Do-It-Yourself Hardscaping™ Project Story: New Providence NJ

We were amazed when Seth Netter, EP Henry's sales rep for Northern NJ, sent us these DIY patio pictures. This 850 s.f. patio, with EP Henry Fire Pit Kit, was excavated and installed by the homeowners (along with twoverygood friends, Tina and Tracy Toribio) themselves. We just had to find out how they were motivated to undertake this not-so-small DIY project. So we called and spoke with homeowner Linda Haines to find out more about this project, and how they accomplished it.
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Welcome to the Stone Age

A very, very long time ago, during the pre-historic age, humans figured out that stone had many uses in their world. This abundant natural resource was used for many things, such as: furniture, cutting tools, and weapons. Not only did they use it to build walls for shelter and fortification, they used smaller stones (like flint and river rocks) to create spears and to break open fruits and nuts. It was everywhere; and they must have been felt like the luckiest beings in the land!
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Clean Air Act

Bringing outdoor patio plants indoors for the winter has other advantages besides being decorative. With the windows closed due to the cold temperatures the air inside your home can become pretty stale. Additionally, indoor renovation projects, like painting and or staining, release harmful toxins that linger far longer in winter’s closed window months.
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Tips for Winterizing Your Patio

Even though it may feel like fall has just begun, whether we like it or not, winter is going to happen. The clocks have been rolled back and the shorter, darker days of winter are here.

Before you hunker down for the colder temperatures, if you take a little extra time to care for your backyard patio furniture now, you'll save yourself a lot of additional work come spring.

Take Inventory

Cushions, pillows and umbrellas should be the first to be packed up and stored. Although the newer outdoor fabrics are designed to resists mildew in an outdoor setting, if the fabric is bagged while even a little damp, you're practically asking for mildew. Spot clean any stains according p the manufacturer's instructions and leave them out to dry on a sunny day. Once they are totally dry, bag them in a trash bag for storage. Or better yet, use an old sheet to allow air to circulate completely over the winter months. If you can, hang them up to make it harder for pests to make your cushions their winter hideaway.

Furniture

While some patio furniture and lawn products are manufactured to remain outdoors for the winter, if you can, move it indoors into a garage or shed. The less exposure to the elements it has, the longer it will last.

  • Wrought Iron

Sturdy as it is beautiful, wrought iron stills needs care. This classic patio furniture is susceptible to rust; and because of its weight, you'll most likely be keeping it on the patio throughout the winter. Before you cover it, be sure to remove any rust that's accumulated on it with a stiff wire brush. A coat with a good rust inhibiting exterior spray paint designed for wrought iron should keep it protected it during the months to come. Invest in a good quality tarp to protect it from ice and snow.

  • Aluminum

These days, almost all aluminum patio furniture has been powder coated to keep it from rusting. For added protection (after washing it down) apply a coat of automotive wax before you pack it up this fall. The truly ambitious can touch up scratches with car paint.

  • Plastic

Depending on how much dirt has accumulated, clean your plastic furniture with either warm soapy (dish detergent) water or Simple Green. Plastic will become brittle and crack in extreme cold, so it's best to bring it indoors for the winter.

  • Rattan

Give rattan a good blast with a hose or power washer to get any built up dirt out of the crevices. Make sure to check the underside, as insects love rattan's southern charm too. 

Patio Pavers

Synthetic wicker can stay outdoors if covered, but natural rattan should be kept in a dry space. Both should be kept covered to prevent dust and dirt from settling in the crevices. 

Caps

Patio pavers are manufactured using cement, so they can stain temporally if not cared for properly. The most common stain on backyard patio pavers occurs when a metal is left standing in the same place over a long period of time. Both wrought iron furniture and grills have been known to leave rust stains on pavers and cement patios.

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To save yourself from an arduous cleaning project come spring, remove anyrust (see above) and spray metal patio legs with a clear acrylic spray. Cap metal parts that touch the pavers with outdoor furniture tips.

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Fall on the Patio Series: Game-Day

It's been around for years, seen in college parking lots and NFL stadiums around the country; the pre-game fall tailgating party has become an American tradition that is here to stay. There's a reason why people tailgate before a football game, it's a chance to get together with friends, eat, drink   and get pumped up for the big game.

No tickets?  Is your team playing away this week? Fall is the perfect time of year to host a game-day party out on the patio.  So why not host a tailgating party right in your own backyard?

Prep the Patio: While it's true that a tailgate party revolves around football game, you'll want to decorate your patio as if you're at the stadium to get the excitement started. We all know that with sports fans, it's all about the team colors. Begin by picking up napkins, cups and a table cloth in your team's colors. Or, why not cover the table in artificial grass (sold by the foot) and create your own mini gridiron? tailgating

Be sure to bring a TV out, or position one in a window off of your patio, unless you're lucky enough to have an outdoor television! Make sure you arrange the food station far enough away so that it doesn't interfere with the view. (Or spirited fans)

Let the Games Begin: While waiting for the game to start, you can have some games of your own.  Similar to horseshoes, but totally transportable, Bean Bag toss (or Corn Hole) game uses a wooden platform and corn filled bean bags to score.

Players aim and toss a filled bag onto the wooden platform. Getting the bag in the "cornhole" in the middle of the board earns three points. Hitting and landing on the platform is earns you one.

The winner is the first person or team to score 21 points. Detailed rules and official  regulations are available from the  American Cornhole Association. tailgating(yes, there is one) American Cornhole Association.  

Kan Jam: This is a great backyard party game that requires both accuracy and athleticism.

The goal of Kan Jam is to score exactly 21 points before your opponents do. Consisting of two teams of two, points can be scored when:

  • Your partner deflects the disc and hits the goal (1 point)
  • You hit the goal directly with your disc, without the help of your partner (2 points)
  • Your partner deflects the disc into the goal (3 points)
  • You throw the disc directly into the goal with no help from your partner (Instant win) tailgating

Feeding the Fans: While the purpose of a tailgating party is to get psyched before the game, the food that you serve plays an important role in the party's success. The good news is that the food effort can be shared if each person brings a dish.

Tailgating parties are not a sit down affair, so the food that is served should be ones that can be eaten standing up. While there are certain favorites that can be found at almost every tailgate party, include a few surprises to make sure your party is special.

Here is some common tailgate fare:

  • Pulled Pork
  • Chili
  • Hot Dogs and Hamburgers
  • Chicken Wings
  • Potato Salad and/or Cole Slaw
  • Chips, chips, chips!
  • Brownies or cookiestailgating

Don't want the stickiness of chicken wings?  Here's a great dip alternative that offers all the zip without the mess, buffalo chicken dip.

If you are fortunate enough to live in or around Philadelphia, soft pretzels are always a hit.

Check out this bacon and cheese stuffed recipe.This is one that will be remembered and repeated.tailgating

Jello comes in almost every color imaginable, (or it can be made into it) and Jello shots are always a hit.

Check out these Water Boy Jello shots!

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Once you begin planning your party, you'll be surprised how many ideas you'll come up with. And don't forget to decorate yourself by dressing in your team's jersey or colors; and if you are feeling really brave, break out the face paint!  

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Tips on Selecting a Hardscaping™ Contractor

When it comes to planning a Hardscaping™ project, choosing a contractor should be at the top of your list. As more people are expanding their living space by adding outdoor rooms, choosing the right contractor for the job is critical to your project’s success. One of the biggest mistakes you can make when choosing a contractor is to pick someone from the Yellow Pages without interviewing them first.
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Trick or Treat: 3 Backyard Halloween Games to Play

Halloween is almost here! A time of year where dressing up in scary or silly costumes is the norm, and it’s commonplace for children to put candy into a pillow case. We decorate the landscape, carve pumpkins, visit haunted houses and watch horror films. But did you ever wonder why?
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Fall on the Patio Series: Ladies Night

What better way to spend a fall evening than hanging out in the backyard with your favorite ladies on your patio? Add some backyard lighting; plenty of chairs to sit and chat in and you have the perfect setting for ladies night.
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Bringing Your Outdoor Potted Plants Indoors

For those of us who have cold and snowy winters, container plants allow us to decorate our patios with plants that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to enjoy. We recreate relaxing oasis’ by enhancing our patios with Boston ferns, parlor palms, and dracaena in outdoor pots during the summer, and then bring them inside to use as indoor plants as winter sets in.
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Fall on the Patio Series: Formal Wine Tasting Party

The cooler temperatures of fall make it the perfect time of year to host an outdoor wine tasting party in the backyard. Wine gatherings, with tasting cards and/or note taking, are a great way to learn some new things about wine and the process of tasting, comparing, and appreciating it.
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