Now that the snow is clearing away and we’re saying goodbye to colder temperatures, many of us are finding unwelcome potholes in our driveways and private streets. Those potholes can cause a lot of damage to our vehicles, and the rocky roads that they create are unpleasant to drive on.
There are few things as companionable as gathering around a fire. The dancing flames excite and entrance while friends huddle around the warmth and share stories and jokes.
Most of us consider these fireside moments exclusive to camping trips and bonfire nights, but it doesn’t have to be that way. When you install a fire pit in your backyard, any night can feel like a holiday. Here are 5 major reasons that you should have a fire pit at home:
Let’s get one of the biggest draws on the table right from the get-go. Why wait until the height of summer to enjoy some delicious s’mores? You can cook them right in your backyard over an open flame. A proper s’more must have a marshmallow roasted over an open flame, or it’s just not the same thing!
S’mores aren’t the only snacks that you’ll enjoy with your new fire pit. Banana boats, hot dogs, melted Starburst, and all your old camping favorites will make an appearance and turn any evening with friends into a major event!
2: Bonding time
Speaking of friends, have you ever wanted an excuse to gather together friends, family, and loved ones at your home? A fire pit will provide the extra draw you need. It’s the perfect way to finish up a dinner party, or a fun night out. Friends will linger to tell stories and laugh around the circle. These are the moments that will turn into cherished memories.
3: Setup is easy
Most of the time, people relate an at-home firepit to a level of luxury that they just can’t afford. But here at Asphalt Materials, we offer fire pit kits that are affordable and easy to install in your own yard, all by yourself. They’re lightweight enough that you won’t break your back during setup, with individual bricks that can be reused later if needed.
4: Compatible with natural gas, propane, or wood
Do-it-yourself fire pit kits can easily be hooked up to your home’s natural gas so that a fire is always ready to go. On the other hand, you can set it up to be compatible with propane instead, so you don’t have to worry about utility lines. Of course, there’s always the old-school approach of a good wood-burning fire, which some people like best. Whatever your form of fuel, we have a pit that will work for you and we can help you understand exactly what you need to do to set it up.
5: Creates a beautiful focal point in your yard
A beautiful hardscaping element like a fire pit will provide a lot of visual interest in what could otherwise be a bare, lifeless area of your yard. As an added bonus, a fire pit is a relatively low-maintenance feature that will greatly increase the appeal of your home. We offer a variety of fire pit kits suited to every yard.
Click here to learn more about our fire pits.
While trees, grass, flowers, and other plants are usually what we think of when we think of nature and landscaping, it is important to remember that rocks are also a part of nature that can be utilized beautifully for a landscape. Rocks add a natural contrast to plants and other greenery, but they are much more durable (an advantage of not being alive, we suppose). Here are some ideas to help you think of ways you can use rocks in your own landscaping this spring…
The winter season is a relatively low maintenance season for your landscaping and yard. It can be nice to take a break from maintaining your yard, but now that the snow is all melting and spring is around the corner, it’s time to start paying attention to your landscaping again.
The first thing to do with your yard is to tidy up. We got a lot of snow this season, so it’s possible that gravel from your yard got misplaced while shoveling snow, or when your kids were making snowmen. A lot of your greenery is probably in need of some TLC, as it hasn’t been exposed to consistent sunshine in a few months. Clean up any misplaced twigs, rocks, and other debris. Gently rake your lawn to remove some of the harder to see debris. Be careful; you’re not trying to uproot the grass, you’re just trying to clean and remove anything that doesn’t belong. Also be careful of damaging the soil while it’s still soggy. You’ll want to wait until the ground has dried a little bit, so you don’t hurt any of the small grass shoots trying to grow.
You’ll probably find yourself needing to clean up mud that got tracked onto your driveway, sidewalk, or any other walkway you may have.
If you have a garden, the majority of your plants will have died during the colder months. Some plants, such as fruit trees, won’t need to be replanted. Other plants, such as most of your flowers(non-perennial) or vegetable plants, will need to be replanted when the weather gets a little bit warmer.
It’s possible that your lawn will have a few bare spots left from the weight of snow. As long as the damage isn’t too bad, you can fix this problem easily by sprinkling the affected area with seed. Avoid touching or stepping on this area, as you could damage the roots while they’re in a delicate growing phase. If the damage is extensive, usually because of some external reason, as the weight of snow alone isn’t enough to really hurt your lawn, you may want to consider replacing the incredibly damaged areas with sod.
This is also a perfect time to start planning your garden area, if you don’t have anything already in place. If your yard looks like it needs a little bit of sprucing up, plan to plant a few rose bushes, or section off a part of your yard with a garden box, and plant some squash or pepper plants.
Zen rock gardens are an important part of Japanese culture and philosophy. As art pieces that inspire meditation and tranquility, they have a long history, and they’re an excellent way to understand some basics of Japanese design.
They can also be a fun way to add an interesting design feature to your yard. While few of us understand enough about the philosophy and design principles of karesansui (dry landscape rock gardens), incorporating them into our own yards can be a great learning opportunity. Here are some basics about zen rock gardens to get you started in your own yard.
Tips for Building Your Rock Garden
A karesansui is essentially a miniature stylized landscape. They’re built using rocks, water features, moss, carefully pruned bushes or trees, along with gravel or sand meticulously arranged to imitate waves or ripples. created using rocks, water features, moss, gravel/sand that’s raked to imitate waves or ripples.
Usually these landscapes are isolated, meant to be viewed from a certain point, as a prompt for meditation and contemplation. They represent moments frozen in time.
Choosing the Stones
Choosing the large feature stones for your garden is the most important part. Rocks should complement each other and create a harmonious whole without being artificially stylized and matching. A healthy variety of rocks whose size and shape balance each other out is the best way to go. There are some basic patterns usually followed in true karesansui. For example, the grain of the stone on the different rocks should be in the same direction. Often, rocks that represent mountain features are jagged igneous varieties. On the other hand, stones that represent seashores and borders are usually smoothed sedimentary rocks, naturally reflecting the environment from which they came.
Certain formations are common in traditional rock gardens. For example, groups of three rocks are often found with one tall vertical stone, one reclining rock, and one flat rock. You may also find one tall rock flanked by two smaller ones, representing the buddha and his two attendants.
Gravel or Sand
Lots of people love this part of a rock garden because it’s a rather active element. Usually, gravel or sand is used to represent blank, open spaces. It can be the waves between islands or the air between people. Often raked into gently curving or circling lines and waves, it needs to be carefully and regularly maintained. For many, though, the act itself of maintaining and raking is meant to meditative and peaceful. Remember, though, that maintenance is harder than it looks.
A simplified western version of Japanese rock gardens may simply consist of rocks and gravel, but ideally, there are many different elements the create the harmonious balance necessary. This might be a water feature, like a pond or waterfall or spring, or even a bordering pool. Moss is also an important element, used to represent land covered in trees. Shaped shrubs can replace stones as anchored features. Although they’re not traditional, benches, statues, and lanterns can all add to the feel of your rock garden.
Reading up on Japanese rock garden and zen philosophy is fascinating. Educate yourself on some of the basic principles and design accordingly.
Some More Important Principles
- Respect blank space. Less is more.
- Keep it natural.
- Try to make your garden a world apart, enclosed and isolated.
- Aim for balance and harmony, more than symmetry and uniformity
Every garden comes with its fair share of pests. After all, who wouldn’t want a piece of that beautiful tomato hanging on your vine? The trouble is, if you’re aiming towards organic gardening in your back yard, controlling these pests can be tricky. You don’t want all of your garden-fresh produce harvested with holes.
Here are some tips for tried-and-true environmentally-friendly natural remedies to discourage pests in your garden.
Maintain a Healthy Garden
As with many things, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Stopping encroaching pests and weeds early is much easier than solving a problem later. Minimize areas that encourage and breed bugs. That means clearing away dead plants, piles of leaves, and keeping close tabs on all of your garden plants to make sure that they’re always free of small signs of pests. Use clean, dry mulch, instead of piles of moist leaves that could house a host of harmful insects.
Get Predators to Do the Heavy Lifting
There are several animals that naturally prey on the creatures that love munching on your garden. Enlisting their help is a perfect natural way to control the population of harmful species. Certain insects can be released in your garden in order to police the local insect population. You can also attract them to your yard by planting strategically.
Ladybugs can be attracted to your garden by plants like daisies, yarrow, and tansy. They eat aphids, whiteflies, and scale. Lacewings are also big aphid eaters, and they’re attracted by yarrow as well. You can also draw them in with goldenrod or black-eyed susans. Damselbugs can be handy because they eat eggs and larvae of parasitic insects. Note that they might also eat other beneficial insects, though. You can attract them with spearmint and marigold.
But how about the bane of gardeners everywhere… slugs? These creatures are usually too large for beneficial insects to take care of for you, and the way that they hide in the soil can make them hard to track. Many gardeners report physically hand-picking them off of your plants as the most effective way to rid yourself of them. However, there are some predators who can help you here too: fowl. If you have ducks or chickens around, letting them wander your garden now and then will keep your plants free of slugs, snails, and other soft-bodied pests.
A common problem in many Utah neighborhoods is foraging deer. Obviously, these large predators can take out entire patches of your garden at a time. Deer rely heavily on their sense of smell to find appetizing plants, so you can mask the smell of your garden from them by planting fragrant plants that they don’t like to eat around your garden. That means lavender, garlic, and chives. Some people also hang scented soap from a branch in order to keep deer away. Deer also tend to be skittish of unfamiliar sounds and objects. Garden decorations and chimes can be enough to make them wary of your garden area.
Summer is a great time to play outside. One creative way to get the kids outdoors is by switching up the backyard with some different textures and materials for them to play with. We all know the amazing fun of playing in the sand of the beach. What if you could bring it home to your yard? Here are a few steps to help you create a sandbox in your own back yard:
Pick Your Location Well
Unless you choose to create a moveable sandbox, you’ll want to carefully plan out the location. First of all, you’ll require plenty of good, level space. Secondly, you’ll want a good balance of shade and sun. Too much shade, and the sand won’t be able to drain and dry properly between rainfall. But if there’s too much sun on the sandbox, it will be too hot and sunny for kids’ sensitive skin. Additionally, avoid areas that will receive a lot of fallen leaves and other yard debris. Consider how close the box is to your house–is there plenty of space for kids to shake the sand off before they enter the house?
Have you ever considered installing a dry creek bed in your yard? It’s not as hard as you might think. With some help from Asphalt Materials, and 4 simple steps, you can add a beautiful accent to your yard that will look great for years to come.
Advantages of a Dry Stream
A lot of us love the visual appeal of a stream cutting through the yard, but we can’t be bothered with piping water through all the time. With a dry stream bed you can achieve the same look, without the maintenance and inconvenience of installing pipes and fountains.
Fairy gardens are enchanting miniature gardens that incorporates teeny tiny elements to create a home for fairy friends. They are a magical, adorable, and fun way to show off your green thumb. Fairy gardens also are a fun project to do with your kids! Read on to learn how to start your very own fairy garden.
If you have always wanted a backyard fire pit, but haven’t yet installed one, you are missing out. Fire pits are entrancing, engaging, and create a natural gathering place in your yard. Our DIY kits make it easier than ever to have your dream backyard fire pit. Read on for 6 reasons why you should install one today!