The Smart Shoppers Guide to Adding an Outdoor Entertainment Area -7 Tips to Bank on!
1. Dream Big, but then carefully consider your budget. Looking through magazines and planning or idea books is an awesome way to get ideas for your new space. One downside can be dreaming way beyond what is realistic for your budget. A quality product is achievable on any size budget.. The baseline for your consideration is what can you comfortably afford to spend? Having a plan before you begin is the best way to insure you love the end product.
2. Features and accessories can make a plain space spectacular! Design elements can easily be incorporated into your project without breaking your wallet. Wherever possible combine features to maximize efficiency space and time. For example, if you have a retaining wall around your fire pit, add a bench for seating. Want an outdoor kitchen and bar? Do both at the same time best utilizing your space and combining counter space. Water elements can be as simple as adding a bubbling fountain in your landscaping, a pond-less waterfall in a flower garden or a pond.
3. Decide on the scope of your project. How big does your paver patio need to be? Do you want steps and coordinating sidewalks? What about adding walls around existing landscaping? Are you going to add sod to give an immediate “finished” appearance? Determining your details on the front end saves time, money, and frustration on the back end. In most cases, it’s much easier to buy the materials and do the work in a sequential order rather than back tracking and adding to what was already completed. This of course is more time efficient which in turn keeps you to your budget.
4. Realistic time expectations go along with the scope of your project. This one may save more frustration than money, but is important to address. Quality work takes time. The company you choose should have an estimate of the time it will take his crew to complete your job which is then figured into your cost. Remember though, that even the best contractor is not in charge of the weather. One day of rain usually costs two days of work-the day it rains and then a day for the ground to dry.
5. Materials matter. The adage “you get what you pay for” certainly applies in terms of landscape and hardscape companies. Fortunately, for you as a consumer, there are multiple options available. There is sure to be an option in your price range! Quality Landscaping is able to suggest options based on your dreams and budget. Due diligence in selecting the best materials for your space and project will save you future headaches and money.
6. Choosing a reliable and reputable landscape company is your best defense against spending too much money. Select a landscaping company with a great reputation in the community and a history of quality work. Select a company that can do all aspects of your job such as irrigation, landscaping, and hardscaping. Ask if the company you are considering has a website with a portfolio, literature with pictures, written testimonials from customers? Ask if there is a cost involved in obtaining a quote. A reputable contractor will be happy to break down the pricing so that you know exactly what you will be paying for before you sign a contract. Another thing to look for is industry credentials. What companies do they represent? Being an “authorized dealer” is a difficult status to obtain which means the company is dedicated to it’s craft
7. If you are really interested in saving money, sooner is better than later! Take advantage of seasonal specials-getting discounts for early booking or bundling services. Ask if there are show specials and if yes, be prepared to take advantage of them. Getting on the schedule early means you have a great chance of enjoying your outdoor space while marshmallows can still be roasted and wine glasses toasted!
These awesome tips are provided by Quality Landscaping, LLC of Lexington Kentucky! Stop by their booth at the Home & Garden Show March 31-April 2 at the Lexington Center to learn more!
|By: Julie Lewis of Housewarmings – Lexington, KY
1. Most of us can’t wait to get home from a day at work and get outside! The most used outdoor spaces typically have easy access from inside your home. Outdoor Rooms off a Living Space or Kitchen typically get the most use.
2. Once we get outside most of us want a little serenity and privacy! Use landscaping to screen your Outdoor Room. If Landscaping is not an option Potted Plants and Outdoor Drapery can help with privacy, as well.
3. Just as it does inside, FIRE draws people together. Add an Outdoor Firepit or Outdoor Fireplace. There are sizes and designs for everyone – from Wood Burning to Propane or Natural Gas. Be sure to check your Local Building codes to Verify Fire-Safety and Placement.
4. Everyone loves a good view! Orient your furniture to maximize your best view or create a focal point. If you don’t have the greatest view be creative – highlight a Fire Feature or a Fountain; if you have a ceiling add a dramatic Light Fixture or Fan.
5. Remember you’re not “roughing-it! Your Outdoor Furniture should have all the comforts of being Indoors. Today’s outdoor cushions almost rival their indoor counterparts – look for deep cushions and durable outdoor rated fabrics, add lots of decorative pillows, even an outdoor throw.
6. If your space is small remember some Furniture Pieces can do double duty – Dining Chairs can also serve as Lounge Chairs; Benches and Ottomans can also serve as additional seating and storage.
7. Personalize your space! Don’t forget about Outdoor Accessories – there are so many to choose from! Consider a beautiful Outdoor Rug to add comfort and help define your space. Don’t forget Outdoor Lamps and Candles with Hurricanes and Lantern, too. Add what makes you happy!
8. If you’re an avid or weekend Griller be sure to consider the location of your Grill or Outdoor Kitchen. Locate your cooking surface where the smoke will be less intrusive to your Living Space – but close enough to your Indoor Kitchen for quick access.
9. Don’t forget entertainment! Add an Outdoor TV or Sound System. A wireless outdoor Wi-Fi antenna can provide an extra boost so you can stay connected.
10. If the heats got your down – consider adding some sort of sun screen. There are many things to choose from depending on your space; from Pergolas to Retractable Awnings, even Large Room Size Cantilevered Umbrellas.
To learn more come to the Central Kentucky Home & Garden Show, April 1-3, and see the seminars by Housewarmings or visit their booth!
By: Paul Gosselin of NightScenes Landscape Lighting Professionals – Austin, TX
Almost anybody can stick some lights in the landscape of your home and it would be an improvement over not having any lights at all. In order to make it better though, a little time needs to be dedicated to the actual lighting design. Here are a few tips to take an ordinary outdoor lighting system to another level:
1. Don’t use the same fixture for everything. The most commonly used fixture for residential outdoor lighting is the “bullet” or spot light. This fixture can accept an MR16 lamp, either halogen or outdoor-rated LED, which can produce several different lumen levels and beam spreads, depending on the lamp. Unfortunately, we commonly see the same lamp in every fixture, which can be a bit boring. When using this type of fixture, don’t be afraid to use different lumen outputs and different beam spreads. You can even use different light colors these days with LED lighting.
2. Move some fixtures to different locations. We see this all the time where the installer will place a single fixture in front of each tree. Yes, this does look better than no light at all, but there is no imagination and no depth in the design this way. Try back lighting some of these specimen plants to generate some interest and dimension.
3. Avoid the runway look. An all-too-common lighting design mistake is lining a walkway with light fixtures, commonly known as the runway look. Try staggering path lights back and forth on both sides of the walkway, or you may try lighting on only one side.
4. Use more fixtures with lower lumen outputs. All too often we see people trying to save fixtures by using fewer lights, but using higher light intensity. This produces really over-bright spots with very dark holes between them, creating an unsafe situation on the property that just looks bad. A great lighting design uses different light levels throughout the landscape without black holes unless there is a dramatic reason for it. Keep in mind that these dark holes become very good hiding places for bad guys.
5. Experiment with the lights. Try different locations with different fixtures to see how you can get the best effects. I know that wide wash fixtures work better for grazing walls to enhance surface texture because I did some experiments. Using bullet lights against a wall creates what I like to call the “mark of Vorro” (instead of Zorro). If you’ve seen homes with a row of V looking light beams shining up on them, you can bet that they used bullet lights with 30 degree beam spreads and no lenses. Wide wash fixtures will create a nice wide, more diffused beam of light, eliminating the telltale V that is often seen in poorly designed lighting plans.
These are just a few very basic tips, but they will help you create a more visually pleasing overall lighting system. And to learn more, bring your pictures, plans and ideas to the Austin Spring Home & Garden Show April 1-3 and stop by booth number 643 to talk with NightScenes!