Outdoor Fireplace Landscaping

The flexibility of masonry materials adds considerably to the fun of working with them; you can be imaginative and creative when tackling outdoor fireplace landscaping. A concrete slab does not have to be a hot prairie playground; the surface is not limited to “smooth” or “rough”; the color is not limited to cement gray. Brick and masonry units, thanks to new developments, are no longer prosaic, uninspiring building materials.

The truth about an amateur project is that the results can be every bit as good as a job done by a professional. Both in appearance and structurally, the job you do can rate A-l on the building inspector’s card. There will be a difference in time due to the fact that the pro can work faster, but the amateur need not worry about .speed–the end result is more important than the time needed to accomplish it. The mixture for concrete, actually an artificial stone, consists of a blend of fine and coarse aggregates, each piece of which is completely surrounded and held to its mates by hardened Portland cement paste. A chemical reaction, which occurs ideally due to favorable temperatures and the presence of moisture while curing, causes the paste to harden. The water to cement ratio is probably the most important factor as far as the strength of mix is concerned. Too much water will result in a thin, diluted cement-paste that will be weak and porous when it hardens. It will not bond the aggregates nor will it be watertight. The correct water-cement paste, and this is important, produces a mix with maximum strength which is necessary for outdoor fireplace landscaping. The amateur will often use more water than necessary because it makes a more fluid mix that flows easily into the forms. Such a project may look O.K. to begin with (although there will probably be finishing problems due to excess moisture), but it will eventually be discovered to lack strength and durability.

About Patio Fireplaces

With a nice patio extending your house into the yard, it’s a perfect addition when a fireplace accompanies your outdoor leisure. Like a fire on a camping trip, people love the crackling of the fire and the warmth it throws. When the fireplace meets with the theme of the patio, it seems like one structure. A fireplace simply grows out of the ground and the chimney extends itself into the sky.

An impressive patio fireplace I once observed was made from a white rock that matched the patio theme. The same rock made the walls of the patio where benches lined the outer edges. The fireplace itself was square with an opening on the inside and outside of the fire area so that warmth could be enjoyed on either side.

The fireplace is rather large and does indeed have a grill insert for accommodating patio cookouts. It also has a tuner that could hold a pig for a roast. But when I asked the homeowners how much it all cost them, they just shook their heads. I didn’t want to know.

I’ve seen brick outdoor fireplaces that matched the brick patio. I’ve also seen brick fireplaces to accompany the wooden deck. The wood was treated with a fire retardant and it really did look rather distinct. The structure for that particular fireplace was built to the ground so that a solid base existed. But, there was also a patio area on ground level and the fireplace had two different openings.

These are really nice structures that add class to any patio or deck. They may take awhile to build and they might cost a little money. But, it’s worth it to have the added comfort and style you want.

If your pocket book can’t quite handle the structure of the fireplace on the patio or the deck, there is an alternative you might like. There are ventless gel fireplaces that are made for the patio. An iron stand holds the chimney in its place so that you can enjoy the fire wherever you place it. A whole assortment of patio products are offered for an outdoor fireplace experience you’ll just love.

When you begin to let your imagination run wild, you see the many possibilities that exist. A fireplace on the patio might be the last thing you would have ever thought about. But now that the thought is in your head, I’d be willing to bet that you’ll look into it. It’s very captivating. And with the ventless gel, money won’t be your holdup.

Retaining Wall To Build

Still, building with stone can be a rewarding project for patient first-timers. In most areas, you can have pallets of stone delivered. And a few inexpensive tools, such as a mason’s hammer, will make the work go more smoothly. Stonewalls can be stacked dry using stone and rubble for backfill.
Dry walls are built on a base of compacted gravel. It’s important for hidden backfill stones to be stacked just as securely as visible “face” stones. All voids inside the wall should be filled with rubble.

Another option is to stack the face stones dry, then backfill with stone and mortar. This type of construction requires a deeper (24 in.) compacted-gravel base. Finally, you can mortar the joints between stones. These walls should be built on a poured-concrete footing with rebar placed horizontally in the footing and vertically to extend through the wall as it is built up. All “wet” walls need a drain in the backfill or weep holes to relieve pressure from water that seeps behind the wall.

These retaining walls come in a variety of styles, patterns, and colors. There are tumbled blocks of uniform size that simulate the look of quarried granite; blocks of varying sizes that form patterns to look like natural stone; and split-faced blocks that look like what they are: concrete. In fact, these blocks are made from really strong concrete; most have a compressive strength of 5000 psi.

Block retaining-wall systems are available from a number of manufacturers. Prices vary between manufactures styles. Each company sometimes each style has its own interlocking system. Allan blocks are probable the most widely used.

Most systems are comprised of a few different components, including the basic wall blocks, corner blocks, and cap pieces. The good news is that neither of these walls are so complicated, that you can’t do it yourself.

The trick is to get the first course level. Then it is mostly a matter of stacking blocks and backfilling. Many systems even incorporate a setback into the design so that as you build up, the wall automatically pitches back into the retained earth behind. It is hard to avoid cutting blocks, but the only specialty tools you’ll need are a masonry or diamond blade for your circular saw and a mason’s chisel.

These interlocking systems are versatile enough for most designs. Curved walls can be built, and matching steps and walks can be incorporated. Some manufacturers will send a representative to help you figure out just what you need for your project.

After you build your retaining walls you are going to want to get ideas on lawn and garden ornaments to make things look really nice. Go to our main garden d├ęcor [http://www.decormotif.com/GardenDecor/] are of our site to get more information. If you plan on an elaborate landscape theme you should read this article about landscape design [http://www.decormotif.com/GardenDecor/landscape_design.html]

Manage Tomato Garden Problems

Dry, Dark Bottoms

The end of tomatoes can sometimes get dry and turn dark. This is usually because the weather has been too hot and dry. You can keep this from happening by increasing the amount of water you give your plants. It’s also important to be consistent with the amount of water your plants receive. Don’t water your plants if it was watered by a recent rainstorm. You can also try using a shade cloth to keep them out of direct sunlight during heat waves.

Brown and Blacked Spotted Leaves

Leaves with black and brown spots are diseased. The disease is called early blight. You can save your plant from dying by removing the affected leaves as soon as you see the spots. To keep the disease from occurring, spread mulch all over the ground around the plants. You may choose to use fungicide and/or dry leaves off when they become wet.

Dark Green Spotted Leaves

These spots signify the plant has a disease called late blight. To prevent the disease from affecting the plant, remove the leaves immediately. Place mulch at the base of the plants to slow down the progression of the disease. Before the disease happens, you may choose to spray plants with fungicide and keep the leaves dry to prevent it.

Yellow Wilted Leaves

Two diseases cause leaves to yellow and wilt, verticillium and fusarium. The process of keeping these diseases from killing a plant is the same as for the last two diseases. Make sure to remove affected leaves as soon as possible. Place mulch around the plants and dry off leaves when they become wet.

Cracked Tomatoes

Tomatoes love water and fertilizer, but too much of them can cause cracks. When you see cracks, cut back on how much you water them. You should also decrease the amount of fertilizer you’re using. Your tomatoes will still grow big and flavorful with the reduced water and fertilizer and you’ll end up saving them from the dreaded cracks.


Tomato hornworms can eat your plants and tomatoes quickly. The only way to deal with them is to pick them off. Don’t throw them on the ground because they will simply crawl back up on the plants. Many tomato growers throw them in a bucket of soapy water.

Keep these common problems in mind as you’re growing your tomatoes. Water them well, fertilize them regularly (but not too much), prevent diseases, attack the ones that occur, and keep those pesky caterpillars off your plants.

Ornamental Grasses

Blue Oat Grass

Without a doubt, Blue Oat Grass is one of the most popular ornamental grasses for fall landscapes. The large, densely blue colored foliage is attractive year round, but also provides beautiful flowers from June to August. While Blue Oat Grass does well in most mild to moderate climate zones, it is also fairly drought tolerant, only needing water every 1-2 weeks. For these mild to moderate climate zones, Blue Oat Grass can also make a great winter landscape choice as well.

Fountain Grass

Another large ornamental grass, Fountain Grass is another favorite choice of gardeners who prefer ornamental grasses for fall landscapes. Fountain Grass produces beautiful green foliage through the year, but the grass turns a golden yellow in the fall, adding to your fall landscape. This large ornamental grass can reach anywhere from 1 to 3 feet at full maturity. Keep in mind that this is an excellent summer landscape choice as it also offers beautiful white to purple flowers that will last until early winter.

Big Bluestem

A beautiful, tall prairie-like ornamental grass, the Big Bluestem can reach up to 8 feet in height, so be very careful where this ornamental grass is planted. The Big Bluestem truly is one of the perfect ornamental grasses for fall landscapes as the flowers wait until late summer or early fall to bloom and the fall foliage is also a vibrant orange color. Throughout the rest of the year, the foliage remains a bluish-green. While it does not have much presence throughout the winter months, it will begin to regrow in April and become beautiful again by the early summer months.

Feather Reed Grass

A wonderful, medium sized plant, growing 3 to 5 feet at total maturity, Feather Reed Grass is another favorite among ornamental grasses for fall landscapes. This is also a favorite year round plant that grows well in almost any climate zone, although it may grow smaller in extremely warm climate zones. Flowers will occur in the mid summer months, a white to red color and will change to a beige color in the fall and into the winter months. Keep in mind that the wonderful temperament of this plant means that it can withstand excessive watering, sun or even lots of shade.

Building a Slant-Roof Shed

First, learn about your local zoning laws and find out if there are any restrictions or code requirements for storage buildings. Plan the width and length of the project and decide how you want the slant roof attached to the shed. Next, select materials for its foundation. Most people prefer pressure treated skids because they are easy to use and are very durable.

Now its time to select materials for the construction. Lumber is more suitable because it’s less expensive and fairly strong. Consider tin as your sliding and roofing material since it is durable and rust resistant. Whichever material you decide to use, ensure that it matches with your existing building and is also good for the climate in your area.

Make a list of materials needed for the project. You will need lumbers cut into appropriate sizes according to the size of the roof that is needed. You will have to use 4 by 4 pressure treated pines to support the 2 by 4 boards spanning about 15 feet.

Make sure to get screws or nails to be used as fasteners. The nails have to be large enough for good penetration and proper holding of units together. Screws are usually used in this project to fasten dissimilar materials such as wood framing or metal framing.

Dig holes for the supporting posts. The distance between the walls should be properly measured. Instead of using a measurement between the posts and the building, try to use a string line since this will be a lot easier.

The next step when making a lean-to shed is to use a builder’s level or line level to mark a reference grade (a bench elevation) on each post. This line will show the bearing height appropriate for the rafters. Begin by marking the end posts and make use of a chalk line when marking the intermediary posts.

Notch the tip of the posts in such a way that the rafter supporting joist or rafter supporting nailer lies on the notch. Make use of a circular saw and cut about 4cm into the post at its base. Then use the circular saw again to cut about 4cm deep at the top of the post in the same position as you did in the first. You can also nail straight to the post but this may likely weigh too much on the rafters.

The posts need to be filled with pre-packaged concrete mix in case your area is prone to severe storms or high winds. But if your area has moderate weather condition, all you need to do is fill dirt into the holes in order to secure the posts. Don’t overlook a critical connection before moving on to the next.

The final step to take when making a lean-to shed is to add roofing. Plan out the spacing for your roofing and make sure they tally with the spacing of the posts. Make use of two nails on each rafter and nail the lath properly. Add pre-framed exterior doors and windows to complete the structure.

Qualities of an Organic Gardener

The first important quality of an organic gardener is to be knowledgeable. There is a lot of scientific knowledge that one will have to acquire when learning about organic gardening. For example, it is important to understand the dynamics of soil acidity. If the soil becomes too acidic due to factors such as rain then that can have a negative impact on the growth of the vegetables and fruits. Since an organic gardener will also avoid the use of chemicals such as pesticide, it is important to understand the dynamics of a natural ecosystem. One is more likely to face annoying pests such as caterpillars and groundhogs. Before you start a garden, it is important to have preventive measures in place to reduce the level of damage these pests and rodents have on the garden.

The second important quality of an organic gardener is to be attentive. It won’t do a lot of good for the plants if you only maintain them once every few days. Organic plants need to be taken care of everyday. You need to make sure the plants are receiving the right amount of water. You are also need to make sure there are enough nutrients in the ground. If you anticipate bad weather then you also need to make preparations to ensure the plants do not incur any major damages. You need to make sure you have enough time to maintain the garden. Depending on the size, you may be spending anywhere between half an hour to over two hours to maintain the organic garden.

The third and last important quality is to be physically fit. Gardening takes a lot of work. It can also put a lot of strain on your back as you will be spending a lot of time with you back bent. A lot of the strain can be reduced by using ergonomically-designed gardening tools. A lot of gardeners actually comment on how they burn a lot of calories when they work on their gardens on a regular basis. Before you start gardening, it is important to do basic stretching exercises. Make sure your muscles are loosened up so you do not cause any unnecessary injuries on your body.

Grow Vegetables at Home

On the off chance that you ask how troublesome this framework to put in practice is, the answer is amazingly straightforward. Not just will you have the capacity to collect everything without anyone else’s input, without the assistance of your family or neighbors, however you can likewise put it wherever you need. In the event that you move starting with one house then onto the next, then you just dismantle the framework and bring it with you! What can be simpler than that?

The real process in aquaponics is air circulation. In the event that the water is legitimately circulated air through, then your fish will be glad and your plants will develop regularly. Then again, if the water is not legitimately oxygenated, then there are not very many risks that your homestead will get by for more than a few days.

The reasons why air circulation is so paramount are very basic and straightforward for everyone. Most importantly, the broke down oxygen is essential for the fish to relax. Despite the fact that the fish live submerged regardless they have to inhale and much the same as if there should arise an occurrence of different creatures, they require oxygen to survive. When they need oxygen they bite the dust, subsequently the equalization from your aquaponic framework is lost and in a matter of days your plants will begin to get yellowish and in the end cease to exist.

As this was insufficient, the fish fecal matter are deteriorated and changed from poisonous alkali into valuable nitrates in the vicinity of oxygen. In this way, if the water is not legitimately circulated air through the fish crap won’t be changed, the plants will have nothing to consume, while the fish will kick the bucket inebriated with alkali. This is not an extremely charming point of view, isn’t it? This is the reason you will need to screen the nature of your water every single day and have a go down arrangement on the off chance that the force gets off and the pneumatic machines will never again have the capacity to capacity. This is the main path through which you can spare your aquaponic framework and make it work for a long time of time. Your plants and your fish will thank you for that!

Types of Chrysanthemum Flowers

Incurved and Pompon

There are three main incurved chrysanthemum classifications: regular, irregular and intermediate. These are further divided into early and late bloomers. The main characteristics of incurved chrysanthemums are their distinctive, globe-shaped blossoms and upward and inward curving petals. Regular incurved varieties have tight, densely packed petals on blossoms up to 6 inches in size. Irregular and intermediate types have much larger blossoms of up to 8 inches. Irregular varieties have densely packed petals at the top of the flower and slightly looser petals around the base and sides. Intermediate types have even, moderately densely packed petals all over. Pompon chrysanthemums tend to have much smaller blooms, averaging between 1 and 3 inches. Pompons are another globular type but the flowers tend to have a combination of upward and slightly downward curving petals.

Reflex, Decorative and Indeterminate

Reflex blooms have loose, downward curving petals, and the wide, 6-inch blooms have a flat top with a hidden center. Decorative types are among the most common varieties grown as houseplants or in containers. The blooms are around 5 to 6 inches, loose and fairly open with either loosely upward or downward arcing leaves. Due to the variety of possible petal formations, decorative chrysanthemums are often classed in the indeterminate category. Indeterminate varieties are those that do not fit correctly into any other classification, having irregular blooms or bizarre petal and foliage shapes, and those flowers that possess characteristics of multiple classifications.

Spider, Quills and Thistles

Spiders do not have the traditional petal associated with chrysanthemums but have long, drooping, tubular florets with a curl at the ends. The florets radiate out and downward from a large, flat center. Quill types have many short, straight tubular florets with a closed center. Thistle varieties also have tubular florets but have a wild, ragged, unkempt appearance. The florets appear randomly placed and vary considerably in length.

Spoon, Anemone, Single and Semi-Double

Spoon, anemone, single and semi-double varieties all share a number of characteristics, all appearing similar to the daisy. Spoons are wide, loose, flat flowers with long, thin petals radiating out and arcing slightly downward from a small yellow center. The petals have small, rounded dips at the ends, making them appear somewhat spoonlike. Single varieties have a single layer of tapered petals surrounding a bright yellow center, much like a large daisy. Semi-doubles are similar to singles but have multiple petal layers. Anemones have the outward radiating, tapered petals but also have a large, raised center covered in small, tightly layered florets.


The Hydrangeas that bloom on old wood are from the macrophylla family. These include Nikko Blue, Endless Summer and many other pinks and blues. When I say they bloom on old wood I mean that they are busy right now setting buds for next summer. So next year when they take off growing in the spring, the flower shoots will actually emerge from the older wood, the wood that was produced this year.

The hydrangeas that bloom on new wood are typically the white hydrangeas like Annabelle and Paniculata Grandiflora (PG). They put on new growth in the spring and then later in the summer the new blooms are actually produced right at the end of that new growth. That’s why the Annabelle and PG are such prolific bloomers. They set flower buds and almost immediately those buds produce big, beautiful, abundant flowers. Almost nothing can go wrong with their blooming sequence.

But with the Blue and Pink Hydrangeas (macrophyllas) all kinds of things can go wrong with the flower buds. Since the flower buds are produced in August and September they have to make it through the harsh winter before they can bloom. The flower buds can be damaged by extreme cold.

Pruning? You should prune macrophylla hydrangeas right after they bloom, before they have a chance to start making new flower buds. Annabelle and PG hydrangea and other hydrangeas that flower on new wood can be pruned during the late fall, winter or early spring. Once they start growing in the spring, do not do any pruning until after they bloom.

One of the most popular new varieties on the market is “Endless Summer Hydrangea” and it is known to bloom more than once in a season. It’s in the macrophylla family and sets flower buds on old wood, but it is also known to set more buds and produce flowers during the growing season. It should still be treated as a hydrangea that blooms on old wood.

So… with all of that said, if your hydrangea did not bloom then the flower buds might have gotten pruned off, or more likely the buds were damaged over the winter.