You feel the chill in the air lately, don’t you? Mornings and evenings here in the Kansas City area are definitely starting to feel like Fall. And here in the Midwest, we know that when the leaves start to turn and sweaters become part of our everyday wardrobe, winter—and freezing temperatures—can’t be far behind.
But before we think too much about what’s to come, let’s think about the coziness of this season. As the temps start to dip, we can spend more time comfortably outdoors. We can fire up the bonfire or grill dinner without sweating through our shirts. And we can settle in on the deck for a drink as we enjoy the company of family.
If your idea of a perfect outdoor space includes a outdoor fireplace, keep reading! You’ll learn a bit more about the difference between natural and gas fireplaces and things you should consider before taking the plunge.
A natural fireplace is one that burns natural material—i.e., wood—for fuel. Constructed from a wide variety of materials including metal, stone, and brick, a natural fireplace can be an interesting way to add a fire element to your landscape.
Like other fire features, natural fireplaces require safety precautions. An obvious precaution is to ensure that the fireplace is not near trees or hanging limbs, or overhead electrical wires. Another precaution is to use the right fuel to stoke the fire, meaning wood meant specifically for burning. Never use trash, plastic, or other materials. Also, work closely with your landscape architect to ensure that embers from the fire move up, rather than out.
A gas fireplace is one that relies on gas as fuel. Think of this as the difference between a charcoal grill and a propane grill–a gas fireplace is like the latter. It’s similar to a natural fireplace in that it can be made from any number of materials. But unlike a natural fireplace, you have additional safety considerations unique to gas. Making sure there’s proper clearance between gas lines and structures is one. Ensuring proper ventilation is another.
No matter your choice of fuel source, there are things you must consider before building any outdoor fireplace. Location is one: a fireplace needs to be built an appropriate distance from other outdoor structures, like your home and garage. It also needs to be placed in a way that keeps the area around it safe. For example, if you have many trees, this might affect where you put an outdoor fireplace.
It’s also important to check with your town or city to make sure local ordinances allow the building of outdoor fireplaces. If they do, there might be additional parameters that you’ll have to be aware of before you start building. The same is true of homeowners associations. It’s best to make sure you comply with all applicable rules right from the start.
A 2018 survey conducted by Houzz found that 51% of homeowners spent more time outdoors after completing improvement projects. It also found that the addition of outdoor heating sources like fire pits and fireplaces encouraged people to entertain outdoors year-round.
Studies like this confirm what we already know: \when we create an outdoor space that makes us happy, we’ll do two things. We will spend more time outdoors, and we’ll invite others to join us. Adding an outdoor fireplace to your space might be the perfect way to ensure that even when the weather turns colder, you can still enjoy the outdoors with your family and friends.
No matter what type of outdoor fireplace you think will work best for you, it’s always a good idea to discuss your plans, budget, and timeline with an experienced landscaper. We’re here and eager to help when you’re ready.
It’s happening: the mornings are a bit cooler. Evenings, too. As our Olathe temperatures drop below the sweltering point of high summer, it becomes easier to think about the seasons to come.
But those seasons also bring colder temperatures, which means less time spent outdoors. Sure, autumn can be cozy during the day; but when night falls and the sun is no longer warming our outdoor spaces, even fall nights can be uncomfortably chilly.
One way to keep using your outdoor space, even when colder temperatures set in, is by adding an outdoor fireplace.
To say that outdoor fireplaces come in different shapes and sizes is to say that Pumpkin Spice Lattes are a simple coffee drink. There is no “typical” outdoor fireplace. An outdoor fireplace can be a simple fire pit or fire bowl; a fire table or fire column; a chiminea or a pizza oven. It could also be a simple patio heater or an elaborate fire and water feature.
The point is this: no matter your budget, your design aesthetic, or how often you might use an outdoor fireplace, there is one that fits your needs.
Like other landscape decisions, installing an outdoor fireplace requires thought and planning. How often you’ll use it is a good place to start. Also consider what you’ll use it for: do you simply want a spot to gather with friends and family? If so, a fire pit that can be used whenever the temperature warrants might be the perfect choice. You can even toast a marshmallow or two or make s’mores over the flame of a fire bowl.
But if you want to cook outdoors, you’ll need something better suited to that purpose. Or, if you want a show-stopping, breathtaking, architectural attraction as part of your landscape design, you’ll need more than a simple fire pit.
Of course, the more elaborate the fireplace, the more you’ll need to budget. And remember to think of the space you have available, too; some spaces will only accommodate a small fireplace while others can handle something larger.
It’s easy to see how cozy an outdoor fireplace can make your space. By adding a fire element to your outdoor landscape, you can extend the length of time you’re happy while outdoors. Because you can add warmth to a colder evening, you might venture outside more often in the cooler autumn and even winter months.
Other advantages might not be so immediately apparent, but they’re nonetheless important. You’ll not only be creating an ambiance that makes entertaining more fun, but you can also increase the value of your home.
Regardless of which outdoor fireplace is best for you, we’re adept at helping homeowners create outdoor spaces they enjoy year-round. Give us a call and let us show you how beautiful your outdoor space can be.
Have you ever taken a good look at the foundation of your outdoor living space? The ground under your feet on your patio or deck isn’t just your lawn—it’s a foundation built of material like wood, stone, or concrete.
Concrete foundations offer particular advantages. They can last longer than wood and they withstand weather well. And, because concrete is poured, it can be designed in a way that enhances the overall aesthetic of your space.
But concrete isn’t a one-size-fits-all decision. It can be colored (stained) or stamped to create a look you love. Keep reading to learn a few of the differences between stained and stamped concrete.
Stamped concrete is concrete that is poured and patterned to create an entirely different look. Stamping concrete allows you to emulate the look of brick, stone, slate, tile—and countless other options. It’s common to stamp concrete for patios, decks, sidewalks, and driveways.
The process of stamping concrete is akin to using a cookie cutter to make shaped cookies in that the concrete is stamped in a way that markings are left in/on the concrete so that as it dries, the markings and indentations become permanent. This is how a landscaping company can turn a smooth slab of concrete into a surface that looks like brick, for example; rather than creating the surface brick by brick, one pour is stamped to look like brick.
Stained concrete is concrete that has been tinted to another color. Think of it as wood stain but for concrete—it can be opaque or translucent, shiny or matte, monotone or ombre. Staining concrete can turn a space from industrial-looking to sleek or homey, depending on the colors and finishes selected.
Adding stamped concrete to your outdoor space increases your design options. No longer are you limited to a plain foundation slab; now you can build something that looks like natural stone but has the durability of concrete.
One advantage of opting for stamped concrete is budget. Because stamped concrete can last longer and is easier to maintain than natural elements, it requires less money as it ages. And, unlike wood, it doesn’t need to be replaced as often. Another advantage is maintenance. Stamped concrete can require less upkeep than stone or other natural elements.
More and more people are opting for stained concrete because it can combine the best of both worlds: economical durability and creative license. The colors concrete can be stained are limitless, which means design options are plentiful. And, depending on how much work and detail you want your space to have, a stained concrete foundation can be a work of art in and of itself.
No matter which option you find most interesting, it’s always a good idea to discuss your plans, budget, and timeline with an experienced landscaper. We’re here and eager to help when you’re ready.
Summer in Olathe and surrounding Johnson County can be brutal without a screened-in porch to proved shade coverage. While we all want to spend time outside, we also want to stay safe—and we all know that too much of a good thing can be harmful. That’s especially true when it comes to being in the summer sun!
One way to still enjoy the outdoors, even in summer’s intense heat, is to build a screened-in porch, deck, or patio. Read on to learn more about the advantages of each.
Adding a screened-in porch offers countless advantages. It can keep you free from pesky bugs by keeping insects out. It can extend your living space without forcing you out into your backyard. It can multi-task: at times, it can be a space to entertain or to be with younger kids but it can also be a respite when you crave quiet and time to yourself.
In addition to those lifestyle advantages, adding a screened-in porch can increase the resale value of your home.
Adding a deck to your property offers many of the same advantages of a screened-in porch. A deck will extend your living space and give you more room to entertain or to spend time with family (or alone).
A deck, however, is typically open to the sun. This might make you wonder why we’d include it in a blog post about keeping out of the sun! The answer to that is simple: opting for a deck rather than a screened-in porch means you have more options. You can add furniture with an umbrella to shield you from the sun when necessary. But you can also opt for umbrella-less furniture in Spring and Fall, when you want more of an open space and unobstructed sky views and fresh air.
A patio differs from a deck in that while a deck is attached to your home, a patio is free-standing. Most patios are a short walk from an entrance to your home; but because a patio isn’t attached to another structure, it starts as a blank canvas.
This means you have options: use natural stone or slate for the patio for a natural look. Or opt for wood for a more rustic feel. Add a pergola for visual interest or a mini outdoor kitchen for easy snack and drink access. Like a deck, a patio affords flexibility for furnishings and it’s easy to adapt to the seasons.
No matter which option you choose, you can spend more time outdoors, even when the summer temperatures rise. Things to consider when planning an enclosed porch, a deck, or a patio include the current circumstances of your space, how much room you have, your budget, and your personal preferences.
Ready to explore the idea of adding a sun-free outdoor space to your home? If so, we’d love to share our expertise with you. Contact us to learn more.