Grass Allergy? Here Are 3 Ways You Can Have an Allergy-Free Lawn

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) says more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies. And grass and weed pollen are among the most common allergy triggers. You don’t have to let a lawn or grass allergy keep you from enjoying your yard this summer, though. We have three ways you can reduce or eliminate allergens for an allergy-free lawn.

grass allergies and an allergy-proof lawn

Take back your yard this summer by understanding why grass allergies happen and how to avoid them. Image: Annie Otzen/Getty Images

How To Know If You’re Allergic To Grass

Your doctor can order a blood test or scratch test to confirm if you have grass allergies. The most common lawn allergy symptoms include:

  • Itchy eyes
  • Sniffling and sneezing
  • Rashes or itching after contact with your lawn

If you’re diagnosed with a grass allergy, there are medications that you can take to alleviate the symptoms. Allergy symptoms tend to flare up in the spring and summer because grasses usually pollinate from April through June.

A two-pronged approach of allergy relief via medication and via removing allergens from your garden is most effective. We want to help with the latter. Here are three tips on how to create an allergy-free lawn so you can stop the sneezing and itching this spring and summer:

allergy free lawn and allergy free grasses

Work with a landscape professional to choose the best allergy-free turf for your zone. Image: Jacky Parker Photography/Getty Images

1. Install A Low-Pollen (and Allergy-Free) Lawn

If you’re just getting started and haven’t installed a lawn yet, choose a low-pollen grass for your lawn. Consult with a landscape professional for guidance on the best allergy-free lawn for your zone. Depending on your region, some of the lowest-pollen grasses to choose from include:

  • Bermuda Grass Hybrids | Common Bermuda grass is a major allergy trigger, but the latest hybrid versions are bred to produce little to no allergy-producing pollens.
  • St. Augustine Grass | This type of turfgrass is hardy and best in coastal zones and warmer areas but doesn’t do well in drought zones. St. Augustine grass spreads through runners and rarely seeds or flowers.
  • Buffalo Grass | The University of California Integrated Pest Management program recommends this warm-season grass for drought and watering-restriction zones. The “UC Verde” turf cultivar produces only female plants and no flowers or pollen.

Trimming a lawn before it flowers and seeds keeps allergens from affecting you. Image: Anjelika Gretskaia/Getty Images

2. Trim Your Lawn Regularly

Keeping your lawn short by regularly trimming it stops grass from maturing to flower, then creating pollen. A good rule of thumb is to keep your lawn two to three inches tall, although a landscape expert will know the ideal length for your grass according to turf type.

Depending on the season, a regular trim may be as soon as every three days. Monitor your lawn’s growth or leave it to your lawn care professional.

If you do your own mowing and gardening, keep in mind that pollen is worse at mid-morning as the sun peaks. Schedule your gardening and mowing chores for early morning or late afternoon to avoid the highest pollen count of the day. Use lawn mower bags that keep trimmed grass and any flowers or pollen from blowing.

allergy-free lawn and worst weeds for allergies

Dandelions are whimsical, but they’re also one of the biggest allergy culprits in your yard. Image: Andy Roberts/Getty Images

3. Search And Destroy Weeds

Some of the worst allergy producers aren’t your turf, but the weeds that grow with your lawn. If you suffer from allergies, the worst weeds to have in your garden are:

  • Ragweed
  • Dandelion
  • Nettle
  • Bluegrass

Hand-remove weeds instead of using chemicals, which can worsen your allergies. Image: Sharon O’Rourke/Getty Images

If you’re already sensitive to allergens, avoid weed killers and other harmful chemicals. A more natural approach would be to manually pull out or uproot weeds. Keep your allergy-free lawn fertilized, strong and healthy to stop weeds from growing, as they will have to compete with your thriving lawn.

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How Much Should You Water Your Lawn in Spring and Summer?

Knowing just how much to water your lawn can get tricky. Water it too little, and you end up with a wilting, faded lawn. Water it too much, and you risk fungal growth from too much moisture and runoff that can unnecessarily boost your water bill. So below we’ll cover just how much to water your lawn in both spring and summer, when needs can differ. Also, we’ll cover ways you can save water but still have a healthy lawn.

Watering your lawn is a task that can run in the thousands of dollars or only require a hose and sprinkler attachment, based on how you choose to water or save on water. Some people may choose to install drought-resistant landscaping that can run thousands of dollars. Or you might be on board with manually watering straight out of a hose with a spray attachment. However, it can take no time at all to water your lawn if you choose an automated system or several minutes daily manually.

Water Your Lawn Damp Grass

Your lawn has some basic watering needs no matter the season. Image: @just.cle / Twenty20

General Lawn Water Needs

No matter what time of year it is, lawns have some basic watering requirements:

  • Generally, lawns need at least about 1 inch to 1 ½ inches of water per week.
  • That being said, check with a lawn care professional about what type of grass you have if you don’t know. Different types of grass can have different watering needs.
  • If your grass is brown and doesn’t respond when you water your lawn, it can be a number of other issues like fungal growth or simply not rotating a pet’s bathroom area enough. You may need to consult a lawn care specialist.
  • A common test to make sure you are watering enough is to stick a flathead screwdriver down into the soil right after watering. If it doesn’t easily go down 6 inches, you’re not watering enough.

But lawn needs vary between spring and summer, so below we’ll cover how to water your lawn between the two seasons.

Water Your Lawn Wet Green Grass

Keep an eye on your lawn during the spring especially to adjust watering needs based on recent rains. Image: @lindaze / Twenty20

Watering in the Spring vs. the Summer

The main point that makes watering your lawn in the spring and summer so different is the varying amounts of rainfall. Simply, more rain in the spring means you can get away with watering your lawn less. During spring, or even rainy periods in the summer depending on your local climate, you will have to keep a close eye on your lawn to see whether it needs additional watering from you.

It can help to have either a digital or analog rain gauge to tell you how many inches of rain has fallen recently. That way, you can see if the rainfall has hit that 1 to 1 ½-inch weekly water mark.

There are also several signs that you need to water your lawn more, which you can tell just by looking. The number one sign is that the lawn has a dull green cast, or even a grayish color, to it. Also, while walking on it, your footprints should disappear right away. If not, the grass doesn’t have enough moisture to return to its original position.

Water Your Lawn Sprinkler Setup

Using a sprinkler can help you get even coverage over your lawn so you’re not letting water run down into the street. Image: @JulieK / Twenty20

How to Save Water

According to the EPA, if the average-sized lawn is watered for 20 minutes every day for seven days, it can be like running a shower constantly for four days or taking over 800 showers. That’s a lot of water. But you can still keep a green lawn and save on water with the following ideas:

  • Try installing smaller patches of lawn and complementing them with drought-resistant landscaping. That way, you don’t have to water your lawn as often.
  • Always water in the morning before 10 a.m., otherwise the water will evaporate during the heat of the day.
  • Water slowly and evenly to prevent runoff. You can place containers around your yard while the sprinkler is on. Then make sure each is getting a similar amount of water. You should also water slowly by using sprinklers or a spray attachment on the hose. Water different areas of the lawn in short and multiple bursts to allow the water to absorb.
  • Never water for so long that you see water running down the street.

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These 10 Swimming Pool Floats Replace Last Year’s Unicorn and Swan Pool Floats

It was all about swans and unicorns at the pool last year. This year’s best pool floats focus on comfort, novelty and pop culture trends like Game of Thrones and our craze with avocado toast. Here’s a roundup of this year’s best pool floats. Bring on summer!

1. Kai Seat Lounger at Pottery Barn, $199

Everyone loves a beanbag. And a swimming pool. Put both together and this is bound to be the hottest pool float this summer. Pottery Barn’s stock of the product sells out fast. If you catch it when it’s sold out, you can also buy it at Brookstone.

2. Glow Float at Front Gate, $129

How about a floating lounge chair that lights up at dusk? The Glow Float is not only one of the best pool floats this year, it’s a great pool light at night.

3. Glitter Rosé Pool Float at Urban Outfitters, $36

Rosé wine is making a comeback – and the pool float is the perfect lounge accessory. Pink is hot right now, so this chic float is also on-trend.

4. Flamingo Pool Float Rose Gold at Target, $19

Since we’re talking about pink’s popularity, it’s highly likely that this modern pink flamingo pool float will be popular in Florida.

5. Avocado Pool Float At Bed Bath & Beyond, $20

The avocado toast obsession drove avocado prices up. The phenomenon sparked the Washington Post to write a story on how millennials can’t afford houses because they’re spending it on avocado toast. Have your toast and float on it this summer.

6. Ice Dragon Party Tube Inflatable Raft at Amazon, $20

Game of Thrones is over, but themed accessories including dragons, crowns and thrones aren’t. This ice dragon party tube will hopefully have a better happily ever after than the show’s finale.

7. Canopy Island Inflatable Lounge at Amazon

This is the best pool float for when you want to lounge at the pool for hours. It’s sized for two and features a canopy to keep you from getting sunburn.

8. Poolcandy 2-in-1 Chair & Pool Lounger in Gold At Bed Bath & Beyond, $50

Gold isn’t going out of style anytime soon. And this pool lounger is perfectly blinged out for the most luxurious pools around.

9. Monterey 4-in-1 Multi-Purpose Inflatable Hammock at Amazon

Amazon shoppers swear by this versatile pool float and rate it high. You can use it as a saddle, lounge chair, hammock or pool drifter. It’s inexpensive enough to have a few, and plenty of fun.

10. Christine Pup Pool Mat at Wayfair, $75

Don’t forget man’s best friend. Wayfair hasn’t. This bone-shaped pool float means Fido can float right with you this summer, too.

All images courtesy of the retailer.

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Stand Out From the Curb With These 5 Landscaping Trends

The National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) just dropped their list of 2019 landscaping trends. It reveals that homeowners want lower-maintenance yards that are peaceful, wildlife-friendly and set up for entertaining. As life in general becomes more hectic, homeowners want to come home and enjoy their easy-upkeep lawns and gardens.

Want your lawn and garden to stand out from your neighbor’s? If so, you’ll want to check out these five landscaping trends that freshen up your outdoor space and make it memorable:

lawn and garden ideas and landscaping trends

Stripes are a visual effect caused by a lawnmower as it bends the grass. The sun reflecting off the blades creates the alternating light and dark green stripes you see. Image: phototropic/Getty Images

1. Lawn Striping

Nothing is more welcoming than a lush, green lawn. Landscape pros are getting more requests from homeowners to “jazz up” their flawless lawns with stripes and other patterns.

Lawn striping isn’t hard to do. Most machines create a type of stripe as the lawnmower tires and deck bend the grass in the direction the mower is moving. But for more intricate or pronounced patterns, rollers and striping kits are available for certain lawn mowers.

versatile garden ideas

A multi-function outdoor area featuring a vertical garden as a privacy wall, outdoor dining area and plenty of pots to grow small shrubs and plants. Image courtesy of the National Association of Landscape Professionals.

2. Multi-Function Landscape Design

Landscape experts say homeowners no longer want a lawn and garden that’s only for admiring. Instead, families want to use their outdoor spaces — no area should be off-limits. Today, the more uses a garden has, the better.

Some of the top multi-purpose landscape trends are:

  • Vertical gardens that also work as a privacy fence
  • A small sitting area with a water feature and flowers that butterflies, hummingbirds, bees and other wildlife can enjoy
  • A winding path planted with edible herbs
  • A wall with built-in seating
2019 landscaping trends and modern pergola ideas

Choose a pergola style that matches with your home’s design, like this mid-century modern pergola. Image: Thomas Barwick/Getty

3. Pergolas For Outdoor Living

Merging indoor and outdoor living is high on a homeowner’s wish list. And an outdoor structure that creates an extra room adds to a home’s useful square footage. What’s more, today’s pergolas are more sophisticated than ever. Some of the top pergola trends now include structures with:

  • Space heaters or a fire feature
  • A luxury outdoor kitchen
  • A sitting area featuring a large outdoor sectional
  • Rolldown windows
  • Lighting
  • Sound systems
modern patio design ideas

Add metal furnishings and decor to your garden to update your outdoor space. Image: Mint Images/Getty Images

4. Outdoor Metal Elements

Metal is the latest landscaping trend material of choice. It’s partially because homeowners want durable and low-maintenance materials that don’t require staining, finishing, sanding and sealing.

Look for pergolas, furnishings and other accessories in metal. Brushed stainless steel continues to be popular, although industrial-looking black metal is also on-trend.

landscaping trends and garden design ideas

Layer several hues of pink and coral flowers in your garden design. Image: Susanne Alfredsson/EyeEm/Getty Images

5. Pretty In Pink

Millennial pink, dusty rose and bold-yet-earthy coral have been big color trends in the last couple of years. And that’s especially true since Pantone named Living Coral their Color Of The Year for 2019.

Pink hues look fantastic against green, creating a big demand for pink flower beds. According to the report, landscape professionals also expect that softer, light blush pink tones will become the “the new neutral” for flooring materials, surfaces and finishes to tie in the bolder coral tones.

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Lawn and Landscaping Projects You Should Definitely Leave to the Pros

As a homeowner, you probably like the challenge and the cost-savings of handling many of your own lawn and landscaping projects. For example, cutting your grass weekly is a home maintenance task that most DIYers can successfully complete.

However, there are other scenarios in which homeowners are taking matters into their own hands – with disastrous results. These are some of the lawn and landscaping projects you should leave to the pros.

Testing the soil before planting

Acidic or alkaline?

Acidic or alkaline? Image: Aroon phadee/Shutterstock

This is a project that can be done DIY with an at-home soil tester, but our experts don’t recommend it. “Bringing a soil sample to your local county extension service offers the most detailed information on soil pH levels – acidity and alkalinity – as well as potassium, nitrogen and phosphorus levels,” according to Keven Shanks, manager of retailer training at Scotts Miracle-Gro.

It’s important to test the soil, especially if you’re planting a vegetable garden, because different types of plants prefer different types of soil. “Plants like asparagus, onions, garlic, cucumbers and tomatoes prefer acidic soil (pH 5.8-6.5), which tends to dominate in wet climates,” Shanks explains. On the other hand, plants like Brussel sprouts, turnips, cabbage and mustard like a more alkaline soil (pH 6.0-7.5) that Shanks says is typically found in dry areas.

Aerating the lawn

Professionals can correctly aerate your lawn.

Professionals can correctly aerate your lawn. Image: Taweesak Sriwannawit/Shutterstock

Aerating can be a DIY project, but you’ll need to rent and transport an aerator. So, what is aerating? “It is the process of removing plugs from the turf area using a core aerator, thereby creating an artificial system of large pores,” Shanks explains. And it’s important because it allows air, water and nutrients to reach the roots. “Aeration alleviates problems with soil compaction and/or thatch,” Shanks says.

This is a task to complete on a yearly basis. However, renting and maneuvering the specialized equipment isn’t the only DIY issue.

“Many homeowners also have underground infrastructure, including septic, pet fencing and/or irrigation,” according to Dr. Brad DeBels, director of operations at Weed Man Lawn Care. This means it’s possible to damage the infrastructure. However, according to DeBels, professionals know how to avoid this – and if any damage occurs, they’re responsible for the repair cost.

Planning and installing a permanent in-ground irrigation system

An irrigation system need to provide adequate coverage.

An irrigation system needs to provide adequate coverage. Image: kvww/Shutterstock

If you’re comfortable undertaking building projects, you may be able to plan and install a watering system. “You should be familiar with plumbing, electricity, and local building codes, and be willing to take the time to research and design the system well,” Shanks says. This will also entail digging trenches. However, he says it’s the paper and pencil process that usually trips up DIYers.

“Irrigation specialists are by far best equipped to design and install an irrigation system that waters both completely and efficiently,” Shanks advises.  “Find a specialist who has been certified by a professional group, such as the Irrigation Society of America, to ensure you’re getting good advice.” And if you have a large lawn, it includes significant elevation changes, or has very poor drainage, Shanks says you should definitely consult a professional irrigation designer.

Brad Unruh, director of new product development for Hustler Turf Equipment, agrees that DIYers should just call in the pros. “This is an involved project, and professionals have the correct equipment to make it a lot less painful and disruptive to your current landscape,” he says.  “It’s important that your irrigation system has the correct coverage to ensure everything works like it’s supposed to, which will ultimately benefit your future landscaping plans.”

Pesticide treatments

Application rates and timing are crucial.

Application rates and timing are crucial. Image: lightpoen/Shutterstock

You might consider yourself quite handy around the house with a can of bug spray, but landscape pesticides are a little different. And DeBels recommends leaving these pesticide treatments to the professionals. “Highly-effective weed, insect and fungus control can be very dependent on how and when you apply off-the-shelf products, making it difficult to achieve maximum effectiveness,” he explains.

And if you have a full-time job and a life, you’re just randomly applying treatments when you think about it. However, DeBels explains that professionals have spent a significant amount of time perfecting application rates and timing, and don’t forget – they’re actually trained and licensed. “This leads to the most effective control of pests, while limiting pesticide resistance and optimizing environmental safety,” he says.

Most troubleshooting projects

Take the guesswork out of troubleshooting.

Take the guesswork out of troubleshooting. Kamil Macniak/Shutterstock

“When your lawn begins to get patchy, weeds take over, or your soil becomes compacted, it can be difficult to reset the yard to a healthy state,” Sherrington says. “At these times, it is more important than ever to ensure your lawn is properly aerated, the soil’s PH levels are up to par, and weed control is added to the correct areas.” And if done incorrectly, he says these procedures can have disastrous effects on a yard. 

For example, overapplying nitrogen can result in burning a lawn overnight,” Sherrington reveals. He says it can also be confusing trying to purchase the right product, store it correctly, and apply it properly. “That is why we recommend homeowners call in experts to test their soil, handle products and take the necessary steps to maintain their lawn and quickly get it to a thriving state,” Sherrington explains.

Skill level makes a difference

Expertise produces expert results.

Expertise produces expert results. Image: aimful/Shutterstock

While many of these lawn and landscaping projects are best left to the pros, sometimes, the answer is dependent on the homeowner’s skill level. For example, Unruh does believe that homeowners can fertilize grass and spray weeds – but they are best done with some knowledge.

He says you should know what you’re spraying, how it affects the foliage, and what it is intended to kill or enhance. “Also, I recommend becoming familiar with the plants, trees, bushes and grass on your property to know which types of fertilizer would be best and when to use them.” He suggests visiting your local nursery or garden store if you need help. And don’t forget that your lawn isn’t just eye candy. Turfgrass lawns have environmental and health benefits.

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Plan on Entertaining Outdoors This Summer? Here’s What You Need to Do It Right

Warmer weather entices people outside, and let’s face it, wide open spaces can provide more room to move around and reduce the potential for damage to your home’s interior.

However, to truly provide an outstanding outdoor entertaining experience, you’ll need to create a fun and inviting environment, Here’s what you need to create the type of outdoor space that neighbors won’t want to leave.

More than a grill

You’ll gain a lot of friends with this Artisan Fire Pizza Oven by Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet.

You’ll gain a lot of friends with this Artisan Fire Pizza Oven by Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet. Image courtesy of La Cuisine Appliances.

A grill is an obvious starting place. “You’ve got to have a good looking and functional grill,” says Daniel Germani, founder and creative director of Daniel Germani Designs.  “My favorite is the one has a lid that folds all the way back and goes flush with the countertop.”

However, Josu Gaubeka, president of La Cuisine Appliances, a kitchen appliances distributor, says he’s also seeing an increasing number of other appliances and accessories in summer kitchens.  “They’re going beyond the BBQ, and building out full kitchens. In fact, many families are adding pizza ovens to keep the kids and their friends close by.”

Specialized cookers

Increase your cooking options with the Goucho Grill by Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet.

Increase your cooking options with the Goucho Grill by Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet. Image courtesy of La Cuisine Appliances.

In addition to grills and pizza ovens, homeowners are also adding other types of cookers. “We’re seeing specialized cookers, such as side burners for boiling seafood or wok cooking, and smokers,” according to Mitch Slater, CEO and Founder, Brown Jordan Outdoor Kitchens and Danver Stainless Outdoor Kitchens.

However, if you want to put a specialty appliance, like an Argentinian grill, in cabinetry, Slater warns that you’ll need to use non-combustible materials, like stainless steel, “Also, it’s best to line your cabinets with firebrick so they won’t become discolored due to extreme heat exposure,” he says.

Another point to keep in mind is that your exterior kitchen layout is as important as your indoor kitchen layout.

Water and refrigeration

Sinks and refrigerators add convenience.

Sinks and refrigerators add convenience. Image: Ozgur Coskun/Shutterstock

“I’m being called on by developers of luxury condominiums to add summer kitchens on each unit – including an electric grill, ice maker, and sink,” says Gaubeka. That comes as no surprise to Germani.  “A sink and a refrigerator are must-have items, and I like to include 2 fridges in my outdoor kitchens — one for food and one for beverages,’ he says.

In fact, if you want to maximize time with guests by avoiding trips indoors, Slater recommends duplicating your indoor kitchen. “In addition to a sink and refrigerator, you could also include trash cabinets, and even dishwashers manufactured for outdoor use.”

However, in lieu of an actual refrigerator, Gaubeka says some homeowners are installing refrigerated drawers.

Shade

Be sure to provide shelter from the heat.

Be sure to provide shelter from the heat. Image courtesy of Belgard

When the sun is beaming down, you’ll need to protect your friends and family members from those damaging rays. “Cantilevered overhangs provide lots of shade while cooking/lounging outdoors,” according to Miami-based architect Choeff Levy Fischman. But that’s not your only option. Slater recommends using fans, misters, and light-colored furniture as additional cooling sources.

Lighting

Lighting provides safety and highlights design features.

Lighting provides safety and highlights design features. Image courtesy of Belgard

“Having good lighting allows you to create a mood, grill and entertain far after the sun goes down and the martinis start to flow,” says Germani. In addition to being an entertainment element, lights also create a safe environment, so you won’t get sued because someone tripped and fell in the dark. HGTV/DIY host Matt Blashaw’s outdoor lighting tips are a good guide for using light strips, spotlights, etc. Also, Duane Draughon, owner and lead designer at VizX Design Studios in Lisle, IL, recommends an overhead structure trellis pergola with lighting. 

Entertainment

Cheer for your favorite team with an outdoor TV.

Cheer for your favorite team with an outdoor TV. Image courtesy of Belgard

“As we navigate from the inside to the outdoor kitchen, entertainment will also transform these spaces with additions like outdoor speakers and big screen TVs,” says Wendy Hammerman, Founder & Lead Designer at WLH Interiors, a full-service interior design studio in New City, NY.

But as popular as TVs are, Patti Wynkoop, VP of Product Development and Purchasing for Miller & Smith, which builds new homes and develops real estate in the District of Columbia, Northern Virginia, and Maryland, believes that music is even more popular as an outdoor entertainment feature. “Outdoor ceiling speakers make it easy to enjoy your favorite music while you cook or entertain guests,” she says.

However, when incorporating technology, consider the needs of your guests. “Be sure to include several usable power outlets for cell phone charging,” advises Draughon.

Seating/Furniture

Multiple seating options.

Provide multiple seating options. Image courtesy of Miller & Smith

Seating is an important choice as it will determine your entertaining options. “While outdoor wicker furniture has been popular in the past, we see a lot more built-in bench seating styled with throw pillows and cushions for a casual, comfortable feel that’s able to accommodate more people,” according to Hammerman.

You’ll probably prefer to have guests sitting upright at tables to reduce spills when they’re eating. However, consider mixing this type of seating with more relaxing options. “Sunken seating areas provide depth and additional space for entertaining,” according to Fischman.

And there’s something else you should keep in mind when choosing furniture. “Composite furniture such as sofas, lounge chairs and end tables are maintenance free, fade resistant and easy on the eyes,” says Wynkoop.

Flooring and ceiling considerations

Your flooring should be durable. I

Your flooring should be durable. Image courtesy of Dekton Nilium Flooring

Flooring should be durable, yet stylish. “Beadboard is a solid choice in flooring materials for an entertainment space and it is often used to seamlessly merge indoor and outdoor living areas,” Wynkoop says. For decks, she recommends Duadek outdoor waterproof flooring. “The suede color is often the best neutral choice for entertainment spaces as it provides flexibility with decor and rugs.”

Maintain the flow between your interior and exterior places.

Maintain the flow between your interior and exterior areas. Image courtesy of Miller & Smith

Just as the connection in flooring is important for flow, Wynkoop says consistency in ceiling height and material will also marry indoor and outdoor entertainment spaces. “If you have a ceiling in your outdoor entertainment space, adding tongue & groove planks or panels gives the appearance of a plank installation – painted or stained – and is perceived as a more refined level of detail.”

Planning for colder weather

You can entertain outdoors at least 3 seasons of the year.

With the right setup, you can entertain outdoors at least 3 seasons of the year. Image: TimAbramowitz/Getty Images

Summer will be over before you know it, but by planning wisely, you can continue to entertain outdoors well into the fall months. “Just like indoor furniture, you can add cushions, throw blankets and pillows to your outdoor furniture for comfort and enjoyability throughout the year,” Wynkoop says.  Firepits and outdoor fireplaces can also keep you warm and toasty when the weather turns colder.

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Update Your Patio This Year With This One Outdoor Decorating Trend

Desert-inspired earth tones and bohemian chic vibes are the biggest trends this year for the home. And the trend goes outdoors this summer, too. You don’t have to break the bank to update your patio every year. Designers are focusing on one main zone of your outdoor space this year: your outdoor flooring.

Depending on your budget, the best way to update your patio can be as easy as painting your patio floor or adding an outdoor area rug. Or you can get more involved by staining the existing concrete or adding patio tile or stone.

Here is some inspiration on how you can breathe new life into your existing patio furniture setting. All you need is to focus on your patio flooring. Then, you can consider adding some simple accents like throw pillows, candles and some new plants and pots.

Outdoor Rugs

One of the easiest ways to update your patio is by adding an outdoor rug to cover your boring deck or concrete patio floor. Look for a rug that says it’s for the outdoors. Made with synthetic materials like nylon, acrylic or heavy-duty natural fibers like seagrass, they’ll be less prone to mildew and fading.

how to update a patio

Warm tones and a tribal pattern add an exotic feel to any outdoor space. Image: Pottery Barn

how to update your patio

The pattern on the outdoor rug matches the iron scrollwork of the dining chair backs. Image: TimAbramowitz/Getty

how to update your patio

Layers of rugs are added to an ordinary patio for a boho-chic vibe. Image: West Elm

how to update your patio for a modern look with Chilewich rugs

Believe it or not, you’re seeing a woven vinyl rug that looks like stone. Image: All About Space/Shutterstock  

Tiled Patio Ideas

A tiled patio adds value to your home. Tile is low maintenance, easy to clean and very resistant to the outdoor elements. Make sure to choose a tile that’s not slippery when wet.

how to update your patio floor with tile

Mix and match different shades of the same type of tile for a unique look. Image: karchana p/Shutterstock

outdoor tile ideas for updating your patio

For an elegant look, create a diamond checkerboard pattern in your yard by using square black and white stones or tiles. Image: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

saltillo tiles outdoors

Earthy and hand-hewn saltillo tiles are a beautiful and classic choice for your outdoor flooring. Image: Elena Elisseeva/Shutterstock

Outdoor Painted Flooring and Stained Concrete Floors

If you like DIY projects, painting or staining your outdoor flooring may be a satisfying project to take on. It’s all about the correct materials. If you’re working with porous stone, concrete or brick outdoor flooring, visit your local home improvement store and ask for help. There are plenty of products available for every type of surface and use.

how to paint patio floor and patio flooring ideas

Selectively paint your floor in alternating colors to create a patterned tile look. Image: vidguten/Shutterstock

outdoor paints to update your garden

A matte outdoor masonry paint should make it easy to transform boring concrete outdoor flooring into something fresh and new. Image: Michael Wels/Shutterstock

outdoor flooring ideas

If you layer your paints by starting with a neutral color and painting over it (when dry) with a bright color, you’ll achieve a lovely patina when the paint starts to wear down. Image: Michael Wels/Shutterstock

outdoor decorating ideas

Stain the concrete in a designated area to create an outdoor room effect. Image: Tunde Gaspar/Shutterstock

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6 Great Deals You’ll Want to Nab During the Lumens 4th of July Sale

This article is sponsored by Lumens. The opinions and statements below are those of our writer’s experience. Freshome may collect a share of sales from the links on this page.
If you care about having covetable lighting for your home, you’re probably familiar with Lumens. What you may not know is that they’re so much more than really, really great lighting. They’ve also got tons of furniture, accessories and even gifts.

And — more good news — they have a major 4th of July sale happening now so this is the perfect time to shop. We’re talking free gifts and up to 50% off select items. You won’t want to miss it.

But we know that the Independence Day holiday weekend can be a crazy busy time of year, pretty much smack dab in the middle of summer travels and festivities. So, to save you some time, we rounded up our six favorite items for you to check out during the Lumens 4th of July sale.

lumens - string lights

Trendy and free! Don’t miss your chance to score this Vintage String Light Kit. Image courtesy of Lumens.

#1: Vintage String Light Kit$100 Free gift during the sale

Um, is there any better deal than free? We think not. And because market lights are ultra-trending right now, you’re definitely not going to want to miss this free gift during the Lumens 4th of July sale. It’s the perfect way to bathe your outdoor space in a glow of warm light.

With 15 antique-style bulbs and a whopping 48 feet of cord, you can really light up the night. Plus, this light kit is durable enough for commercial use so you don’t have to worry about the serious hassle of broken bulbs.

lumens - balthus sconce

Dimmable and energy efficient, the Balthus LED Sconce can help you dress up your home’s exterior. Image courtesy of Lumens.

#2: Balthus LED Sconce, 10% off, $241-419 $217-$377

Adding outdoor lighting is a quick, easy way to increase your curb appeal and your home’s security. But you don’t want to settle for just any outdoor lighting. And with this deal, you definitely don’t have to. The Balthus Sconce is as stylish as it is versatile. The glass in this piece gives your lighting extra texture.

Form and function go hand in hand here. The Balthus Sconce is dimmable and has an integrated LED bulb, which means it helps you save on your utility bills.

lumens - ballia globe

Add visual interest and light with this color-changing Ballia LED Globe. Image courtesy of Lumens.

#3: Ballia LED Globe, 10% off, $230-$438 $207-$394

Have you been looking for that extra something to take your landscaping up a level? Well, friend, you need look no further. The Ballia LED Globe delivers that wow-factor you’ve been wanting. It doesn’t just help illuminate your space. Oh, no. It’s also color-changing and you can choose steady, scrolling, fade and candle effects. It even dims to help you set the mood. Color us impressed.

The Ballia LED Globe is cordless, rechargeable and waterproof. Float it in your pool to really make a statement.

lumens - drum ottoman

It’s an ottoman, a table, and it’s versatile and ready to serve you. It’s the Drum Ottoman. Image courtesy of Lumens.

#4: Drum Ottoman, 20% off, $430-$540 $336-$432

Picking outdoor furniture to create your perfect patio is always a challenge. You want something stylish and eye-catching. But you need something durable (unless you have a relaxed budget and can afford to replace your outdoor setup each season). If you’ve ever felt caught in the middle, you’re not alone.

But you don’t have to choose one or the other. This Drum Ottoman comes in eight stunning finishes and its airy, architectural design adds a pop to any outdoor space. It’s visually lightweight but highly durable thanks to powder-coated, hot-dip galvanized iron. Use it as an ottoman, stool, coffee table or side table. Wherever you place it, it will wow.

lumens - acupulco chair

The Acapulco Chair is lightweight, durable and available in a rainbow of colors. Image courtesy of Lumens.

#5: Acapulco Chair, 20% off, $435-$455 $348-$364

Keep the blend of form and function rolling in your yard by adding one, two or more of these Acapulco Chairs. With 18 solid colors and nine multi-colored options, many of which are globally inspired, you’ll have no trouble finding the perfect hue for your outdoor space.

The chair’s design blends 50s chic with traditional Mayan hammock weaving techniques to bring you a statement piece that easily withstands the elements.

lumens - origami planter

Capture the beauty of origami in a much more durable form with this Origami Planter. Image courtesy of Lumens.

#6: Origami Planter, 20% off, $209 – $369 $167-$295

What’s the deal with planters? We often choose them for the promise of being able to move around our plants whenever the mood strikes. But, more often than not, they’re so heavy lugging them around doesn’t seem worth the effort.

If you want a way to freshen up your yard — and keep it fresh thanks to easy portability — choose the lightweight polymer Origami Planter. With clean lines and eye-catching angles, this homage to the Japanese art of folding paper might just overshadow your plant itself. But we’ll forgive it. It’s not its fault that it’s so beautiful. Oh, and did we mention that it’s fade- and weather-resistant and crack-proof?

4th of July always brings a bounty of sweet sales, but the upcoming Lumens offers just might take the cake. With plenty of stylish, durable products that will help you transform your yard, it’s the perfect opportunity to upgrade your outdoor areas.

The post 6 Great Deals You’ll Want to Nab During the Lumens 4th of July Sale appeared first on Freshome.com.

4 Ideas for Creative Stepping Stone Pathways

If you’re looking for a timeless addition to your yard, consider stepping stone pathways. These add a rustic, natural element that is great for the outdoors. They’re also very versatile in style. Many stepping stone pathways are part of a zen style, as these types of yards make great use of stone elements. Stepping stones can also be set into grass for a more rustic and aged look. Or they can sit in more modern and neat gravel displays. Plus, many of these styles go well with water features. So take a look below for some inspiration for stepping stone pathways. You may just be installing a new pathway before you know it.

Stepping Stone Pathways Zen Garden

Naturally cut stepping stones work well in classic styles like zen. Image: Sakarin Sawasdinaka/Shutterstock

Zen Stepping Stones

As touched on above, zen styles and stepping stone pathways were made for each other. You can see in the photo above how well stepping stones work against sand or gravel designs. The stepping stones give an additional visual element among all the light gravel. Also, by choosing darker stones to sit on the light gravel, you can create some visual interest in the garden area.

Stepping stones are also a practical element, as the pathway allows you to travel across the garden without disturbing the sand or gravel patterns. Also, stepping stones with natural textures keep the space looking classic and organic.

Stepping Stone Pathways Water Feature

Stone pathways work well over water. Image: Rigamondis/Shutterstock

Water and Stepping Stone Pathways

Stepping stones also work beautifully when used alongside a garden water feature, like a backyard pond. Stepping stones were a classic way to get across rivers, creeks and other small waterways, so this is another way to create a classic and rustic element in the backyard.

You could go a couple of different directions with this idea. You could create a more clearly defined trail with larger stepping stones, like in the photo above. It’s also common to see widely spaced stepping stones in backyard ponds. These are more for show than actual use, but they give a romantic and slightly adventurous feel.

Stepping Stone Pathways Grass Style

Place stepping stones deeper if you want them to integrate with the grass. Image: Paolo Omero/Shutterstock

Set-In Stepping Stones

Another idea for stepping stone pathways is to place the stepping stones into the soil so that grass grows around them, or even over them in some cases. That gives the look that the stone pathway is very old, adding some rustic appeal. Choosing stones with deep textures also makes the stones look old, and stones with a natural cut to their shape further add a rustic look.

Placing the stones in a mosaic pattern also gives tons of visual interest. Stepping stone pathways like this are good in natural-looking gardens, leading to pool areas or bridging the gap between patio spaces, as a few ideas.

Stepping Stone Pathways Clean Modern

Gravel and stepping stones can create a clean, updated look. Image: Yatra/Shutterstock

Gravel and Stepping Stones

Not all stepping stone pathways need to look rustic. The clean gravel stepping stone pathway in the photo above is so organized that it has a modern appeal. The colored gravel gives the look some visual texture and helps the neutral stepping stones pop. This style goes well in garden spaces where the plants are clearly defined and organized themselves, as the photo above shows.

The stepping stones themselves have an attractive design of small stones encased in concrete. This style reminds us to feel free to make our own stepping stone designs, since they’re fairly simple to create. That way, you can have a customized and artistic look in the garden.

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Exclusive! HGTV/DIY Host Matt Blashaw’s Outdoor Lighting Tips and Tricks

You’re probably ready to start relaxing and entertaining outdoors during the day and at night. For the latter, you’ll need strategically placed lighting for safety reasons. But there’s no reason why your lighting can’t be both functional and stylish.

Matt Blashaw. Photo credit Chaz Curr

TV host, landscape expert and realtor Matt Blashaw. Photo: Chaz Curr

Matt Blashaw, the popular HGTV and DIY host of Yard Crashers, Money Hunters and Vacation House For Free, has teamed up with the makers of Philips Hue smart lighting. Freshome asked Blashaw (who is also a landscaping expert and realtor) for some tips to help transform your outdoor spaces with the latest lighting available today.

Lights can help to create the perfect ambiance. Image: Travis Wolfe/Shutterstock

Lights can help to create the perfect ambiance. Image: Travis Wolfe/Shutterstock

Choose the right lighting

“Make sure you use lighting that’s specifically designed to withstand the elements. It should be outdoor-rated,” Blashaw tells Freshome. There are a lot of different types of outdoor lighting, so how do you know which should be used in which applications? Blashaw offers a quick guide.

Pathway lights serve a variety of functions.

Pathway lights like the Philips Hue Calla Outdoor Bollard serve a variety of functions. Image courtesy of Philips Hue.

“Install pathway lighting to create an inviting path up to your front door, spotlights to enhance structures and create subtle moods and lightstrips under your shade structures to transform the area into the perfect entertaining space,” Blashaw says. He also recommends swapping out your exterior wall lights to add color and drama.

“No matter what kind of light your home requires, from the driveway to the front door to the patio in your backyard, lighting is a great way to transform your space.”

Use a variety of lights to achieve the perfect result. I

Use a variety of lights to achieve the perfect result, like the Philips Hue Calla Outdoor Bollard. Image courtesy of Philips Hue.

Pathway lighting

“Pathway lighting is perfect to define walkways, add safety and connect your outdoor spaces visually,” Blashaw says. “Space out your pathway lighting to get the proper amount of coverage. I like to leave about 6 feet between lights.”

Philips Hue Lily.

Use Philips Hue Lily Spotlights on a wall or in your flowerbed. Image courtesy of Philips Hue.

Spotlights

“One of my favorite lighting elements to install in a yard are spotlights, but you should be thoughtful about placement,” Blashaw says. He recommends that you pick a few of the most visually interesting plants or trees to illuminate. Then, use other types of lighting in planters to balance the effect. “This will provide visual definition to your space and not wash out all of the detail your yard has to offer.”

You can also create focal points with the Philips Hue Lily Spotlight. Image courtesy of Philips Hue.

He says that spotlights can be placed either in front of or behind the trees in the landscape. “Each position creates a completely different effect,” Blashaw says. “Lighting from the front will enhance the plants’ natural texture and cast a silhouette on any structure behind them for even more visual interest.”

Philips Hue Lily Spotlight‘s integrated color bulbs allow you to change the ambiance. Image courtesy of Philips Hue.

“Lighting a tree from the front with two spotlights on either side will enhance the texture of the bark and leaves,” Blashaw says. “I will sometimes install the spotlight on the ground at the rear of the tree in order to separate it from the rest of the landscape and set a dramatic mood.”

If you want to make a large yard seem cozier, Blashaw says you should only light the elements that are closer to the living space. “Don’t light trees and shrubs that are too far in the distance without adding any lights in between them and the living space,” he recommends. “I like to use spotlights in the planter beds and bollards on the pathway that closely interact with my main living space.” To achieve the best effect, make sure that you’re also properly maintaining your lawn.

Philips Hue Outdoor Lightstrips are bendable and durable. Image courtesy of Philips Hue.

Lightstrips

“Lightstrips are the perfect way to create a one-of-a-kind event in your yard 365 days a year,” Blashaw says. One advantage of lightstrips is that Blashaw says they can be shaped to fit the contour of any garden bed or defined space in your yard.

Use Philips Hue Outdoor Lightstrips to create diffused light. Image courtesy of Philips Hue.

“I love to install them right against my planters to add a one-of-a-kind look and make them sparkle,” he says. “Add them to the planter beds in front of your house, too, to turn up the curb appeal and define your landscape.”

Make your home a welcoming sight.

Make your home a welcoming sight. Image courtesy of Philips Hue.

Wall lights

“You can’t forget about finding the right light to highlight the facade of your home,” Blashaw says.

Traditional wall lanterns can also add interest to your home's exterior.

Traditional wall lanterns like the Philips Hue Inara Outdoor Wall Light can also add interest to your home’s exterior. Image courtesy of Philips Hue.

“Add lights to each side of any front door entryway to give your guests a welcoming entrance,” Blashaw advises. In addition to providing safety, wall lights can also be used to create the desired ambiance. Here, your color choices are important.

Floor your backyard with soft colors.

Floor your backyard with soft colors using the Philips Hue Discover Outdoor Floodlight. Image courtesy of Philips Hue.

These lighting tips can help you bring your outdoor spaces to life. But if your home isn’t ready for summer, check out this list of interior and exterior maintenance tasks that you need to tackle ASAP.

The post Exclusive! HGTV/DIY Host Matt Blashaw’s Outdoor Lighting Tips and Tricks appeared first on Freshome.com.