Category Archives for "Backyard Essentials"

August 18, 2019

Sunjo Electric Rototiller A Helpful Honest Review

sunjo electric tiller review blog banner

Ok, maybe I come from the old school way of thinking. If its a power tool then it needs to run on gas. In the past things that ran on electricity couldn’t even come close to competing to their gas powered counterpart.

I guess things have changed. Technology has come a long way even when it comes to lawn and garden equipment. When my wife told me she had ordered an electric rototiller from Amazon, I just about fell out of my chair laughing. 

sunjo electric roto tiller cultivator

What a waste of money I thought. That thing won’t even make it through the summer. It showed up right on time in a box. As far as assembly goes there is not much to it but screwing the handles on with the supplied thumb screws. After it arrived it was ready to go in less than 10 minutes, except for one small problem. We didn’t have the right gauge extension cord to power it properly. Keep that in mind if and when you order this. 

So we jumped back online and picked up a 100’ 12 gauge cord. Once that came we were back in business.

Video Review

I couldn’t wait to break this thing in. I was going to put it through the ringer. If you’ve ever used a rototiller before you may have noticed a slight delay from the time you put the tines in gear to when they actually start spinning. Being electric, this tiller has no delay. I started my test in hard dry clay soil where I wanted to remove some grass. 

The second the buttons are pressed it sprang to life. Chewing up everything it came in contact with. It did a good job at removing the grass, but with the soil being so hard and dry, it bounced around a bit instead of digging in. This is not unusual among smaller rototillers.

Who Is This Electric Rototiller For

This rototiller is designed with the homeowner, or “do it yourselfer” in mind. Made for smaller tasks and garden cultivating. 

If you have a landscaping business where you would require more robust industrial equipment, this is not for you.

Pros

  • Small – perfect for getting in and around plantings. The 16 inch wide up to 8 inches deep, tiller is just the right size to use in a garden between rows of plants.
  • Lightweight – weighing only 27.1 lbs and having a convenient handle at its place of balance to pick it up, there is no struggle maneuvering it around.
  • Power – 13.5 Amp motor, the tines spin at a rapid pace of 360 RPM making this tiller extremely effective.
  • Portable – by simply loosening the knobs, the handle will fold down in 2 spots so it will easily fit in the trunk of a car.
  • 3 position wheel adjustability
  • Minimal assembly required

Cons

  • Lightweight – because of its light weight, it has a tendency to bounce off of very hard ground. This sort of thing happens with any smaller rototiller, and this one is no exception.
  • The plug will come unplugged easily if it is not wrapped around the handle.
  • The clip to hold the cord in place on the handle is too small to clip onto a heavy duty extension cord.
  • Needs an electrical outlet to plug in to.

Where to Buy

Amazon but of course. You wouldn’t think of it for a product like this, but the 2 day free shipping is tough to beat. Check HERE (affiliate link to Amazon) for the most up to date price and availability.

Also don’t forget to get the proper rated extension cord. You can pick that up HERE (link to Amazon) as well.

Final Verdict

Would I buy this product again? The answer is a resounding yes. I have been completely proven wrong after my initial doubts. The pros far outweigh the cons and my wife is happy because I stopped laughing. My expectations have been blown out of the water. I admit when I’m wrong, and with this tiny powerhouse you can’t go wrong.

If you have any questions about this product please feel free to ask them below and I will respond as soon as possible. Until next time enjoy your backyard water garden!

~Jeff

August 14, 2019

5 Easy Ways to Enjoy Shade In Your Backyard

5 Easy Ways to Enjoy Shade In Your Backyard

Are you looking to create a shaded area in your backyard? Do you overheat or get sunburn when you spend a lot of time outdoors? If you live in a hot and sunny climate then there is every reason to have some shade. 

It can be more comfortable but also prevents you from experiencing some of the perils of too much sun.

In this post, we’re looking at five best ways to bring shade into your yard. These tips are incredibly simple and easy.

Spruce Up With Plants, Trees and Foliage

You may enjoy gardening anyway. Simply making a few different decisions on how you go about gardening can lead to more shade. Instead of focusing on smaller flowers and plants, you can opt for bigger trees and foliage to create a shaded yet tranquil area.

outdoor entertaining in the backyard

Trees are great for this, though they may take a while to grow. Conifers and other tall plants can do the job, and don’t take quite as long to grow tall enough to provide decent shade.

If you go for trees, make your selection carefully. Some trees have a lot more luscious leaves and provide more coverage as a result. This great list of trees for creating shade shows some of the best options based on how quickly they grow and the area they can cover.

Trees and foliage along one side of a garden can provide different levels of shade and different areas of shade throughout the day. This is great if you have a pond, for instance, since many aquatic plants such as water lilies will flourish with minimum of 4-6 hours of sunlight a day.

Try a Trellis and Vines

Vines such as Arabella clematis plants can grow brilliantly up and around a trellis. As well as looking great, this can provide some extra shade. Trellis can be added to fences or used to create a specific shaded area.

While plants and trees will take a long time to grow, vines on trellises can be a lot quicker. If you aren’t in a position to plan years ahead, this could be a solution.

vines on a trellis

Another great benefit of foliage like this is the fact that it can create partial shade. You may not want to block out all of the sunlight, just soften it. 

Trellis with vines growing along may still let some of the sun through without creating a harsh totally shaded area. Whether this is suitable for your backyard will depend on what you are looking for from your shade.

Install a Door Canopy or Awning

A canopy or an awning can be a brilliant way to create shade in a specific area of your yard. 

Awnings tend to be installed on the side of a building. For this reason, they are often used to create shade on a patio such as this beautiful flagstone patio design. This is a good way to ensure you always have control over where the shade is. 

Some awnings are even adjustable so that you can quickly and easily increase the amount of covered space. Install these over a seating area for guaranteed shade when you sit down to eat or relax.

Door canopies are another similar design which can cover doors and windows. They protect doors or windows from the elements, including rain, but if you get a big enough door canopy it can provide a small shaded area, too.

Go for a Sail Shade

A sail shade creates an outdoor shade by utilizing the same design as the sail on a ship or boat. This is how it gets its name. This design can be suitable for almost any backyard as they’re relatively simple to put up. Also, they come with their own anchor points, usually in the form of poles. This means you don’t need a suitable wall, you can install it anywhere in your backyard with relative ease.

Most of these shades have a good level of UV protection and can give a cooler area for you to relax within. Some sail shade’s even come with different configurations so you can choose where you want the shade to face, controlling the way the sunlight reaches your yard.

Buy a Gazebo 

Gazebos are available in a variety of designs and there is bound to be something to suit your needs. For instance, if you want a more permanent structure than a rugged, durable hardtop gazebo can be a suitable addition to your backyard.

hard top gazebo

Many gazebos are “pop up” in design, meaning they are easy to put up and take down again. This can be more of a temporary way to create shade. It means that when you are entertaining guests or serving food outdoors you can add a shaded area for people to sit underneath to enjoy food, drink and a cooler climate.

Pop up designs aren’t the only option if you think you might need to move your gazebo in the future. Often, the more permanent designs are also relatively simple to take down ready to be reconstructed in another spot.

Gazebos can provide the added bonus of being resistant to other forms of weather such as rain. They can help in the seasons which are not quite so sunny, and give somewhere to shield away from the rain, or even a spot for your next BBQ.

Gazebos are a little different to a lot of the other types of shade and shelter we’ve recommended in this guide. They can have sides which give a shielding and allow you to shut an area off. You can effectively make your own extra outdoor room with the right gazebo design.

Utilize Parasols and Umbrellas

If you’re most worried about shielding yourself from the sun rather than creating large shaded areas then a parasol can do a good job. The type you would take to the beach might be a little flimsy, but you can buy some effective (and big) parasols for the garden.

One benefit of parasols is the fact you can move them around, so if you want to sit in a different part of the garden, you’re not stuck!

A parasol is designed like a large umbrella but is for shade rather than rain protection. Also, they tend to have a tilt feature to let you control the angle. This way you can ensure it is positioned best to protect you from the sun.

Conclusion

Have you enjoyed our guide? Are you inspired to create a shaded area in your backyard? Maybe you have your own tips to share. If so, please leave your own thoughts in the comments and let us know what you think of the tips we’ve offered here.

Top 5 – Outdoor Fountains

top 5 water fountains

You feel as if you are missing something in your outdoor entertaining space, or garden, try adding one of these outdoor fountains.  These are exactly what you’ve been looking for. Add that WOW factor, and bring a natural element into your vision. The relaxing and soothing sound of babbling water as it cascades down a beautiful fountain. This can be achieved with minimal effort. Perhaps building your own water garden isn’t for you. These can be the answer you have been looking for. These top 5 outdoor fountains don’t disappoint.  Create a sense of “Zen” and relaxation right in your own backyard.

Instant Water Feature

These outdoor fountains can be immediately incorporated to create a peaceful space. Simply add water and plug them in. Let the sounds of flowing water wash over you and melt your stress away. These are perfect for anyone living in an apartment or any arrangement where digging a pond is not feasible. Here are my top 5 picks for creating a peaceful space with minimal effort.

#1 – Glenville Water Pump Outdoor Fountain

glenville water fountainThis is a great option if you have limited space and still want some greenery. This fountain has room for plantings, and offers a wonderful sound to any space. Made from fiberglass resin it can be used indoors or outdoors. This fountain comes with everything you need, a 15’ long power cord that plugs into a standard 110v outlet.

Weighing in at just 22 lbs, it would be the perfect addition to any deck or patio for the summer months. Because of its lightweight, can be easily moved indoors for winter, so you can still enjoy the peaceful sound of gurgling water all year long.

Dimensions: 32” high x 15” wide x 15” deep

glenville fountain

Click here for best price and availability

(link to Amazon for best price and fastest shipping)


#2 – Tuscan Faux Stone Patio Outdoor Fountain

tuscan water fountainThis is a perfect choice for someone who wants to add that little extra to their garden space. There are two spouts of cascading water that flows into two urns. It is the perfect accent for indoors or out. Featuring halogen or LED lights, depending on your bulb preference. Creating a warm glow at night, this outdoor fountain will prove to be the focal point of any patio, garden or deck. Weighing in at just 33 lbs., makes it no problem to move inside for the winter months.

Dimensions: 31.5” high x 19” wide x 19” deep

tuscan water fountain

Click here for the best price and availability

(link to Amazon for best price and fastest shipping)


#3 – Mason Faux Stone Floor Fountain

Mason cascading fountatainHere is another lighted fountain that will add some ambiance, and peacefulness to your space. The three small spouts in each bowl produce a soothing peaceful sound.

Shipped with a halogen bulb that can easily be replaced with LED. This fountain is created from a cast poly-resin, making it extremely lightweight before water is added at only 26 lbs., making seasonal moves a breeze. It features a 6’ power cord, creating an instant enchanting atmosphere.

Dimensions: 35″ high x 15″ wide x 16.5″deep

mason cascading fountain

Click here for the best price and availability

(link to Amazon for best most up to date price and fastest shipping)


#4 – Asian Garden Tiered Fountain With LED Light

Asian style water fountainAdd a touch of the orient to your space with this beautiful three tiered fountain. This fountain would be a wonderful addition around your koi pond, or add a touch of life to your patio or deck. The LED lighting makes this a spectacular focal point for any space. For indoor and outdoor use, weighing in at 34 Lbs. and can easily be moved to the perfect location. This Zen fountain will add peace and tranquility to any space.

Dimensions: 39” high x 17” wide x 17” deep

Asian fountain

Click here for the best price and availability

(link to Amazon for best price and fastest shipping)


#5 – Modern Sphere Curve Outdoor Fountain

modern sphere fountain close upThe contemporary design brings a natural element to any modern design. The luxurious look created by the warmly lit bowls set a relaxing vibe to any space indoors, or out. Create a “Zen” atmosphere by adding this fountain to your space.
Dimensions: 39.5” high x 16.5” wide x 18” deep

modern sphere water fountain

Click here for the best price and availability

(link to Amazon for best price and fastest shipping)


Already Have an Outdoor Fountain?

Keep your outdoor fountain running smoothly. These two products will keep your water clear and your fountain free from scale, while making sure your pump is running at its best.



Conclusion

So there are my picks for the top 5 outdoor fountains I would add to my garden, patio, or deck space. The great thing about all these fountains is that they are lightweight, which makes moving them for the off-season a breeze. This allows you to bring an element of the outdoors inside for the winter months. Don’t wait until the season is over, pick one and enjoy it now and all season long.

I always love to hear what you think. Please leave any questions or comments below and I will get back to you as soon as possible. The seasons go by quickly, so don’t hesitate, order yours now and start enjoying the wonderful ambiance!

April 23, 2018

Homitt 600D Heavy Duty Grill Cover

Homitt grill cover

Homitt 600D Heavy Duty Grill Cover

Click Here For Best Price!

https://amzn.to/2vDubGlYou work hard to get the things you want and have. Once you have them, sometimes keeping them in pristine condition can be a challenge.  When it comes to an outdoor kitchen dealing with mother nature takes its toll on your equipment. With no shelter from the weather the best solution is to cover your grill with a custom fit grill cover.

This is for anyone who has a grill that is outside in the elements’ with no shelter. Keeping your grill protected from the elements’ will help to prevent rust and premature deterioration.

I have had countless grill covers over the years. I have had my current grill for 4 years now. I am on my second grill cover for this grill. What I have determined is these grill covers, no matter who makes them or what color they are, the sun deteriorates the material they are made of.

My grill is still in decent shape because when it isn’t in use, I keep it covered. It is outside in the sun, rain and snow. The grill cover is a small price to pay for the protection year after year. I have purchased expensive heavy-duty grill covers in various colors with the same result. After about 2 years, the sun causes the material to break down and the cover needs to be replaced. All that being said, this is my cover of choice, the Homitt 600D Heavy Duty Grill Cover. (link to Amazon)

Overview

This cover comes in multiple sizes to fit just about any configuration. The widths available are 58, 60, 64, and 72 inches. It is 26” deep, and 51” high. There are Velcro straps on the side to secure it for a custom fit, and to keep the cover on during windy conditions.

grill cover UV protectionThe Homitt Cover is weather proof. It goes one step above most covers. The weak point in most covers as far as water protection goes is the fact that water can get in through the stitching at the seams. The Homitt on the other hand uses waterproof adhesive on all the sewn edges, making rain impermeable.

Another great feature about this cover is its layer of UV protection from the sun. There is a UV coating on the outer cover to protect it from the sun’s rays. This leads to less fading and deterioration.

Pros:

+ UV protection

+ Multiple sizes

+ Weather proof

+homitt grill cover Water proof seams

+ Handles for easy cover removal

+ Heavy duty 600D Oxford fabric

+ Wind resistant

+ Price

Cons:

– Will need to be replaced average every 2 years (any grill cover).

Final Thoughts

The deciding factor for me, when it comes to choosing a grill cover is price. They are all similar in their fabrication. When shopping for a cover, go in with the understanding that ANY grill cover will need to be replaced at least every 2 years if left out in the elements’ year round. That is why I give this cover a 4 out of 5. I have purchased much more expensive covers in the past all with the same result.

Any thoughts on any other covers? I am always looking for something better, but have not been able to find anything that will stand the test of time. If you have come across the holy grail of covers, please share. I welcome any thoughts or comments you may have. Thanks for sharing your comments below.

April 15, 2018

Ignite LED Submersible Lighting by Anjon

anjon-ignite-led-pond-and-landscape-lighting

Ignite LED Lighting by Anjon

FREE SHIPPING

Anjon Ignite LED Pond and Landscape lightingWhen I purchased my pond kit, it only came with one submersible light. I was happy at the time, but now that everything is up and running, I wasn’t more. That’s the thing with this hobby, there is always one more thing you HAVE to have, and more lights in the water are no exception!

This is a 3 light kit that can be used in or out of the water. It comes with all the hardware you would ever need for just about any application. There is a base and ground spike, along with a post or tree cleat for mounting each light. I used them without any hardware, just placing them in the rocks and hiding the wire.

These are very well-made. They are made of solid polished brass, and have some weight to them. This is a three light kit. The lights are strung together in linear fashion with 5’ of wire in between them. The LED lights are of the soft white variety and give a warm glow above or below the water.

Energy efficient, each light is 1 watt producing 45 lumens of light. Bulb life is 40,000 hours. That’s 13.5 years, if they ran for 12 hours per day!

This kit comes with one 12-watt transformer, and a photo cell which turns the lights on and off based on darkness. Here (link to Amazon) is he best place to get this.

PROS:

+ Includes 3 lights

+ Includes photocell, for automatic on at dusk, off at dawn

+ 40,000 hour bulb life

+ Made of polished brass

+ Includes 15’ of wire from last light to photocell, then another 4’ from transformer to outlet

+ All mounting hardware is included

+ Warm natural light

+ Energy efficient 3-watt system

CONS:

-The lights are all strung on one line together

-Lights using the photocell stay on all night.

-Need a separate timer if you don’t want them on all night

Final Verdict

Backyard water garden gives the Anjon Ignite LED Lighting system 4.75 out of 5. The only reason it’s not a perfect 5 is for the simple fact all three lights are strung together. This limits their placement. However, one way around that is to use multiple kits for all your lighting needs. That is exactly what I may do in the future.

Check for the most up to date price here (Amazon link). Get them before the season starts, so you can enjoy them all summer long!

This is an awesome lighting system, that will hold up for years with solid dependability. Unlike a lot of the other lights on the market that are made of cheap plastic, you can feel the solid quality. I highly recommend these lights to anyone looking for a submersible lighting system that won’t break the bank. If you have personal experience with these or any other types of submersible lights, or simply have a question please leave a comment below and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

March 25, 2018

Outdoor Rattan Furniture -What to Know Before You Buy

outdoor rattan furniture

Outdoor Rattan Furniture

So, you’ve done all the heavy lifting. You’ve planted all your flowers and plants. The gardens are weeded and mulched. You are finally at that point when it’s time to relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor. When you look around, the closest thing you have to a comfortable chair is an old tree stump. You need to add some finishing touches to your outdoor living space. Time to get some comfortable furniture to sit back in and just enjoy your space.

Before you settle on authentic rattan furniture there is a few things you should know. Rattan and wicker are sometimes used interchangeably. The fact is that rattan is actually the material that the furniture is made of, where wicker is how it is woven together. Rattan is an extremely strong woody vine that grows in the jungle. It is know to reach heights of 100 feet or more. The woody vines vary in diameter from one to three inches. The vines are then steamed so they can be shaped and woven.

sunrise on the backyardThere is no doubt that rattan furniture is beautiful, however the problem lies with where it is used. If it is left out in the direct sun it will fade and start to break down. The natural rattan would be best suited under an overhang, or on a back porch where it isn’t exposed to the directly to the sun. This furniture is very versatile in that it can be used indoors or out, you just don’t want to leave it out on your pool deck all summer.

The set below is a great alternative to authentic outdoor rattan furniture.  It’s not just inexpensive garden furniture, this set has tremendous value.  That’s probably why it’s a #1 bestseller.

4 peice rattan set
dimensions

Lowest price: Amazon

If all you are looking for is the look of rattan, there are many synthetic alternatives that can stand up quite well to the summer sun. This solid 3 piece bistro set below for example, is the perfect size for a small deck or patio yet the chairs are wide and comfortable. The chair dimensions are: 30″ deep x 36″ wide x 31″ high. They have a powder coated iron frame, so they are built to last. The beige cushions will go with just about any decor and are made of weather resistant polyester fabric.

wicker bistro set

Who is This For, really?

First let’s look at our first criteria, size. Is size important? That’s the age old question that’s been puzzling man for centuries… Ok, get your mind out of the gutter, I’m talking about family size.  On average what size group of people do you entertain? If it’s just you and your significant other, then perhaps all that is needed is a quaint bistro set made for two. Just large enough for two large cups of coffee to sit by the water garden and enjoy in the morning sun.

Bistro sets come in all sorts of styles, like the one below for a more elegant modern feel. Picture yourself relaxing at the end of the day with a nice bottle of wine enjoying the beautiful sunset. The cushions are beige weather resistant fabric. The table and chairs have an aluminum frame, and the chairs have excellent lumbar support.

3 piece out door patio set
If you have a large family and need room for everyone then we are talking a whole other animal. Maybe you do have a large family, but you and your mate need that quiet time away from everyone, then again I go back to the bistro set.

Get Peace By Design

This sends a message to the others that you need to be left alone. Most of the time this works, and that’s coming from experience. When the kids see my wife and I at the small table they don’t bother us. There is no place for them to sit and join us. It’s a clever technique called the un-vitiation. The kids get the picture wink, wink. There are lots of sets to choose from. If the total wicker look isn’t your thing then how about these sturdy sets? Both are made with a powder coated steel frame. The table has a tempered glass top. Seat dimensions are: 24″D x 24″W x 28″H The reversible cushions and pillow are made of
3 piece bistro set3 piece bistro set
If you don’t have many people to entertain on a regular basis… you need to make more friends! All kidding aside, you will need enough seating for your typical band of guests. If you’re single you still may have a few friends over at a time, my suggestion is having enough seating for four at all times.

Where do You Entertain Most?

When people come over, or you are relaxing outside, where do you most often wind up? Are you out on your patio, under a large shade tree, out by the pool, or by the edge of your pond or fountain? These are all important because they will play a role as to what type, and how large your furniture set should be.

If you find yourself on your covered back porch, then you could use authentic rattan furniture. It will hold up nicely and suit you well. If space allows, get the largest set you can comfortably fit in your space. The wooden chat set below is the perfect addition to any patio or deck. It creates its own conversation corner in your outdoor space.

Once you have your location set, the next thing to take into consideration is your climate. Do you live in a warm climate where the furniture you get can be left out year round? I live in a place where we get to enjoy all 4 seasons. That means packing my outdoor stuff away for the winter months. Do need something that can stand up to winter and not have to be put away for the season? There are some pretty sturdy sets out there but they cost quite a bit more. If the ease of maintenance is the key for you then the price might not bother you.

Something For Any Lifestyle

No matter what your taste, there is an outdoor furniture set for everyone. Whether you live on a farm with rolling hills, or a high rise with a tiny balcony, you can find something to meet your taste. I hope you found this article helpful. I would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment, or question below and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

March 17, 2018

Weber Spirit E-310 LP Gas Grill – A Grill For Everyday Use

Spirit E-310 LP Gas Grill

Weber spirit e-310 grill

Anyone in the market for a new grill. This may be the one you’ve been looking for. It’s a perfect balance of price and features. With the Weber name you know you are getting quality. This mid-sized grill is built to last and will easily handle all your day to day grilling needs.

Overview

This is an affordable Weber grill with all the essentials that one could ask for. Large enough to roast a 20- pound turkey. The cast-iron cooking grates are porcelain lined to prevent food from sticking and are easy to clean. These grilling grates do not require seasoning. Cast iron is a great choice for grilling grates because of its heat retention capabilities. This grill comes complete with fuel gauge so you will never run out of fuel expectantly and leave your guests hungry. The grill shroud is porcelain enameled so it won’t rust, peel or fade. This grill features an electric crossfire ignition system, so all burners are lit at the same time. Providing an evenly heated cooking surface with precision control.

weber spirit e-310Features

  • Warming Rack
  • All metal cabinet to fully enclose propane tank
  • Fuel tank gauge
  • Porcelain coated cast iron grilling grates
  • Ignition crossover to light all burners at once
  • Two side “wings” large enough for plates, utensils and spices
  • Cast aluminum cooking box and shroud
  • 32,000 BTU
  • 529 square inches of total cooking space
  • Side wings fold down to make the grill even more compact
  • Three stainless steel burners

More Specs:

Dimensions fully assembled: 63 inches x 52 inches x 32 inches

Pros

+Cast aluminum cooking box will even outlast stainless steel in most cases

+Solid build

+One button ignition

+Precision control

+Grease management system

+Great customer service

+Engineered to create the perfect meal every time.

Cons

-No propane tank included

-No side burner

-Small casters to move grill

Check here for Best Price (affiliate link to Amazon).

Final thoughts

Grilling season is once again upon us, and this grill is a great choice for any back yard. It has all the features you need and the Weber name that is synonymous with quality. It would be the perfect addition to any backyard grill island (link to my article on building a grill island)

The price point won’t break the bank either. It is on Amazon’s best seller list for a reason. I like the Spirit better than the Spirit II, for the simple fact that it the Spirit hides the propane tank in the cabinet, where the Spirit II it’s out in the open.

The Weber Spirit is a solid grill, great price, what more could you ask for. If you have any comments on this grill, or recommendations for a different grill, I would love to hear about it. Please leave a comment below, and I will be happy to respond as soon as possible.

March 13, 2018

Outside Lights For The House

full moon

Creating the right atmosphere can easily be accomplished with the right outside lights for the house.  The right lighting choices can be one the best things you can do to your outdoor landscape. The lighting you choose has a direct effect on the feeling you get for being in the space. For instance, a spotlight on a very large tree may give a wow factor. While the soft light of a garden path gives a sense of “Follow Me”.

Outdoor lighting technology has come a long way. You can now turn your lights on and off change their color, or dim them right from an app on your phone. There are 3 major lighting categories. Each category having its own purpose. The three categories of lighting types are ambient, accent, and task.  Now let’s take a look at these three types of lighting and see how they can be used to bring your outdoor space to life.

Types of Lighting Around Your Home

outside ambient lighting for the houseAmbient lighting –

Ambient lighting is used for large or small areas to bring even lighting to the space.  Hanging fixtures, lamps and lamp posts, wall lighting, recessed lighting in structures, and spotlights are all examples of outside ambient lighting. Inside your home light reflects off the walls, therefore it is easier to create ambient light.

When in an outdoor situation creating ambient light may be a bit more challenging. One effective way to create ambient light outdoors is to shine light on a wall and “wash” it with light. By Illuminating the wall, It’s reflective quality will have a direct effect on the ambient light in the space.

Mounting a floodlight above the location so the light is cast down, Illuminating the entire area is a simple way to add ambient lighting outside.

Task lighting

Task lighting is exactly the way it sounds. This type of lighting should be without Shadows that can be cast on the task at hand. To light up an outdoor kitchen or grilling area for example. If light is placed directly behind the person cooking a shadow asked making it difficult see being done. To achieve this the light should be mounted above the subject and light up the entire work area.task lighting

Security lighting is another type of task lighting. Its job is to light up dark areas around the house and deter mischief in the shadows. Wall lanterns can be used on front porches to provide a welcoming feeling. At the same time, they add safety to correctly identify who is at the door.

accent lighting to bring the outside space to lifeAccent lighting

This is my favorite kind of lighting. This is the type of lighting that calls attention to certain features that you want to stand out.  It may be used to highlight a fountain or statue outside. This is also the type of lighting you would have along a winding path through the garden. The lights you see in the water of a pool, pond, or fountain are also accent lighting.

Automating Your Outdoor Lighting Systems

sunset skyThere are numerous ways to automate your lighting systems. First thing you need to do is decide what kind of control you want over your system. If you want things to just happen on their own, such as lights on your garden path turn on after it gets dark then you would set up your system using a photo cell. This will detect when it gets dark and automatically turn on your lights. It’s a set it and forget it type of set up.

timeAnother way to automate your system would be to simply plug everything in to a timer. This way you have the versatility to turn things on and off based on time and not on darkness.

Moving into The Future

For those of us that have moved to the 21st century, home automation is an intriguing curiosity. With devices like the Amazon Echo with Alexa, and Siri, voice activated lighting is the wave of the future. If you plan on going this route it is more of a commitment. The first thing to do is decide what you want your main control hub to be.

Amazon Echo Gen 2If you chose the echo, then third party brands of controllable devices will not require an extra command. For example, instead of simply saying “Alexa, turn on the bedroom lights” you would have to say “Alexa, ask Phillips hue to turn on the bedroom lights “keeping the commands as simply as possible. Keeping things simple is key.

Automating Bulbs

The easiest way to automate a light, is to use a smart light bulb. These are relatively inexpensive, at just around $15.00 each. The Phillips Hue is the best seller on Amazon, and with a price like this I can see why. They boast up to a 20-year lifespan, using LED technology they use less energy than conventional light bulbs. These bulbs are also suitable for outdoor use. LED lights actually work better in cold climates, so winter is not a factor for these bulbs.

phillips hueWhen using the Phillips Hue bulb, the switch to the light must remain in the on position at all times, and the on and off function will be controlled by the bulb itself. It accomplishes this by way of your bridge and device, in this case the Amazon Echo.

There is another way to control your system, by installing smart switches. These allow you turn things on and off by voice command as well. With a smart switch you will have more power to control things other than just lights. You would be able to turn on devices like a ceiling fan for example.

Before deciding that the smart switch is the way to go, understand that it requires some rewiring. The switches that I have installed also require a neutral wire be connected to them. That is how they get their power to operate. Installing a smart switch is not always practical, and in some cases not possible. But in the past, (when I started to automate my home) it was the only option.

One way around the smart switch is to use a smart outlet. These are simple outlets that connect to the Wi-Fi in your home and can also be controlled by devices such as Alexa. They are simply plugged into an outlet and the power is turned on and off by way of the plug itself. This is a great option for setting up lights outside. It requires no rewiring, simply plug it in, have your device search for it and away you go!

The Basics

I wish someone would have told me the following information before I started on my quest for home automation. If you are going to get set up your home for a lighting system, it’s important to be sure all of your devices are compatible. To begin you need three basic things:

1. A control or main hub – This is the brain of the operation. It is connected directly to your router and sends out the signals to your devices.

2. Communication – This is achieved with either your echo device or the app you use on your phone. This communicates to your main control hub what you want to do. Example: turn off the lights, or make the lights blue.

3. Devices – These are the things you wish to control. Switches, bulbs, outlets etc… Not all the devices are compatible with all control hubs. You should have an idea of what your main purpose is and what you are trying to control before choosing a hub.

If you are going to be using the Echo second gen, Echo Dot, or any other Alexa devices, you will also need the Phillips bridge to control all the light bulbs, and smart outlets. However, the Echo Plus does not require a bridge to work with the Phillips smart bulbs, the bridge is built in. The advantage of using the Echo Plus is that its two devices in one.

The Price of the Future – Cost Breakdown

So to get started here is a breakdown of price for everything you should need to get off to a great start. You can always add more devices later if needed. This is also a great way to have home automation, even if you are renting. If wifi outletyou move, you can take it all with you.

So for a total of only $227.95 you could get set up quite nicely with home automation.

Final Thoughts

No matter how you go about it, there are simple and inexpensive ways to keep those outside lights for your house shining bright. Something as simple as adding a photocell to your outdoor garden path lighting can really make a difference in the enjoyment of the space.

Moving forward at the pace we have been, the future is already here. Don’t be afraid to jump on board… it’s a lot of fun. If you have any first-hand experience or a preference with any of these home automation systems, please leave a comment below. I would love to hear what other people are up to and where the future is taking us.

DAMO Variable Speed Stone Polisher + 5” Wet Polishing Kit

damo polisher

DAMO Variable Speed Stone Polisher + 5” Wet Polishing Kit for Concrete Floor / Countertop

Bring the life out in your project with the DAMO variable speed stone polisher.  You’ve meticulously built your form, poured and vibrated your concrete, and are left with nothing but a raw slab of concrete.  Are you ready to bring out the beauty and wow factor that your job deserves?  With this DAMO polisher watch the “magic” right before your eyes as you transform your masterpiece!

DAMO Variable Speed Stone PolisherFeatures:

  • Variable speed feedback system
  • Optimized gear ratios
  • Variable Speed 700 – 3,000 RPM
  • Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI)
  • Garden hose / faucet adaptor
  • Lock on switch
  • Splash Guard
  • “C” handle
  • Side handle
  • Water control valve
  • Set of DAMO 5” polishing pads

Variable Speed Feedback System – This newly upgraded feature sends information to the motor to keep the RPM at a steady pace whether it is under a load or not.  This helps in maintaining an even finish throughout your project.

Optimized Gear Ratio – This redesign allows for increased torque output.

Variable Speed – This is a necessary feature when changing grits to achieve maximum smoothness on your finish.  The higher the grit, the higher the RPM.

GFCI – Keeps the operator protected from electricity leaks.  Always use caution when mixing electricity and water.

concrete polishing padsLock on switch, Splash guard, and side and “C” Handle – Allow for maximum control of the operator, while making it easier and more efficient to operate.

Water control valve – Adjust just enough water to keep the polishing pads from heating up.  Running excess water will create a situation where the motor could be exposed to water.  If this happens, as a safety feature the unit will shut down and not operate until the motor completely dries.

Set of DAMO 5” polishing pads – Set of 7 pads, grits included are as follows: 50, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1500, and 3000.

Pros:

  • Cost
  • Features
  • Easy to use
  • 5” disk diameter

Cons:

  • Temporary shut off if motor gets wet, causing down time until the motor dries.
  • Messy
  • Too small for doing a large floor
    1. horsepower

polished concreteOther Specs:

Weight 6.5 pounds

Dimensions 18” x 6” x 8”

120 volts, 800 watts, 7 Amps

Spindle 5/8 – 11

Conclusion:

Whether you’re polishing a small bathroom counter, or an entire kitchen, the DAMO hand held concrete polisher is the tool for the job.  Because of its size, it can get into hard to reach areas.  You can accomplish beautiful results at an affordable price.

The picture above is the finish you can accomplish using this polisher.  This is the result of polishing standard concrete mix.  This is the same polisher I used in the DIY polishing concrete countertops article.  It is a very cost effective tool, and I recommend it to anyone who wants to try and finish concrete for any reason, or application.

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below and I will be happy to get back to you as soon as possible.  If you have any experience with this item and would like to leave your own review, please leave it below.

February 17, 2018

Weber Summit 7370001 S-670 – Review

weber-summit-7370001-s-670

Weber Summit 7370001 s-670


The Weber Summit 7370001 s-670 does not disappoint!  You put a lot of time, effort and money into your outdoor oasis, don’t cut corners now.  You want something as well built and sturdy as the stone walls around it.  Let’s be honest… you get what you pay for, most of the time.  The Weber Summit 7370001 s-670 is no exception!  Webers flagship model is a high end grill for people who expect nothing but the best.

Weber Summit 7370001 S-670Features:

  • Cast aluminum hood and cook box
  • Stainless steel cooking grates 9mm in diameter
  • Six stainless steel burner tubes
  • Individual burner ignition system
  • Flavorizer bars
  • Grease management system
  • Side burner
  • Smoker burner
  • Sear station burner
  • Infrared rotisserie burner
  • 10 Year Warranty

This is a seasonal item, you can check here (link to amazon) for the best price and availability .

Weber Summit 7370001 S-670Cast Aluminum – One of the best features of this particular grill is the fact that the cook-box and shroud are made of cast aluminum.  Extremely durable, to withstand the heat.  The cast aluminum shroud and cook box will typically outlast any quality of stainless steel.  This makes maintenance easy.  The shape of the hood and cooking area is designed specifically for moving the heat around evenly, weather using a direct or indirect cooking method.

Cooking Grates – The 9mm stainless steel cooking grates produce beautiful sear marks and hold heat extremely well.  The stainless steel also allows for easy clean up.

Weber Summit 7370001 s-670Burner Tubes – These burner tubes are one piece with no weak points from being wielded together.  This helps resists rust and burn through.  The grill design protects the burners from grease and cooking fluids by way of the flavorizer bars.

Individual Burner Ignition System – This feature allows you to ignite only the burners you want to use, without having to light all the burners, then extinguish the ones not used.

Flavorizer Bars – Created by Webber who coined the phrase flavorizer bar.  These bars catch food and drippings, which create wonderful smoke to add flavor to the food being grilled.  The excess that isn’t vaporized follows a channel down to the grease management system.

Weber Summit 7370001 s-670Grease Management System – This system keeps the grill at optimum performance with low maintenance.  Juices from meat hit the flavorizer bars, and the leftover grease runs down a channel, onto an angled grease pan.  The grease pan is angled which forces the grease down into the grease pan located well below the burners to prevent fire.  The grease pan is easily removed from the front, for cleaning, and the grease pan is disposable, making periodic cleaning a breeze.

Side Burner – This adds even more versatility by allowing the grill-master to muti-task.

Weber Summit 7370001 s-670Smoker Burner – 6,800 BTU smoker box will add smokey flavor to any grilled meal

Sear Station Burner – Keeping the heat in one space provides instant intense heat for searing, and locking in the flavor!

Infrared Rotisserie Burner – This rear mounted burner offers 10,600 BTU’s to put heat directly towards the spit.  The cart below has storage for the fork. The rotisserie motor is a flip up design allowing it to be tucked away when not in use.

Other Features:

  • Front locking casters
  • Stainless steel cabinet doors
  • Tool hooks for hanging grilling tools
  • LED fuel level indicator (on propane model)
  • 2 Stainless steel work surfaces
  • Hood thermometer

Dimensions:

57.1 inches High

74.1 inches Wide

30 inches Deep

Pros:

  • Precision temperature control
  • fuel efficiency
  • easy to clean
  • even heat distribution
  • built for everyday use
  • quality construction
  • easy to assemble
  •  smoker box is easy to get to and clean
  • 10 year warranty

Cons:

  • This grill comes in either Natural gas, or propane.  There is no conversion kit available.
  • Cost

Final Thoughts:


The features on this grill are second to none.  A solid professional grade outdoor appliance that will last for years.   The 10 year warranty means weber stands behind their product.  The ultimate fine tuning temperature controls gives any grill-master the advantage they need to be the talk of the neighborhood.  The features and quality outweigh the cost of this amazing grill.

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