GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2005 show34
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Show #34

This week we look at the latest in outdoor living. We start with the history of outdoor furniture. We then take a look at cooking centers, outdoor rooms, outdoor fireplaces and the latest in outdoor furniture and talk about designing with these new concepts and look at the latest in fabrics and materials.

Outdoor furniture got its start at the turn of the 20th century. Resorts, hotels and the wealthy were typically the only groups that had this furniture. Adirondack chairs, which are still around today, and the more formal, wicker, also similar today, were the primary options. After World War II metal chairs, tubular aluminum, as well as directors chairs came into vogue. From the 60's through the 80's plastic furniture was introduced, it all was similar, didn't have a lot of style and didn't change much during this time. Starting in the 90's we began to see outdoor furniture become more stylish, more deep seated, more comfortable. The emphasis was less on dining and more on lounging and entertaining. This has led to the outdoor room era, it is more a designed space. It's gone beyond the furniture and now involves lamps, draperies, rugs, everything that would be incorporated into an indoor space is available outdoors.

Jim Gordon is our expert today and shares his knowledge with us. Jim's store has 4 separate backyard home facades allowing one to visualize furniture in one's own backyard. There is a Country French, a Natchez Trace, a Mediterranean porch and a traditional Georgian home.

One way to create intimacy, a sense of enclosure is to put walls around everything, a kind of closet effect. Another way to create this effect is to put a ceiling or roof overhead. A cantilever umbrella creates this effect. This umbrella is an 11 1/2 foot umbrella. It doesn't have a pole, thus the center is opened up, creating much more livable space. It has a 200 pound base off to the side so it won't blow over easily. The umbrella can be raised or lowered with one hand. By adding a mosquito net and some outdoor lighting it becomes very intimate and a wonderful space for dining at dusk when Mosquitoes become a problem. As well, it allows one to be outdoors more of the year.

A gazebo is another way to create an outdoor room. Most are familiar with the wooden style, we look at one that is galvanized steel. The steel can be left natural or painted. When it rusts it develops a rich patina, but will never rust all the way through because it is galvanized steel. It also serves as a primer coat and can be painted any imaginable color. It is almost 15 feet across and has a squared pattern. It assembles in about 2-3 hours.

In this gazebo is a table and 4 chairs. They are 6 inches shorter than traditional dining groups. By doing this it becomes a conversation group, it allows one to sit around have dinner and drinks. Talking is easier because one doesn't have to look through dishes, glasses, etc. It creates a more comfortable, laid back environment.

In our yards where we have brick, stone or pebbles, even mulched areas weeds are constantly growing, creating a nuisance. A weed killer is often used but the results are temporary. This season there are some new products available, these products kill weeds for one whole season. It is a combination of very fast killing ingredients and some that last for a long time. It keeps your patio areas weed free for a year.

One of the mottos we hear today is "instead of going out, simply go outside." A nice outdoor environment makes staying at home more enjoyable. We look at an outdoor cooking center. It is not only a great place for men but women like it as well. The grill is very solid, double wall stainless steel, three gas burners, plus two infrared burners. The system is similar to that used at Ruth Chris Steak House. The burners will reach 1,000 degrees in less than six minutes. As well it has storage drawers and a sound system. It is modular, thus goes together easily, in three hours one can be cooking. It has a galvanized steel frame and all the components are stainless steel. The facade is either stamped concrete and porcelain tile, which is frost proof, brick which is available in red brick or washed brick or a taupe or gray stone. The options allow one to match the architecture of their home.

A hot topic for garden areas today is having a source of heat, there is something special about having a crackling, popping fire in the background. This fireplace is modular, it has three pieces. It has a porcelain tile hearth and has 18 inches of airspace, hollow construction, allowing one to place this fireplace right on a deck. It is available in four colors of stamped concrete. A fireplace is nice when it's cool, but also welcome when it's a little warmer with higher humidity. Outdoor fireplaces are ideal dehumidifiers, they pull moisture out of the air.

Arbor, trellis and pergola are confusing terms to many. A trellis is a two dimensional object, it might be placed on a wall for climbing vines, etc. An arbor can be two or three dimensional but is usually used as an archway, an entrance to a garden, is an example. A pergola is a free standing object that really defines an outdoor space. A pergola kit is available, this one is 12 by 12. Typically they can be found in two materials vinyl or wood. Vinyl can't be painted, wood attracts termites and mold. The latest version is epoxy resin and marble dust. It can be set up in three hours, no need to tear up the backyard. It's paintable and bugs aren't a worry. It's warrantied for 20-25 years and seems to wear like iron.

One of the most important activities in any garden is watering the plants Some have automated systems but many of us like to have more control and use a hose. Hoses leak as they get old, the part that attaches to the faucet and the part that connects to the nozzle frequently get run over, then break. There a new hoses on the market that have softer couplings that minimize this problem Another difficulty is controlling the water flow away from the faucet. There is a new device called a hydrodial that allows one to control the water flow away from the faucet. It clamps down on the hose allowing one to completely turn the water off or to allow the water to flow like a drip irrigation system. It's a great way to control water flow at the source as opposed to running all the way back to the faucet.

In today's market there are many new materials for outdoor furniture. These materials allow greater flexibility and beauty. Many of the materials such a Teak, Cypress and Wicker have been around for some time. There have been improvements made, for example, today there is not only natural wicker but synthetic wicker. We have extruded aluminums, hand worked metals, etc. The materials are what make patio furniture so exciting today.

When we think of patio furniture we often think of the old PVC chairs. Today they put in pigments, add striations on the surface and it looks and feels like Bamboo. This furniture is full weather, meaning it can stay out year round. The strapping is vinyl making it impervious to the weather as well. It has a finished, beautiful look. The cushions are "drain through." It has a drain built into the cushion bottom and an acrylic fabric, this particular cushion has painted acrylic fabric and will keep its color even when outside for a long time. The cushion is poly fill, Decron from Dupont. It is plush, substantial and solid. The cushions don't need to be brought inside, they also can be left outside year round. From completely soaked to being able to sit on the cushions takes about half an hour.

Another furniture material is extruded aluminum. It looks similar to tortoise shell, like something on sunglasses. The finish is applied in two stages and done by hand. The swirls are created with human thumbs. There are gold medallions on the back of the chairs and gold inlay on the feathering. It is very ornamental. If the paint were to be knocked off, if it were to get knicked, it could be touched up; but since it's aluminum it won't rust, it will last. It's strong and well made.

Another material is cast aluminum. It has a lot of detail resulting from the sand casting process, it is poured into molds. It is very heavy making it ideal for someone living on the coast where there might be very strong winds, perfect for a third or fourth floor balcony, it shouldn't blow off during high winds. It's beautiful, won't rust because it's aluminum and as close to zero maintenance as you'll find.

When one thinks of the Northeast, one thinks of Teak furniture. Teak is a natural hard wood, it has a closed pore, making it the type of wood that lasts for years. It is amazingly smooth, almost a creamy smooth. Over time it turns a silvery gray color. Teak combined with other natural materials is gaining in popularity. An end table is an example, it has a Teak top and natural wicker bottom.

The word wicker means woven. Thus Rattan can be called natural wicker. One couch is split reed rattan on a natural hardwood frame. The natural rattan on a hardwood frame must remain under cover, it can be outside, but undercover, on a porch, in a sun room, etc. The hardwood frame is the determining factor, if left in exposed elements over time it will deteriorate. There are several types of wicker. There are synthetic wickers, vinyl wrapped aluminum wicker, resin wrapped aluminum wicker both of these types of wicker are full weather wicker, they can be placed on the deck, completely exposed to the elements. There is a natural wicker with a stainless steel wire woven into it, it has an aluminum frame and it too is full weather. These new and improved wickers will last a long time.

Carpets or rugs are now available for outdoors. One is made of spun plastic, basically it is derived from recycled soda containers. This rug is available in a wide range of colors. It can be ordered to match seat cushions, etc.

Thank you Jim. You have opened our eyes to a new area of outdoor living. No longer is outdoor furniture dull and drab. It's as attractive as the nicest indoor furniture and it's durable. Jim uses the term "heirloom quality furniture."

Link :
World of Outdoor Living

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