How to Choose and Use a Fire Pit for Outdoor Living

If you’re still thinking of beach bonfires or overnight camping trips when you hear “fire pit,” it might be time to expand your definition. These days, homeowners and their guests are gathering around fire pits in their own yards and gardens. And, they don’t need to wait for spring and summer to enjoy them. A fire pit with a seating area helps you expand how you enjoy your property. It can give you and your sweetie a cozy place to swap dreams in front of the flames. It’s a place to throw an outdoor party in the cool months. You can use your fire pit right up into November some years, or even consider using it as a warming station during snowy play dates in early winter. A fire pit is also an outdoor structure that will improve your home’s resale value. In addition, it will help you enjoy your garden spaces more, and add interest to your landscape. Also, building one is a great DIY project for adults. So, are you sold on the idea of a home fire pit? Whether you opt for a pro’s services or go the self-help or out-of-the-box route, here are four facts to guide your fire pit selection:

Make Sure You Have a Safe Spot for a Fire Pit

While seeing a cute arrangement in a neighbor’s yard or online might make you fall in love with the fire pit concept, it will only work in your yard if you have somewhere safe to place it. You’ll need to put it a safe distance from a wood porch, windows, fences and even the eaves of the house. Also, keep in mind that you’ll also need enough room for seating. Some experts recommend a minimum of 10 feet, but the preferred distance is 25 feet away.

Place the Fire Pit on a Non-Flammable Surface That Won’t Burn

If your property involves lots of hills, you may be out of luck, since a fire pit needs to rest on a flat surface. On the other hand, you can use a fire pit on those spots where grass can’t grow or turn an awkward smaller spot into a focal point, like a side yard or behind the garage. With any of those choices, you’ll also need a fire pit location that has a non-flammable surface, perhaps cinder blocks or poured concrete. Always avoid grass and wood decks.

Choose Whether Wood or Gas Fuel Will Work Best

There are pros and cons to either wood-or gas-fueled fire pits. Some homeowners favor that crackling fire smell you get with wood. Also, it doesn’t require any added plumbing or a connection to a gas line. Of course, you do have to chop or buy wood, which can reduce the times a year you get to use a fire pit. And if a family member has respiratory issues, wood is out. Some areas have ordinances that restrict wood-burning fires, too. Be sure to check your local laws regarding outdoor fire pits. While the installation tends to cost more, gas is clean burning. But only you can decide if the lack of a smoky, campfire smell is a plus or a minus. Another advantage is you can place it a bit closer to wood structures or trees with low limbs than you could a wood-burning fire pit.

Select a Model or Materials Based on Good Looks and Longevity

When you consider fire pit models and designs, make sure the materials fit in with your home’s landscape and other garden features, like arbors or gazebos. Also, consider which materials are the most rust-resistant and heat-retentive. Remember, it’s not worth investing the effort or the purchase price if you’re not going to like the way your fire pit looks. And it’s not one of those easily altered projects, either. Fire pits can be heavy and bulky to move or replace if you make your initial choice too quickly. Lastly, remember to take the time to enjoy your fire pit. It’s a great spot to enjoy a glass of wine and snacks after a hard day’s work in the garden. Invite your family, friends and neighbors over for a singalong session or enjoy some solo relaxing.

How to Protect Yourself from the Sun and Heat When Gardening

Most people look forward to getting out in the garden, particularly after a few grueling months of ice and snow. However, most people lose track of time when working in the garden. As a result, it’s easy to spend too much time under the sun and in the heat. So, before you know it, you could end up with a sunburn or even heat stroke. If you love to spend lots of time in your garden, keep reading to learn some ways to protect yourself from the sun and heat while gardening.

Wear Protective Clothing from Head to Toe

To protect yourself from the sun and heat properly, start at the top with your head. If you’re upright, your head always the first to get the sun. Scalps can burn, even with hair. The hair is of particular concern whether it is long or non-existent. You can quickly overheat because of hair matted to the neck. This is important for children, as well. A hat or a light scarf can protect you from burning, as well as keep your hair up off your neck and shoulders. Choose a cover that will shade you but is not too heavy. A heavy hat or scarf can induce sweating. Choose light-colored clothing of lightweight, breathable material that will help protect your skin, as well as help you stay cooler. And don’t forget the sunscreen.

Stay Hydrated

If you are fortunate enough to have a pool or get near water, that’s great. It helps your body cool down. But if you’re not, find other ways to keep your body hydrated. The top way to protect yourself from the sun and heat is to always keep water at hand. It doesn’t have to be ice cold, but you probably don’t want it hot. It’s important to keep other nutrients in your body, as well. Heat and sun can deplete electrolytes which are important to your body’s healthy functioning. Electrolytes, or the lack thereof, were why they developed Gatorade. Some foods that can boost electrolytes include bananas, watermelon, coconut water, avocados and dairy products.

Balance Your Sun Vs. Air Conditioning Exposure

Air conditioning is a gift from heaven. However, your body can only regulate so much and so well. Long periods in air conditioning can be hazardous when you suddenly find yourself standing out in the sun. Those who live sedentary lifestyles or work in air-conditioned offices can go down quick. It’s one of the main causes of heat strokes. Heat strokes can happen to anyone at any age and can have lasting, life-altering results. This is important to keep in mind when entering and exiting air-conditioned vehicles, as well. Once your body has cooled, it may not be prepared for a long walk across a black parking lot, into a cool store and back out into the parking lot into a hot parked car. Again, this is particularly strenuous on children, the elderly or those with health problems. Children in car seats often lack circulation and can overheat quickly. Their little bodies are not able to adjust to the sudden temperature changes. And sadly, excessive heat can cause brain damage. So, try to choose the coolest parts of the day, either early morning or late evening to let kids go out in the garden. You don’t have to mow the lawn at three or four in the afternoon. And watering midday is bad for the plants, anyway. A dose of water early in the morning will feed your green friends and leave you guilt-free to enjoy some things indoors during peak temps.

Protect Yourself from the Sun and Heat Every Day

It’s important to get some vitamin D, exercise in the fresh air and commune with Mother Nature, but you don’t want to overheat. With the right tips, you can enjoy your yard and garden, no matter how hot it is outside. Protect yourself from the sun and heat, so you don’t have to be stuck within your four walls.

The 5 Essentials Every Juicing Garden Should Have

Juicing is a healthy way to lose weight, as well as add nutrients to your diet. Growing your own herbs and vegetables is not only better for you, but fun as a shared family project. Combine the two, and you can grow a “juicing garden.” A juicing garden should contain all your favorite herbs and vegetables that grow well in your part of the country. Generally, greenhouse nurseries only carry plants during their normal planting season. Plant nurseries often carry varieties that grow in your climate. For example, if you live a tropical climate, plant a grapefruit, lemon or lime tree because citrus is an important part of most juicing recipes. If you’re not sure what to plan, keep reading to learn about some beneficial plans for your juicing garden.
  1. Stevia

Stevia is a plant that is much sweeter than sugar, yet it has virtually zero calories. Stevia sweetens a juice recipe. The plant is also easy to add to a juicer just like juicing herbs. If you live in a warmer climate, the plant may survive the winter. When juicing, only add a few leaves at a time until you achieve the taste you desire.
  1. Carrots

It’s easy to grow carrots. Children often love to watch the carrot tops grow, as well as pull up the carrots when they are ready for harvest. In terms of juicing, carrots provide antioxidants. They also fight free radicals and strengthen your immune system. Also, carrots taste sweet, so they are child-friendly for juices since you don’t have to add as much sugar when you use them.
  1. Parsley

When planting parsley, you have a few different options. Curly parsley for garnishes. You can also plant “flat parsley.” Parsley adds a detoxifying edge to your juice. Experts say parsley reduces the risk of cancer. Plant the seeds three to four weeks before the last spring frost, or start them in individual pots indoors about 12 weeks before the final frost of spring.
  1. Spinach

Spinach adds a green color, as well as lots of nutrients, to your juices. Farmers can grow it twice a year in warm climates. Work your soil to create a well-drained bed with rich organic matter. When juicing, use a bunch of spinach leaves, including the stems.
  1. Kale

Many children don’t find Kale appetizing, but it provides almost three grams of protein. Plus, it has fiber and vitamins A, C and K, as well as folate. Folate is a B vitamin important for children’s brain development. So, add kale to your juicing concoctions and your child probably won’t even notice it. Also, kale is easy to grow. You can plant it from early spring to early summer. If you aren’t sure how to make juices palatable for your children, simply add the extracted juice to a popular fruit smoothie recipe. Find out which color your child prefers. By using berries and other fruits, it’s possible to turn a green smoothie to purple, for example. Use a juicer to extract the juice and then a blender when adding bananas and berries. And finally, let your child help you in the juicing garden. Children are more likely to eat things they grow.

The Advantages of Autumn Landscaping for Your Yard

Summer has passed, but if you think the planting season is over, think again. In fact, autumn is a perfect planting time in the home landscape. If you desire bountiful color in the spring and summer, you should start your autumn landscaping now. Fall planting is less stressful on bulbs, flowers, shrubs and even trees as they develop a root system to support them. They are not inclined to produce flowers or foliage at this time of year, so all the energy goes to the roots. So, keep reading for some fall landscaping inspiration.

Plant Flowers in Your Autumn Landscape

Autumn is the classic time for planting spring-blooming bulbs like tulips, daffodils, and lilies. And don’t forget the crocus, a delicate little blossom that often appears before the snow leaves the ground. Divide bulbs that might have overgrown their spot in the flower bed. Add some of them to other areas in the autumn landscape. Using the same specimen in several spots give your autumn landscape a feeling of continuity. While you’re planting, sprinkle in some seeds of those favorites you’ve wanted in your beds. Choose those with late spring and summer flowering times. autumn landscaping saves you work next year when you need color after the blooms of the bulbs are spent. An old gardener’s tip is to plant poppy seeds through the snow for the perfect bloom on this plant.

Autumn Landscaping with Shrubbery

Whether you want a border of the same or different bushes, or just a single, beautiful shrub, autumn is the best time to plant. Again, the energy goes to the root system this time of year, so your bush will flourish in spring. Fall landscaping includes for fruit producers like blueberries and figs. Add a small orchard if you are so inclined. You’ll save money when you can pick your own fruit.

Use Landscape Trees

Perhaps you want a row of trees for privacy or planted throughout the yard to shade your roof.  Maybe you want a tree as a focal point in your front yard. Purchase a healthy specimen from your local nursery for autumn landscaping. Your local nursery may even deliver and plant for you. Planting trees is a sustainable way to update your home and garden.

Some Final Tips on Autumn Landscaping

Fall landscaping is well worth your time, effort and money. Imagine how much you’ll enjoy your yard come spring. Also, you’ll save yourself work come spring since you’ve already done most of your planting. Landscaping in the fall will give you blossoms, shade and color to anticipate all winter long, too. So, get the whole family involved in the planting this year.