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Time to Enjoy Your Pool!

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Where does your mind go when thinking about summer? Maybe you imagine relaxing on the beach or taking a trip to the nearest water park. Something about spending time outside in the water and sun just screams, “It’s summer!” However, thoughts of beaches and water parks also scream, “Time and money!!” This summer, try using a more convenient method for soaking up rays and hanging out in the water. The idea is very simple: put on your favorite bathing suit and then walk right into your backyard. Remember that giant and expensive hole in your yard that you filled with a large amount of water? Believe it or not, it’s not just a lovely water feature. You’re allowed to use it! Here’s the best part: you can use it whenever you want! Here are a few ideas to help you get the most from your pool this summer.

GAMES FOR THE KIDS

Most kids enjoy playing “Marco Polo” or “Sharks and Minnows” in the pool. While that’s all well and good, how about trying a few different games with the kids this summer. Just remember that all games should be supervised by an adult.

Ping Pong Scramble:This is almost like the pool version of hungry hungry hippos. Have the kids form a large circle and then dump a container of ping balls in the middle of the circle. Kids can use socks, party cups, or even plastic bags to collect the balls. The player with the most balls wins.

Watermelon Relay:You may not know this, but watermelons float. Split the group into relay teams. Have each contestant swim across the pool pushing a watermelon, handing it off to the next person in line. The team who finishes first wins. And when the game is over, carve up the “game balls” for a tasty poolside treat!

Paper Boat Races:Making a paper boat is simple, but if you don’t remember how, there are many instructional videos on YouTube. To stretch the time, you can first have the kids decorate their pieces of paper with crayons before folding the paper into boats. Once the boats are built, turn the pool pump on to create a current for racing the boats around the pool. For added fun, kids can create “wind” by blowing on the boats, or they can use their hands to create “waves” to propel the boats. Just remember that if the boats get too wet, they will sink or fall apart. But that’s ok, just make some more for the next race!

FUN WITH FAMILY & FRIENDS

Water Volleyball:This activity is usually reserved for larger families or several guests who don’t mind getting a little physical. Pool nets and a volleyball are a relatively inexpensive purchase, and the setup is easy. Just pick your teams and try not to swallow too much water when grandma accidentally takes you out while diving for a loose ball. If you want to get really into it, and have the right amount of people for it, set up a tournament and go out and buy a cheap trophy to give to the winning team. This can easily become your next family or group tradition.

Floating Cocktail Party (21+):When the kids are away, the adults will play. Invite some friends over for an afternoon or evening of relaxing adult-filled activities. Open a nice bottle of wine, try that new martini recipe you found the other day, or simply bust out a few beers. Most importantly, do it from the comfort of your pool, floating on your favorite flotation device. You can even purchase a floating ice chest or cocktail caddy for your bar-tending convenience. For ambiance at evening gatherings, add some floating lights. For safety reasons, make sure to use only shatterproof glasses while around or in the pool.

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Tips on Hiring a Patio Professional

Know what questions to ask when choosing professionals for your outdoor patio project.

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Finding a professional is the next step. After consulting the websites that list landscape architects and garden designers and talking to friends and neighbors who are satisfied with their patio, arrange to have several come to your home to give you their ideas along with estimates on the costs involved. They generally do this for free but expect to pay for anything other than a consultation such as drawn up plans and lists of materials.

"A professional can give you guidance to things you haven’t thought of,” says Derek Archer, a landscape designer for Brentwood Landscape & Design. For example, they can take into consideration, the architecture of your house, where doors and windows are located and what to avoid. "You don’t want to put your patio near the air conditioning units outside your home. No one wants to hear them while they are sitting on their patio," says Archer.

Hiring a professional is like interviewing a potential employee. You have to meet many candidates before you settle on the one that’s best for the job. Follow your instincts. If the person seems vague or inexperienced, move on to the next one. Don’t necessarily choose the lowest price. Remember, as with most purchases, you get what you pay for. Be sure to ask for several references before you hire any one patio designer or builder. "You want to find a person who has experience (designing and building patios) similar to what you want to do,” says Monica Mroz, ASLA/PLA,Monica Mroz Landscape Architect. "Find someone who understands what you want and communicates well. That’s the key to a successful project."

According to the National Association of The Remodeling Industry, here's a list of questions you should ask before hiring a professional to build your patio:

  • When can you start?
  • When will you be finished?
  • What time will you knock on my door each morning?
  • What time will you quit for the day?
  • Are you going to work everyday?
  • Can you finish before (insert any major holiday or significant family event)?
  • How much will it cost per square foot?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • Who will be assigned as project supervisor for the job?
  • Who will be working on the project? Are they employees or subcontractors?
  • Does your company carry workers compensation and liability insurance? Always verify this information by calling the agency. A copy of an insurance certificate does not let you know if the policy is still current. Even if the certificate has an expiration date, you cannot tell if either party has canceled the insurance. If licensing is required in your state also ask if the contractor is licensed and call to verify compliance with the law. Not all states offer or require licensing. Check with your local or state government agencies.
  • What is your approach to a project such as this?
  • How many projects like mine have you completed in the past year?
  • May I have a list of references from those projects?
  • May I have a list of business referrals or suppliers?
  • What percentage of your business is repeat or referral business?
  • Are you a member of a national trade association?

Anyone with a pad and pencil can design a patio but if you are not designing or building it yourself then you’ll want to hire a professional to do the job.

Architects

An architect designs and builds houses, offices, structures and often landscapes depending on their professional degree which includes a masters degree in fine arts, architecture, and several years of hands-on experience plus a license to practice in their state. While an architect can design a patio they generally focus on designing the house, both interior and exterior, but in doing so, will design the exterior outdoor living spaces in their initial plan.

Designer

A designer can be anyone from a person with a degree in design from a professional school, to a person with hands-on experience designing interior or exterior spaces. They may or may not have additional study that would enable them to design an exterior space such as a patio.

Landscape Designer

Generally, a landscape designer has at least a four-year college degree in landscape design including hardscape areas such as patios, decks, walkways, as well as plantings. They have a degree in horticultural studies so they are well aware of the types of plants that grow in the area they are working in. They also have at least several years of hands-on experience and a license to work in the state they are located in. Design/build firms generally employ landscape designers to execute plans for exterior living spaces such as patios.

Landscape Architect

A landscape architect has at least a four-year degree plus at least two years of experience working under a licensed landscape architect before they take an exam to secure their own license to work. Their area of study includes drainage, irrigation and grading. They are well versed in horticultural study so they know what plantings would be well suited to your area. Their credentials can vary from state to state.

Garden Designer

Nearly anyone with knowledge of plant material can be a garden designer. However, a course of study that includes horticulture, landscape design and hardscape design is recommended for a garden designer. Many design/build firms that will design the patio and also build it will have a garden designer on hand.




Father’s Day Gourmet BBQ Ideas

It’s that time of year again where we set aside a day to say, “Thank you,” to that hard working man in our lives: Dad. The only problem with Father’s Day is that many of our fathers are humble guys who often say that they don’t want anything special. This year, tell Dad “Tough luck,” and do something special for him anyway. Here are a few ideas you can do for the “old man” this Father’s Day that will surely bring a smile to his face.

Gourmet Burger Bar

Gourmet burgers topped with caramelized onions, blue cheese mayo, tomato, and arugula. (Photo credit: Oxmoor House, Time Inc.)

Sure, Pop probably barbeques burgers regularly. However, ketchup, mustard, lettuce and tomato can get boring. This Father’s Day, stock up on new ingredients to add to your burgers and setup a gourmet burger bar. Here is a quick list of items to get you started. Don’t be afraid to experiment with other toppings that are not listed here. The idea is to just try something new.

Have fun experimenting with any sort of possible topping. Examples included avocados, over-easy style eggs, sprouts, various greens, caramelized onions and mushrooms, and literally any pepper that comes to mind. While the grill is hot, try grilling some fruit toppings, like pineapple or peaches.

Next up, the cheese layer. Sure, you’ll need standards like American, cheddar, and swiss, but don’t be afraid to mix it up a little with something like pepper jack, gouda, havarti, blue cheese, and goat cheese.

Then the coup-de-grace, the sauces. Here’s where you really get to have a little fun. Options include wasabi mayo, humus, honey mustard, Boursin sauce, garlic aioli, and (don’t laugh until you’ve tried it) peanut butter and jelly.

And, what shall all of these delicious toppings rest upon? Try different types of buns: onion, poppy seed, rosemary focaccia, or brioche would all be excellent options. Check out your local gourmet grocery or bakery for more ideas. The point is to try something different. Dad may find his new favorite burger after all is said and done.

On the Side, Dad Style

Bacon-wrapped stuffed peppers, ready for the grill. (Photo: William Dickey; Styling: Lisa Powell Bailey – Time Inc.)

Whether we like it or not, most dads are starch fans, so be prepared to starch it up with some dad-friendly side items. Dishes like potato salad, baked macaroni, and loaded baked potatoes come to mind. But, you can also get dad to step outside of his norm a bit by adding some grilled vegetables to the table. One idea is to stuff peppers with gourmet cheeses from your burger bar and grill them. To make it a little more dad-friendly, you can always add bacon. For other grilled fruit and veggie ideas, check out our “Garden to Grill Ideas” blog.

Microbrew Tasting

What is simpler than burgers and beer? Both cooking burgers and drinking beers are two of the favorite pastimes for many American men. While your father may have his beer of choice, most likely something he learned to love in college, it may be time to broaden his horizons.

Make it festive and set up a microbrew tasting table. Visit your local specialty liquor store and get a variety of samples from around the country. Many specialty stores will have a wide variety of single beers for sale or will allow you to break a six-pack for the purpose of doing a sampling. If not, plan ahead and order from an online distributor. It also will be helpful if you have small drinking glasses or shot glasses at your BBQ for beer sampling.

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Garden to Grill Ideas

Edible gardens are one of the hottest trends in gardening today. What makes a hot trend hotter? Why fire, of course. So as summer heats up, forget the boring salads and heat up the grill for some flavor-boosted ways to make the most of your edible garden. Following are a variety of fruit and vegetable ideas to add to your grilling repertoire for delicious additions to your summer meals.

GRILLED VEGETABLES

Grilled lettuce drizzled with olive oil and lemon and topped with manchego cheese and bacon crumbles. (photo by Ngoc Minh Ngo)

Lettuce:I know what you’re thinking…grilled lettuce?! Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. Grilling lettuce creates smokey, charred, caramelized goodness. Recipes abound for this latest craze. For best results, be sure to choose a sturdy lettuce and brush the grill with olive oil.

Corn:Grilling corn can be done multiple ways. You can wrap it in foil. You can leave it in its husks. However, how about laying it on the grill bare? Doing this will ensure that your corn will have tiny and delicious charred bits. Once you finish grilling the corn, bust out the butter and lather it on as you please.

Asparagus:Fun fact: grilled asparagus cures sadness. Okay, that may not be completely true, but grilled asparagus makes a truly delicious addition to any meal. To protect your sanity, however, use a mesh tray or grill basket for this task. If you want to up your asparagus game even more, make your own garlic and rosemary aioli sauce for basting or dressing your freshly grilled asparagus. You’re welcome.

Grilled bell peppers, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and topped with goat cheese and basil. (photo by Beth Dreiling)

Bell Pepper:No matter what color, they all taste better on the grill. The cool thing about bell peppers is that they are extremely versatile. Whether part of a shish kabob, stuffed with just about anything, or simply tossed with a balsamic vinaigrette, roasting a bell pepper over a fire brings out a sweetness that enhances any dish.

Jalapeno Peppers:The bell pepper’s zesty cousin, these little fellows kick everything up a notch. If properly de-seeded and de-veined, roasting jalapenos will mellow their intensity. Stuff them with a variety of cheeses or other ingredients and either wrap them in foil or use a special roasting rack. For extra fun, wrap them in bacon, ’cause bacon makes everything better!



Grilled eggplant and tomato salad drizzled with lemony vinaigrette and topped with fresh mint. (photo by Iain Bagwell)

Eggplant:If you like eggplant parmesan, you’ll fall in love with grilled eggplant. The awesome thing about eggplant is that it will really soak up the flavor of bastes or marinades. So go to your local gourmet oil and vinegar store, do a little online shopping, or use herbs from your garden to make your own infused oils and vinegars and experiment with different flavor combinations. The same is true for a variety of squashes.

Tomatoes:You may argue about whether a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable, but you won’t argue about how good it tastes grilled. For best results, choose firmer tomatoes, cut thick slices, and brush the grill with olive oil. For added flavor, top with your favorite fresh herb.

GRILLED FRUIT

Grilled watermelon with blue cheese, basil and prosciutto. (photo by Jennifer Davick)

Watermelon:Grilling watermelon? This must be a typo. Before you judge, try it yourself and see why this summer will be the summer of grilled watermelon. You can grill with or without the rind on it. When grilled, the fruit sugars caramelize to create a unique flavor. Feel free to add balsamic vinegar or arugula for an extra flare. Just make sure to keep a close eye on it, for the water can spew and potentially burn you when exposed to so much heat.

Apples:Now for an actual fact: apple pie is an American classic. What happens to the apples during the making of apple pie? That’s right, they are cooked. Now use that logic, and apply it to the grill. The grill will both sweeten and soften your apples for a most excellent treat. Sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg for that apple pie flavor.

Peaches:Surely you will be enjoying ice cream this summer. Now that you’ve discovered the beauty of grilled fruit, throw some peaches on the grill, then add them to your summer ice cream. Sweet and delicious ice cream plus sweet and delicious peaches, what can go wrong?

Jerk chicken with grilled pineapple salsa. (photo by Hector Sanchez)

Pineapple:Unless you live in Hawaii, it’s unlikely you’ll have any pineapples in your edible garden, but they’re so amazing on the grill, it’s worth a trip to the grocery. Whether served as a side dish or as a hamburger topping, once you try it grilled, you’ll never want pineapple any other way.

Bananas:Again, not your typical grow-at-home fruit, but makes an incredible dessert. Place it directly on the grill with the skin on. Once the skin is brown and the banana is soft, slice it open, sprinkle with cinnamon, and top with condensed milk. Voila!




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Pool Trends

Convenient. Chic. Comfortable. Cool. From apps and lights to sun shelves and umbrella sleeves, this summer’s swimming pool trends run the gamut. Whether you’re looking to spruce up your existing pool or contemplating installing a brand new one to enhance your outdoor space, here are five tips from pool designer Aaron Blubaugh to consider while you plan.

Remote Control
Automation is a huge trend in swimming pools. Nearly all new pools use some kind of electronic component and apps have been created to control almost every aspect of the pool: lights, lap currents, water features, even water temperature. With automation, you’re in charge and in a way that is unimaginably convenient. Turn on the waterfall without leaving the comfort of your chair around the fire pit. Had a long day? Start your spa heater as you leave work so it’s the perfect temperature when you get home.

Save Energy and Look Good Doing It
Variable speed pumps help conserve energy in the pool area; the pump runs at a low RPM during the filter cycle throughout the day, and it revs up to the desired RPM while you’re using the pool features. Blubaugh, who has been in the outdoor living and pool design industries for 20 years in Florida and California, says the timers that were new technology just a few years ago are now antiquated by comparison. Pool lighting is changing, too, in options and efficiencies. While most new pools have a color wheel, energy-saving LED lights have started to become more prevalent. With 14 color modes, these lights offer more color variety. Additionally, nicheless LEDs are low voltage, add lighting to shallow water – in past years, only deep water received lighting accents – and are suited to feature areas in new and remodeled pools. Offering lighting accents to water features, bench areas, and sun shelves that were not available before.

Diving Boards
Go Off The Deep End With an overall decline in diving boards, swimming pools have become more aesthetically pleasing. In place of the diving board, oversized natural boulders and faux rocks serve as a jumping platform for kids, yet assure the pool still melts into the landscape, which is a wish list item for people installing new pools today.

Length and Landscape
Blubaugh says some of his customers want to convert their outdated rectangular pools to freeform or lagoon shape, and still others seek new, rustic rectangular pools that work with the ebb and flow of the backyard. It’s all a personal preference, he said. One commonality in pool landscape design is making sure the pool deck choice marries style with performance. “We’re seeing lot of people look to tumbled pavers to give their pool a more natural look that integrates it into the setting without sacrificing performance,” said Ken O’Neill, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Belgard Hardscapes. Earth conscious? No problem. O’Neill says permeable pavers, available in the look of stone, brick and concrete, are installed in a special manner that directs splashed pool water back into natural underground reservoirs.

Sun and Shade Worshippers Unite!
On the one hand, you’ve got the sun shelf trend. These shelves, sometimes called baja shelves, are replacing stairs and beach entries. Set at a water depth of about one foot, an average-sized pool can offer an 80 square foot shelf area that can accommodate a small group of chairs and sun bathers. On the other hand, people also are installing umbrella sleeves – a hole perfectly sized for the umbrella pole – on the shelf’s floor or elsewhere around the pool’s edging; before you know it, you’re paddling out of the heat and into a soothing bit of shade.

The best part of these trends? The opportunities for customization will transform your backyard into an outdoor oasis that’s suited to your needs. Sure, you may become the magnet house on your block where all your friends want to hang out, but you’ll also create a gorgeous retreat from the everyday where you can relax with your family any day of the week.

source belgard





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Summer Recipe: Salted Caramel Ice Cream

The salted caramel flavor train is sweeping the nation and its next stop is right in your kitchen! Here’s our recipe for homemade salted caramel ice cream:

Caramel
Equipment
Ice cream maker
10-inch heavy skillet
2 medium-sized bowls
Small, heavy saucepan
Whisk
Wooden spoon
Instant-read thermometer
Fine-mesh sieve
Large bowl
Airtight container
Ingredients

1 ¼ cups sugar, divided
2 ¼ cups heavy cream, divided
½ teaspoon flaky sea salt
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk
3 large eggs
Step One: Heat 1 cup of the sugar in a dry, 10-inch heavy skillet over medium heat. Stir it with a fork so that the heat distributes evenly. When it begins to melt, stop stirring and cook it by picking up the skillet and swirling it around so that it melts evenly. When the sugar takes on a dark amber color, it’s time for Step Two!

Step Two: Add 1 and ¼ cups of heavy cream to the sugar (this might spatter, so be careful!) and cook until all of the caramel (AKA dark, melted sugar) has dissolved. Move this mixture to a bowl and then stir in the ½ teaspoon of sea salt and ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract. Pro tip: if you don’t have two ½ teaspoon measuring spoons, use the same spoon for dry ingredient first, then the wet ingredient last. That way you’ll end up with the right amounts of both.

Step Three: Bring milk, the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream and the remaining ¼ cup of sugar to a boil in a small, heavy saucepan. Stir occasionally.

Step Four: Lightly whisk eggs in a medium-size bowl, then add half of the hot milk mixture in a slow stream, whisking constantly. Pour it back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until a custard-like consistency appears and coats the back of the spoon, registering 170 degrees Fahrenheit on an instant-read thermometer. Do NOT let the custardy mixture boil!

Step Five: Pour the custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl and then stir in the cooled caramel. Chill the custard, stirring occasionally, until it’s very cold – this will take between 3 to 6 hours. Freeze the custard in an ice cream maker (it’ll be soft), then transfer it to an airtight container and put it in the freezer to firm up.

This recipe will last you a whole week, so once you’re done be sure to save some to show off what a cooking maestro you have become!

Need more inspiration? Check out our Idea Book and learn more about how to take your hardscape to the next level.

Outdoor Kitchens, Outdoor Living, Recipes for Outdoor Entertaining

source





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Summer Grilling Tips & Ideas

The first thing that comes to mind when planning a summer Day get-together is the age-old query, “what are we going to eat?” Typical summer fare includes hamburgers and hot dogs fresh off the grill. This year, feel free to break tradition and grill up something new with some of these ideas:

Kebabs
Kebabs are a staple of grilling events, but have you tried any unconventional combinations of foods on your skewers? Here are some that are sure to deliver on flavor:

Peaches, pork, pineapple and sweet Vidalia onion
Pineapple, red bell pepper, chicken, and shredded coconut
Curry-marinated beef, zucchini, cherry tomato and potato
Eggplant, lemongrass tofu, yellow squash and cherry tomato
To make the most of your meats and vegetarian equivalents, you’ll need a good seasoning or rub to anchor the flavor so you don’t end up with a bunch of tasteless food sticks. For a good chicken and pork rub, try Rufus Teague’s Meat Rub. For any and everything, try Konriko’s Greek seasoning. There’s a world of flavor out there and there’s likely to be someone local with an online spice apothecary – and being able to buy local is always a plus.

Burgers
There’s a world of possibility out there when it comes to burgers. Entire restaurants have been dedicated to serving up dozens of types of burgers with a wide array of flavor infusions. To create something memorable this year, fold in a little bit of brown sugar to create a sweet and rich flavor. For a richer flavor, fold in minced garlic. Don’t go buck wild loading your burger with a lot of junk unless you want meatloaf.

Whatever you do, season your burger liberally and don’t add salt until the patties are formed. And once they’re on the grill, flip them as often as you’d like. It helps them cook faster and distribute flavor evenly. And once they’re done, be sure to have plenty of toppings set out so everyone can deck out their burger.

Grilling Tips
You can use gas or charcoal to grill. Gas burns cleaner, but some people prefer the smoky flavor you get from grilling with charcoal. If you’re trying to stay environmentally friendly while entertaining, go with gas. If you want to be kind to the earth and still get that smoky flavor, you can just use additive-free lump charcoal (AKA charred wood), and don’t use lighter fluid.

Preheat your grill 15 to 25 minutes before you start cooking to make sure it reaches the right temperature (and to kill any lingering bacteria). If your grill is heated properly, it will sear foods on contact without drying it up or causing it to stick to the grill. Searing may not seal in the juices of whatever you put on the grill, but it causes them to caramelize, making the flavor rich and decadent. To reduce sticking, oil the grill rack when it’s hot with a vegetable oil-soaked paper towel.

Now for the fun part: cooking the marinated the meat. Marinades will drop some serious flavor bombs into your food. You need to make sure that the marinades are soaked in before you toss the meat on the grill or else you’ll get some fiery Pompeii-esque backsplash. Once they start to look done, use an instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature to make sure the meat is ready. If you are making kebabs and are worried about some of the pieces falling off the skewers and into the grill, put a grill basket below the grill rack to catch any runaway foods.

For safety, keep a squirt bottle of water nearby to douse the flames of any flare-ups, since flare-ups resulting from dripping fats can compromise the flavor of the meats and also be a general nuisance.

When the meat is ready, let it sit on a platter for about ten minutes so the juice can distribute evenly and so you don’t burn your palette!

Party Time!

Now you’re ready to grill. Be sure to share some of your favorite foods to grill and let us know how your grilling adventures turn out!

Outdoor Kitchens, Outdoor Living, Recipes for Outdoor Entertaining





Upgrade Your Curb Appeal

Research shows that one of the top ways of increasing the value of your home is to boost your home’s curb appeal. Anything that can make a home stand out in a positive way will automatically increase the perceived value by others, but can also affect the homeowner’s own personal sense of fulfillment, creating value for the homeowner as well. Even simple changes can make a big difference. Dramatic changes can be a bit more costly, but can also pay bigger dividends in the long run.

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A World of Color

One of the easiest ways to add character is to add color. Landscaping, whether do-it-yourself or professionally installed, is a quick and easy way to add curb appeal. The options are literally endless and can range from simple flower gardens to multidimensional vertical gardens. Pathways and walkways also add a charming element. The photo to the right shows a simple, yet colorful flower garden with a stone Anglia Edger border that coordinates with the Lafitt Rustic Slab pavers of the walkway. The clean lines and sweeping curve of the hardscapes combine with the tasteful flower selections to create an understated, elegant look. Other garden ideas that will boost your curb appeal include container gardens and built-in planters.

Outdoor Fireplace

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Show Your Personality

When guests arrive at your home, they should immediately get a sense of the type of person who lives there. Are you carefree or conservative? Whimsical or stylish? From clay pots to antique doorknobs, every element you choose can combine to illustrate your personal sense of style. The following image shows a home with a unique sense of curb appeal. All of the elements of the design combine to create an earthy feel, including the natural wood shutters and door, the stacked stone veneer, and the man-made creek. The eclectic plant and flower selections in the garden create a random look that appears both natural and manicured. The Bergerac pavers of the walkway and Celtik Wall of the steps both emulate stone textures that combine with the landscaping and architecture to create a country-cottage atmosphere.


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Small Touches Can Make a Big Difference

The right accent item can go a long way in upgrading your curb appeal. The objective of using an accent piece is to create a focal point to your landscape design that will draw the eye and add dimension and character. This accent item doesn’t need to be grandiose, like a fountain or gazebo. Inexpensive ideas include building a stone mailbox, picket fence, or wooden arbor.


Outdoor Fireplace


Outdoor Fireplace





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