How to Maximize Your Outdoor Living Space

How to Maximize Your Outdoor Living Space

As you look out your back door, what do you see? Do you see space that has been cluttered with various items? Or do you see an empty yard that could benefit from some kind of landscape and décor? Whatever it may be, every backyard has great potential to be grand and a place you can be proud of. You can make your outdoor living space a place to entertain or simply a place for you to relax after a long day. The following examples are ways that you can improve your backyard to create your own outdoor oasis.

Install Lighting

Adding lighting, such as candlelit scones, to your backyard can create a lovely glow to your peaceful nights or dinner parties. Another type of lighting you could add is solar lights around your garden, which requires little maintenance but offers maximum impact.

Design Different Living Areas

When you have separate areas to eat and relax, you are providing your guests with comfortability. Using outdoor rugs and lighting will make segments around your yard that invites your guests to sit and stay awhile. Another way to define these areas is to add outdoor furniture.

Fire Pits

A fire pit can be useful all year round. It is ideal for those lazy summer nights where can roast hot dogs and make smores. During the winter, you can wrap up in a warm blanket, drink hot chocolate, and read a book without getting cold. No matter what the season, a fire pit will help you make memories and have fun.

Plotted Plants and Herbs

Plants and herbs can spruce up any yard very easily. Not only are they beautiful to look at, but they can also provide a wonderful fragrance while you are enjoying the outdoors.

Install a Flagstone Patio

Flagstone patios allow you to have more living space. They provide a very natural, organic look because of their shape and earthy tones. Flagstone patios are also durable and last for years.

Install a Fountain

Fountains are always a beautiful sight to see and provide relaxation from the sound of the flowing water. They add to the ambiance of your oasis and come in a variety of shapes and styles to fit your needs and the theme of your patio.

Add Rugs and Pillows

Rugs and pillows provide a sense of comfort. They are an inexpensive way to dress up your patio furniture and outdoor space all the while adding color to increase the atmosphere.

Install Alternative Seating

Besides chairs and sofas, hammocks are another great seating option for you and your guests. It is a great place to spend time taking a nap or reading a great book. If you do not have a tree to hang it from, you can find hammock stands that work anywhere.

Add Décor

Adding décor to anything is a way to express who you are. It also helps your guests feel at home. Consider hanging something on the columns of your patio or on a wall. You could also add statues, sculptures, or trellises, as well as filled vases to sit on tables.

You don’t need to have acres of outdoor living space in order to have a place you can relax and enjoy your friends and family’s company. It’s all about what makes you feel at peace and having a place you are proud to call your own where you can build memories. Fritz Stonework and Retaining Walls wants to help you achieve that goal. There are many other options you can add to your backyard in order to maximize it. Call us today at (636) 861-1530 so we can discuss those options and choose what best suits your needs.

Getting the Best Out of Your Concrete Paving

Getting the Best Out of Your Concrete Paving

Whether you have paving around your garden or as a part of your backyard oasis, you want to keep it in great condition. After all, you probably spent your hard earned money to make sure your outdoor space was relaxing and inviting. Therefore, if you neglect your paving, it will start to deteriorate and your landscaping could become an eyesore. Here are a few ways to keep your paving looking beautiful.

Sealer

Applying a sealer will protect not only your paving but also your patio from the damages that harsh weather can cause. The main focus of a sealer is to stop water from getting in and permeating throughout the stone or concrete. Make sure you read the labels of the sealer you are considering buying. There are many different types of sealers and choosing the wrong one could damage your stone instead of protect it.

Have a Good Cleaning Regimen

Even when you use a sealer you need to be committed to keeping your paving stones clean. When you brush regularly, you will clean away dirt, dust, and debris that would eventually build up. Keeping them clean will help your stones look new at all times. Pay close attention to the crevices between the stones. If you notice small weeds starting to peek through, hard brushing will break them keep them from growing and spreading. Also, if you stay up-to-date on cleaning, you will be able to see if the sealer is beginning to wear away. This will give you the opportunity to reseal it before the water starts seeping in.

Weeding

If you did not live in your house when the paving was laid, then you may not know if a weed control membrane or landscape fabric was laid. The only way you will know is if weeds begin to appear all over the place. Consistently weeding and making sure the weeds are pulled out by the roots will help ensure that the weeds will not grow back.

You may come across some cases where the weeds are overtaken and you need to use weedkiller. Once the weeds have been completely eliminated, it might be worth looking into getting the gaps between the stones filled to stop this from happening again.

No one ever wants their landscape to be an eyesore, whether it’s pavers, retaining walls, or plants. These outdoor features help you and your family to feel relaxed after a long day at work and provide an inviting atmosphere for get togethers. When it comes to pavers, Fritz Stonework and Retaining Walls are experts at making sure your stones are in tip top shape. Call us today if you have questions regarding how to clean your paving stones and to keep them looking new.

Light Up the Night (and Your Landscape)

Light Up the Night (and Your Landscape)

Light has always perplexed and inspired humankind from the days of only starlight and campfires to modern electrical marvels. The beauty of light is unparalleled, and before electricity it was quite difficult to sustain lighting in homes or outdoors without a significant risk of fire. However, electricity creates a safe way to make your landscape beautiful in the dark without bringing the heat.

Your landscape is incredibly elegant in the daytime, so why not bring out the suave and glowing beauty of nighttime lighting to your masterfully designed soft and hardscapes? Lighting can turn your nighttime landscape into something from a dream- you may even have dreams about lighting after seeing the results!

Outdoor Lighting

Outdoor lighting is far better for your wallet than it used to be, and far better for the planet too! With waterproof, motion-sensing, solar-powered, and LED options in all styles and colors, there’s no stopping you from achieving the nightscape of your dreams! Installing outdoor lighting doesn’t have to be hard, and there are even options that don’t require wiring or battery changes but rather rely on the sun!

Outdoor lighting lets you stay outside for longer in the Summer and soak in the fresh night air without being drowned in darkness, and while you’re probably not likely to go outside at night much during the winter, you can still appreciate the beauty of your winter landscape and watch the lights dance on the glittering frost and snow of the colder months.

Seasonal Options

When it comes to looking for outdoor lighting for your home, the options are limitless, and the possibilities are only limited to your creativity. This flexibility can come in handy especially if you are a fan of decorating for the holiday season! Many LED lights (the most energy efficient) come in a wide array of colors, and some can even change colors at the push of a button! Holiday decorations have never been so easy!

Come to the Bright Side

Curb appeal is something that many home and business owners are constantly trying to improve. Simply put, curb appeal is how aesthetic your property is at first glance, this is especially important for selling or appraising your home or encouraging customers to visit your business as well as giving you the reputation as the neighbors with the nice house. You can build curb appeal by improving your home and property through a number of ways including landscaping and lighting.

Most homes and businesses do not have much in the way of nighttime curb appeal, but by installing outdoor lighting in a well-planned way, your property can look great at any time of the day making it the talk of the town in the best of ways! You love your property, let that shine by installing outdoor lighting!

Final Thoughts

Outdoor lighting is elegant and beautiful when planned and installed responsibly! The installation of outdoor lighting can show everyone how much you value your property, and this is a very important aspect of building curb appeal! If you need help creating a beautiful landscape or planning energy-efficient and beautiful outdoor lighting, contact Fritz Stonework & Retaining Walls today!

Preparing Your Outdoor Kitchen for Winter

Preparing Your Outdoor Kitchen for Winter

 

Whether you enjoy entertaining friends and family during the summer or winter months, or both, having an outdoor kitchen is a great feature to have. It provides a relaxing space to read a book, have conversations with the ones you love, or to just enjoy Mother Nature. However, as winter approaches, you need to make sure your outdoor kitchen is prepared for the colder temperatures. If you do not winterize your outdoor kitchen, expensive repairs might be in your future. The following guidelines will help make sure your outdoor kitchen and appliances will be ready to use when warmer temperatures return.

Take Care of Your Plumbing

Make sure you remove any water that is in the pipes and plumbing system. This can result in major problems, for when it begins to freeze outside, the water can also freeze which can cause the pipes to burst. If the pipes burst, you could end up with huge plumbing bills and flooding, making it unable for you to use your outdoor kitchen.

In order to clear your pipes, you will need to shut off all water supply lines going to the kitchen from the indoor plumbing system. Be sure to shut it off using a valve that is inside your house. This way the water does not rest in outdoor pipes.

When you have shut off the water, start draining the lines. Be sure you do not forget about water supply lines that are connected to refrigerators, ice makers, and sinks. The best way to clear water from lines is by using compressed carbon dioxide.

The last step is to make sure all of the drain valves are left open during winter. This will ensure that water does not remain in the pipes, which will also save you from expensive repairs.

Prepare Your Grill

Even if you plan on using your grill during the winter, it is a good idea to do a deep cleaning to make sure it is in good working condition for the summer. The following steps are a good guideline to follow when cleaning your grill.

  • Use a degreaser to get rid of the grease that has built up
  • Use a stainless steel polish to polish the grill
  • Scrub areas that are still dirty with a metal grill brush
  • Remove the grates and clean underneath the grill
  • Season the cooking surfaces using vegetable oil to the grates. Heat the grill to 500F for 20 minutes
  • If you are not using your grill during the winter, be sure to turn off the gas line

Depending on the quality of your grill and the materials it is made out of, you may not have to use a cover. However, if you do use a cover, make sure you use one that is made for your type of grill that allows moisture to get out.

Cover or Seal if Needed

If you want to prevent wear, cracks, and stains due to cold temperatures and wet weather, then you might want to think about covering your appliances. However, keep in mind that covering surfaces and appliances allows for moisture to get confined under the cover and can cause more damage than if they were not covered. One tip is to call the manufacturer of the appliances to see how to best protect them.

Another way to protect surfaces from wear is to apply sealers and finishers. Make sure you have also taken everything out of cabinets and they are clear of dirt and debris. Use oil on wood cabinets and surfaces and a coat of stainless steel finish on stainless steel appliances. If you have stone countertops, be aware that weather can wear them down over time. You should buy sealers that are made specifically for stone to prevent any damage.

Winterize the Refrigerator and Ice Maker

The first thing you should do is turn the power off to both the refrigerator and ice maker. The water should already be shut off and the water lines running to the machines should be drained. Once you have done these, either unplug the refrigerator and ice maker or turn off their circuits in your home’s electrical panel. Afterwards, clean each one by following these steps:

  • Clean out the ice maker’s storage bin and close the drain valve
  • Take everything out of the refrigerator and clean it with soap and water
  • Remove the front grill of each one and vacuum them out. When done, put the grills back on each one
  • Do not cover either one, as this can contribute to a buildup of moisture which can damage the unit

Prepare Your Fire Pit

The first step to get your fire pit ready is to get rid of any debris, ash, and wood that may have gathered in the fire pit during the summer months. If your fire pit is ran by gas, be sure to turn off the supply. You may want to consider covering it with a cover that is weather resistant to keep out snow, leaves, and animals.

By taking the right precautions, you can be sure that your outdoor kitchen will be ready to go when summer comes back around. If you are in the beginning stages of thinking about designing an outdoor kitchen and have questions, please contact Fritz Stonework and Retaining Walls so we can help answer those questions and discuss the many options you can choose from.

Benefits of Pavers

Benefits of Pavers

 

You may be asking yourself, “What exactly are pavers?” Pavers are a way to add elegance, class, and style to your landscape. They are a natural paving material that is made without using artificial additives. They come in a variety of shapes and colors that have natural characteristics which result in a very aesthetically pleasing sight.

Being able to enjoy your backyard while relaxing in a defined, comfortable space is a priority for many people. It helps relieve stress and tension, it gives you a place to go when you need to take a breather, and it allows you to have some peace and quiet so you can just think about life. There are many ways that you can create this space, such as decks, screened-in porches, and pools. One other way is through patio pavers, which have many benefits for you to consider when deciding how you want to design your outdoor living space.

Benefits

  • Pavers decrease the area of your lawn, which means there is less yard maintenance for you to worry about.
  • This feature will no doubt add value to your home if you ever decide to sell it. Since pavers are made from a natural clay material from the earth’s surface, they do not lose any of their color or finish, which helps increase the value of your home.
  • Patio pavers are commonly known to be one of the most visually pleasing type of outdoor space.
  • Pavers come in a variety of stones, colors, sizes, and styles, leaving you with the opportunity to customize your landscape the way you want to. You can choose from a natural slate texture and cobblestone that creates an old-world charm feeling to the classic style of brick.
  • It is one of the most durable types of outdoor flooring that will last a long time.
  • Pavers are tough and strong, making them resilient to cracking, root growth, frost, erosion, and breaking down from deicing salt.
  • If your pavers do become damaged or stained, the necessary repairs are fast, easy, and do not cost a lot. You are able to remove the damaged paver only and replace it the same day. There are no complicated tools required for the replacement and it does not require a huge amount of labor.
  • Patio pavers are friendly to the environment because they do not stop the natural flow of water and ground filtering processes. They allow water to drain through and allow the useful bacteria to remove any toxins before they get to any creeks or rivers.
  • Pavers create a non-slip, permeable surface which is safer than deck and flooring materials.
  • Installation of pavers is fast and can be laid in any type of moderate weather condition. This helps keep the cost, time management, and budgeting issues in check.
  • Unlike concrete, you do not have to sit and wait before you can use the pavers. Pavers are ready to use as a driveway or patio as soon as they are set.

Adding pavers can only bring about positive things, including adding beauty to your landscape and joy to you and your family. If you are interested in making pavers a part of your home, give Fritz Stonework and Retaining Walls a call today at (636)-861-1530 so we can help you pick out the style of pavers that best suits your personality.

How to Clean and Protect Your Stonework This Fall and Winter

How to Clean and Protect Your Stonework This Fall and Winter

 

Stone structures such as retaining walls and outdoor living spaces are extremely durable, long lasting investments. However, like most things around your house, stonework needs a little bit of maintenance if you want to keep it in the best condition. What you specifically need to watch out for is any degradation to your stonework that could be caused by the changes that Winter and Fall bring. With that in mind, you’ll need to know how to properly protect and clean your stonework as we enter into that season.

Protect Your Stonework by Removing Leaves and Debris

Trees around stonework can create a beautiful effect. However, if leaves, twigs, and branches are left on stone for too long you could find more than just an aesthetic problem come Springtime. If you leave organic matter on stonework, a couple of potential problems can arise. As the leaves begin to decay, mold and mildew form, which can lead to moisture and dirt getting trapped in the mortar or staining the stonework itself. Moisture will work its way into the mortar and won’t be able to escape if heavy amounts of leaves remain on the stonework. The next time a freeze hits, that moisture will expand in the mortar and could lead to structural problems with your stonework patio or retaining wall.

Clean Your Stonework to Ensure That They Last

After you have removed any organic material that might have fallen onto your stonework, it’s time to clean. Cleaning stonework requires time, patience, and proper knowledge of how to do it safely. Improper cleaning can lead to aesthetic and structural problems with your stonework. Following industry guidelines is recommended.

Stonework Cleaning Process:

  • First you are going to inspect your stonework for damage. If there is substantial damage to either stonework or mortar, consider calling an expert before attempting a repair or cleaning the area. Improper cleaning of deterioration or cracks can lead to further issues with your stonework. Avoid cleaning structural damage if you aren’t an expert.
  • Begin cleaning with water in a small inconspicuous spot. If this cleaning is to your satisfaction continue onto larger areas.
  • Only use gentle water pressure when cleaning stone or mortar. Pressure washing can remove mortar easily. Only use a pressure washer on a low setting while constantly moving the nozzle.
  • If cleaning with water alone is not enough, you can add a mild detergent to a water mixture. Additionally, use a soft nylon brush to spot clean trouble areas, such as discoloration or encrustation formations.
  • If you are still not satisfied with your cleaning progress, there are specific chemicals and abrasive cleaners for stonework available. Please use caution and consider calling an expert if this step becomes necessary.

If you have followed these steps and feel that your stonework could use expert care, look to Fritz Stonework and Retaining Walls. Hiring a professional can save you time and money in the long run. Stonework maintenance is often something homeowners can take care of themselves, but if you ever feel you could be doing more harm than good, it’s time to call Fritz Stonework and Retaining Walls. Call 636-861-1530 for service in the greater St. Louis area or learn more about Fritz Stonework here.