Author: Trey Collier

About Trey Collier

Avid Do-It-Yourself-er. Love’s being outdoors. Helped push the shade sail market into one of the fastest growing outdoor shade structures product in North America.

Home Wall Fountains & Waterfalls

Slate Wall Fountain

A Multi-Sensory Approach to Reducing Stress & the Negative Effects of Everyday Noises Using Fountains

Try this experiment. Be as fully aware as possible of your stress and energy levels following a day when you are occupied with your standard activities, and then compare that to the stress and energy levels you experience following a day in nature. It is very likely that you end your day in nature with less stress and more energy than you feel at the end of a typical day of work, school, errands, and other miscellaneous tasks. Even if the results of this comparison are obvious, you may be astonished to find out that much of our stress and lack of energy as a society comes from the very fact that we are constantly surrounded by noise.

Throughout the entire day, our ears and brains are required to deal with a multitude of low frequency sounds that drain the brain of energy and cause stress. Low frequency noises include the ever-present hum of household appliances, the drone of the computer and fluorescent lights, and the din of traffic, large machinery, aircraft, and other everyday technologies. According to a January 2007 Consumer Reports: On Health article titled “Shhh! Everyday noise can be harmful,” stress and lack of energy are only two of the negative effects that everyday noises can have on our bodies. In addition, it has been determined that daily noises are a factor in sleep problems, lack of motivation, lower efficiency levels, decreased creativity, poor mood, and increased heart attack risk.

Counteracting the Negative Effects of Everyday Noises

Noise may not be the sole cause of the stress and other health issues we experience, but it is undeniably a contributing factor. Fortunately, we can reduce, and even reverse, the negative effects that noise has on our brains and bodies through regular exposure to the higher frequency sounds found in nature.

Spending a day, or even part of a day, in nature provides our bodies and brains with a much needed relief from stress. Regrettably, going out to nature on a daily basis does not always fit into the daily schedule, so bringing nature sounds into your home is the practical solution. Listening to sound machines and audio recordings that feature babbling brooks, ocean waves, rain showers, bird songs, and other natural sounds is one option. An abundance of these products can be found at many shops or internet sites. However, home wall fountains and waterfalls are many times a favorite choice for nature sounds because they offer a multi-sensory stress-relieving experience that sound machines and audio recordings are incapable of providing.

The Benefits of Wall Fountains and Waterfalls

Wall fountains and waterfalls — which come in tabletop, wall mounted, and free standing varieties — bring the soothing sounds of flowing water into the home, but they also bring a visual element. Not only are waterfalls and wall fountains beautifully conceived and able to fit into any home’s decor, the water itself lends another dimension of stress relief to the equation. Watching the dance and trickle of water as it flows across rocks, down textured surfaces, and into a basin at the bottom enhances our auditory experience. When we listen to sound machines or audio recordings of nature sounds, we may feel the need to close our eyes to block out visual distractions around us that take our minds away from the goal of relaxation. In contrast, the visual attributes of wall fountains and waterfalls transport us toward that end by giving us something beautiful and elemental to focus on with our eyes as we listen with our ears.

Furthermore, the water that flows in a wall fountain or waterfall changes its sounds subtly at every moment. This dynamic quality keeps our listening experience from becoming tedious or repetitive, which can easily happen if we listen to sound machines or audio recordings regularly. We can also choose to dramatically change the “song” of the water in our wall fountain or waterfall simply by rearranging rocks or other features in the basin or by adding a new element — such as a seashell, leaf, or small piece of wood — along the water’s path. We can even place our own fingers in the water’s flow to change the sound of the water as it moves; feeling the water stream across our skin would bring yet another sensory element to our experience.

The Gentle Quality of Water

Because water is an integral part of our world and our bodies, it has an innate ability to soothe. We are instinctively drawn to the sound of water, and we feel spellbound by its gentle movement. Spending time near water — listening, watching, touching — allows us to breathe more slowly and to break the cycle of stress we experience each day. Making a space in our home for a wall fountain or waterfall, whether it is a small tabletop version or a larger wall mounted or free standing version, gives us the luxury of regular access to real water, as opposed to pre-recorded water sounds. Wall fountains and waterfalls provide us with a multi-sensory relaxation experience that may not only lower our stress levels, but improve our sleep and our moods, increase our motivation and efficiency, and even lower our risk for heart attack.

Outdoor Clocks

Dragonfly Outdoor Clock with Thermometer

Bring Beauty and High-Tech Function to Your Outdoor Living Spaces

Expanding your living space and increasing the value of your home can be as easy as making the most of the areas outside your door. Patios and decks, screened porches and sun rooms, and outdoor kitchens and dining rooms are the most desirable places to entertain friends or to enjoy some quality relaxation time when the weather is pleasant. Your outdoor spaces should be an extension of your indoor living areas in that they should feel comfortable and reflect your personal style. Furniture, rugs, lighting, and decor are some of the basic ingredients that allow you to create your perfect outdoor room.

Beauty and Style

An outdoor clock is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to bring the feel of the indoors outside. Today’s outdoor clocks are not only affordable and can withstand the elements, they are also beautiful. They come in a wide variety of sizes and colors, and the available materials range from weather resistant metals and natural woods, to glass and durable plastics.  In addition, you are sure to find a style of outdoor clock that satisfies your taste, whether traditional, antique, contemporary, whimsical, rustic, or retro.

High-Tech Function

Outdoor clocks bring more than beauty to your outdoor living spaces; they can also offer a variety of high-tech functions.  Many outdoor clocks come with thermometers to measure temperature, barometers to measure air pressure, and hygrometers to measure humidity. One of the most impressive features of some outdoor clocks today is their ability to automatically synchronize to U.S. official time.  The Time and Frequency Division of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Boulder, Colorado, houses the NIST-F1 cesium fountain atomic clock, which is one of the most accurate clocks in the world and which sets the standard for the nation’s primary time and frequency.  The NIST broadcasts a low frequency signal from its own radio station near Fort Collins, Colorado (WWVB), and this signal is received by outdoor clocks, as well as other electronic devices, that contain a miniature radio receiver.  Once the radio controlled clock receives the signal from the WWVB station, it will synchronize, so the time is always accurate to the second.

Outdoor clocks differ in the number of times per day that they synchronize to the WWVB time signal; some synchronize every 4 or 6 hours, while some only synchronize once per day.  Clocks that synchronize only once per day usually do so at night when the signal from WWVB is at its strongest.  Outdoor clocks that synchronize once each day are just as accurate, though, as those that synchronize several times.  The NIST’s Time and Frequency Division explains that “in between synchronizations, the clocks keep time using their quartz crystal oscillators.  A typical quartz crystal found in a radio controlled clock can probably keep time to within 1 second for a few days or longer.” As a result, a clock that synchronizes more than once per day has no real advantage over one that synchronizes only one time.

The Value of an Outdoor Clock

Beauty, style, accuracy, high-tech functionality, and affordability — today’s outdoor clocks offer so much in a single package. As a whole, clocks have been an essential element in our lives for centuries; they remind us of occasions we don’t want to miss and allow us to mark the moments at which our greatest achievements occur. Bringing the beauty and practicality of a clock to your deck, screened porch, or outdoor kitchen is a natural way to bring an essential element of life and the comfort of the indoors to your outdoor living spaces.

Source:

“WWVB Radio Controlled Clocks.” Time and Frequency Division. National Institute of Standards and Technology. http://tf.nist.gov/stations/radioclocks.htm

All Weather Indoor / Outdoor Rugs

Indoor / Outdoor Rugs

Durable Beauty For Every Room Inside and Out

Remember When . . .

In the not too distant past, the word outdoor rugs referred to something like a small patch of Astroturf that one placed in the backyard. Those old outdoor rugs were basically utilitarian, and sure didn’t add any ambiance to the landscape. But then again, few people cared much about what patios looked like at the time.

Outdoor Rooms Come into Their Own

All that is changing. Now, it is not uncommon to hear decorators, architects, and outdoor enthusiasts talk about “outdoor rooms,” explaining how outdoor living areas are more than just a place to put your backyard furniture. They have become integral parts of the home, and as such are treated like any other room in the house. Of course, along with this alluring new take on outdoor rooms came the desire for higher quality and more stylish outdoor products. Enter braided outdoor rugs. An improvement over the older models, braided rugs were more pleasing to the eye, and, being made of polypropylene, they were also water, UV, mold, and rot resistant.

Indoor/Outdoor Rugs

Recently, though, there has been a large increase in outdoor rug manufacturing. Now, polypropylene threads are actually woven, as would be done to make a normal indoor rug. The result is rugs that are durable enough to withstand outdoor use, but comfortable and beautiful enough for indoor use, especially in high traffic areas. And because they are available in a huge selection of styles and patterns, they can easily be matched to any home decor.

One advantage of these indoor/outdoor rugs is how easy they are to clean. Usually, they can simply be hosed off, and even if they get especially dirty, all that is needed is some mild soap. In addition to patios and decks, woven all weather rugs are also ideal for kitchens and mudrooms where the biggest messes often happen.

Indoor/outdoor rugs offer one more way to blur the traditional distinctions between the inside and outside of homes. These elegant and durable rugs can take comfort and elegance outside, as well as bring tough durability indoors.

Hobby Greenhouses and Greenhouse Kits

Grow and Store Greenhouse

How to Choose the Best Size and Location For Your Backyard Greenhouse

Backyard gardening is experiencing a renaissance, and many home owners who would not consider such an endeavor in the past are now embracing gardening. The reasons for the increase in gardening interest are varied and include lack of variety and quality at local nurseries and garden centers, a desire to enhance the home’s “curb appeal,” and a need for fresh and pesticide-free vegetables and fruits that haven’t traveled thousands of miles to reach the neighborhood grocery store. Whatever the reason, though, gardeners are limited to the growing season, and in cooler climates, that growing season can be all too short. Increasing the annual growing season can be done easily and inexpensively with a hobby greenhouse.

The purpose of greenhouses is to allow gardeners to grow a wider variety of plants and flowers, no matter the growing zone, and to extend the growing season to three, and sometimes four, seasons. No matter what size the greenhouse, the interior of a greenhouse heats up because the sunlight shining through greenhouse windows warms everything inside faster than heat can escape. The greenhouse walls and roof keep the warm air inside, even when temperatures outside are chilly. Two of the most important considerations that must be made, though, before selecting any hobby greenhouse are size and location.

Hobby greenhouses are available in many shapes and sizes. If space is limited, a practical option would be a lean-to greenhouse or an attached greenhouse. These greenhouses are physically attached to another building, such as a house, garage, or shed. Attached greenhouses and lean-to greenhouses get less sunlight during the day simply because they are attached to another structure, so they should be placed in a location that receives the most amount of sunlight throughout the day. Lean-to greenhouses and attached greenhouses are ideal for gardeners who wish to use the greenhouse only seasonally, and who may wish only to grow a small selection of plants. Larger hobby greenhouses are free-standing and can hold more plants, flowers, and vegetables. Larger greenhouses can also support a longer growing season. Importantly, upgrading to a larger size greenhouse can be more expensive than starting with a larger greenhouse in the first place, so thinking ahead to future gardening needs is a must.

The best location for a hobby greenhouse is a level, well-drained site that gets plenty of sunlight throughout the day. If the local climate includes heavy rains, a well-drained site will help prevent drainage problems in and around the greenhouse. A drainage system may be necessary, though, if a site with good drainage is not available. Sunlight is, of course, a major consideration when locating a hobby greenhouse. To grow plants in late fall and winter, a greenhouse should receive at least 6 hours of direct sunlight every day. However, if the greenhouse will be used mainly for starting seeds and transplants in the summer, then an area with partial shade would be ideal. Partial shade will help minimize heat build-up in the afternoon. In general, greenhouses should be positioned so that the ends face east and west; this will allow for the best heat gain during the winter and minimize shadowing.

In order to ensure a successful gardening experience, the size and location of greenhouses are essential considerations for every home owner who wishes to join the growing numbers of new backyard gardeners. Careful planning before installing a hobby greenhouse will pay off when harvest time brings beautiful flowers and plants, and delicious fruits and vegetables.

Garden Arbors

Example of a Garden Arbor - Casablanca

Casablanca Garden Arbor

Arbors are an Easy Way to Enhance Any Garden or Yard

If you enjoy backyard gardening or landscaping, no doubt you spend a good deal of time working in the yard every week. Planting, tending, and weeding the garden beds takes time and effort, but the beautiful results are worth it. Increasingly, many homeowners are choosing to add decorative elements to yards and gardens to enhance outdoor spaces even more. Garden arbors are just one example. Garden arbors are structures, often made of wood or metal, that serve as an attractive focal point in a backyard or garden. They allow you to establish an appealing entry or gateway to a garden retreat or quiet backyard corner. Arbors are an easy and inexpensive way to spruce up a yard or draw attention to a carefully tended garden.
Common Features

Most garden arbors feature side panels that double as a trellis for climbing plants and vines. The tops of these structures vary greatly — some feature decorative arches while others have flat, pergola-style tops. Together, side panels and tops come in a wide variety of styles to complement different gardens and personal tastes. For example, arbors can bring an Asian, Moroccan, or Mediterranean flavor to gardens, but they can also bring traditional charm. Many arbors offer the addition of a gate or a bench. Those that feature benches make cozy private retreats; just add a comfortable seat cushion and throw pillows made from all-weather fabric, and you can relax while enjoying the beauty of the garden.

Before choosing from the many garden arbors available, be sure to measure the width of the path or area where the arbor will be located to be sure that the style you prefer is not too narrow or too wide. One particularly nice feature available in some arbors is the ability to adjust its width to best fit the desired spot where it will be placed. Another beneficial feature to look for are concrete anchors that allow you to secure the structure to the ground and prevent it from being accidentally overturned or blown over by strong weather.

Materials Used

Most garden arbors are constructed from metal or wood. Metal arbors often feature beautiful scroll work or other intricate designs along the side panels. When choosing from the variety of metal arbors, look for durable rust-free cast iron construction. Alternatively, wood garden arbors bring a warm, natural element to gardens. When choosing from the variety of wood arbors, look for quality wood, such as western red cedar or eucalyptus wood. Both western red cedar and eucalyptus are hardy woods that naturally resist moisture, decay, and insect infestation, and they continue to look good over time with very little maintenance required. Whether you choose metal or wood, look for arbors that are sturdily constructed so that the weight of heavy vines and greenery growing up the side panels and over the top are well supported.

In sum, garden arbors add a decorative as well as functional element to yards and gardens. They allow you to extend your garden upward, and they create a focal point that draws the eye toward a particular area of interest. Garden arbors offer an inexpensive and easy way to further enhance the look of any outdoor space.