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Woven furniture, like wicker, webbing, and straw-based items, add style and personality to both indoor and outdoor spaces alike. Woven or wicker products should be well-maintained and properly cleaned to keep them in tip-top shape. Read more to learn about how to keep your indoor or outdoor furniture in mint condition.

What Is Woven Furniture? 

Woven furniture is a popular choice for both outdoor and indoor spaces. Pieces like sofas, daybeds, patio chairs, armchairs, and tables can bring comfort, enjoyment and a touch of personal style to your home. Woven furniture comes in many styles and is made of a variety of materials. Rattan -- a durable vine similar in appearance and touch to bamboo -- has exploded in recent years. Rattan is one example of a material that is made into furniture using a weaving process. Wicker is not material itself; rather, it describes the process of weaving together synthetic fibers to create something rigid. Wicker products may be made of any combination of vines and grasses, including rattan, reed, willow, and bamboo. Woven furniture is ideal for almost all climates, is eco-friendly, and can be mixed and matched with different decor styles and colors. 

What Is Wicker Furniture? 

Wicker-made furniture is a popular choice for outdoor spaces because it is extremely weather-resistant and durable. Many homeowners today opt for the casual yet trendy wicker aesthetic to decorate spaces like sun porches, backyards, decks, patios and pool areas. Wicker is not limited to outdoor use, however; many people opt for modern wicker or rattan pieces like dressers, kitchen chairs, dining room tables, side chairs, and end tables ( just to name a few) to bring the outdoors inside. 

These days, most wicker furniture products are woven from polyethylene resin, a synthetic wicker that is very strong and does not fade quickly. Almost all wicker materials can be painted, stained, or left untreated. Wicker products hold up outstandingly well outdoors even with high sun exposure and dry conditions factored in. Although impervious to most harsh weather, wicker should not be left out long in the rain and it may cause the material to mildew and rot. Traditional wicker absorbs moisture, so humid conditions can cause it to warp over time. Too much rain can loosen joints and will weaken the fibers. All-weather wicker is the only kind of wicker designed to resist all weather conditions while maintaining its original shape. 

When properly cleaned and maintained, wicker furniture is expected to last up to 15 years. However, wicker must be properly cleaned and tended to in order to look its best. 

General Tips for Cleaning Woven Furniture

Just as you would clean your rugs, kitchen floors, and upholstery when you clean the house, you also need to care for your furniture. Woven furniture is no exception. Woven can collect dust, debris, and dirt just like any other material. 

Bringing out the vacuum is always a good first step. Using a vacuum with a brush attachment can target tiny dust mites that build up on furniture. Keep the vacuum on the lowest setting if possible to avoid damaging woven furniture. 

As a rule of thumb, you should clean wood and cushions separately. Your cushions probably come with their own specialized care instructions; follow this guidance and tend to the wooden parts separately. For wood, you can spot clean on dirty areas and/or use a vacuum cleaner brush to target dust and debris. 
When spot cleaning, use only soft materials to scrub the wood. Avoid harsh abrasives such as steel wool or stiff brushes. Coarse, stiff scrubbing can damage the wood. Abrasive cleaning may leave permanent scratches and marks that you won’t be able to get rid of easily. Opt instead for a soft-bristled brush or an old toothbrush to wipe away dirt and debris on wicker pieces. 

Spot Cleaning Woven Furniture

For a lot of woven furniture, all you’ll need to spot clean is some old-fashioned soap and water. It’s best to avoid abrasive chemical cleaning products that may bleach the color of the weave. Use a small brush (even a toothbrush will do-- this helps you reach tiny nooks and crannies) to gently scrub dirt off. You can leave the wicker damp-- just make sure to remove all soapy residue. If you are cleaning a large area, you may want to take it slow. Clean it section by section rather than wetting the entire piece all at once-- a dripping wet piece of woven furniture can cause it to deform throughout the dying process. 

Cleaning Mold and Mildew

Mold and mildew can grow on your woven furniture if it’s kept out for long periods of time in humid or rainy environments. Don’t throw your furniture away if you spot mold or mildew-- there are simple and easy ways to clean it. First, use a duster or vacuum brush to get rid of any dust. Then, use a solution of one-part vinegar and four-parts water. Wipe the solution over the affected areas using a rag, microfiber cloth or toothbrush. Do not use bleach on woven furniture. After cleaning off mildew and mold, wipe furniture clean with a little soap and water. And remember-- avoid keeping woven furniture out in humidity or moist environments for a long time to prevent mold and mildew from growing back.

Outdoor Vs Indoor Maintenance 

Not all woven furniture pieces are made equally. Some products come with their own specialized care instructions, in which case you should follow them. Some cleaning approaches are suitable only for outdoor furniture, while others are best for indoors. Outdoor furniture is exposed to the elements and, predictably, will get dirtier than indoor furniture. If your favorite outdoor piece is extremely dirty (think: mud, pets tracking dirt in, etc.), use a handheld steam cleaner and dry with a hair dryer. 

You can use a garden hose to wash down outdoor furniture. Most outdoor furniture can be tended to with a generous supply of soap and water. For indoor furniture, you will need to be more intentional so as not to make a mess. After you are finished cleaning your furniture, carefully rinse off the soap with a wet rag and dry with a hair dryer or put outside to dry (unless the environment is extremely humid). For best results, control humidity levels indoors. Use a humidifier in drier environments to avoid cracking or drying. Use a dehumidifier in moist environments for best drying results. 

Check For Damage

A thorough cleaning may be a good time to inspect the furniture and see how it has stood up to the elements. Check your furniture regularly for discoloration, broken slats, wobbly legs, and other wear and tear. A lot of repairs, like damaged or broken slats or reed pieces, can be made with wood glue. Let the glue dry entirely before you continue with cleaning. 

 

Untreated wood can be restored with linseed oil. To protect your woven furniture, seal with a formulated wax, varnish or lacquer. Linseed oil protects its shine and prevents discoloration. Of course, if your furniture is in need of bigger repairs, get in touch with an expert repair person to do the job for you. Some pieces are beyond repair, in which case it’s time to buy new furniture.

Depositphotos 122836474 s 2019

Once your second-story deck is completed, you’re sure to enjoy lounging around on it, but one lingering question remains: what should you do with the patio space left empty underneath it? This space, which will be shaded and weather-resistant because of the deck covering it, can be an incredibly useful area that is often overlooked. No matter what your lifestyle looks like, you’re sure to find a use for it that supplements your home.

Read on for some creative ideas for how you can transform the patio space under your second-story deck into a productive, unique oasis.

Entertaining Space
You can never have too much space set aside for entertainment, and your guests will be sure to thank you if you offer them this shaded, cool area for the afternoon or evening. Outdoor furniture such as lounge chairs, sofas, tables, bars, and fireplaces, all of which you can find at Lawn & Leisure, can transform this space into a refined, impressive entertainment area. Just think of all the relaxing, fun events you can have here with your closest friends and family members.

Cozy, Isolated Nook

If entertaining isn’t your thing, don’t fret, because even introverts can find a productive and fulfilling use for this space. Transform the area under your deck into a cozy, isolated nook. You can purchase cushioned sofas, chairs, and hammocks that become the perfect place to curl up with a book or just close your eyes and get some rest. Finally, you will have a place to escape from the chaos of your house, which offers the perfect balance of hearing cheerful nature sounds while also experiencing all the comfort of indoor living.

Mudroom and Storage Area

If you are looking to make the area under your second-story deck more functional, you may want to create an outdoor mudroom and storage space here. Shelving units, shoe organizers, coat racks, and other pieces of storage furniture will keep all your belongings organized. This place to clean off and get set before entering the home will help keep the dirt and germs outside, which can be especially difficult if you have children. Therefore, using this space as a mudroom and storage area can reduce clutter and messes inside your home as well.

Outdoor Kitchen

If your family members are fans of outdoor barbecues and meals al fresco, then an outdoor kitchen might be the best use for the space under your second-story deck. Tables, chairs, and bar furniture will create your ideal kitchen and dining space outdoors. Lawn & Leisure even offers a variety of outdoor grill brands and products, including American Outdoor Grill, Big Green Egg, and Napoleon Gourmet Grills. Throw some meats on the grill, roast marshmallows over the fire, and enjoy great foods, drinks, and quality times with your family and friends.

While the space under your second-story deck could seem obsolete or best left empty, your imagination can lead you to transform this area into a true extension of your home. Whether you think it would be best used as an entertaining space, a cozy nook, a mudroom, an outdoor kitchen, or anything else that may come to mind, Lawn & Leisure is ready to help you bring this vision to life.

Our top-notch outdoor furniture, grills, and fireplaces are sure to revive any empty area and give you a new place to enjoy life outdoors with your family and friends. If you want more information about our products or would like some assistance with choosing what items are best for your unique new space, then feel free to visit our website here or give us a call at 703-997-4355.

Outdoor Fireplaces.jpgMany of us love the warmth and comfort of a fire on a cool winter night — sitting inside, cozy and content while the thermometer outside creeps ever lower. However, outdoor fireplaces are becoming increasingly popular.

There is something very romantic about the idea of outdoor fireplaces — they provide for late nights in the backyard or on the patio snuggled up with your significant other, roasting s'mores over the bonfire with the kids, and opportunities for soirees hosted at your home with close friends or good neighbors. These are the top 11 reasons why you need to include an outdoor fireplace in your home decor.

Outdoor Fireplaces Create ‘Living Spaces’ in Backyards or Patios

Fireplaces exude warmth; not just physically but metaphorically too. Having a hearth on your patio or outdoor entertaining area gives your yard a friendly, inviting feeling typically only found in indoor living spaces.

Outdoor Fireplaces Let You Entertain in the Winter

Summer is the perfect time to have company. Everyone heads outside to lounge next to the pool, in the shade of green trees or under a patio awning. But when the weather gets cooler people tend to stay inside, which can keep you from having friends and family over as often as you like. Enjoying a nice evening outside is still a viable option when you have an outdoor fireplace to keep you and your guests warm and toasty.

Kids (and their Friends) Love Outdoor Fireplaces

If you have children, having other kids or teens around might be a common occurrence at your home. They love to watch movies or play video games, but when it’s your turn to use the remote they might be hard-put to find a way to keep themselves amused. Send your kiddos, and their friends, outside to sit and talk around the fire. Teens might sing, play games or just talk and laugh, and the younger ones will have a great time roasting marshmallows or telling each other ghost stories. Be sure an adult is always nearby to monitor the fire and keep everything safe.

Outdoor Fireplaces are Easy to Maintain

If you’re going to get the most out of your outdoor fireplace, you’ll need to keep in it good working order. Taking care of an outdoor fireplace is somewhat different than maintaining an indoor one, which is why we would like to offer you these easy tips.

Outdoor fireplaces need to be cleaned at least annually just like indoor units do. You should have a professional chimney sweep clean out the chimney and flue in order to remove creosote that could lead to fires. You may also want to check your chimney from time to time for debris such as tree limbs that might get inside of it after a heavy storm.

When your fireplace is not being used, be sure to cover the front of it. This is important for a number of reasons including:

  • Prevents children or animals from getting inside the fire box
  • Reduces the odds that embers will blow out of the fireplace and start a fire
  • Keeps ashes from blowing around and getting on outdoor furniture or fixtures

You’ll need to remove ashes from your fireplace on a regular basis, and this is done in the same manner as with an indoor fireplace. Be sure all embers are completely out before you remove ashes, or better yet, douse them with some water before disposing of them.

Outdoor fireplaces can get a little dingy over the winter. As a result, you may want to have the outside of your fireplace pressure washed each spring. After spraying down the outside, scrub the inside of the firebox with a stiff bristled brush to remove any caked on debris that might be stuck to it.

With Outdoor Fireplaces Comes Outdoor Furniture

You can't have one without the other. If you are diving in and getting yourself an outdoor fireplace, then you should complete it with that posh outdoor sofa you had your eye on for months. This will provide for warmth on a chilly spring night as well as optimum comfort.

Outdoor Fireplaces Add Definition

If you are looking into improving the design of your outdoor area, you may want to go with a fireplace. This could be the focal point of your outdoor living space. You can then begin to add around it and have an easier time decorating than you thought. 

A Little Bit of Warmth Goes a Long Way

Outdoor fireplaces won't just provide warmth because fire is literally hot, but because they will add to the ambiance of homes. They make your space very inviting for multiple gatherings, family events, and social soirees. An outdoor fireplace can make your home the center of camaraderie.

Additional Entertainment Space

One of the best reasons to consider adding an outdoor fireplace to your backyard is due to their functionality, particularly when throwing a party. When entertaining a group of guests, an outdoor fireplace provides a focal point in one’s yard that can act as an additional space for people to gather and converse.

Outdoor Fireplaces are Great Investments

Not only do outdoor fireplaces add great functionality to one’s backyard, but they also prove to be great investments due to the way in which they can increase the saleability of homes. Should you ever decide to sell your home, an outdoor fireplace can make a great selling point as it can make your outdoor space seem more attractive and functional. Furthermore, it can make your house seem unique and memorable to potential buyers who will have likely seen a great number of houses.

The key, as with a lot of home investments, is location. Do not underestimate the location of your fireplace to make all the difference. For instance, a major mistake that should be avoided at all costs is placing an outdoor fireplace where the wind will cause problems on a consistent basis. It is ideal to use the fireplace in an advantageous way to prevent the wind from becoming an issue, which is not only important for convenience, but for safety, as well. Flying embers can cause injury to people outside, or it can start a fire.

Additionally, you should take the overall style of your home and backyard before deciding. An inexpensive installation can be done by using stucco, which is great for those that are looking for a budget fireplace. It is a rather versatile option as it comes in various colors and can provide a classic look to almost any outdoor area. However, you should also consider the benefits of materials like brick, stone, and concrete.

Fun Outdoor Cooking

An outdoor fireplace can also provide a fun location for outdoor barbecuing during the summer months. You could use your fireplace to make dinner a fun grilling activity by getting the whole family involved. Start off by having everyone roast their own hotdog on a stick over the fire, then end the night with delicious s'mores. Later in the summer, you could move on to getting your family involved in employing more complicated fire cooking techniques. Getting the whole family into cooking this way can make your outdoor fireplace a fun and functional addition to your backyard.

Safe options

If safety is a major concern, you should try to avoid a wood burning fireplace. It is a risk, even though it may be a small one, and this means a gas-fueled fireplace is ideal. While both options are worthwhile, you should consider the necessary requirements that come with each type of fuel. Wood fireplaces are tougher to get licensing for because of the smoke. As for gas fireplaces, a pipeline has to be installed before this kind of fireplace can work, but it is important to consider that this option is smoke-free.

Outdoor fireplaces make great additions to any backyard due to the way they can improve the look and usability of your entire backyard. Contact us to find out about more of the benefits that adding an outdoor fireplace to your backyard can provide.

lawn and gardenGrilling and outdoor fun are just around the corner, but -- especially if you live in a region where it feels as if spring is a long way away -- your lawn and garden may not quite be in shape for entertaining. Luckily, there are a few steps you can take to get your outdoor space wow-worthy when the time comes. Here are some to consider:

  1. Give Your Lawn a Salon-Worthy Cut

    If you have a square or rectangular lawn, you can add a little more visual appeal by cutting it diagonally. Start by making a pass that starts in one corner and goes to the opposite one. Then all you’ll have to do is keep your lawn mower parallel to that line as you work your way across on either side, and you’ll have a snazzy cut that will make you the envy of the neighborhood.

  2. Make the Most of Plain Old Mulch


    Mulch is inexpensive and easy to work with. Use a layer to cover up any dirt that’s showing in your flowerbeds so that they don’t look empty even if they’re still a little bare from winter.

  3. Strategically Plant Bright Annuals

    Instead of trying to get a lush landscape right away (which is both costly and work-intensive), plant rows of eye-popping annuals in strategic areas around your lawn and garden. Focus your planting around doors or other access points such as arbors and gates, where the flowers will make the most impact. You should be able to do this in somewhere between an hour and a half day, depending on the size of your yard, and the only tool you’ll need is a simple garden trowel.

  4. Feature a New, Shiny, High-Tech Grill

    If you want to make your backyard as functional as possible, then a new grill is a worthy investment. Around 63% of the U.S. population grills every single month -- and probably many more grill in warm weather -- so a new charcoal or propane grill is something you can expect to get your money’s worth from. You may even want to feature it in a complete grill center; just be sure that it’s placed wisely. Based on data collected between 2007 and 2011, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 8,800 home and outside fires involving grills each year, and you don’t want to find yourself a part of those kind of statistics.

  5. Clean and Update Outdoor Furniture

    Pull out or uncover your outdoor furniture and give it a good cleaning and inspection. Get rid of anything that’s falling apart (nothing can make a guest feel worse than sitting on a chair and having it break), and pick out at least a few new pieces to spruce up the entire collection. If you’re really short on time, even a few brightly colored outdoor throw pillows can hold you over until larger pieces arrive.

fireplaces 11Enjoying a fire in one’s fireplace can be an extremely relaxing experience; however, you may not always want to be relegated to the indoors when enjoying a fire. This is where having an outdoor fireplace can be beneficial, as it can create an oasis that allows you to feel as though you are on vacation in your own backyard. Giving you the ability to enjoy a fire under the stars on a summer night is just one of the many benefits an outdoor fireplace can provide you with. Here are a few of the additional reasons why you should consider adding an outdoor fireplace to your backyard.

An Outdoor Gas Fireplace Makes Your Backyard Useable

Many homeowners feel as if their backyard is an unusable, barren space. However, this seemingly dysfunctional space can be transformed through the addition of an outdoor fireplace. Your previously unused property can now be a place for you, your family, and your friends to relax and spend time together. This will not only make your yard more functional, but it will also make it look more beautiful and improve the way you perceive your home. Furthermore, by adding to the look, style, and functionality of your backyard, you can actually increase your home’s value and salability.

An Outdoor Gas Fireplace Extends the Season

For many people, the onset of colder weather means the end of outdoor entertaining. Furthermore, this can mean more overall time spent indoors. However, an outdoor fireplace can help to extend your outdoor season throughout a greater portion of the year, as the fire will provide you with the heat necessary to keep you warm on cold days/nights. Simply snuggle up by the fire with a blanket and some marshmallows, and what would have previously been another cold night night trapped indoors can now be a fun night spent outside.

An Outdoor Gas Fireplace Keeps the Bugs Away

Adding an outdoor fireplace to your yard can also increase the functionality of your yard during the summer. While backyard barbeques and parties are the highlight of many people’s summers, these gatherings can be ruined by an invasion of insects. Mosquitos in particular can put a quick end to any backyard gathering. However, an outdoor fireplace can actually help to keep insects away. Lighting a fire will create smoke that can help to keep insects at bay and away from your guests. In Conjunction with strategically placed citronella candles, an outdoor fireplace can be the savior of your summer season.

An Outdoor Gas Fireplace Adds Entertainment Space

Finally, the addition of a fireplace will provide additional entertainment space in your home for when you have large parties. Many homeowners do not have the space within their home to entertain all the guests they would like to invite to their gatherings. However, with the addition of an outdoor fireplace to your backyard, a new focal point will be created for people to gather around that will encourage the party to overflow from within your home to your backyard. In fact, when set up with inviting seating, and an already roaring fire, as well as the supplies to roast marshmallows, you will likely find that your backyard soon becomes party central.

The warm and cozy experience of lounging next to a fire does not have to limited to inside one’s home. Having an outdoor fireplace installed in your yard can bring you this experience while allowing you to enjoy time outside with your friends and family. While we have touched upon a few of the reasons why you should consider an outdoor fireplace for your home, there are many more benefits of doing so. Contact us to find out about more of the benefits of having an outdoor fireplace, as well as to find out about having one built in your yard.

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Winter approaching fast means that, for many people, the season of outdoor parties and entertainment will be coming to an end. This can restrain one’s ability to entertain, particularly large groups of people, as indoor space may not be enough for your usual group of party guests. However, adding certain amenities to your outdoor entertainment space can help to create a warm atmosphere you will be able to enjoy year-round. One of the best additions to start with is an outdoor fireplace. An outdoor fireplace can be the perfect addition to enhance your backyard parties no matter the season. Here are just a few of the benefits adding an outdoor fireplace can supply you and your family with.

Provides Entertainment Space

It cannot be underestimated how beneficial an outdoor fireplace can be when entertaining, as it can create a focal point around which people can congregate and interact. Whether it be summer or winter, your outdoor fireplace will be the perfect, cozy spot for people to gather to roast marshmallows, cook hot dogs, play charades, and simply relax. You may be surprised by the number of memories you create and share around your outdoor fireplace.

Extend the Outdoor Season

While we previously mentioned that outdoor fireplaces can create enough warmth to extend the outdoor entertaining season, they can also allow you and your family to enjoy some quality time outdoors no matter the weather. The fact is that many people start to feel cooped up and stifled during winter, as the cold temperatures outside force them to spend more time indoors. Outdoor fireplaces, in conjunction with outdoor heaters, can warm up your patio or backyard enough to allow you to escape being confined indoors without freezing.

Increase Your Home’s Value

The addition of an outdoor fireplace to your home can greatly increase its resale value. Maximizing your home’s outdoor living space can help to improve your home’s resale value by making it more marketable to potential buyers. Furthermore, outdoor entertainment spaces will make your home more salable, as they will cause your home to stand out to buyers. Additionally, these outdoor entertainment spaces can help prospective buyers to imagine how they would use their new home, which can lead them to purchase your home.

Safety, Convenience, and Ambiance

Big backyard bonfires can create a fun atmosphere and ambiance on a clear, starry night. However, they may not be the most realistic, safe, or legal option if they are not properly contained. As much as you may like to, you cannot simply build a fire in your yard without a proper fire pit or outdoor fireplace. This is where having a dedicated fireplace in your backyard can come in handy. Whenever you feel like throwing a backyard bonfire, your fireplace will be there to welcome the fun, while simultaneously keeping the fun safe and contained. Furthermore, a beautifully designed fireplace will create a cozy, environment and ambiance for you to enjoy.

Just because the cold months are going to soon be upon us does not mean you have to give up spending time, and entertaining, outdoors. The addition of an outdoor fireplace can warm up your backyard enough to keep the party going all year long. This can be particularly beneficial for homeowners who do not have enough indoor space to entertain all of their guests, as an outdoor fireplace can allow the party to spill out of their home. However, there are countless benefits an outdoor fireplace can provide from creating additional cooking space in your home, to allowing your kids to spend time outdoors during the bitter winter months. Contact us to find out about more of the benefits of adding a fireplace to your backyard.  

Get the Most Out of Charcoal Grills

While the debate comparing charcoal grills with gas grills smolders indefinitely, there is no wrong answer when tender meat cutlets are sizzling to perfection over an outdoor flame. However, for grilling purists, the mystical variability of charcoal grills continues to lure them back to achieve the perfect heat, the perfect smoke and the perfect results.  

Humidity, wind and ambient temperature each play a role in the performance of charcoal. Only experiment, and experience, will provide clues on how to account for these factors. But for charcoal beginners, there are a few time-tested practices to respect:

Keep Charcoal Grills’ Grates Clean

Every aspect of charcoal grilling success starts with air flow. Oxygen-rich air is pulled into the cooking chamber via lower air vents through the gap between the vents and the coal grate. The air fuels the thermal properties of the coals, filtering through the food, and is then ejected through upper vents.

For the system to work, the vents must work. Before starting any grilling session, ensure upper and lower vents are cleared of debris and be certain that old ash has been removed from the bottom of the grill.

Clean the grill after each use. Wait until the grill has cooled down, around 10 minutes after turning it off, then follow up with a grill brush. That will remove a lot of the leftover food. By cleaning them each time you use them, charcoal grills will always be ready when you’re in the mood for grilling.

Pick Your Coals

The more traditional charcoal briquettes often have chemicals that are unhealthy. There are often things like binding agents in the traditional kinds of charcoal briquettes that might get into the food. Charcoal made of natural wood is a better bet. These come from carbon that has been left over naturally from wood that has been baked.

You may also want to add wood chips to your coals. They add a nice, smoky wood flavor to your food. Some of the recommended woods are birch, hickory, cherry, apple and mesquite woods. Be sure that you aren’t using anything processed, such as plywood, because that can contain chemicals which are toxic.

Decide on Briquette Arrangement

Every expert in charcoal grills will gravitate to their preferred technique for heating coals.  For beginners, a few standard arrangements include:

  • Start with a 7x7 arrangement of coals and build upward to a point. The pyramid should be centered over the lower heating vents. Apply a layer of lighter fluid halfway through the build to ensure internal coals will heat. Apply a final layer of fluid before igniting the structure. Coals will heat moderately fast, with a very hot, centrally located heat source that can be helpful depending on your selected cuisine.
  • This option uses a ring of coals placed few briquettes wide and stacked about 8-inches tall. Again, center the ring around the lower air vents. Fluid can be applied once the volcano is complete. This option maximizes airflow through the grill and will provide quick, evenly heated coals.
  • The layer technique uses a blanket of charcoal covering most of the grate and stacked a few briquettes thick. This solution provides slow, gradually developing heat with minimal airflow and hot spots. Layering provides low heat for foods that need a hint of grilling before the coals are fully radiant.

Light the Coals

Lighter fluid is the most convenient way to get charcoal grills ready. You can even buy coals that are presoaked with the proper amount of lighter fluid to avoid nasty blowups or unlit coals.

However, lighter fluid can often leave a less-than-desirable flavor on your food. If you want a purer flavor, you can light charcoal grills with a chimney starter. A chimney starter is a cylinder that holds briquettes on top and kindling such as newspaper underneath. Light the kindling, and it will catch the coals. After about 20-30 minutes, you can dump the coals into the grill.

Spread the Coals

Once the coals are hot, there are more options for cooking. Spread the coals evenly across the grate for normal heat to cook hamburgers, hot dogs and pork chops. For surf-and-turf, spread two-thirds of the coals to one side of the grate for cooking steak, and maintain one-third of the coals to the opposite side for gentle heating of seafood. Finally, for slow cook ribs, pack all coals to one side of the grill and place your ribs away from direct heat, allowing them to delicately cook in the indirect heat while absorbing flavor-rich smokiness.

Cook with Care

Charcoal grills aren’t generally for first-time cooks. They need to be watched constantly, and charcoal grills do not have temperature controls.

Do not be impatient and try to start cooking the meat while the flames are still flaring up. Handling meat at this time can be dangerous. Wait until the flames have died down and the charcoals have a dusting of ash and are glowing red underneath.

To change the amount of heat, you’ll have to open and close the lower vents, controlling the air flow into the system. But don’t close them for too long because you could extinguish the coals completely.

Unlike an oven, it can be difficult to know when your food is safe for eating.  To make sure that any meats are thoroughly cooked, you’ll need to have a thermometer handy.

Allowing your food to cook thoroughly, without burning, is the key to delicious grilled food. A good way to achieve this is through using a cover that fits tightly over the top of the grill.

Always wear oven mitts while working on hot, charcoal grills, even when using tongs and other long reach tools. This cuts down on the possibility of painful accidents.

When you are through grilling, put the top of the grill down and make sure the vents are shut. This will smother the fire quicker and will help avoid accidents.

Your time and effort will be rewarded. There’s very distinct charcoal flavor and smell that is produced by charcoal barbecues that comes up in food. The explanation by Martha Stewart is that the drippings that fall from the food go onto the heated coals and produce an appetizing aroma.

Charcoal grilling is an art.  And a science.  While practice will not always make perfect, it will make a plethora of mouth-watering meals throughout the learning process.   

Contact us today for personal assistance selecting the perfect outdoor grill for your home.

Outdoor Grills.jpgDo you find the wide array of outdoor grills on the market bewildering? You want to be fully prepared for your backyard barbeques, but there is quite a wide variety of options to choose from, which can make the process overwhelming. Before you begin deciding between outdoor grills, here are a few of the things that you should take into consideration first to make the process easier.

Cost

The fact is that outdoor grills are available in an extremely large variety of prices. This means that before you begin your search for a new grill, you will want to consider how much money you will be willing to spend on this purchase. Creating a budget will help you to narrow down the number of grills you will be looking at and choosing from, which will make the process much easier. Furthermore, going into your search with a set budget in mind will help you to not overspend on an overly extravagant grill.

Size

Size is another important thing to consider before beginning your hunt for the perfect grill. Choose one that’s too small, and you won’t be able to cook enough food on it to feed your family. Pick one that’s too big, and you could spend far too long trying to heat it up whenever you’re ready to grill.

Consider the space you have available in your yard for a new grill as well as the number of people you will generally be cooking for. This will help you to choose the grill that will be the perfect size to meet your needs, without overwhelming your homes outdoor space.

Features

Just like cars, outdoor grills now come with a wide variety of built-in features such as side burners and rotisseries. Before you begin your grill search, you will want to research what extra features are available in your price range and decide what features are the most important to you. Considering what features you want your grill to have should narrow down the number of outdoor grills you will be looking at greatly, which will make your decision easier and less overwhelming.

You’ll want to make sure your grill has a well-fitting lid that contains at least two dampers, or openings on the top. These dampers will enable you to control the inside temperature of your grill and should open and close easily as well.

If you plan on cooking several rounds of meat on your grill, you might want to consider one that will allow you to raise or lower your charcoal while you are cooking. This will enable you to raise your briquettes higher so that you can then cook meat over the coals once all the charcoal itself is gone.

Your grill should also have panels that would make adding more charcoal (or moving existing briquettes around) easier to do. Of course, a door that allows for easy ash removal is desirable as well. When it comes to grates, you don’t need anything elaborate. Wire or aluminum grills tend to work just as well as heavier cast iron ones do and are also much easier to keep clean.

If there’s a chance you might want to move your grill, one with sturdy wheels on it will also be a must. Roll the grill back and forth a few times to get an idea as to how easy it might be to move. If possible, add a bag of charcoal to the kettle first, as this will let you know how easy the grill will move with additional weight inside.

Taking these features into consideration when browsing outdoor grills should make the decision process much easier for you. However, there are many more things one must take into consideration when considering outdoor grills. 

Contact us to find out about what else you should take into consideration when searching for a new grill as well as for advice on what grill would be best for your home.

Aside from the characteristics of outdoor grills, you should also consider your own grilling skill level. In general, rookies should buy gas grills and seasoned pros should get charcoal.

Why Gas Grills Are Best for the Beginning Griller

For those of you who are just starting down the path to "Master Backyard Griller," we recommend picking up one of the well-priced gas grills we offer for several reasons. 

Gas Grills Are Easier to Light

Compared with charcoal, propane grills offer painless ignition and don't require you to get dirty with coals, lighter fluid, or ashes. If you can push a button and turn a knob, you can light a gas grill!

Gas Grills Are Easier to Clean

Instead of dealing with soot, pulling grates off, and scraping goop out, gas grills can be cleaned by setting them to high heat. This burns off almost all the drippings and extra food inside the grill, but you will have to scrape off the rest.

Gas Grills Are Easier to Cook With

Probably the best thing about gas grills for a beginner is that they produce constant and steady heat. Because of this, you can nail down the basics of cooking and perfect grilling routines. Charcoal is much harder to control and can ruin a meal quickly if not monitored carefully.

Gas Grills Are Easier to Use Quickly

Grilling with charcoal is a serious time commitment, and sometimes the coals behave unpredictably which only adds more time. Propane is straightforward and can be counted on for a timely yet delicious meal.

In addition to being ideal for novice grillers, gas grills are flexible and leave plenty of room for growth as a cook. You can achieve high or low heat, indirect heat, searing heat, and even add wood chips for a wonderful smoky dimension! Using propane gives you precise control over your temperate and food, allowing you to grill exactly the way you want. Although gas grills are usually more expensive than charcoal, the investment is worth it if you pick a durable and lasting brand. We carry many such grills in all shapes and sizes.

If you decide you’d rather step into the Big Leagues of charcoal grilling, there are a few ways to ensure your success.

Tips for Using Charcoal Grills Like a Pro

Charcoal grills give food a unique flavor that can’t be duplicated with electric or gas grills. Here are some grilling tips you can use to make your next outdoor-cooked meal a success, regardless of what’s on the menu.

Gather your Supplies

Gather the supplies you’ll need ahead of time so that nothing will distract you once you start cooking. A few things you’ll need include:

  • Oven mitt
  • Charcoal
  • Charcoal starter and lighter
  • Grilling tools (tongs, long handled spatula, basting brush)
  • Long handled stick or dowel rod to move charcoal briquettes around with

Inspect your Grill

Many times, people are not successful at charcoal grilling because they forget to take care of the basics first. Therefore, it is important to inspect your grill thoroughly ahead of time for cleanliness and ease of operation. Too many ashes inside the kettle could make it difficult for you to control the temperature of your coals and will also block air from flowing. Vents or racks that do not work properly can also be a problem, which is why you should make sure everything is in perfect order before you get started.

Exercise Patience

Another common mistake that many people make is getting in too big of a hurry when grilling. Charcoal will take around 10 to 15 minutes to heat up completely, so you should wait until it is ready before placing food on your grill. After that, close the lid on your grill and avoid checking too often, as keeping food covered while cooking helps seal in the flavor.

You should always make sure meat is cooked thoroughly before serving it to prevent sickness. Keep a meat thermometer on hand and check the temperature of your meat before taking it off the grill. Once it is done, allow it to “rest” for around 5 minutes to help lock in the juices.

By following these simple tips, you’ll be an expert at charcoal grilling in no time.

Once you’ve got a few years of cooking with outdoor grills under your belt, it’s time to learn how to extend a grill’s lifespan.

Carefully Maintain Outdoor Grills

For outdoor grills to last for years, routine maintenance is important. While most people clean their grill lightly after each use, there is still work that should be done for outdoor grills to be ready for use at any time. Regular cleaning can not only make the grill easier to cook with, but also it can take care of bacterial buildup from food debris. Becoming familiar with what you can do to clean the grill thoroughly can ensure that the grill is in the best condition.

A brass wire brush is an essential tool for maintaining your grill since it is the best option for removing food and other debris from the grill. Scraping the brush over the grates can help remove anything stuck to your grill. After using the brush, it's best to soak the brush in hot soapy water then allow it to air dry thoroughly before putting it away.

Spraying your grill with cooking oil can help prevent rust and extend the lifetime of outdoor grills. Waiting until the grill has cooled down after use is important for the cooking spray to be as effective as possible.

Scrubbing the burners with the wire brush and around any of the smaller crevices of outdoor grills can help take care of food and grease that has built-up over time. Grease is highly flammable and needs to be removed thoroughly for the grill to be as safe as possible to use.

Removing charcoal and ash from the interior of outdoor grills is also important to ensure that grills aren't producing excess smoke when in use. Cleaning the insides after the contents have been removed can also improve the function of outdoor grills quite drastically. 

outdoor furniture allows enjoyment of your landscapeYou could have the most amazing backyard landscaping, the most beautiful trees and flowers, and the most quaint koi ponds resting in your backyard.  However, none of it will be enjoyed a fraction of the time without outdoor furniture in the correct places. 

Outdoor furniture is what helps you relax comfortably and truly enjoy your property.  The perfect patterns for your landscape are crucial to bring everything together as well. 

The latest trends in outdoor furniture are available at Lawn & Leisure, so go take a look today.

5 Tips for Extending the Lifespan of Your Outdoor Furniture

There’s nothing quite as fun and relaxing as spending time outside in the summertime, and having the right outdoor furniture will encourage everyone in your family to make the most of good weather. But many homeowners get frustrated over the years because their patio furniture keeps wearing out, sending them on repeat trips to the furniture store and burning through money that could better spent on other things. To make sure you’re never in that situation again, follow these five tips the next time you get a set of patio furniture:

Buy the Best Your Budget Allows

Most homeowners are working on a budget, but you should spend as much as you comfortably can in order to get higher-quality pieces. Cheaper pieces are often cheaper for a reason. If you’re looking to balance function and price, check out the wide range of wicker options now being offered. Wicker is made by weaving flexible strips of rattan, willow, bamboo or polyethylene onto a frame (natural wicker is generally woven onto a plant-based frame, whereas synthetic resin wicker is usually woven onto an aluminum or steel frame), making it very durable. The U.S. outdoor furniture market is forecast to exceed $4.4 billion this year, which means you should have plenty of options when you visit the furniture store.

Clean Your Furniture Regularly

Dirt doesn’t just make your furniture look bad; it also causes it to degrade more quickly. The correct cleaning method will depend on the material you end up choosing for your deck furniture, so you'll need to do some additional research once you make your purchase.

Invest in Outdoor Furniture Covers

At summer’s peak, you’re probably outdoors every day. During that period, there’s no need to cover your furniture up every night -- after all, if your furniture can’t survive a night out in the open, it probably shouldn’t have been sold as outdoor furniture. But as your usage starts to slow down, or if there’s a major storm coming through, it’s a good idea to throw on some furniture covers.

Remove All Rust Immediately

If you see any rust on your furniture, you need to remove it as soon as possible. Ignoring even a small spot can take years off the life of a piece. If you catch it early, it should be as easy as using a wire brush to scrub off the rust (try to damage the surrounding area as little as possible, as a wire brush may ruin a protective coating that’s still intact).

Make a Plan for Winter Storage

If you live in an area where it snows, it’s best to move your leisure furniture out of the yard for winter. If you have space in a garage, then that’s easy -- if not, you might want to consider purchasing an attractive shed for this purpose. If you have some space inside, you can even consider incorporating some outdoor pieces into your indoor décor; the dividing line between indoor furniture and high-quality outdoor furniture is becoming slimmer and slimmer.

Consider Using Outdoor Furniture Indoors

Have you ever considered taking some of your favorite outdoor pieces and putting them inside? Outdoor furniture is traditionally used, well, outside. The reasoning goes beyond habit: until recently, materials typically used for outdoor furniture, such as polypropylene, appeared stiff and waxy. While it's an acceptable look outside, it looks tacky inside. Thanks to improved technology, classic outdoor furniture materials look more sophisticated, and new materials are becoming more popular.

Using outdoor furniture inside is a great way for apartment dwellers to make their homes "feel less stuffy," says furniture designer Mark Jupiter. And, since a lot of outdoor furniture is foldable, it's also a great way to keep extra seating handy without taking up a lot of room.

Even if you do have outdoor space, consider testing your patio furniture inside. It can provide an added sense of cohesion, and it's a quick way to give your home a fresh look.

Need some ideas? Here are two to get you started.

Wooden Bench

The wooden bench is a staple of usefulness and sophistication. Put it in front of your sofa or at the foot of your bed to use as a table. Near your entryway, it can be used as shoe or purse storage. Don't have space in your kitchen for a full dining table? A wooden bench is slim enough to create a casual seating area.

Garden Stool

This is another piece that can be turned into a table. Use it next to your bed for a bedside table, or place it next to your couch. It can be used to place down drinks or as an extra seat. In a bathroom, a garden stool is ideal for towels or toiletries.

Here at Lawn & Leisure, we have a wide selection of outdoor furniture for your outdoor and indoor needs. Contact us for more information. 

Create an Oasis with Poolside Patio Furniture to Enjoy Now and Later

It's time to declare open season on your backyard patio or pool. Long, sunny days linger into warm, starry nights. It's summer, the perfect time for casual dinners on the patio or for lounging poolside with a good book. With the right patio furniture you can make the most of your outdoor oasis all season long, even into the crisp autumn months. Here are some tips to help you choose which furniture will work best for your space and lifestyle, plus how to ensure years of use.

Preparing for pool parties and family gatherings?

Consider furniture groupings, but measure first. If you know your square footage, you can ensure that your furniture choices will fit comfortably on your patio. Next, Look for a dining table and chairs that seat 8 or more people. Be sure to allow three feet of space for chairs to be pulled back from the table. For example, if you are choosing a four by eight foot table, make sure you have a space at least 10 by 14 feet in size. Create an inviting atmosphere by adding toss pillows and a market umbrella. Next, look for affordable lounge chairs and purchase as many as would fit in your space. If you are limited on space after you choose a dining table set, consider straight back chairs with thick cushions to place around your pool or patio for additional seating.

Longing to create an outdoor room with a view?

Imagine a living room among the stars by opting for a seating set with a coffee table, upholstered sofa and chairs or a sectional. Be sure to look for performance fabrics and materials that are designed for outdoor use as they are treated to increase stain and moisture resistance. Don't forget to add an attractive outdoor rug and toss pillows. Then, personalize the space with decorative and functional pieces such as flameless candles, lightweight throws, and battery-operated lamps.

Dreaming of a quiet corner for a nap or to enjoy the sounds of nature?

Only a hammock will do. Look for one with a stand rather than a style that hangs from a tree. When you want to change your view, you can easily move it around your patio or place it in your yard. For maximum enjoyment, consider placing a small table or tea cart nearby for easy access to a cold beverage and snacks. Most hammocks are made with an outdoor fabric, but store it away at the end of the season to keep it looking its best. Don't forget to add a pillow to maximize your comfort and enjoyment.  

To keep your patio furniture looking great so you can enjoy it next year, invest in furniture covers and market umbrella covers to protect them from the harsh elements. It isn't necessary to cover furniture up everyday after use, but do cover them up during severe weather and at the end of the warm weather season. Stow away pillows, chair cushions, and patio rugs when not in use, even during the summer, to prevent fading and mildew. Simplify your life by purchasing a few outdoor storage boxes and place them near your patio. You can quickly store away your upholstered items during a pop-up rain shower and when not in use.

At Lawn & Leisure we are all about making the most of your outdoor spaces in the D.C. area. We invite you to contact us to assist you in creating your own personal poolside or patio oasis.

CONTACT US TODAY!

outdoor fireplaceAlthough Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer, there’s still plenty of good weather left. And you can extend the usefulness of your outdoor space well into fall by adding an outdoor fireplace to your yard. Just imagine cozy nights of snuggling under a blanket and stargazing or toasting marshmallows as a family.

Here are some tips to maximize your enjoyment of an outdoor fireplace:

  1. Create a Room-Like Arrangement

    If you’re going to invest in an outdoor fireplace, you should think about designing the entire outdoor space the way you would a living or family room. That means a variety of comfortable patio furniture surrounding the fireplace and hearth, as well as side tables and such for setting down mugs of steaming hot cocoa.

  2. Plan for No-Mess Cooking

    Outdoor fireplaces aren’t just for looks; depending on what kind you settle on, you can often use them similarly to charcoal grills for cooking food. More than half of Americans say they cook outdoors all year round. If you do anticipate doing so, make sure you have a station set up near the fireplace where you can set down platters or hot Dutch ovens, store cooking utensils, etc.

  3. Make Fuel Storage Beautiful

    Whether you choose a gas-powered fireplace with a tank or a wood-burning fireplace, you’ll need to consider where that fuel will be stored. Some freestanding gas fireplaces have a spot for the fuel tank to be tucked away, but if not you’ll want to plan for a decorative way to disguise it. And if you’re sticking to old-fashioned wood, you can find safe containers that will keep the wood dry while also keeping it handy.

  4. Consider Maintenance Needs

    Outdoor fireplaces are commonly made of stone, stucco, tile, and brick; each has not only a unique look, but also unique maintenance needs. Be sure you’re aware of those needs and how your local climate might affect them as you’re choosing a material.

  5. Take Fireplace Safety Seriously

    Fireplaces are safe when properly installed and carefully used, but it’s important that you respect anything involving fire (and teach your children to do the same). According to data collected between 2007 and 2011, U.S. fire departments were called to an average of 8,800 home and outside fires having to do with grills and outdoor fire pits. So be careful around your fireplace, never leave it burning unattended, and keep a bucket of water or a fire extinguisher nearby in case it gets out of control.

Dreaming of an outdoor fireplace to enjoy as the nights turn cooler? Let us know!

4 Tips For Cooking On Gas Grills In The Winter

 

Ah, Independence Day.

A time for family, fun, fireworks... and grilling!

 

     Do you have everything checked off your list this fourth?

 

That shiny new Weber you've had your eye on?

Maybe the Gourmet Napoleon Grill?

Or...the Big Green Egg?

All the right accessories to make sure your meal is flawless?

What about that extra propane tank, so you don't run out like your cousin did last year?

Will you need lump charcoal?

Did you remember that new dining set so everyone can sit together and still have room for their plates?

 

     Whatever is on your Independence Day inventory, you can find all the right things for your backyard needs at Lawn & Leisure! And for those who wait, don't worry! We will be open on the 4th, but only from 9:00am to 3:00pm, so hurry in! You won't want to show up unprepared to your own party!

outdoor lawn furniture Spring has sprung -- at least officially, even if there’s still snow on the ground in some spots -- and that means it’s time to start looking ahead to warm afternoons and weekends spent in the backyard. But after winter, your outdoor space might be looking pretty uninviting. Here are some easy ways to spruce up your yard for springtime:

Grassy Lawn Areas
Once summer is in full swing, you should have no trouble taking care of your lawn as long as you buy the right gardening tools; about 54 million Americans mow their lawns each weekend. Just keep in mind that generally, you don’t want to cut grass by more than one-third of its height in a single mowing. In order to jumpstart your lawn’s spring growth, however, you may want to put in a little more effort. Once the snow is fully melted, aerate your lawn and remove any thatch (dead stems and leaves) that has accumulated over the winter. Then re-seed any bare patches. If you’ve had trouble with your lawn in past years, you may also want to do a soil test to determine if soil chemistry is the problem.

Decks and/or Patios
Start by giving your outdoor space a good scrubbing; if you have a concrete patio, renting a power washer may be the easiest route. Check wooden decks for any sign of mildew damage, and use a mildew remover if necessary. If you have a brick patio, you may also need to remove weeds from the cracks. Once you have a clean space to work with, you can start to bring in some potted plants and similar accessories for color. Having your patio completely cleared is also a good opportunity to find a safe and convenient spot for your grill. If you have the space, you could even consider an outdoor fireplace or fire pit (taking into account grill and fireplace safety, of course, in your placement).

Outdoor Lawn Furniture
If you haven’t updated your outdoor lawn furniture in a while, just a cursory online search will show you that choices for patio furniture have grown exponentially in recent years (the U.S. outdoor furniture market is expected to surpass $4.4 billion by the end of 2015). One of the most popular trends in outdoor furniture right now is making it look and feel more like traditional indoor furniture, so it’s best to approach updating with the same mindset you would when updating your home’s furniture. That means you don’t need to replace your current set with a complete matching set; if most of what you own is serviceable, you can pick out just a few eye-popping pieces to freshen up the overall effect.

How’s your outdoor lawn furniture looking? Share how you’re planning to get your outdoor space barbecue-ready in the comments.

patio furnitureIf you live in a cold state and your backyard is still covered in snow, you may not yet have turned your attention to updating your outdoor furniture and landscaping for the new year. But this is actually the perfect time to do some planning, before the spring rush begins. Here is what the experts are saying will be hot in 2015 concerning patio furniture and outdoor features:

    1. Built-In Features

      Gone are the days of portable charcoal grills set up in the backyard. These movable, utilitarian options are being replaced with built-in features: outdoor fireplaces, high-end fire pits and propane grills as part of outdoor kitchens. Stationary fixtures also make natural gas lines run from the home an option, which can eliminate hassle.


      These act as gathering places, too. “The conventional backyard is being replaced with an oasis for the family and entertaining friends,” Glen Goldberg of Four Seasons Garden Center suggests. Almost 78% of people in the U.S. who own grills or smokers say that grilling is an “extremely important” or “pretty important” aspect of entertaining guests at home.

 

    1. Indoor/Outdoor Elements

      Patio furniture is quickly becoming indistinguishable from standard furniture, experts say. That’s not to say you can’t opt for traditional wicker patio furniture; wicker over 2,000 years old was found in the tomb of Tutankhamen, but there are plenty of non-dated wicker designs. However, Sally Falk Nancrede of the IndyStarwrote on Dec. 31 that “outdoor furniture feels more like your living room” in contemporary outdoor designs.


      If you’re wondering what this might look like, check out the patio furniture chosen for the 2015 HGTV Dream Home. The teak set, which includes a dining table and chairs, sofa, four armchairs, two ottomans and a coffee table, features delicately carved legs and arms, crisp fabrics, and a casual yet elegant color scheme.

 

  1. Mixed Finishes and Bold Patterns

    Outdoor furnishings are following cues set by interior design and allowing for more eclectic parings. Nancrede suggests “acrylic and brass, dark wood and stainless, gold leaf and antique mirror.” The idea is to put your own personal spin on a space, instead of letting it feel like you picked out a generic set, assembled it and stopped there.


    Patterns are also in fashion, and they don’t need to match -- they simply ought to not clash. Nancrede predicts “paisleys, marble prints, Ikats, bright Orientala and traditional blue and white Chinese patterns, and birds, especially peacocks.”

Have you started thinking yet about how to keep your outdoor space up to date this year? Share your ideas in the comments.

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