Fun Ideas for Your Outdoor Living Space – Craft-O-Maniac

outdoor living


A patio or porch is an excellent idea to add greater appeal to your home. It is an easy addition to any property and one that does not cost you an arm and a leg.

You can have an outdoor living space where you can spend most of your time in sunny weather to get fresh air and enjoy
the natural sights of your yard and garden.

You can meld your interior and exterior spaces for a more unified look. You can DIY some of the parts of the project while leaving the critical components to a professional.

For instance, your roof should best handled by an experienced contractor like Outdoor living is on the rise in the United States, with the total revenue of outdoor furniture expected to increase to $2 billion in 2019. The compound annual growth rate between 2014 and 2019 is quite modest at 1.3 percent, but it is steadily rising.

Here are some quick tips for planning your outdoor living space:
1. Add a grill or kitchen — Form follows function. You do not want your outdoor space to serve any purpose other than to enhance the curb appeal. A kitchen and a dining table allow you to eat out (literally) every time. But if you cannot afford a full kitchen, a barbecue or built in grill makes everything alright.

You can still entertain guests on your patio or porch by hosting a barbecue party.
2. Outdoor fireplace — any fireplace will add warmth and romance to the area. If you have decided on an outdoor space, why do not you go all out by building a fireplace?

You can still spend time out of your house during chilly nights. There is nothing better than spending the night with a loved one as you wrap yourselves in a blanket while watching the stars. Alternatively, you can build a fire pit, which is the more inexpensive option.

3. Sectional furniture to establish space — Since you do not install walls on your patio or porch, you can use sectional furniture instead to build space. A large sofa or bench can hold more people instead of individual chairs. It also helps people socialize more,
especially when you are hosting parties for a large crowd.

4. Add a bar — Bring the fun outside by building a bar on your outdoor living space. If you are worried about your guests being stiff in the party, there is nothing better to break down inhibition than alcohol. But even if you are alone, you can still partake in your
favorite drink from your bar.

5. Consider your climate — How many times do you get sun in a year? How many times does it rain? Does it snow in your area? How about extreme weather conditions like a hurricane or storm? The answers to these questions will determine what type of structure you need to build.

If it rains regularly, you need an excellent roof to make sure your cushions do not get soaked by rainwater. Also, if you are on the path of a
hurricane, make sure that your porch, gazebo, or pergola is built on strong foundations.

If you have no time to go to the store, you can do so at the comforts of your own home. But you also need to understand that it comes with risks. However, it is easy to rectify. Ultimately, the gains of shopping online outweigh the dangers.

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Tankoa’s 200-Foot TLV62 Superyacht Concept Is All About Outdoor Living – Robb Report

outdoor living

Integrating the exterior with the interior is not exactly a new concept when it comes to superyacht design, but bringing the entire living area outdoors is a different story entirely. And that’s exactly what the new Tankoa TLV62 concept promises to do.

The sleek 200-foot vessel was brought to life by yacht designer Luca Vallebona with help from the managing director of Sinos Giancarlo Mussino. The vessel boasts a clean and balanced profile with an “almost vertical bow,” a crisp steel hull and an aluminum superstructure, which feels bold but not aggressive.

Though the real beauty is in the innovative layout that offers fresh and practical solutions without going over the top. “Most of the time on superyachts the main salon takes up a lot of space but is rarely used,” Vallebona said in a release. “So I brought the living area outside, reduced the size of the dining room, and put a smaller TV lounge with its own AV rack room and the main exterior dining table on the upper deck aft.”

Courtesy of Tankoa

This emphasis on the outdoors is extended throughout each of the vessel’s levels. The open transom and terraced aft deck ensure there are no visual barriers between the guests and the sea. Meanwhile, the sundeck—which spans at least half the length of the hull—provides ample space for sun loungers to catch their rays. When it’s time for a dip, seafarers can take their pick from the asymmetrical swimming pool located by the stern, a second pool situated on the sundeck or the jacuzzi which sits forward.

Meanwhile, the gargantuan interior can accommodate 12 guests across four cabins, a VIP suite and a master suite. Situated on the main deck forward, the epic 300-square-foot master suite comes complete with its own lobby, office, walk-through wardrobe and ensuite bathroom. Elsewhere on the vessel, guests will find the requisite luxury amenities, like a fire pit, gym, jet skis, tenders, a cinema and the all-important bar.

Powered by two Caterpillar 3512 engines, the chic silver superyacht can climb to a top speed of 16.5 knots and cover some 4,500 nautical miles when sailing at a more leisurely 12 knots.

Check out more images of the new TLV62 concept below:

Courtesy of Tankoa

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R&R in The Great Outdoors: 3 Ways to Transform Your Outdoor Living Space

outdoor living

As Americans increasingly appreciate the therapeutic benefits of nature, they’re putting more thought and effort into creating beautiful, comfortable and functional living areas outside their own homes.

These days, such outdoor havens are considered valuable home extensions rather than underutilized corners of your yard. More than 70 percent of U.S. households now incorporate outdoor living spaces, reports one survey, and nearly 70 percent use those areas at least weekly in season.

A favorite material for such havens is Western Red Cedar, a stunning and fragrant wood species that incorporates beautifully into decks, porches, furniture and other functional elements of your home.

Not surprisingly, Western Red Cedar has many fans in the construction world. Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan of HGTV’s “Colin and Justin’s Home Heist” recently broadcast an online episode featuring the building of a lakeside cabin pergola that features the finely grained wood. “It smells incredible,” notes Ryan. “Honestly, you are transported to the center of a forest … it feels escapist, it feels luxurious and it looks amazing. If you brought lots of plastic or man-made materials into this environment, it would just be wrong.”

The unique characteristics of the sought-after cedar allow it to weather into a gorgeous silver patina even as it resists rot, decay and insects. Further, the durable wood is a dream to work with because it’s lightweight, lays flat, stays straight and is free of pitch and resin. Bonus: The forests harvested for the wood are carefully and sustainably replanted.

Dreaming of a private, well-appointed outdoor space where your family and guests can relax while enjoying nature? Consider how these other suggestions might also help put those wheels in motion.

* Cover your bases: Make your space easier to use through the seasons by adding a gazebo, pergola, pavilion or three-season porch that can protect you, your guests and your furnishings from sun or rain. Consider draping curtains or netting that can be pulled back at will, allowing greater privacy and/or protection from bugs. Ideally, your new oasis will merge the best of both worlds, bringing the comforts of home outside while still offering the benefits of fresh air, fragrant breezes, sunshine, birdsong and positive interactions with flora and fauna.

* Eat, drink and be merry: The old adage about guests gravitating toward the room that has the food? It’s absolutely true, and incorporating cooking into your outdoor haven can lend a fun and informal entertaining element that just can’t be replicated indoors. Options for equipment include grills, smokers, pizza ovens, fireplaces, bars or full kitchen set-ups with ovens, sinks, refrigerators and prep areas. Make sure to choose weather-resistant finishes for everything, install effective lighting and make sure you have plenty of comfortable seating for foodie friends.

McCallister notes on his show how rewarding it can feel to transform unused outdoor areas into havens of fun and relaxation, “transforming dead space into valuable life space.” That same feeling can be achieved by do-it-yourselfers who embark on their own outdoor projects.

“Outdoor patio spaces have sure changed in the last few years with the onset of new outdoor materials, furnishings, fixtures … and the homeowner’s desire for more outdoor living and entertaining space,” notes Audra Slinkey in a recent report by the National Association of Realtors. “Today’s yards are multi-functional and serve to entertain, lounge and maximize lot square footage.”

It’s beautiful, it’s practical and it’s easy to use. Western Red Cedar can be an ideal building material for your next home improvement project. For more information about the building material and its guest appearance on “Colin and Justin’s Home Heist,” check out

Source: (BPT) –

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5 Common Problems Contractors Can Correct With Outdoor Living Projects | Unilock

outdoor living

5 Common Problems Contractors Can Correct With Outdoor Living Projects

Issues such as erosion, drainage, and a lack of privacy can greatly detract from the aesthetic and enjoyment of your landscape and outdoor living spaces. If these common landscape issues are stopping you from enjoying your patio, pool deck or softscape, here are ways a Unilock Authorized Contractor can resolve them for you:

Erosion is a common problem for properties with sloping or hilly terrain. Often a slope doesn’t even have to be all that steep for erosion to become an issue. Erosion occurs when rainwater washes away the fertile topsoil where plants and grass thrive, leaving unsightly bare patches in its wake. Because of this, erosion can quickly become a significant issue. The fewer plants there are to hold the topsoil in place, the faster the soil erodes, leaving even fewer plants to hold the soil in place and so on. Erosion can also have a knock-on effect, affecting the stability of the soil and can even causing damage to hardscape areas.

To correct this issue, a Unilock Authorized Contractor may suggest incorporating a retaining wall system into your landscape design. This may take the form of a few simple low walls, such as terracing built using U-Cara Multi-Face, or a more heavy-duty solution in the form of a Concord Wall retaining wall to contain large amounts of soil.

Concord Wall is an effective solution for extreme erosion because of its extreme durability and built-in setback design that automatically forms the correct slope. This wall unit is also available in tapered units, which allow contractors to create curved retaining walls that follow the natural contours of the landscape. This is ideal for stabilizing large swaths of the landscape at a time and can help to maintain a natural feel.

Poor Drainage

Erosion and drainage issues often go hand in hand, and a property that is prone to erosion is likely to be suffering from poor drainage as well. While erosion is caused by rainwater flowing over parts of the landscape and causing damage, poor drainage results in water pooling on flat surfaces such as lawns and hardscapes. This can cause damage to these areas and even result in damage to the foundations of your home. There are a number of ways that drainage issues can be corrected by a Unilock Authorized Contractor, from installing French drains and sumps, to simple surface channel drains.

Another option is to opt for permeable pavers for your hardscapes. These pavers allow water to flow rapidly through their jointing spaces, and allow water to return to natural underground sources. Not only is this better for the environment than directing rainwater into public storm drains, it can also help to keep your patio, pool deck and driveway cool in the summer and ice-free in the winter. Unilock offers a number of attractive permeable pavers that can be used to create stunning hardscapes, such as Town Hall, Tribeca Cobble, Thornbury, and Thornbury Smooth, each offering a unique appearance and the opportunity to complement your design theme. Permeable pavers can also be accented with regular pavers, such as Brussels Block, for added visual interest.

Unstable Soil

While unstable soil may be due to erosion, your location can have a lot to do with the type of soil on your property. Sandy soil, particularly, can pose an obstacle to an inexperienced contractor, and can result in shifting pavers and a heaving hardscape. However, a Unilock Authorized Contractor will be able to guard against these issues by ensuring a strong and stable base for your hardscapes.

One method a Unilock Authorized Contractor may use to stabilize the ground beneath a hardscape is to use Unilock DriveGrid System in the construction of your driveway, pool deck or patios. This triangular system redistributes forces in 360 degrees, stabilizing both the subsoil and the base aggregate. This prevents issues such as settling and rutting. The Unilock DriveGrid can also help to reduce the thickness of a hardscape’s base, thereby allowing you to save money on materials.

A Lack of Privacy

A lack of privacy can significantly reduce your enjoyment of your outdoor living spaces. Fortunately, with Unilock wall units, this is an easy fix for a Unilock Authorized Contractor. Unilock wall units allow the construction of attractive privacy walls that will block out your neighbors’ view of your patio or pool deck. Raised plant beds are another privacy solution, giving plantings additional height to shield you from the wind and nosey neighbors. Whether you opt for the rustic appeal of Rivercrest Wall , the charming timeworn aesthetic of Brussels Dimensional System or Estate Wall, or the sleek contemporary appearance of Lineo Dimensional Stone, your privacy is assured.

Inadequate Accessibility

Ensuring that outdoor living areas are both accessible from the home and to one another is important for encouraging frequent use of your backyard. This kind of accessibility is also crucial for enjoying one’s time outdoors and allowing outdoor cooking and dining to be as unencumbered as possible. A Unilock Authorized Contractor can help make your outdoor entertaining a smooth process by incorporating wide walkways constructed from safe, non-slip pavers such as Umbriano or Richcliff from Unilock.

If your family includes elderly members or members with limited mobility, accessibility is naturally a priority for you. Special considerations can be made in the design of your outdoor areas, and walkways can be constructed from large, smooth pavers, such as Beacon Hill Smooth XL. While smooth and providing an even, level surface, Beacon Hill Smooth remains non-slip and safe, ideal for use with walkers and wheelchairs.

Accessibility also applies to areas such as plant beds that need access for maintenance, or simply to enjoy the plantings from close up. A Unilock Authorized Contractor can help to ensure this by adding stepping stone paths in your plant beds using premium-quality Natural Stone slabs from Unilock.

The title image features a permeable Town Hall patio with Brussels Block accents and Brussels Dimensional System verticals.

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Types of Outdoor Living Spaces – Brooklyn Berry Designs

outdoor living

This post may contain Amazon and other affiliate links. Using these links, I earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Many people consider their outdoor living spaces to be just as important as their indoor ones. In fact, some families spend more time outdoors grilling, hanging out by the pool or lounging on their decks than they do inside their homes. No matter what type of outdoor living space you want to create, there are plenty of types and features to choose from. Additionally, there are various companies, such as Softwoods Adelaide, available that can assist you with designing your spaces or provide you with the materials and tips that you need to do it yourself.


Pergolas give you the ability to create outdoor spaces that are private and protected. Usually, pergolas are custom-designed to fit your home. However, you may also purchase pre-manufactured ones and simply place them where you want them. Some people like to place their pergolas directly against their homes and connect them with decks, whereas others like to place them in a random location on their landscape. Where you want to place your pergola is all about personal preference, but pergolas certainly make charming additions to homes and landscapes.

Perhaps one of the most popular types of outdoor living spaces are decks. Many people have decks that connect to their homes and are accessible through sliding glass doors. Others have decks around swimming pool and spa areas. Still others have decks that are a combination of both and connect the swimming area with the home. Decks may be enclosed or uncovered, and they can be built in virtually any fashion that the homeowner desires. Decks allow you to expand your outdoor living space as much as you want it and get you up off the ground so that you can enjoy the conditions outside no matter what the weather, even when the ground is wet and soggy.

The type of outdoor living space that is best for a home is influenced, in part, by the homeowner’s personal sense of style as well as his or her budget. For instance, some more elaborate types of pergolas and decks can cost more than simpler models. Some people might simply prefer simpler designs. No matter what type of outdoor living space you choose to invest in, selecting one that complements your home’s design is essential to creating an advantageous space. For instance, if your home doesn’t feature any sliding glass doors, then you might need to consider creating a deck that accommodates a different type of access.

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Majestic mountain home embraces indoor-outdoor living in Martis Camp

outdoor living

Walton Architecture + Engineering imagined the design of this stunning modern mountain home located in Martis Camp, a private Lake Tahoe community in Northern California. The residence exudes sleek, modern lines akin to an art gallery, yet with a welcoming atmosphere. It welcomes the sun, it welcomes the forests and views, and it welcomes the comfort of gathering.

Step inside this wonderful 8,473 square foot six-bedroom, six-and-a-half bathroom home and you will find a great room with a panoramic, modern fireplace that, on its flip side, warms the office and leads toward the master bedroom with expansive windows that face the morning sun. Beyond is a master bathroom whose windows glaze over to provide privacy and tranquility.

Project Team: Architect: Walton Architecture  + Engineering | Contractor: Crestwood Construction | Interiors/Furnishings: DKD Ltd. Interior Design

What We Love: This incredible mountain home was designed to feel completely open to nature with endless valley views. A series of indoor-outdoor living spaces provide this home’s inhabitants with plenty of space for family gathering and entertaining. There are so many unique details throughout this home, from the material palette to the stylish furnishings and fixtures. We would love to retreat to this mountain pad for the holidays!

Tell Us: What do you think of the overall design of this home? Would this be your idea of the perfect family getaway? Let us know why or why not in the Comments below!

Note: Have a look below for the “Related” tags for more inspiring home tours that we have featured here on One Kindesign from the portfolio of Walton Architecture + Engineering.

Above: Textured concrete walls course the home and blend with artistic windows and elegant floors. There’s a granite boulder protruding from the dining table and a room beside the kitchen with floor-to-ceiling windows and views of the Tom Fazio golf course.

Above: The goal to bring the outdoors in extends to ceilings designed to capture the natural light, a touch that brings a soft, consistent radiance to this home. An upstairs guest wing features two large bedrooms, each with stunning views. 

Above: The lower level features a sauna, a bedroom with patio, hot tub, fire pit and couches, and a media room with a widescreen television, kitchen, two game tables, and a deck that shares the hot tub and firepit. Off the media room are two bunk rooms, one with three full beds, three twins, three trundles, and one amazing view.

Above: Patios surround the home, many with covered dining alcoves, fire pits, gardens, a hot tub, and ample room to relax and relive the day.

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Recharge & Relax: Easy Lighting for your Outdoor Living Space

outdoor living

Spring is in full effect and the days are getting longer. With more sunlight there’s a greater opportunity to save energy and money on your outdoor lighting – and you don’t even need to lift a hand. Leave the burden of turning on/off lighting to outdoor controls, including dusk to dawn fixtures (with photocells), , solar lights and motion sensors. All of these options are simple to use and will put your mind at ease.

Perhaps the most hands-off approach, dusk to dawn light fixtures use a photocell to control lighting fixtures. Photocells detect natural light to turn on and off when the sun sets and rises, respectively. This option is a big energy saver as there’s no unnecessary usage. They also account for seasonal shifts in daylight as they will automatically conform to longer days and shorter nights – unlike a timer that must be manually adjusted. Photocells can easily be added to most fixtures to convert them into dusk to dawn fixtures.

While do need to be manually adjusted based on differing daylight hours, they are still a fantastic tool to control your lighting – allowing you to set the timer to the exact minute you want your lights to be active. They are especially beneficial during the spring and summer when paired with outdoor string lights on your deck or patio.​

Solar lights are a “set it and forget it” type of lighting. They require little to no maintenance and typically use LED lights, making them even more energy efficient. Solar lights work by using a solar cell that converts sunlight into an electrical current. The sunlight is stored in the fixture during the day, then in the evening, a photoreceptor senses the darkness and turns on the light. The solar cell stops working and gets weaker and eventually turns the light off. The process of collecting sunlight then begins again the next morning.

Do bumps in the night keep you on edge? You can relax and take comfort in knowing that your motion detector light fixtures will turn on when they sense movement nearby. Motion-activated fixtures have sensors that detect infrared waves, or heat waves that are emitted by moving objects. Install them on your garage, by entry ways or directed towards your driveway for peace of mind.

Whether you spend your spring and summer nights outside on the patio, or just want added home security, Lighting Supply will have the best outdoor lighting controls for your application. We carry hundreds of options and our Customer Service department is standing by to answer any questions. Give them a call Monday through Friday from 7:00 am – 6:00 pm ET or leave a comment below!

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Reinvent Your Outdoor Living Space | Heartfully Heather

outdoor living

Reinvent Your Outdoor Living Space

It has been several years since designing stylish, functional outdoor living spaces became the trendy thing to do. The size of decks and patios have increased to make them a more spacious outdoor entertainment area. The decorative details and comfort level of these outdoor living areas continues to rise to new heights.

If you’re among the many people who’ve added a deck or patio to your home, you’ve probably become very fond of the benefits that space offers. However, there’s also the possibility that you’re yearning for something more. That something more could be outdoor wicker club chairs but there are other things you can do to revitalize this space. If you have ample space to expand a deck or patio, that’s great. But, if expansion isn’t a possibility, reinvention of your present outdoor living space is certainly an option worth considering.

Screened Porch

When you begin looking for reinvention ideas, a photo gallery of ideas such as the one found at Archadeck Outdoor Living, is an excellent resource. To reinvent your current patio, you could transform it into a screen porch. By screening in the area, you’ll have an exterior room that you can use as a family room, dining room or combination of purposes. You don’t have to worry about annoying insects when you have a screened area. There’s also more privacy on a screened porch that there is on an open patio. You might want to leave a portion of your patio space as it is and reinvent a larger portion of it by screening it in.

A sunroom is a great way to reinvent a portion of your outdoor living space. You could enclose a patio area or add a sunroom above a basement walkout, if your home design permits that. It’s helpful to seek advice from design consultants when you’re planning to add a sunroom to your home. A professional in this field can help you design a sunroom that is an extension of your home. They can help you create a design that is compatible with the goals, intentions and usage plans you have for the room.

When you can no longer expand your outdoor living space, enclosing a patio or deck is a fantastic way to reinvent a space you’re bored with. If you’re just getting started on an outdoor living project, a deck or sunroom would be a great starting point that you could expand on in a variety of ways.

I’m a coffee addict wife, “work at home mom”, mother to two boys, blogging about the latest life hacks, recipes, DIY Projects and crazy “momisodes”.

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Homecrest Outdoor Living | July 2019

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Energizing and relaxing are just a couple words that come to mind when you walk into this functional and beautiful outdoor space. Homecrest Outdoor Living is proud to have been selected to provide outdoor furniture for SailPoint Technologies—a company based in Austin, TX that deals with identity governance solutions and software. To put it more plainly, SailPoint provides software to help organizations manage who has permission to access their information, and to what extent. In an era where online security breaches and hacking are a daily nuisance for businesses and individuals alike, SailPoint provides necessary protection for an increasingly digitalized world.

A Space to Unwind

Since their beginning in 2005, SailPoint has grown exponentially. With offices and clients located around the globe, the SailPoint headquarters requires a large outdoor space for employee breaks, community events, team announcements and more. They were looking to furnish this space with products that created a relaxing environment, and Homecrest’s innovative design fit the bill. In addition to the appearance of our products, project managers for SailPoint were drawn by the price point for our high-quality and durable furniture. Homecrest was not only able to match the mood they were attempting to create, but also fit the budget and timeline in which they wanted to accomplish this project.

Our Collections

From mesh to modular, this project was primarily furnished with Allure. The Allure collection from Homecrest boasts strong and durable aluminum frames with modern, clean lines. The all-weather cushions of Allure’s modular line provide the perfect spot to unwind and take a break from the demands of the office. Whether chatting with coworkers or enjoying time alone, Allure modular creates a place for relaxation. Mesh and sling seating from Allure were used throughout the rest of the outdoor space. Positioned at tables with Timber tops, these seats provide comfortable yet functional areas for groups to converse and dine. Additionally, Homecrest provided tables from the Dockside collection. The all-aluminum construction of Dockside tables makes them particularly durable, and the clean lines add an air of sophistication to any space.

To contrast the sleek and contemporary look of Allure and Dockside, Timber table tops from Homecrest’s Natural Series were used. Each table top from the Timber collection is individually handcrafted and cast from reclaimed wood tables to create a realistic appearance. All of the Natural Series collections are formed with durable materials that can withstand unpredictable weather.

Project Significance

Homecrest was able to show what we are truly capable of through this project. It provides exposure for us to any affiliates and vendors who visit SailPoint, as well as to the Austin community as a whole.

“This project with SailPoint is a very high-profile project,” said Homecrest sales representative Sandy Sanguily. “We receive compliments from visiting parties on the ‘outdoor stuff’ frequently.”

Our products had the appearance SailPoint was going for, within their budget. Additionally, we were able to meet a tight project deadline and provide excellent customer service to ensure their satisfaction with our products. Finally, we provided a superior factory warranty for our high-quality, commercial-grade furniture, which was a large factor in securing the deal. We are excited to see where this new exposure takes us next, and we’re looking forward to even bigger projects in the future!

Additional Links

Check out this drone footage of the finished space!

Image/video credit: Infinity Canopy

Learn more about Sailpoint’s project in this article from the Austin Business Journal, and this video from CORE Office Interiors, the dealer for this project.

Visit our website to learn more about our current collections or to find a dealer near you!

Don’t forget to share this post with your family and friends, and stay tuned for more blog posts!

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Genius Minds are Born in Outdoor Living

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It happens to us all: passing lights, blaring noises — your positive mood takes more effort because all of your energy resources are sapped. When exhaustion presents itself, cultural programming suggests you sit back and be entertained with Netflix and a bowl of ice-cream.

timber frame pavilion with windows

Going outside, breathing in living air and touching — genine, naked, noble — timber with its whole history of struggles against storms it has endured but continued indestructible —  this is where the mind finds rest and clarity. Outside is coming home.

Outdoor natural environments contain significant secrets that lift more than the clouds of your mind; it recharges your mitochondrial batteries —  and it can even make you smarter. Better yet, science says more than merely making you supersmart — it is the place of creativity —  where geniuses are born. 

Outdoor Living Raises Cognitive Aptitude

The first documented study of immersing people in an outdoor natural environment and testing for cognitive changes was conducted at the University of Kansas. Associate Professor of Cognitive and Clinical Psychology Ruth Ann Atchley and her colleagues wanted to know how the outdoors affects human creativity.

In a press release, Atchley said, “There’s a growing advantage over time to being in nature. We think that it peaks after about three days of really getting away.”

The results were not just about spending time in the outdoors. Atchley pointed out: the things they stepped away from, “turning off the cellphone, not hauling the iPad and not looking for internet coverage.”

Atchley explains, “It’s when you have an extended period of time surrounded by that softly fascinating environment that you start seeing all kinds of positive effects on how your mind works.”

The participants of the study were divided into groups across the United States. All of the participants were inexperienced hikers, 56 volunteers (with informed consent) ranging from 18-years-old into their 60’s with the average age of 24 to 28. They each had unlimited time to complete their tests. The test was measurable and real.

The first group was given a standard creativity test called the Remote Associates Test before they backpacked on a long nature trail.

The second group of hikers took the same test four days into their journey through nature and scored 50% higher than the first group did. Participants from the second group had a higher cognitive advantage in:

switching tasks,
maintaining task goals,
and thinking creatively

after being exposed to stimuli of outdoors in nature for a longer period of time.

Since the dawn of the internet, the world has benefited in available knowledge and communication. And yet, many experts contend that this technology has negative effects on learning and social interactions. They contend we are more easily irritated, less sociable, and more distracted. We can’t blame weaknesses on our detachment from nature, but their research affirms there is some unraveling of psychological resilience. At times, we can all do better at paying attention to details, being more empathetic, and internally rooted. That’s where the experts say that a parade of wildflowers, a walk in the mountains, and digging in a garden can help.

Dream seekers gazebo in Georgia.

Geniuses Inspired by the Outdoors

Beethoven — a musical genius — often hugged his linden tree and insisted, “No one can love the country as much as I do.” His symphonies depict nature, storms, a downpour of rain, gentle raindrops, wind, and flashes of lightning and more. He was inspired by nature, and he dedicated music to landscapes. The thoughts of Beethoven were: For surely woods, trees, and the rocks give man the resonance he needs and the echo he desires to hear.

The one thing the world’s greatest minds have in common is endless curiosity. Curiosity is the key to unlock creativity.

Leonardo da Vinci excelled in a variety of interests which included: anatomy, architecture, astronomy, botany, cartography, engineering, geology, history, invention, literature, mathematics, mechanics, music, painting, physics, science, sculpture, weaponry, writing and more. Da Vinci even created accurate and doable designs for machines that would be created centuries later, such as the bicycle, helicopter, military tank, and a submarine.

Leonardo da Vinci was a man who was curious about so many things. He once entered a note to himself: Describe the tongue of the woodpecker.

“Our opinions are not in our own power;
they are formed and governed much by circumstances that are often
as inexplicable as they are irresistible.”
– Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin was a natural philosopher and a brilliant man. His success was driven by a constant desire to mentally and morally improve upon himself. Franklin was renowned for his inventions, diplomatic and political triumphs, as well as scientific achievements. Oh, and in his spare time, he helped to establish a new country.

Franklin composed and played numerous musical instruments, including the guitar, harp, and violin. He invented and built a musical instrument he called the Armonica, also known as the glass harmonica. Thousands of Armonicas were manufactured and sold. Famous composers began writing music for it including, Beethoven, Donizetti, Mozart, and Strauss. The queen of France, Marie Antonette also charmed by Benjamin Franklin’s mesmerizing instrument, took lessons to learn to play. He is notable for inventing bifocal eyeglasses, the lightning rod, and the wood-burning stove.

According to his own writings, in 1752, Franklin, with his son,  did his famous experiment of flying a kite with a key tied to it during a thunderstorm to prove that lightning was also a form of electricity. He never ceased to improve upon his mind.

Benjamin Franklin advocated we all have a mind that is extraordinarily fertile. We were born without knowledge, but we were all born with curiosity, capable of lifelong discovery, improving yourself and doing well by others.

The late radio news commentator Paul Harvey Aurandt, legendarily known as Paul Harvey – a broadcaster of news for the ABC Radio Networks, famous for his “Rest of the Story” segments – began his last speech to fellow professionals in the radio industry at the R&R Talk Radio Seminar, with these four words:

“Be still my heart.”

Paul Harvey explained he had a Jim Daly painting on his wall at home in which there was a note attached saying:

children listening to old time radio

“There is no way for me to express the pleasure I received from listening to the old radio programs. In my mind those wonderful heroes were magnificent. No movie, no television program, not even real life could have equated what my imagination could conjure up. Amazingly all of those heroes, he says, looked a bit like me. And all of those heroes he described looked a bit like me.”

Paul Harvey went on to say that, Special effects for all their sophistication are still not as effective as the human imagination.” And how fourth and fifth-grade elementary students were surveyed after seeing a Harry Potter movie. When they try to reread a Harry Potter book, they explained how their imagination was constricted and limited by what they had seen.

Geniuses are not conventional and do not rely on what they have been taught how to solve something. What makes a genius is being able to think productively, generating alternative approaches and possibilities in a unique way when confronted with a problem. They have a curiosity and a willingness to explore.

Let your heart resonant with nature and discover
the Beethoven, Leonardo da Vinci, or Benjamin Franklin genius in you.

“I have never seen a picture on television or anywhere else that compares to the phenomenal pictures my brain can paint. I think radio is the ultimate visual medium. There is nothing anybody can do on that flat two-dimensional screen – nothing – that compares to the phenomenal pictures that are painted by your mind’s eyes stimulated by our beautiful language.” – Paul Harvey

Continuing Paul Harvey’s address:

Quidditch was much more fun in our minds. So distinct is the disparity that the publishers of the books will use no scenes from the movies on the covers of those books. You trust me to paint. You trust me to paint pictures in the mirror of your mind.

And I will let you feel such agony and ecstasy,
such misery and such magnificence as
you would never be able to feel by looking at it.

Let me paint you a picture of your unrequited love in 17 words:

When the fire in me meets with the ice in you, what could remain but damp ashes?

Now, you tell me what picture in all of the film could you duplicate that poignancy? We court with the lights turned down. That’s to remain undistracted. We savor a fragrance or a kiss, or a foot massage with our eyes closed.

In some instances, Paul Harvey says, “a picture would ruin a story for you. . .

Meet Martha and Chris Gerson of Gering, Nebraska.

Every weekday afternoon at 2:00 Martha lowers the window shades;
disconnects the telephone;
and turns on the TV to watch the wrestling matches.
Martha admits that she loves to watch those big bruisers headbutt one another…

…and body slam one another – and then when she gets sufficiently worked up …
…she throws a step-over toe hold on her husband Chris.
And there on the floor in front of the TV set …
…they wrestle until one is able to pin the other.

Don’t you tell Martha Gerson that wrestling matches on TV are staged. She says if there is anything on TV that is staged it is soap operas. She says the wrestling matches, those are for real, including hers with Chris; which by the way she usually wins.

For the Rest of the Story…

Hover Over

Martha Gerson is 76-years-old.

Her husband Chris is 83.

Now, that picture that you have been imagining is infinitely more entertaining than any picture could be.

Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman wrote a book called Words Can Change Your Brain. In the book, they write a single word has the power to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress.” Science has shown the power of language can literally alter your physical brain.

Your brain is the physical organ of your tangible, visible body associated with the mind. The mind is part of an invisible world of thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, feelings, and imagination. How well you feel in your body also affects your thinking.

timber frame pergola

Outdoors in nature have been a source that people —  from all walks of life — connect to, with their body and mind. Aristotle believed walking in the open-air clarified the mind. In Japan, touching wood is “medicine” to preserve health and treat illnesses. It is not only touching, but studies also claim all the senses in nature stimulate the immune system. Just the smell of the fresh earth acts as an anti-depressant.

The bacterium found in soil stimulates the production of serotonin helping the body to feel happier and more relaxed.

In 1989, David Strachan, a British scientist presented what he termed the “hygiene hypothesis.” In our modern, sterile environments many children are not getting exposed to the earth’s natural microorganisms found in the dirt to build and repair their immune systems. As a result, there are higher rates of allergies and asthma.

Penicillin was first developed from a soil fungus. Digging in dirt lifts your spirit. Microbes such as mycobacterium vaccae, a substance found in soil have an effect on the neurons of the brain similar to Prozac — but without potential chemical dependencies or no side effects. To get the full benefits is as easy as playing in the dirt.

Just the view of natural beauty elicits feelings of awe, another sure way to give you a mental boost. And speaking of view, research has also shown children have more protection against developing myopia — nearsightedness — by playing outside.

“I feel that nothing can befall me . . . which nature cannot repair.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Many respectable scientists, sociologists, doctors, and mental health experts suggest that when people do not get out in the natural world and play, it doesn’t only affect their individual well being, it also affects society as a whole in how they interact and influence each other.

In America, it has become culturally acceptable to spend the majority of our time indoors, especially when the weather is cold. With many countries, going outdoors is ingrained in their culture. If you lived in Sweden nature waters the garden of the soul —and there is no such thing as bad weather.

Nature is a tool. Nature influences people and people who spend adequate time in nature can increase their ability to construct new ideas and produce happier thoughts. Being in God’s great outdoors improves judgment, increases confidence, and creates a sunnier disposition.

Again, the incredibly improved cognitive thinking results were not just about spending more time in the outdoors, as Associate Professor of Cognitive and Clinical Psychology Ruth Ann Atchley said, it is: turning off the cellphone, not hauling the iPad and not looking for internet coverage. What you do outside moves how you think and behave.

Go outside and bring out the genius in you.

pergola for pool side shade

Florence Nightingale: Fresh Air & Sunshine

Many old-time therapies suggest patients go outside or “breathe in the fresh sea air.” Take a look at Florence Nightingale’s lovely notes on nursing as she strongly advocates patients being exposed to fresh air and sunlight.

florence nightingale memorial

It is the unqualified result of all my experience with the sick, that second only to their need for fresh air is their need of light; that, after a close room, what hurts them most is a dark room. And that it is not only light but direct sun-light they want.

I had rather have the power of carrying my patient about after the sun, according to the aspect of the rooms, if circumstances permit than let him linger in a room when the sun is off. People think the effect is upon the spirits only. This is by no means the case. The sun is not only a painter but a sculptor. You admit that he does the photograph.

Without going into any scientific exposition we must admit that light has quite as real and tangible effects upon the human body. But this is not all. Who has not observed the purifying effect of light, and especially of direct sunlight, upon the air of a room?

Here is an observation within everybody’s experience. Go into a room where the shutters are always shut – in a sick room or a bedroom there should never be shutters shut – and though the room be uninhabited, though the air has never been polluted by the breathing of human beings, you will observe a close, musty smell of corrupt air, of air i.e. unpurified by the effect of the sun’s rays. The mustiness of dark rooms and corners, indeed, is proverbial.

The cheerfulness of a room, the usefulness of light in treating disease is all-important.

–  Florence Nightingale

This content was originally published here.

When Americans Bought the Illusion of ‘Indoor-Outdoor Living’

outdoor living

Think of postwar America, and what often comes to mind is a white, heterosexual family, pictured in a domestic suburban environment. You can tell this family lives in the suburbs because there is a lawn in the background, a tree framed in a picture window, a swimming pool glimmering behind a glass wall.

This almost-mythical family you are visualizing is drawn directly from a generation of magazine ads, commonplace during the mid-20th century, that portrayed so-called “indoor-outdoor living,” where the refinements of domesticity were combined with the restorative powers of nature. The indoor-outdoor look didn’t just sell things that suburban houses required or were improved by—like cars, construction materials, or domestic appliances. It also sold an illusion: Americans might imagine themselves living partly outdoors, but the ads ultimately promoted a life that took place inside all of the glass, metal, and wood that was being advertised.

As these idealized images of suburban life—indoor-outdoor living among them—took hold, Americans responded to the “allurement of open space,” as one film by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce called it. They moved away from cities, took out their wallets, and forged a consumer culture that largely depended on the ever-increasing material needs deriving from suburbanization. In doing so, millions of Americans bought the idea—as housewares manufacturer Revere Copper and Brass put it in a 1942 ad—that a home was “no mere space bounded by walls and divided into rooms,” but “a way of life to keep pace with your needs, to change with your tastes, to grow with your means.” In other words: a way of life that would keep you buying stuff.

After the end of World War II, real estate developers began planning and promoting open and spacious suburbs on a mass scale as an alternative to the unsanitary and overcrowded industrial city. This became possible for a number of reasons: first, farmland was relatively inexpensive, and often no longer needed for agriculture. Second, the war effort had led to the rise of new construction methods, based on standardization and prefabrication that considerably cut down building costs. Finally, the poor state of the existing housing stock and the growing population led the federal government to invest in new developments, especially by subsidizing mortgages for veterans and young couples, which underwrote “white flight,” as increasing numbers of white families moved from cities to suburbs.

To encourage this trend, advertisers decided to spotlight the suburbs’ desirability by capitalizing on their non-urban qualities, with a twist: they presented suburbia as a place where the comforts of civilization (that is, urban living) merged with the soothing embrace of the natural world. The suburban house was no homestead in the Great Plains; it was an outpost of modernity and convenience built on the frontier between the city and the wild. Advertisers dreamed up a seamless interpenetration of indoors and outdoors, homey interiors and sunlit exteriors, living room and back yard—visual evidence that it was possible to have the best of both worlds. They directed those images into millions of American homes through the pages of LIFE magazine, whose circulation peaked at more than eight million in the late 1960s.

The indoor-outdoor look didn’t just sell things that suburban houses required or were improved by—like cars, construction materials, or domestic appliances. It also sold an illusion: Americans might imagine themselves living partly outdoors, but the ads ultimately promoted a life that took place inside all of the glass, metal, and wood that was being advertised.

These indoor-outdoor viewscapes were in fact a downscaled rendition of the modernism of Frank Lloyd Wright’s organic designs, or the glass houses by Mies van der Rohe, Philip Johnson, and Richard Neutra, all of which revolutionized high-end domestic architecture in the U.S. In the eyes of architectural critic Sigfried Giedion, these modern American houses marked a new chapter in the history of world architecture. In his posthumous work Architecture and the Phenomena of Transition, Giedion wrote of an era in which the boundaries between inside and outside were no longer clearly defined because peace, wealth, and technology had enabled humans to stop seeking shelter from the outer world. This was an age in which “interior and exterior space continually interpenetrated one another, establishing new interrelationships.” It was a new form of architecture defined by “a simultaneous striving both for freedom and for order.”

Although most Americans were ready to join in Giedion’s appreciation of this new architectural style, they could not afford these homes with their walls of endless and prohibitively expensive glass plates. But popular ads presented the new middle-class suburban home as a standardized and mass-produced version of the same type, a domestic dream within anyone’s reach. Ads and magazines called it “indoor-outdoor architecture.”

The marketing surged. In some instances, companies exploited these visions of suburban heaven to sell commodities that were linked with outdoor living. Aluminum, for instance, had become the metal of choice to manufacture everything from lawn mowers, awnings, fences, and outdoor furniture to aluminum foil and kitchenware. It was just as useful inside the home as outside it, but not as easily marketable—so showcasing it as the perfect material for outdoor living, as the sector’s leading company, Reynolds, did, made it more appealing to shoppers seeking all kinds of products.

Windows were another case in point. They were an essential fixture to protect interiors from weather and unwanted intrusions—but in mid-century ads, they became a way to frame the outer world and transport it inside, as a beautiful picture. By installing extensive sheets of glass like the popular Andersen Windowalls, for instance, one could “furnish the outdoor fun.” If the outdoors was the perfect setting for leisure activity—barbecues, picnics, and parties—window frames and glass plates let these visions (and through them, leisure as a way of life) penetrate the domestic environment. Glass made a house almost immaterial, giving residents the impression of living on their lawn instead of under a roof—or so these ads seemed to suggest.

The charms of the outdoor world could enhance not only where people lived, but also where they worked and went to school. Companies relocating to suburban office parks could enfold employees in the peaceful arms of nature, making the dull monotony of work all the more bearable. Suburban schools could be a place where “young minds find more room to grow,” according to ad copy from Libbey-Owens-Ford, a major glass-plate provider.

Most industries banked on the suburban ideal because that was where most consumers lived. Indoor-outdoor architecture became a visual cliché for postwar advertising of all sorts of goods. Some indoor-outdoor images encouraged activities quite alien to what most think of as the purportedly outdoorsy suburban life—for example, watching TV. And yet, between 1962 and 1963 Motorola ran a series of ads in LIFE magazine that depicted this most domestic, indoor-oriented of all hobbies in suburban fantasy homes, each harmoniously integrated into the landscape. The implied message was that TV and radio could illusorily take viewers and listeners outside the limits of their domestic world, thus counteracting the potentially claustrophobic properties of these technologies. These fictional modern architectures were born out of the imaginative mind of illustrator Charles Schridde, and some were clearly reminiscent of actual examples, such as Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House or Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West.

Driving was another essentially interior activity promoted with indoor-outdoor imagery. It was advertised as an outdoor activity in itself, because car owners had a world of unlimited adventures at their feet, or rather, wheels. And yet, drivers would mostly contemplate the beauty of the outdoors from a hermetically sealed capsule, and as suburbs sprawled further and further out, the hours spent behind the wheel grew exponentially. One could roll down the windows—but why, when the automobile interior was conveniently air-conditioned?

A suburban home, too, could be a controlled climate, but it took a dose of the indoor-outdoor mystique to win people over to the idea. Many postwar consumers resisted air conditioning because it required closing windows tight to function properly, and seemed to force people into a self-imposed domestic captivity. So creative directors on Madison Avenue hoping to push air conditioners had to suggest quite the opposite idea: that living in an air-conditioned house was like living outdoors all year round. Fresh air came to seem almost unnecessary, since one could artificially reach climatic nirvana inside one’s home.

Once again, the suburban house metaphorically dematerialized: it became “the great indoors,” as a Lennox air conditioning ad put it. In contrast to the images of advertising, ordinary life—the time people spent doing housework, playing, watching TV, driving a car to go to work or run one’s errands—took place indoors. The outdoors was transformed from a place to enjoy to an abstract concept. Postwar suburbanization ultimately put Americans into comfortable, all-encompassing interiors, allowing them to go from the living room to the garage to the car to the mall without ever coming into contact with fresh air.

The post When Americans Bought the Illusion of ‘Indoor-Outdoor Living’ appeared first on What It Means to Be American.

This content was originally published here.

Outdoor Living in the Pacific Northwest: It’s not just for the summer months!

outdoor living

November 2019

Long-time residents of the Pacific Northwest know that, in spite of our rainy reputation, we have some of the best weather in the country any time of year and outdoor living here just can’t be beat. Our summers are not too hot or too humid, fall is typically a riot of color and sunshine, and our winters are fairly mild, especially when compared to the long deep freezes the East and Midwest tend to endure. Yes, we do get our fair share of cold, wind and rain, but not enough to keep us from enjoying the outdoors – even in the heart of winter – which is why outdoor living spaces are such a hot commodity and a main feature of so many homes in the Pacific Northwest.

We love designing and installing fantastic outdoor living spaces from the simple to the lavish, but we’ve been doing this long enough to know that all it takes to enjoy outdoor living year-round are really just a few essentials to keep you protected from the elements. Here are some of our top recommendations to make your outdoor space a year-round oasis.

Patios, decks, and paths clearly define outdoor spaces and create the footprint for your outdoor “rooms”, kind of like the foundation of your house. They are also the natural starting point for creating outdoor living spaces that can be used and enjoyed year-round.

Stamped concrete, pavers, flagstone, composite decking, even compacted gravel are all excellent choices for making your outdoor spaces more enjoyable in all weather conditions. Whether it’s an outdoor living room, kitchen or grilling station, quiet sitting area, patio or deck, or simply a path to get you from here to there, solid surfaces are a must. You need a strong stable surface that can withstand the elements and provide the support for whatever furniture, appliances or accessories you may be adding, and you don’t want to be walking about in the mud after one of our rainstorms. Nobody likes tracking in mud, and mud splashing up onto your patio furniture is no fun either, so let’s keep it to a minimum!

You know it rains here, and you know it can rain a lot, so it should go without saying that to enjoy your outdoor space all year long, you need a cover over your head just as much as you need a solid surface beneath your feet. From the simple to the grand, there are a plethora of options for covering a patio or deck, including adding a pergola, extending your roof, building a gazebo, or creating a ceiling under an existing balcony or deck. Each of these different types of covered structures have unique advantages and challenges, so our designers at Landscape East & West always provide a thorough consultation and review of a property before jumping into a custom design.


There’s nothing quite like enjoying long evenings spent outside chatting with family and friends, but all too often we head indoors once the sun goes down. Well, with a little planning and proper installation, adding light to your yard, walkways, covered patio or deck will make all the difference to set the stage for your extended outdoor evenings. With proper outdoor lighting, from custom overhead lighting, to wall-sconces, pathway markers, and landscape lights, your nighttime patio or yard can be transformed into a magical oasis in the dark, creating warmth and beauty throughout the seasons.

Besides the rain, the cold is more apt to drive us indoors than anything else. Luckily, there are a lot of options when it comes to heating up your outdoor space: fire pits, outdoor fireplaces, patio heaters. There are important considerations, though, and determining what will work best in your space should be based on not only the aesthetic you are after but also the type and source of fuel or power needed and what will be feasible in your given space. This is another area where an experienced landscape designer can help you sift through all the options and find the right solution for your space to give you all the warmth and ambiance you desire.

The addition of short retaining walls, seat walls or built in benches or planters around patios can help keep nature in check, while adding both form and function. Low walls will define a space and add cohesiveness to an overall design, plus provide a bit of a protective barrier between patio and yard. Built in seating can also expand your outdoor living space as less room may be needed for additional furniture. Low or half walls can also serve to provide additional privacy. You may even want to entirely close off the space with a gate to keep small animals in, or out!

Are you a grill master? Do you love cooking and entertaining outdoors? What about music or a big screen TV? Maybe a hot tub under your gazebo is the piece de resistance you’re after. The point is, you can have pretty much anything you want in your outdoor space – so why not have a little fun? We love getting creative with our clients and have enjoyed designing and building hundreds of outdoor spaces over the years, complete with wood-burning pizza ovens, gas ranges and grills, surround sound, water features and more.

With so many options, it’s easy to let your imagination run wild when you start dreaming about your outdoor space and creating that perfect year-round oasis. In the end though, the various elements you want to bring into your outdoor living space really comes down to two things: How you want to use the space, and the design aesthetic you are after. After that, it’s a matter of working out the details and an experienced designer will be your best friend to help you through the process.

We have been helping Pacific Northwesterners for more than three decades bring the indoors out and extend living spaces beyond the walls of their homes with custom designed spaces meant for year-round enjoyment. Winter is just around the corner and while it is a bit late in the year to have a new outdoor space in time for the coming season, it is the perfect time to begin planning for next year – before your landscape designer gets busy again next spring!

We love making dreams come true, so contact Landscape East & West today and let’s start dreaming about your perfect outdoor living space.

This content was originally published here.

2019 National Hardware Show showcases its Lawn, Garden & Outdoor Living section – Garden Center Magazine

outdoor living

The Lawn, Garden & Outdoor Living section will offer the latest product innovations from several brands including American Fire Glass (Booth #10125), Daisy Rain Garden Systems (Booth #10167), Kent International Inc. (Booth #11436), KidKraft (Booth #10352), Miracle Wheelbarrows LLC. (Booth # IS9225) and Zingz & Thingz (Booth #11259.

The Southern Nursery Association (SNA) has announced plans are underway for the 2020 SNA Conference to take place at the Baltimore Convention Center Monday, Jan. 6 to Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020. Once again, the SNA Conference will precede the Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show (MANTS), which takes place from Wednesday, Jan. 8 to Friday, Jan. 10, 2020.

The SNA Conference provides a platform for sponsors to engage with customers on a personal, one-to-one level. Sponsorship packages for the 2020 SNA Conference will include all-access passes to the conference to allow face-to-face engagement throughout the two days of keynotes, plant conference and research conference sessions, and roundtables. The sponsor package will also include tabletop display space, as well as other promotion before, during and after the event.

“Collocating The SNA Conference at the Baltimore Convention Center two days before the opening of MANTS offers many advantages to the audience of both events,” Karen Summers, SNA executive vice president says.  “Participants have the convenience of attending the industry’s most widely-recognized conference for new plants and quality research plus attend one of the industry’s largest trade show.”

More details of the 2020 SNA Conference will be released in the coming weeks. For more information, contact the Southern Nursery Association, Inc., PO Box 801454, Acworth, GA 30101, 678.809.9992,, or visit the SNA website at

DIG Marketing has launched a contest called “Save My Garden Center” for independent garden centers in the U.S. or Canada who want to refresh their websites, boost their content marketing tactics, and kickstart their social media initiatives. The package is valued at $12,000.

“Our team leaders work in the industry so we can work for the industry. We understand the importance of a good first impression and have the experience to convey a company’s best assets through several marketing tactics,” according to a press release from DIG Marketing. Rob Sproule, co-owner of Salisbury Greenhouse in Alberta, Canada, is the IGC owner behind DIG Marketing. “DIG is looking for garden centers embarrassed by their website, looking for a brand revival, interested in showcasing their knowledge through email marketing and eager for some social media guidance.”

Garden centers can enter at now until April 15, 2019, when a winner will be selected.

Gard’N-Wise has signed a deal with Marketing Garden for The Perfect Plant’s problem solver. The agreement combines synthetic and organic control products offered through Gard’N-Wise with The Perfect Plant’s technology for a ready-to-use problem solver for retailers.

©  Gard’N-Wise and Marketing Garden

“Retailers face challenges with staffing, education, and having necessary information at their fingertips to help customers quickly and effectively,” John Bruntzel, sales manager for Gard’N-Wise said. “Tying the products we offer into The Perfect Plant allows retailers to offer staff a solid level of product knowledge from day one of employment.”

Gard’N-Wise will offer a base package to retailers providing a problem solver preloaded with solutions from manufacturers. Once the user identifies his problem, the system recommends products based on the application site like a vegetable garden, home interior, houseplants, landscape, etc. from the retailer’s product offering. It’s accessible by staff and customers from a retailer’s website and also throughout the store from the interactive shelf talkers. If desired, retailers can expand the platform to include the plant finder and/or instore kiosks based on their needs. 

Retailers are encouraged to reach out to their Gard’N-Wise rep for more information or they can contact Marketing Garden directly at or 888-85-PLANT. 

This content was originally published here.

outdoor living in california. / sfgirlbybay

outdoor living

i know this post could cause a major migration to sunny california, but you must trust me when i tell you we photographed my friend, artist kim schoen’s home it was during a much-needed break in some winter rainstorms that have been keeping all us wimpy Angelenos tucked cozily inside. so it was such a welcome pleasure to see the sun come out and to share with you kim’s terrace makeover, overlooking the beautiful san gabriel mountains and angeles national forest. we partnered with Article to complete kim’s newly tiled outdoor space, designed by her partner, architect marc frohn.

kim chose article’s gorgeous Oscuro Dining Table in a black finish with brass legs and paired it with the Sala Graphite Dining Chairs which are great-looking but also incredibly comfortable. the black furniture contrasts so perfectly with the pale green patio tiles and california landscape. i know it’s still chilly in most parts of the country and most certainly in canada, where Article is based, but hey — we’re almost through winter and spring will be here before you know it, so it’s the perfect time to be giving your outdoor space a little love. In addition to their modern and Scandinavian designs meant for inside, Article has tons of outdoor furniture that have got a bohemian, mid-century flair. Article also carries all kinds of beautifully designed modern furniture for the inside of your home, too — from sofas to beds, made with outstanding attention to detail, and at very fair prices. and, they’re lovely people to work with, so if you’re looking to update your space i would highly recommend having a peek at their lovely collections. i have their outdoor chairs in my backyard, too and love them!

This is a post in partnership for product trade with Article and all words and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep sfgirlbybay going with fresh content every day.

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Lansing Board of Water & Light Features a LiveWall® Outdoor Living Wall on its New Central Substation

outdoor living

Outdoor Living Wall Greens Up the New Central Substation and Enhances the Landscape in Lansing, Michigan’s Historic REO Town

Grand Rapids, MI. (November, 1, 2019) – The Lansing Board of Water & Light’s new Central Substation in the city’s historic REO Town neighborhood features a two-sided, 425-square-foot living wall installed with the LiveWall® Outdoor Living Wall System. Completed in July 2019, the living wall greens up the exterior of the new substation and establishes a visual link to the Scott Sunken Garden.

“The Central Substation provides more reliable, affordable power to downtown Lansing,” said Dick Peffley, general manager, Lansing Board of Water & Light (BWL). “The green wall is a vital part in fulfilling our commitment to the community that the design of the new substation would revitalize the area’s landscape, establish an inviting gateway to REO Town, and reconnect the area to downtown.”

“We envisioned the living wall as a green focal point that softens the view of the Central Substation’s brick façade, which people see as they drive into or exit downtown.”
Bob Ford, ASLA, principal,
Landscape Architects & Planners, Inc.

“We envisioned the living wall as a green focal point that softens the view of the Central Substation’s brick façade, which people see as they drive into or exit downtown,” said Bob Ford, ASLA, principal, Landscape Architects & Planners, Inc., the landscape architecture firm for the project. “It also serves as a prominent landscape feature that visually connects the substation to the historic Scott Sunken Garden, which was saved and relocated as part of the project.”

“As seen from the Sunken Garden, the living wall is an extension of the garden landscape and unifies the overall landscape,” said Paul Toaz, landscape manager, Lawn Sprinklers Sales, Service & Design, Inc., the project’s landscape contractor and living wall installer. “For example, when you exit from the Sunken Garden parking lot, you face the west section of the living wall and see its natural beauty.”

The LiveWall Living Wall was installed in two sections on the north and west walls of the Central Substation. Each section measures 21’-4” x 10’-3 3/8” and fits into specially recessed frames built into the substation’s brick walls. In total, it includes 330 LiveWall modular planter boxes, which are high-impact, UV-resistant, architectural quality moldings. Manufactured in a cedar color to complement the color of the bricks of the substation’s exterior walls, the planter modules contain re-usable inserts that hold the growing medium for the plants and contain a mix of six different annuals.

The Lansing Board of Water & Light (BWL)
The BWL is a municipally-owned public utility that provides safe, reliable and affordable utility products and services to more than 97,000 electric and 56,000 water customers throughout the greater Lansing, Mich. area. The BWL owns 2,000 miles of overhead and underground power lines and more than 800 miles of water mains, providing 2.7 million megawatt hours and 7 billion gallons of water to customers annually. To learn more about the history and mission of the Lansing Board of Water & Light, visit

Link to Project Photos:

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This content was originally published here.

Toll Brothers home in Gilbert blends indoor and outdoor living

outdoor living

Zen area and cozy nooks bring indoor living outside in Gilbert home. Take a peek

Georgann Yara

Special for The Republic
Published 5:00 PM EDT Oct 31, 2019

After a hectic week, some seek relief at a spa, retreat to a yoga class or hike a mountain to find some peace.

For Ross and Erin Murray, however, the opportunity to decompress is just a few steps from the master suite of their Gilbert home. A private Zen area sits just off their bedroom, complete with plush seating, meditation pillows and a pergola overhead. Yoga mats are nearby. An outdoor shower flanks one side of the space and a hot tub on the other. At night, serene lighting adds to the vibe.

“We have a lot of kids so it’s a good place to sit, meditate and enjoy the outdoors,” Ross said, referring to his and Erin’s daughters, ages 8, 9 and 13. “It’s our place to unwind.”

The peaceful domestic getaway is one of the ways the Murrays’ new home in the Toll Brothers at Whitewing luxury development has brought the comforts of indoor living to the outdoors.

‘Grown-up area’

The Murrays moved into their new build four-bedroom, 3 ½ bathroom home in September 2018.

The single-story main house is 4,400-square feet and an accompanying casita is 600-square feet.

The backyard boasts and an aggregate wall made of boulders in rebar. There are multiple lounging areas, a love seat and umbrellas. A modern swimming pool is ideal for both laps and relaxed wading.

A rock wall supports three stone fountain bowls that provide visual and audial ambiance. This spot is the obvious star of a backyard tailor-made for hosting.

If the Murrays feel like a relaxing soak, the Zen area features a hot tub.
Georgann Yara/Special for the Republic

But the sprawling half-acre property feels cozy almost on demand thanks to several nooks around the home that exude indoor comfort amidst the elements.

“We wanted the opportunity for a lot of outside living spaces. That’s one reason why we loved this house,” Erin said.

The Murrays requested the Zen nook, seeking a reenergizing spot that wasn’t in an area their kids would routinely spend time in.

“We call it our super-secret grown-up area,” Erin said of the space. “It’s where we recharge our batteries.”

They worked with Phoenix-based Sonoran Landesign, one of two preferred landscape companies that Toll Brothers collaborates with, to make it happen. The outdoor shower concept is a popular amenity with homes, Daniel Benson, project manager for Toll Brothers, said.

A floor-to-ceiling fireplace runs on electricity but includes a heated fan to provide warmth without the fuss.
Ross Murray

But, the little touches like tiling, artificial grass and easy entry between the space and the bedroom were customized and ready upon move-in.

“We allow the landscaping to begin in tandem. We’re able to do really cool things with interior and exterior materials to create seamless indoor-outdoor spaces that’s customized with everyone’s unique taste,” Benson said.

Big structural features such as 16-by-8-foot pocket doors off the living and dining room create that seamless access to the back patio when open.

A pivot front door provides security needed for the recessed street-facing entry but also elegantly allows indoor and outdoor to meld when opened at every degree to their ranch-style design.

“They did a very cool front entry door that’s very modern and opens up to the front courtyard and tied with theirs being a modern ranch house,” Benson said.

Cozy nooks bring indoor comfort out under the sky

Exterior furnishings beg to be functional and lived in rather than just practical décor. This is clear with the first steps onto the property.

When arriving at the home, a walkway leads the Murrays’ guests through an idyllic desertscape scene accented by a boulder and rebar wall that resembles the one in the backyard and boasts two large fountain bowls.

After a few steps through the courtyard, a seating area is comprised of two facing sofas, pillows and a fire pit between them all on paver pads and artificial grass. It implores to be the site of evening conversations, cuddling and drifting off at midnight beneath the sky.

Past the front pivot door, a stroll leads through the living room that flaunts a floor-to-ceiling electric fireplace and cushy seating. Open pocket doors lead to the spacious backyard filled with alcoves that bring indoor privacy and intimacy under the sun and stars.

Pavers and artificial grass work in tandem to pull spaces together while defining a pathway to the front door.
Ross Murray

Among them, a corner spot with a sofa and two hammock chairs under an oversized adjustable umbrella. Two Adirondack-inspired chairs look right at home in a Baja shelf in the pool and are shaded by another umbrella based underwater.

“We spend every night out here and watch the sunset,” Erin said pointing to the two chairs. She gestured to the corner seating area and said, “And we look at the moon from there.”

Ross, a mortgage lender who runs his own Homebridge Financial Services branch in Gilbert, said he and Erin eyed a Toll Brothers home for the amenities and options available to them. And they are pleased with the result.

“Toll builds an amazing house. It’s the best builder when it comes to a higher-end home,” he said. “We fell in love with the house. We wake up every day and we pinch ourselves.”

Know of a unique home in metro Phoenix that is not on the market that should be featured? Email

This content was originally published here.

Preparing for Football Season – Proper Lawn & Paver Maintenance – Outdoor Living by Belgard

outdoor living

With football season ramping up and fall’s cooler temperatures and falling leaves, it’s the perfect time to start thinking about preparing for autumn with proper lawn and paver maintenance. You can do more now to impact how your lawn will look next year than at any other time of the year.

Fertilize your lawn with a winterizer fertilizer before the first heavy freeze to encourage strong, vigorous root development. This step allows grass to get off to a better start in the spring and increases resistance to disease and insects.

While nobody likes to rake leaves, it’s an important step in autumn lawn maintenance. If you have a lot of leaves, mulch them and apply them to your lawn where they act like a second fertilizer application for the grass.

Luckily, with Belgard pavers on your patio, walkway and driveway your job is easy. Our pavers require very little maintenance. Thanks to a manufacturing process that ensures quality, colorfastness and weather resistance, our unique Colorgard technology evenly disperses colors throughout each and every paver, wall, and curb unit we make. Belgard products resist UV rays, maintain their original color year after year, and hold up to stressful weather extremes.

Additionally, stained or broken pavers can be easily replaced without patches. Ants and weeds in joints can be prevented with sealers or herbicides.

You can still enjoy your outdoor space even during upkeep – involve the whole family and make it a fun activity. The chores will get done faster, and you can get back to watching the game on your beautiful, leaf-free Belgard patio.

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This content was originally published here.

How to Create an Outdoor Living Room in Your Neighborhood

outdoor living

Lifelong friendships often start with a simple conversation with a stranger. BenchesCollective, a grassroots community organization, wants to spark those conversations by inspiring and teaching people how to create outdoor living rooms. The initiative, which originated in Amsterdam in the Netherlands, has more than 1,000 registered benches throughout the Netherlands and several other countries, including Brazil, Turkey, South Africa, and the U.S.

The project is a reminder that our sidewalks are shared spaces. It also reinforces the notion that having a sense of ownership of our public spaces is vital to creating thriving neighborhoods and cities. The benches connect people who might not otherwise be brought together.

BenchesCollective is organizing the “largest open air café in the world” on July 1 and 2, during which time people are encouraged to create their own outdoor public space and offer coffee, tea, snacks, or — as one bench host did, salsa lessons. Throughout the year, the organization will facilitate local open air cafés together with citizens social organisations, housing associations and municipalities.

Shareable connected with Mischa Woutersen, who coaches BenchesCollective ambassadors, about the best way to open a local bench.

Here’s his advice:

  1. Choose a good spot in your street to hang out with your neighbors.
  2. Arrange a nice bench of seating area to host your activity. This can be a private bench or a public bench on your street.
  3. Make a Facebook event, share your bench on Nextdoor, and inform local press.
  4. Invite your neighbors to enjoy a fun afternoon.

“People can open their bench on any day of the year,” Woutersen said. “However, we encourage everyone to join our movement on the 11th of June. Then, we organize the biggest open air café of the world.”

The BenchesCollective team is currently working on tools, including a poster generator, to make it easier for participants to promote their benches. Woutersen encourages people to become ambassadors for their town or neighborhood.

Contact Woutersen for more information and guidance. Header photo by Melanie van Zweeden. Follow @CatJohnson on Twitter

This post was previously published on ShareAble and is republished here with a Creative Commons License.


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