Preparing Your Yard For The Cold Weather


The seasons are-a-changing! Now is the time to pack up the summer supplies and start giving your garden and backyard a little TLC before the cold really hits. Preparing your garden and storage shed for the cold weather not only improves the look of your yard but also helps ensure a beautiful growth come spring.


Prepare The Garden

Prepare the ground by assessing the growth from spring and summer. Weed the soil, divide out overgrown plants, and remove under-performing bulbs. Trim back plants that have grown a little too much and remember to deadhead blooms that have faded with the cool weather. Also don't forget to remove the summer annuals and store them for the next season. The more prep you do now saves you from digging up frozen ground in the winter and rushing come springtime. Protect what's already in the ground by adding some fresh mulch and peat moss that can provide protection from the elements and add much needed nutrition to the soil.


Prepare The Lawn

To avoid a patchy look in the springtime take the time to work on the lawn. Once you've removed all the leaves (which can be a task in itself) you can give your lawn a good dose of nutrition with a natural fertilizer. Fertilizing now will enable the grass to store carbohydrates and grow better and greener in the spring regardless of how cold the winter gets. Now is also a good time to get rid of weeds that have taken root to make sure they die off with the cold. Use natural herbicides or other natural methods to spot remove weeds to keep your lawn healthy and only kill off the troublesome plants.


Prepare The Tools

Fall is an ideal time for a post-season tool cleaning. Disinfect tools after you have done your fall garden cleanup and put them away someplace where they will not get wet and rust also add a little oil to the metal and wood parts to keep them in good condition. Do a good once over in the shed as well! Check expiration dates on chemicals and throw away anything that will be expired in the spring or that looks suspect. Replace through the off season to both save money and be ahead of yourself next spring.


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Enjoying The Last Days of Summer


It may be hard to believe but summer is starting to wind down. Kids are headed back to school and families are finally unpacking from their summer vacations. Instead of breaking out the fall sweaters savor every ray of sunshine left! Here's how you can get the most out of the last few weeks of summer...


Spend Evenings Outdoors

The cool weather of fall and icy weather of winter makes spending time outside when the sun goes down difficult and unpleasant. But don't put away the outdoor furniture just yet! Get as much use out of your outdoor spaces until you see the first frost blanket over the grass. Make it a point to eat dinner outdoors as much as you can while there is still a little bit of the sun in the sky. Enjoy the fireflies and crickets once the sun goes down by lighting a fire in your outdoor fireplace or fire bowl. Break out the marshmallows while you're at it! Try some unique recipes for smores... you will be amazed by just how many there are!


Get Some Sun

You may not be getting as much use out of the pool this late in the season but you can still enjoy sitting by the water. Now is the best time to catch a few rays (responsibly, of course). Move your weekend relaxation and lunch outdoors to catch the last few summer rays. Take a nap in the chaise or just read a book - the idea is to get out as much as you can before you have to retreat indoors.


Get That Fall Garden Started Now

Keep the flowers blooming well into fall by starting, or at least planning, your fall garden now. Carve out some space in your summer garden and start working the soil to accommodate your autumn blooms. Get the seeds started now so you have lush color right as the temperatures begin to cool. Start something new by adding a fall planter garden to your front entry! Find the perfect vessel and choose some of the best seasonal plants. Get them started outside now and transplant later or just start it off right in the planter. Choose from classic square or rectangle planters or go for a more unique shape like a tapered planter.


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Creating the Best Staycation


One of the best parts of summer is taking a long trip to someplace unfamiliar and spending the time relaxing and forgetting about all of your normal worries. But sometimes you can do just that without leaving your home! We're talking about a staycation. Creating the optimal staycation is all about bringing those resort luxuries to your own backyard and hushing those reminders of work and responsibility. Whether you are on a budget or not you can create a memorable staycation with a little prep work and a true dedication to the art of relaxation.


Disconnect

The first task in any good staycation is turning off the alarm clock, disabling your calendar reminders and simply just shutting off your phone and putting it somewhere out of reach. With your work emails and messages only a click away it's hard for anyone to get any real time away aside from leaving the country. Once you've disconnected you have time to relax without the constant distraction of dings and pings.


Create a resort-like space

Since you will be spending a lot of time finally enjoying the warm summer weather you have to do a little prep work to create the perfect outdoor space. What are your favorite parts of going on vacation? If you love lounging poolside invest in a quality chaise that you can melt into. If you love spending time reading or napping set up a hammock in a quiet place and surround it with flowers and other accessories that make it feel a little more like an island resort than your backyard. Once you have that space created the only thing left is to use it!


Skip cooking (at least inside)

Put household tasks on the back burner and indulge a little. A great way to do this is by ditching the kitchen. Prep some indulgent meals and desserts for your staycation in advance or simply have them delivered so you don't have to lift a finger! If cooking is something you love simply move the kitchen outside to the grill or outdoor kitchen. Put your diet on hold and think vacation. What would you be eating at a resort? Indulge on delicious seafood and rich desserts. Plan ahead and create some >island cocktails by the pitcher that taste as good with lunch as they do with dinner!


Treat yourself

This is the perfect opportunity to take some time out and focus on you. Find a masseuse that makes house calls and enjoy a massage outside followed by a long dip in the hot tub. Play up that theme by turning your bedroom and bathroom into luxurious spaces with aromatherapy candles, plush overstuffed pillows, terrycloth robes and high thread count sheets. Organize all of your beach favorite books in a shelf by the pool so you don't have to move a muscle. Even better sleep outdoors under the stars! Bring comfy bedding outside and setup a wonderful outdoor bedroom in your backyard in a tent or under the kit pergola.


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Wonderful Weathervanes


Nothing adds a classic rustic touch quite like a weathervane. No matter which was the wind is blowing a quality weathervane sits atop your home or barn like a small beautiful statue made to catch the sun. Every Walpole weathervane is made to last out of durable materials and careful craftsmanship in a variety of finishes. Out large collection includes nautical, classic and rustic pieces for every type of home aesthetic.


Nautical

From fish to sharks and boats - even mermaids! If you are looking for a beautiful nautical weathervane you have looked in the right place. A beautiful way to dress up a Walpole cupola is with the Racing Sloop Weathervane. Crafted in polished copper this weathervane features a detailed sailing ship sat atop directional rods to ensure you always know where the wind is coming from. Or if you are feeling a little whimsical look at the lovely Mermaid with Starfish Weathervane. Crafted in either blue verde or polished copper this piece will make you smile for years to come and will serve as a great conversation piece. 


Animals

A classic choice for many homeowners is a weathervane with a swooping eagle or another bird in flight. Animals in motion make wonderful weathervanes and evoke the feeling of the blowing wind. A beautiful piece is the Blue Heron in Flight Weathervane which features a detailed heron gliding in the sky. This weathervane, crafted in polished copper, is a great way to embrace the grace and elegance of birds in flight. Another classic animal in motion is the Horse Weathervane. This piece showcases the magic of a galloping horse against the power of the wind. In blue verde or polished copper this piece is not just for horse lovers! 


Classics

There are a number of classic weathervane themes and styles that don't feature an animal or nautical theme. The Banner Weathervane is a great example of a classic image utilized to show the blowing of the wind. This piece suits any style of home and has a timeless appeal. When you think of a weathervane chances are the first image that pops into your head is a shiny brass arrow. Our Smithsonian Arrow Weathervane evokes that classic image with beautiful details in either blue verde or polished copper.


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Easy Summer Cocktail Recipes


The invites are out, the grill is ready and the outdoor furniture is set up. Now there is one last thing to make your summer party one to remember - delicious summer cocktails! Getting creative is a great way to give your guests something to remember and talk about at every summer party to come. So grab the shakers and blender and create some fun and fruity summer cocktails for everyone to enjoy (alcohol optional, of course).


Kiwi Margaritas

Now here's a fruit you don't see utilized enough! Not only are kiwis a delicious snack, they also make a great base for a refreshing drink. This recipe for Kiwi Margaritas from How Sweet It Is is the perfect unique take on one of summer's favorite drinks. This recipe will require a little prep-work since you have to formulate your own kiwi simple syrup yourself (but don't worry, it's easy). Grab the food processor and a bunch of ripe kiwis and blend them until pureed. Combine water and sugar in a sauce pans and heat until the sugar is melted then add to the food processor with the kiwi when it has fully cooled and blend away! This syrup can be added to the drink depending on how much kiwi taste you desire. Combine with your favorite tequila, lime juice and ice in a salt and lime garnished glass and enjoy! 


Layered Lemonade Drops

Now THIS is a beautiful summer drink! Layered Lemonade Drops from Delish are simple delightful to look at and surprisingly easy to make. All you need is three different kinds of lemonade (mango, strawberry pink and regular), your favorite vodka, ice, strawberries and a blender. The key to making each glass look perfect is mixing and chilling each lemonade mixture separately and utilizing clear glasses. 


Cucumber Cocktail

It doesn't get much more refreshing than this. Celebrity chef Bobby Flay has the right idea with the Cucumber Cocktail. This recipe is simple and can be served by the glass or pitcher at your next summer gathering. While this can be done by hand, having a juicer handy can speed up the preparation quite a bit. You simply need to create simple syrup with water and sugar and add in tonic water (or club soda if your prefer), fresh cucumber juice, lime juice and cucumber vodka. Add in mint leaves for an extra bit of freshness and garnish with mint, cucumber or lime wedges!


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How To: Outdoor Entertaining


Now is the best time of year to throw the perfect summer party! From food to decor to company, outdoor entertaining is about creating a low-key environment for people to relax. Here are a few ways you can create the perfect summer party...


Create a comfortable space

Picnic tables and adirondack chairs are a summer staple but another great way to create an instantly relaxed space is to utilize deep seating furniture (or even couches and chairs from indoors) to create a feeling of luxury. Use colorful pillows and throws to create a cozy and inviting space under the kit pergola or on the deck. Grab an area rug and coffee table and bring the living room outside. This is the perfect time to break out those comfy cushions! Set up end tables with colorful summer flowers and pitchers of lemonade or fruity cocktails and enjoy. This set-up works great for an afternoon brunch or an evening enjoying life under the stars.


Light it up!

Nothing brings people together like a fire. You don't need a permanent outdoor fire pit or expensive outdoor fireplace to enjoy a cozy evening gathering, a fire bowl or stand-up fire pit work just as well. If you are looking for something simple and practical a fire bowl with a spark screen is a great choice. Enjoy the ambiance with added safety to protect guests and furniture from sparks. Another wonderful and more decorative choice is a fire pit with a decorative screen. Choose from the Orion screen or Full Moon Party screen. Each pit measures 30 inches so you can get the function of a fire pit while being able to easily change its location. Grab the smores! Adding a fire feature to your evening summer party is an instant way to bring every closer together.


Add some sweetness

If you love entertaining you've probably found a million ways to add some fun to your beverage menu. A great way to do this in the summer is to make simple fruited ice cubes for alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Grab some of your favorite summer fruits and add them to water in your ice cube tray, it's as simple as that. Try some simple ones like blueberries, strawberries and raspberries while also trying out a few combination recipes like adding a little mint and lemon! These cubes will keep your drink cool while adding a splash of color and flavor (once they melt, of course).


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Easy Summer Recipes


What makes the perfect summer day? Friends, sun, having fun in your pool or patio and delicious food. On a beautiful day you certainly don't want to spend too much time inside cooking so simple recipes for delicious dishes are always needed. Light up the grill, organize your outdoor furniture under the kit pergola and get cooking with these great ideas for some delicious summer get-togethers.


Spicy Honey-Glazed Chicken Breasts

Who doesn't love chicken fresh off the grill? This dish from Rachel Ray has summer written all over it. Sweet and spicy this is a great and unique take on grilled chicken that virtually everyone can enjoy. All you need to make this dish are chicken breasts, onion, garlic, olive oil, honey, hot pepper sauce, pineapples, chili powder and lemon juice. Combine the ingredients for the glaze and brush onto the freshly grilled chicken. Grill the pineapples and serve them together for the perfect sweet and tangy taste. Pair this spicy and sweet dish with a grilled vegetable or summer salad and enjoy.  


Goat Cheese Zucchini Quesadillas with Grilled Corn Pico de Gallo

Loaded with summer veggies this Quesadilla recipe may look like something that takes a little skill but don't worry, it's surprisingly easy! This dish makes the perfect meal or when cut into smaller pieces a perfect snack or appetizer for a party. In total this recipe takes only 35 minutes from start to plate. The key to making the most of this recipe is getting delicious and fresh vegetables either from your garden, grocery store or farmers market. Corn, zucchini, squash and grape tomatoes should be in season and at their flavorful peak. 


Lobster Rolls With Corn and Celery

Summer always calls for seafood. Instead of buying those pre-made (albeit delicious) lobster rolls from a grocery store or deli try your hand at making them in your own kitchen! This recipe only requires eight ingredients (many of which you probably already have on hand) and is simple from start to finish only taking about 20 minutes to complete. You can use fresh lobster or frozen lobster depending on the availability of it in your area. This recipe would pair wonderfully with crunch chips or something a bit healthier like freshly grilled asparagus or corn on the cob. This recipe is not only the perfect dinner recipe but would work well at a party or even just for lunch on a regular work day. Celebrate any summer day with some amazing flavors.


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Enjoying Your Pool Area


It's officially summer! That means that it is officially time to start enjoying your pool (weather permitting, of course). You can get some great use out of your pool and pool area beyond simply swimming in the water. With a few touches your pool area can be more relaxing, cleaner and ready for entertaining all season long.


Outdoor Shower

Keep the chlorine and dirty mess outside! A great way to transition from swimming to eating and entertaining without tracking dirt and water through the house is an outdoor shower enclosure. Imagine who much use this would get during your next pool party cookout! This is a fully functional shower with a great looking privacy enclosure in a variety of styles to suit your needs. Perfect for using after swimming or the beach or even if you just want to enjoy the weather a little bit more. These units are crafted from AZEK high performance wood alternative, are virtually maintenance free and can be customized to match your home. Choose from a variety of styles including free standing shower enclosures to units that are attached to your home. These units can also be installed on decks and are great to use with hot tubs and other outdoor water features.


Outdoor Furniture

Spend a little more time relaxing this summer by turning your pool area into an oasis. Forget plastic the lawn chairs this year and opt for something that will last years longer, look infinitely better and feel so much more relaxing. You need a chaise. Imaging laying back with a book or just getting some sun on the beautiful St. Tropez Chaise. This chaise is beautiful looking and perfect for catching some rays. Add a little side table and you won't need to get up all day long. If you are looking for something a little more cozy check out the Westchester Chaise. This chaise is made with room for two and the option of plush, comfortable cushions to take your summer nap to the next level.


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Better Outdoors: Memorial Day Cookout


Step aside spring - summer is here.


Though not officially the first day of summer Memorial Day annually marks the beginning of the outdoor season: a season of barbecues, parties, cold drinks and outdoor fun. While not a requirement to having a good summer, starting it off on the right foot is always advised. Throwing a Memorial Day cookout or party is a great way to mix food, fun, outdoors and patriotism. You don't need anything fancy just a good time with some good friends outdoors.


The Food

You can't go wrong with the classics: hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken and corn on the cob. The grill is your best friend in the summer but don't be afraid to try something new. Add some sweetness to the mix with these delectable Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs. If you prefer beef with a real kick from a different part of the country you will definitely love the wonderfully flavorful Tex-Mex Burger with Cajun Mayo. For dessert go for something All-American! Try out this recipe to make a star spangled American Flag cake or go with the classic, fruity Red, White and Blue Shortcake.


The Decor

Don't let the real meaning of Memorial Day get lost in the shuffle, make your patriotism known with a few star-spangled decorations. Create a beautiful paper American flag wind streamer to add some festive touches to your pergola kit or arbor. Martha Stewart has step-by-step instructions to creating these beautiful outdoor touches. If you want to create a great atmosphere make sure you have plenty of room to sit and eat with a few outdoor activities thrown in for good measure. Don't have a pool? No problem! Horseshoes is always a fun game that can carry conversation from dinner to dessert. Also try out Bocce Balls for a little more outdoor fun that's easy to set up and clean up. Now's also the time to dust off that patio furniture or better yet - invest in something new! Classic adirondack chairs are always great for company as are larger outdoor dining tables that can be extended and moved easily.


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Creating The Perfect Outdoor Gathering Place


A big part of enjoying the spring and summer is creating a space outdoors for you and your family and friends to enjoy. Creating your own outdoor gathering place is much more than just setting up chairs near the garden, you have to utilize your space and style to create a place where people can feel comfortable and relax. Whether that means a great shady spot under the pergola or at an outdoor bar poolside is all up to you. Here are a few tips to crafting that perfect summer spot...


Getting Some Great Furniture

First and foremost you need a place to sit, serve drinks and food and enjoy them together. You don't necessarily need a fancy dining setup but the right pieces of outdoor furniture can really tie a gathering place together. If you're low on space a simple Permaquid Picnic Table can do wonders for your backyard. If you have a lot more room you can really put the beautiful Sag Harbor Deep Seating to good use. This set is comfortable and luxurious, perfect for under the pergola or pavilion. If simple is what you are going for you can never go wrong with a few Adirondack chairs and side tables perfect for the garden, pool area or relaxing by the beach. But don't forget about entertaining! The Windsor Buffet Table is perfect for setting up food and drinks for everyone to enjoy. Another beautiful piece that is endlessly functional is the Portsmouth Party Bar perfect for storing and serving refreshments all summer long (plus it's super adorable).


Pulling The Space Together

Creating a space is more than just putting a few chairs together - you have to make it feel like a contained space of its own without putting up walls. This is why a pergola is the perfect structure to craft an outdoor entertaining space around. Pergolas aren't enclosed so you can still see the garden and stars but it provides enough structure and shade to make you feel like you are in a purposeful space weather it is a free standing structure in the yard or an attached pergola right next to the house. While it may seem like a spend, adding a pergola to your yard is a great investment in the future use of your home. Each pergola is crafted using cedar or the low maintenance wood alternative material AZEK which ensures that each structure is long-lasting, durable and pretty much maintenance free. You can go simple with a kit pergola already measured and packaged or have one custom designed for your space. Pergolas are endlessly customizable which makes them great for fitting into your existing space. You can even add a shade canopy to create more shade in the daytime while easily retractable for enjoying the stars from the same place when the sun goes down. They look beautiful in backyards, in pool areas, on rooftops or by the water (if your lucky to live by the beach). Each structure can be customized with lattice panels, lighting and other decor items to make it feel like an extension of your home.


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