How to Take Care of Your Outdoor Kitchen

Outdoor kitchens add beauty and elegance to any backyard, while giving you another element for friends and family to gather.  They also add to the value of your property.  But like most things with your home, outdoor kitchens are an investment and should be properly maintained to keep them in good condition.  Here are some tips on how to take care of your outdoor kitchen:

  • Keep the inside of the grill clean. After you’ve finished the meal, take advantage of the remaining heat by brushing the grill to scrape away any food that was left during the cooking process.  This is a great habit to get into, and just takes a few minutes.  Deep clean (burners, grates, burner tubes, etc.) at least once a year, or every few months, depending on how often you use the grill.
  • Wipe down counters regularly. If your counters are made of stone or granite, be aware that they can be more susceptible to stains.  Wipe up stains as quickly as possible.  Sealing your counters can add peace of mind but is not necessary.  Soap and water is the best way to clean these counters.  Don’t use Windex or spray cleaners, as they can break down a sealed countertop.  For ceramic tile countertops, use soap and water, along with a tile cleaner.
  • Take care of stainless steel components. Avoid keeping hot metal, steel, or iron items on these pieces for extended periods of time, otherwise it could lead to corrosion.  Otherwise, cleaning is simple.  Soapy water should be used to clean them but be sure to follow the grain of the metal and dry thoroughly.  Stay away from abrasive cleaners or harsh chemicals that will damage the smooth finish of the stainless steel.  If you really want them to shine, try polishing with glass cleaner.
  • Cover with a tarp during the winter. A large tarp and a few bungee cords can protect your outdoor kitchen from the elements of winter.  Also, cover your grill or other cooking apparatus while not in use.
  • Do the normal things. Stacking up your chairs and putting them away for winter, emptying the trash, or even leaving a box of baking soda in the outdoor refrigerator, you should treat your outdoor kitchen just like any other room in your house.

It can be easy to forget about cleaning when you’re done entertaining and head inside.  But if you keep up with the maintenance on a regular basis, your outdoor kitchen will stay enjoyable for friends and family for many years!

What to Consider Before Building a Pool

The preparation phase is the most important part of building a pool.  A landscape designer or pool contractor can walk you through the design process, but it helps to have a general idea of what you want.  Here are some things to consider before you decide to build a pool.

First, you need to ask what is the purpose for the pool?  A pool intended for backyard entertaining could look a lot different than one meant for fitness swimming.  If the pool is meant more for backyard entertaining, who is using the pool comes into play.  Shallow areas may be included for younger kids, extra grab rails for more elderly people, tanning ledges for sun worshippers, and deep areas for activities such as diving.

Another thing to consider is if your yard is suitable for a pool.  Different soil conditions and other ground factors can present unique building concerns.  Also, a high-water table can significantly increase the construction costs of a pool.  Sometimes a site also won’t work because of inaccessibility issues.  Heavy machinery generally needs an eight-foot-wide path to get to the site and dig hole for the pool.

The location of the pool is another big aspect to consider.  Zoning and building laws for your property may affect the layout and size of where your pool can go.  Many cities require fencing around a pool, and water runoff must also be considered.  Utilities such as gas and electric may also affect a pool’s location.  Maximizing sun while minimizing wind exposure is another factor to think about when choosing the location.  Something else to be considered is how the pool will be viewed from the rest of the house when it is not in use.  Many factors will go into the decision of where the pool should be located.

Specific features and other backyard amenities should be considered before you build a pool.  Lighting and type of cover are some things that need to be thought of.  Also, plan so that you may add to your ideal poolscape.  If the budget doesn’t allow for things like a pool house, outdoor kitchen, firepit, or gazebo, they can be added later without tearing up a good chunk of your existing poolscape.

Also, you can start to look at what materials you want to use.  Pavers versus concrete around the pool deck is a common decision that must be made, which can come down to the look versus the cost.

Finally, you must figure out who will build the pool.  Find a pool builder who is committed to superior design and quality construction.  Ask for referrals from friends that have pools you like.  Also, make sure there are open lines of communication to eliminate any “surprises” during the building process and that everything goes smoothly.  After all, this is going to be your pool for you and your family and friends to enjoy for years to come!

Choosing the Right Trees for Your Yard

The choice of what trees you want in your yard can be wonderful or can lead to regret.  Many trees grow more and more beautiful as the years pass, while others can create decades of trouble with bothersome messy fruit and sticks.  Take your time to select the tree that will best suit the qualities that you will enjoy.

To begin your selection process, you must first determine its purpose.  Do I want a tree for shade? Privacy? Something that looks pretty? Or to block a view of something unsightly?  All these questions need to be asked so that you can start to narrow down your search.

A tree’s growth rate may also have an impact on your choice.  Slower growing trees tend to live longer.  However, if you want to establish shade or have flowers relatively quickly, a faster growing tree may be better.  The tend to be slightly smaller and don’t live as long.  Trees should also be scaled to their surroundings.  Larger, taller trees should be put further out in the yard while smaller trees can stay near the house.

There are coniferous trees and deciduous trees (needles vs. leaves).  Remember that deciduous trees lose their leaves in the winter.  So, if you are planting a tree for privacy or to block the view of something, you will be able to see through deciduous trees in the winter months.

Each tree has a desirable location in the landscape.  Some handle wet soils better than others.  Some will handle acidic soils better than alkaline soils.  Also remember to check a tree’s Zone rating for hardiness, as some are more cold-hardy than others.

Trees also have their own liabilities.  Some trees have thorns on them that may make them unsuitable for children.  Some are messy, by dropping flowers, fruit, and branches throughout the year that must be constantly picked up.  Certain trees have roots that tend to grow along the surface, making it difficult to mow as well as other challenges.

You should be able to find the prefect tree to serve whatever purpose you are looking for.  Different cultivars may offer varied sizes or flower colors to perfectly suit what you desire.  There are a lot of choices to consider when picking out a tree for your yard.  There are professionals that can offer advice as well, but with a little homework, you can pick out any tree for your yard that you can be sure will thrive and that you can enjoy for many years to come.

How to Prepare Your Yard for Spring

When it comes to preparing your yard for spring, there are a few things you should do to ensure that healthy looking lawn will come back.  If you neglect spring lawn care, it could affect your lawn for the rest of the year.

First, the biggest task is to rake your yard.  This is to remove all the thatch that can choke out new grass.  Thatch build up that is more than ½ inch is considered excessive.  Also, raking in spring will remove all the dead grass blades that died over the winter, which will become thatch.  There may also be some spots that look like matted patches.  New grass may have a tough time penetrating these areas, but raking will take care of this as well.

Next, you will want to fertilize and apply pre-emergent herbicides.  Many experts recommend a lighter fertilizing in spring and a heavier one in fall, which benefits “cool-season grasses” better.  If you fertilized in fall, there’s a chance your lawn is still “digesting” that when spring rolls around.  Pre-emergent herbicides should go hand in hand with fertilizing.  These herbicides address weeds, such as crabgrass, before the seedlings emerge.  It’s a lot easier to prevent weeds before they start than it is to try to kill them once they’ve started taking over.

Another thing you can do to help your lawn is overseed.  Sometimes your lawn will have some bare spots, whether it be from a dog or traffic, where grass seed is needed to fill those areas.  When you overseed, you should apply a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer.  Five weeks after the grass germinates, apply a quick-release nitrogen fertilizer.  However, if you decide to overseed in spring, be careful.  Most pre-emergent herbicides with also prevent grass seed from growing.  And if you don’t put down a pre-emergent herbicide, the grass seed will have a tough time competing with crabgrass.  Overseeding can be done in spring but will most likely be more effective in fall.

This may seem like a lot of work to some people, but the green grass that you will enjoy for the rest of the season will be worth it.

Thinking About Starting a Vegetable Garden?

Tips and Advice to Help You Succeed

Vegetable gardens can be a wonderful place to relax, enjoy some sun, and maybe get a little exercise.  Do not be intimidated if you’ve never planted a vegetable garden before.  Vegetables are easy to grow, especially if you follow these steps for first-timers.

First, choose a location in full sun for your garden, which means six or more hours of direct sun in the summer.  Fruiting vegetables such as cucumbers and tomatoes need the sun’s energy to grow.  If you don’t have this much sunlight, try to grow only leafy vegetables such as lettuce and spinach.

Your location also needs soil that is well-drained.  If water sits in the soil for too long after rains, the roots will not be able to breath.  If grass or most weeds grow well, the soil is probably well drained.  If you’re not sure, you can dig a small hole, fill it with water, and measure with a ruler how far the water level drops.  Slower than one inch per hour is too slow.  If this is an issue, build raised beds or choose a different location.

A good tip is to start small.  Too much garden may start to feel like work.  A ten by ten-foot plot of land can raise plenty of vegetables.  You can increase the size of your garden with your experience and enthusiasm.

Fencing your garden is usually a necessity.  Besides keeping out rabbits and other hungry animals, a fence can define your garden visually.  Poultry netting is effective and inexpensive.  Bend the bottom foot of fencing to the outside of the garden to lay right on top of the ground to keep animals from burrowing under your fence.  A two- or three-foot-high fence should be adequate unless deer are a threat, in which case you will need a fence that is five or more feet high.

Your garden doesn’t have to stand alone in the landscape.  Pickets and arbors with climbing vegetables can add character and beauty to your garden.  Also, you can soften the fence line with the planting of shrubs, even tying it into your landscape. If you have some overgrown trees contact Oxleas Trees website.  Your garden can look great at the same time of serving its purpose. I had lawn care lebanon ohio, come out and plant a few trees for me.

There are also great ways to get more from your garden with limited space.  Instead of planting in rows, plant in wide, three to four feet beds.  Also, let vegetables grow up instead of on the ground.  Peas, beans, cucumbers, and tomatoes all can be trained to grow up poles, trellises, or fences.  Anther tip is to use time to your advantage, by planting vegetables that start late after the ones that finish early.

The last tip you need to follow is the maintenance.  Pay attention to watering and fertilizing.  Fertilizers can be used, but the best tip is to use organic fertilizers, such as compost.  This will give the vegetables nutrients and benefit the microbes in the soil – that chemical fertilizers can have a negative impact on.  Also, weed regularly and frequently.  Weeds compete with the nutrients that your vegetables need and are easier to kill when they are small and haven’t spread too many seeds.

For future success of your garden, clean up old plants when they are finished or at the end of the season.  Also, move plants around the garden so that they only grow in the same place every three years.

There you go.  These are some useful tips to follow if you are thinking about starting a vegetable garden.  So, grab a shovel and enjoy a beautiful vegetable garden this summer!

Source: Los Angeles Wood and Composite Decks Construction – Danny Deck Inc., CA.

Spear’s Landscape working with Michele Tafoya and KQRS

We have exciting news!

Michele Tafoya

Over the next few months, Spear’s Landscaping and Michele Tafoya, longtime NFL sideline reporter on NBC’s Sunday Night Football and co-host of the KQ Morning show on KQRS, will join forces on air and in the backyard.

Tafoya, Emmy Award-winning sportscaster, entertains fans across the nation on TV and radio. Spears Landscaping, featured four times on popular HGTV shows Landscape Smart and Curb Appeal, creates upscale, residential outdoor living spaces that leave neighbors envious.

So, you might be wondering how these two leaders, in very different industries, are coming together, right? While Michele Tafoya does her magic on the radio, creating ads for us, we will be planning, designing, and creating the outdoor living space of Michelle’s dreams.

For updates on the progress of Michele’s outdoor landscaping project, tune into the KQ Morning show, and check our Spear’s Landscaping blog.

New Landscape Project?

Why To Choose Pavers Over Concrete for a Patio

Paver Band - Eden Prairie Landscape Design

 

Many of us in the Twin Cities metro live in clay soils.  This means that the soil retains water and come spring, is more prone to heave.  Yes concrete is cheaper in the short term, but heaving means those unsightly cracks and uneven areas on your concrete patio.  Because pavers are segmented, your patio will not crack as concrete would.  Also, when installed, a geotextile fabric under the base that the pavers sit on acts as a blanket so when the soil moves, the whole patio moves with it, and then settles back as one.  This keeps your patio at one level, as opposed to “lips” that can form with concrete.

Let’s also not forget the aesthetic advantage pavers bring.  The endless number of combinations of types, colors, textures, as well as inlays or banding of pavers can create a patio that will truly be unique and fit the function and look that you desire.  And the compliments you will receive about your paver patio from Spear’s Landscape will surely bring a smile to your face.

So before you jump at the fact that concrete is cheaper from the beginning, think about the long term advantages.  If your concrete cracks and heaves, the cost to replace it will be greater than the cost of pavers would be in the first place.  Also, the longevity and aesthetic value pavers have over concrete should make pavers an essential part of any new landscape patio or walkway.

 

Time to Start Thinking About Your Landscape

Spring is here!

The warmer temperatures means people want to go outside after the cold winter.  And there’s nothing better than to spend your time outdoors in a landscape that you can truly enjoy.  Whether it’s a simple fire pit patio to elegant outdoor kitchens and living areas, your landscape can extend the comforts of your home into the outdoors.  These are places where you can relax with friends and family and enjoy throughout the spring, summer, and fall.

Give us a call today so we can help transform your yard into a beautiful place that everyone will want to be!

 

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2014 Contractor of the Year

Belgard World Class Awards

awards

Spear’s Landscape is proud to announce that we are Belgard’s 2014 Contractor of the Year!

Belgard is a nationwide leader in the development and supply of hardscape materials.  These materials include pavers, retaining wall block, fireplaces, brick ovens, and outdoor kitchen elements.  It is an honor to be recognized for all the hard work our team has put in throughout the years.  From the creative design and sales team to the knowledgeable foremen and installers, countless hours have been spent transforming our customers’ yards into outdoor living spaces that exceeded their dreams.  Thanks again to everyone who has contributed to the success of our company and we look forward to providing more amazing projects for our customers to enjoy with family and friends for years to come!

 

 

It’s Not Too Early To Think About Next Year’s Project

Next spring may seem far away, but it’s not too early to start planning your landscape project for next year.  Whether you are thinking about a small planting project or an extensive hardscape project with an outdoor kitchen and patios, planning ahead will ensure that your project will exceed your expectations!

There are many benefits to planning over the winter.  The first one is that we can get you on the list so that you will be one of the first projects installed in the spring – allowing you to enjoy it throughout the summer.  Another benefit is being able to lock in this year’s pricing, as prices go up year by year.  And finally, the time over winter can be spent planning every detail of your project.  Our 3D design capabilities allow you to see your project and make any changes necessary to make sure you get everything you want and more!

Give us a call today or visit our website to see some of our work!

outdoor kitchen design minneapolis