your outdoor to-do list.
1. Dress for the task. Wear indirect-vented (chemical splash) goggles for eye protection and a pair of closed-toe shoes such as sneakers or boots.
2. Before getting started, be sure to remove all electronics, cords and wires, and place them safely away from water.
3. Perform routine maintenance. Prior to each use, check the oil level and top off if low. Check the water screens to ensure they can freely move water. Inspect hoses and couplings; if they are cracked or brittle, replace them.
4. Know your equipment and where it can or can’t be used. Never operate your gas pressure washer indoors or in enclosed structures. When operating a gas pressure washer, use it outdoors away from occupied spaces to prevent a potentially deadly buildup of carbon monoxide.
5. When operating a gas pressure washer, know the signs of potential carbon monoxide poisoning (dizziness, fatigue, headache, nausea or irregular breathing), and if you experience these symptoms get to fresh air right away and seek medical attention.
6. Always point the nozzle in a safe direction. Never operate a pressure washer near small children or pets.
7. Before storing, relieve the pressure in the system. Also run a cycle of water through the machine to eliminate any detergent residue and give the unit time to cool down before storing.
The Powers of a Pressure Washer
A pressure washer can provide up to 75 times more cleaning power than a standard hose for deep cleaning. They are ideal tools to clean the following areas:
Find more cleaning solutions and a limited-availability discount code for a S1800 electric power washer at Briggsandstratton.com/OutdoorCleaning.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (empty patio furniture)SOURCE:
Briggs & Stratton
The arrival of milder temperatures means dining al fresco, hosting neighborhood cookouts and enjoying intimate cocktail parties under the stars. When creating a backyard oasis, make your space both inviting and able to withstand the wear and tear of warm-weather fun. The outdoor living experts at Trex, the world’s largest manufacturer of wood-alternative decking and railing, suggest the following tips.
Create Inviting Outdoor Spaces
(Family Features) The arrival of milder temperatures means dining al fresco, hosting neighborhood cookouts and enjoying intimate cocktail parties under the stars. When creating a backyard oasis, make your space both inviting and able to withstand the wear and tear of warm-weather fun.
The outdoor living experts at Trex, the world’s largest manufacturer of wood-alternative decking and railing, suggest the following tips:
Check your deck
Unlike wood, high-performance composites resist fading, staining, scratching and mold – and won’t rot, warp, crack or splinter. Upkeep is hassle-free with no sanding, staining or painting required and food and drink spills wash off easily with soap and water.
“Who wants an outdoor space that they have to spend more time maintaining than enjoying? For me, composite decking is a no-brainer,” said celebrity deck designer Paul Lafrance of HGTV’s acclaimed “Decked Out” series. “It delivers all the beauty and aesthetics of wood without the back-breaking and time-consuming upkeep.”
Food and drink stations – arguably the most crucial element of a party – should be prominent and accessible to guests. And don’t forget a kid-friendly zone with games, such as corn hole, badminton and ladder ball, and other activities to help keep children entertained.
Frame your space
Let there be light
Stock up on storage
Don’t forget the finishing touches
“Thanks to advances in all-weather materials, furnishings and accessories, you can outfit an outdoor living space in much the same way that you would any room in the home,” Lafrance said.
For more outdoor living ideas and inspiration, visit Trex.com.
(BPT) - Researchers are predicting 2017 will be one of the worst years for ticks that we have seen in quite some time — and by all indications, those researchers are correct. People who have found themselves pulling ticks off their pets, children and their own bodies can readily attest to this. The question is, what to do?
While the tick population may be booming and becoming an increasing problem, there are effective measures you can take to prevent them from getting on you and your loved ones.
1. Cover up. One of the easiest ways to keep ticks off of you when you're hiking in tall grass or a wooded area is to make sure you and your family wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and closed-toe shoes. You may think dressing this way during warmer months is anything but comfortable, but if you dress in lightweight, breathable clothing, you’ll be surprised at how cool you can stay.
2. Keep up with your yard. Ticks love a messy yard. They seek out tall grass, patches of weeds and unkempt gardens. Take the time to keep your lawn cut, remove any loose debris and keep the weeds out of your garden. Areas you want to be particularly concerned about are around patios, play areas and anywhere people congregate or pets explore.
3. Protect your yard. Ticks and other pests may seem like an insurmountable problem, almost impossible to avoid or get rid of. But rest easy knowing there is a solution to help protect against these blood-feeding pests. Whether you’re concerned about protecting your family’s health from tick-borne illnesses or need help controlling an infestation, contact a licensed pest control professional to come in and assess the situation. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) can help you find a qualified, local expert to identify and treat your tick problem.
4. Wear insect repellent. Just like you make it a habit to always apply sunscreen when going out on a bright, beautiful day, get in the habit of applying insect repellent any time you are out in an area that might harbor ticks. To be effective, make sure the insect repellent contains at least 20 percent DEET.
5. Perform regular inspections. At the end of the day, take the time to comb through your pet's fur and check them for ticks, even if they are wearing a tick collar. Also, don't forget to do a check on yourself and your children. Since it usually takes between 24 and 48 hours for a tick to attach to a host and transmit diseases like Lyme disease, it’s important to remove them quickly.
To learn more about ticks or other common pests, visit www.pestworld.org. There you’ll find a wealth of information and resources that will help you and your family have a safe and tick-free year.
Every year, monarch butterflies embark on a 3,000-mile migration across North America. This feat of endurance lasts eight months, spans three countries and captivates people worldwide. Establishing your own milkweed habitat is a great way to get involved and make an impact on the continued reign of the monarch butterfly.
The annual monarch butterfly journey
(Family Features) Every year, monarch butterflies embark on a 3,000-mile migration across North America. This feat of endurance lasts eight months, spans three countries and captivates people worldwide.
These graceful pollinators rely on milkweed for feeding and reproduction, but over the last decade, a reduction of milkweed habitats has occurred along the butterflies’ flight path. The decline of any species can be a threat to natural diversity.
When the weather starts to warm each year, monarchs make their way north from Mexico to begin breeding. Upon arriving in Texas, the butterflies begin to lay eggs on milkweed. Milkweed is the sole food source for monarch larvae, more commonly known as caterpillars. As milkweed plantings have diminished, so has the monarch population.
Environmentalists and butterfly lovers have taken notice of the monarchs’ dwindling numbers. BASF, a company that serves farmers and agricultural customers, launched Living Acres in 2015. Living Acres is a research initiative designed to help farmers establish milkweed beds in non-cropland areas.
“The goal is to raise awareness about the important role milkweed plays in the monarch life cycle,” said Laura Vance, biology team lead, BASF. “We also want to make milkweed planting easier by researching the most efficient ways to raise it and then offer that knowledge to growers nationwide.”
Farmers and landowners can play an important role in helping increase monarch populations simply by starting a milkweed garden. With employee-tended monarch gardens, BASF is also sustaining butterflies at its manufacturing sites. The gardens are tended to ensure the milkweed is healthy and ready for the arrival of monarchs.
As summer approaches, caterpillars begin their metamorphoses, hatching and transforming into vivid orange and black butterflies.
“If you have milkweed planted somewhere in your yard, be sure to keep an eye out for those mesmerizing monarchs,” Vance said. “You just never know when one might flutter by.”
Once mature, the monarchs continue their journey northward, passing over cool valleys and prairieland. Monarchs look for resting places in open plains, often settling in beds of milkweed. Prime milkweed habitats include areas alongside cornfields, gardens, playgrounds and rural roadsides.
Some of the most popular flight paths include the Corn Belt and Interstate 35, a corridor that runs from Texas to Minnesota. Legislators implemented a federal plan to create habitable space along highways for monarchs by planting milkweed in ditches. This initiative offers food and shelter for weary butterflies and provides nursery sites for monarch eggs.
Monarchs then begin winging their way south to the oyamel fir forests of Mexico. They spend their winters there, crowded together on the tree branches for warmth, which can appear to transform the trees into blazing orange clouds. When warm weather returns the following year, monarchs resume their migration northward and continue the cycle of breeding the next monarch generation.
Establishing your own milkweed habitat is a great way to get involved and make an impact on the continued reign of the monarch butterfly. For planting tips, visit Living Acres at Facebook.com/BASFLivingAcres.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
As the weather gets warmer, mosquitoes can prevent homeowners from reaping the benefits of living life outside. Depending on where you live, the mosquito biting season lasts 5-7 months. If spray isn’t adequate to combat the mosquitoes at your home, it may be necessary to take additional measures. These tips can help combat mosquitoes outside of the home.
Banish Biting Season
Tips for eliminating backyard pests
(Family Features) As the weather gets warmer, mosquitoes can prevent homeowners from reaping the benefits of living life outside.
According to a Harris Poll conducted on behalf of TruGreen, 85 percent of Americans say that mosquitoes limit their family’s outdoor activities during the months they’re most active. The same survey also found that nearly two-thirds of Americans are concerned about protecting themselves and their family from Zika or other mosquito-borne illnesses.
A majority of respondents reported using bug spray on themselves and their family members to combat mosquitoes outdoors at home. Although it’s the leading preventative measure, still only half say it is most effective at preventing mosquitoes from biting.
Depending on where you live, the mosquito biting season lasts 5-7 months. If spray isn’t adequate to combat the mosquitoes at your home, it may be necessary to take additional measures.
These tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the pest control experts at TruGreen can help combat mosquitoes outside of the home:
Remove standing water. Mosquitoes generally lay eggs near water, so once a week take time to dump anything that may hold water in the yard. This includes buckets, kiddie pools and birdbaths. Don’t overlook items like toys, planters and flowerpot saucers. For containers intended to hold water, like cisterns or rain barrels, regularly check that the lid is secure so mosquitoes can’t gain access. A finely woven mesh is a good alternative if there is no lid. If you can’t cover the container and won’t be drinking from it, use a larvicide to treat the water.
Be wary of unexpected reservoirs. Natural features such as shrubbery and tree stumps can also collect water, and they may be more difficult to remedy. Keep dense shrubs thinned and pruned. Increasing the air flow can make these areas less attractive. If removing a tree stump is impractical, a professional can guide you in proper treatment.
Apply a broad-application pest eliminator. Use an outdoor insect spray or professional service to kill mosquitoes in areas where they rest all over the yard. A professionally applied treatment such as TruGreen Mosquito Defense targets pests where they live, and the company’s professionally trained specialists use an innovative mosquito control formula to treat all areas of the yard where mosquitoes hide, including trees, shrubs, mulched areas and all types of ground cover.
“Mosquitoes are a nuisance for many of our customers, inhibiting the time they can spend enjoying outdoor activities,” said John Bell, board certified entomologist and TruGreen regional technical manager. “Most people protect against mosquitoes by using a repellant or citronella candles, but these methods do not target the places mosquitoes hide including low-hanging limbs, ornamental foliage, potted plants and ground cover. The TruGreen Mosquito Defense treatment program targets these places, eradicating the mosquito population in homeowners’ yards and allowing people to spend more time living life outside.”
Make regular rounds to spot trouble. Humans are creatures of habit, and that can mean certain areas of the yard receive much less traffic than other spots. Take time each week to tour the entire yard and keep an eye out for potential pest problems, including standing water in containers or low spots in the ground.
Mosquitoes’ favorite Habitats
Because mosquitoes typically lay their eggs near water, places in the yard where water can pool up are often desired breeding grounds. These areas of stagnating water allow the mosquitoes a favorite spot, but there are some other areas around the house to be wary of as potential habitats:
For more year-round lawn care tips, visit TruGreen.com/mosquito.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (family dining outdoors)
Illustration courtesy of Getty Images (infographic)SOURCE:
(BPT) - Everyone looks forward to a shift into summer mode, with its sun-soaked days, flower-scented breezes and velvety nights under the stars.
Now's the time to take advantage of a golden opportunity right outside your door. Celebrate summer and all it offers by recreating your outdoor space. Whether it’s a balcony, a patio or a deck, a few touches are all you need to turn it into a highly functional living space.
When done right, a patio makeover is like a boost to your home's square footage of living space without straining your wallet. Think of the patio as a summer room, and the possibilities really open up.
One approach to making your summer room perfect is to start by thinking of your needs and what you love to do. If you could add any room to your home, what would it be, and what would you use it for? Then, turn to a resource like Big Lots, which offers everything you need to build that summer room, while keeping you within budget.
Your summer living room
Transform any outdoor space into a relaxing oasis that’s perfect for unwinding and summer daydreams. Your key piece is a comfortable outdoor couch you can really sink into.
It's always best to start with a neutral-colored cushion, then work the accessories and accent pieces, including side tables, brightly colored throw pillows and outdoor lanterns to make the space feel extra homey and just like an authentic living room. These decor pieces can be easily and affordably switched out year-over-year to make your outdoor space feel fresh and new.
With an easy assembly gazebo, you can also keep the space cool and comfortable in the heat of the day.
Finally, if your patio faces an open or public area, a row of evergreens planted in large colorful pots will transform it into an intimate space with a perfect touch of nature.
Your summer party room
With the right pieces, you can set the scene for any gathering of friends and family. Start with ample seating. Add to the traditional living room setup with an outdoor cushioned bench, and position some accent chairs and tables in a nook or two for conversation clusters. A patterned outdoor rug also helps to delineate spaces on a large patio or deck.
A fire pit always creates a natural centerpiece and gathering spot. Some designs take this up a notch and incorporate the soft glow of fire right into a tabletop, making it easy to talk long into the summer night. As a finishing touch, be sure to have a wireless speaker and playlist ready to set the mood with music.
Your summer kitchen
The downside of summer living is building up unwanted heat in the kitchen from cooking dinner. The best solution is to take it outside. Don’t limit the grill to weekends and burgers and brats. Explore the many grilling recipes out there to expand your repertoire. While you're doing this, set up your patio as an outdoor cooking station that’s ready to go whenever you’re ready to start cooking.
Set up a sturdy table for prepping veggies and meats and a selection of lightweight, outdoor serving dishes. The variety of colors and designs are endless and add to the space aesthetic. (Just as you would indoors, make sure the surface is clean before you get started.) Use colorful crates to keep grilling tools, potholders and outdoor dishes and glassware organized and handy.
Finally, pick up some bright-colored pots that match your decor style and plant rosemary, parsley, basil and other herbs so they’re within easy reach to add fresh flavors to your grilled fish and chicken, as well as those tasty summer veggies. These potted plants also make for beautiful, easy centerpieces.
Your summer dining room
Dining outside is a fun and relaxing way to enjoy food as well as the company of your family and friends. When you choose a patio table, choose one with ample seating, and keep things comfortable and colorful with waterproof cushions. Umbrellas can throw shade on a sun-drenched deck or patio, making daytime dining (or your morning coffee time) more pleasant and easy on the eyes. If you’re looking for something different, a patio umbrella outfitted with lights on the underside will let you linger over dinner longer.
Creating beautiful outdoor spaces can be easy, but it also doesn’t have to break the budget. Big Lots has a wide variety of affordable patio furniture and décor so you can create an outdoor scene with indoor style. Visit BigLots.com or a store near you for all your patio and outdoor accessory needs.
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