Hot, humid Houston summers aren’t always the most pleasant times to be outdoors. Fortunately, you can still enjoy the fresh air and gentle breezes by adding a few features to your backyard to protect yourself from the heat. You can even have outdoor parties during the summer! All you have to do is make sure your outdoor kitchen and hangout spots are ready to provide comfort during the hot weather.
With strategic designs for your outdoor kitchen and hangout space, you can create a backyard ready for any summer day. Here are just a few ideas to spruce up your yard for warmer weather:
Tidy up the yard
Cover your dining area
Upgrade your appliances
Style outdoor furniture
Add a bar
1) Tidy Up the Yard
Nobody wants to party in a dirty, overgrown yard! Mow the grass and haul away any trash. Consider pressure washing your patio and any concrete surfaces for a brand new look. In general, just take the time to make your yard look appealing and ready for when guests arrive.
2) Cover Your Dining Area
An outdoor dining room may sound appealing for backyard parties of any kind, but if it starts to rain or the sun gets too hot, your guests will have to run indoors again. Prevent this issue by installing a new patio cover over your dining space! Let the party continue, rain or shine, and enjoy a shady spot all year round.
3) Upgrade Your Appliances
Whether you have an entire outdoor kitchen or just a grilling station in the backyard, you likely enjoy the ability to cook fresh food for your guests. Why not upgrade your appliances to make your experience easier? Swap your old grill for a more efficient model or see what your outdoor kitchen still needs. A few new cooking appliances could make a big difference in your party hosting experience.
Pro Tip: Hosting parties after dark? Hang string lights or install solar pathway lights for an elegant touch and to let everyone see in the dark!
4) Style Outdoor Furniture
Outdoor dining areas or hangout spots need comfortable seating for all your guests. Of course, it’s equally important to make sure that the furniture you choose can withstand the elements. Find outdoor-safe furniture to match your design scheme and furnish your backyard to get the party started!
5) Add a Bar
Finally, add the finishing touch to your summer party space: an outdoor bar. A nearby wine fridge or full-sized refrigerator can keep drinks cold and produce ice for everyone. A well-designed, comfortable bar is the perfect addition to a summer evening spent with friends outdoors. Give it a try!
Enjoy Your Summer!
Upgrading your backyard relaxation spaces goes a long way toward making summer days that much more enjoyable. Try throwing a family cookout or moving a planned party outdoors. Take full advantage of your newly refurbished space!
Your newly refurbished backyard may have all the room for parties and relaxation that you want, but something’s not quite finished yet. Anyone can renovate the yard. But why not make your backyard party space unique to you? Don’t settle for a simple renovation.
Brand-new appliances and shaded spots certainly add a lot to your backyard, but they can also feel a bit “standard” on their own. Every homeowner decorates their house’s interior with personal artwork and furniture–why not give the exterior the same treatment? Try personalizing your backyard with one of these ideas:
What’s more fun than a movie night under the patio on a beautiful night? A patio cover with large enough walls provides the perfect spot to mount a large TV or even a projector screen. Build an outdoor home theater to host movie nights in your own backyard!
2) Outdoor Pillows
If you’ll be spending a fair amount of time outside, you’ll likely want to include weatherproof furniture. But many weatherproof materials aren’t exactly comfortable to sit on. Outdoor-safe pillows, however, can fix that! Add a splash of color and comfort to your backyard furniture.
Pro Tip: Cushions made of outdoor-safe material require different care than indoor pillows. Make sure not to damage them when you clean outside.
3) Fire Pit
Anyone who loves cooking over open flames will love having a fire pit in the newly renovated backyard! Aside from its functional purpose, fire features add an exotic atmosphere to your backyard space and keep parties going well into the night. Some homeowners even add fireproof glass fragments known as diamond nuggets to give the flames a magical effect. Customize your fire pit to complement your new private party space!
4) Decorative Lighting
Finally, as nice as a fire pit is, it can’t provide as much light as some late-night parties will need. That’s where other types of outdoor lighting come in. Stake lights situated along the sidewalks will show your guests where to walk, for instance. Lanterns provide a soft, ambient light for a relaxing atmosphere. And brighter lights mounted under the patio cover let you keep working in your outdoor kitchen. Just like any feature, you can customize your lighting choices to your heart’s content.
Customize Your Outdoor Space
A brand new outdoor kitchen and dining room can do wonders to add appeal to your backyard. But why stop there? Add your own touch to make the space truly your own! Give yourself and your loved ones the gift of an awesome, personalized backyard.
Connect with us to see how some of our clients decorated their completed backyard paradises.
You’ve decided to install a patio space or update your old one. Now comes the next question: which style is best? Some will mesh nicely with your home and last for years to come, while other styles are simply less visually appealing or durable. How can you choose the right design and construction materials for your new patio?
Your home design and overall backyard aesthetic will influence which construction materials you choose for your patio cover. However, you must also consider durability. Will your new patio stand the test of time? How often will it require repairs? Take the time to research each of these popular styles:
Wood is a classical deck building material that perfectly complements a rustic-style backyard. A well-built wooden deck can last for about 15 years without needing extensive reworking. And nothing beats the natural colors of solid wood!
Bricks or flat stones called pavers are laid flat and lined up with each other to create a paver patio. This design has endless potential for creativity. Differently colored stones, differently shaped stones, and custom layout patterns all contribute to a patio deck that is uniquely yours. Just make sure the stones have a sturdy, flat surface to lay on so your patio will last for years without issue.
Flagstone patios are similar to pavers in a way, but their design is slightly different. A flagstone pattern is designed to allow water to trickle through and out of the design, rather than simply running off like it would on other materials. Because of its durability and its lovely earth tones that seem to complement any backyard, flagstone is a popular choice for patio materials.
Pro Tip: Flagstone patios use concrete to hold the stones in place, while paver patios only press the stones together without any binding agent.
Perhaps the most straightforward patio design, a concrete patio involves just pouring and setting a slab of concrete in your backyard. This design isn’t quite as ideal as it may sound. While the installation process doesn’t require a huge amount of time or effort, a solid slab of concrete is somewhat brittle compared to other patio designs and can crack or split with time. You may need to replace or significantly renovate a concrete patio in a few years.
Designing Your New Patio
Choosing the right style and construction materials are crucial steps toward creating your new outdoor space. Your patio should complement your home and be durable enough to last for years without significant repairs. Find your favorite style and start enjoying your new patio!
Grills have long been a staple of outdoor cooking. Who doesn’t love a hot steak cooked over an open flame? Unfortunately, buying a grill isn’t as simple as it used to be. Aspiring grill masters now have to consider different brands, sizes, fuels, styles, and much more.
Any grill you choose will give you fantastic results when you cook. But some homeowners say that different types of fuel yield different tastes, while others favor a particular style. How can you find the right grill for your backyard? Check out this outdoor grill comparison of some of Creekstone’s best products.
Grills come in all shapes and sizes, from tiny grills designed to cook one meal to massive grills built into an outdoor kitchen island. Naturally, bigger grills will cost more and likely have more features than their smaller counterparts. A casual backyard chef may be content with a small, simple grill. But what if you frequently entertain large groups of people? A smaller grill won’t be able to keep up with the amount of cooking necessary for big parties. Homeowners who often have friends over for dinner may prefer a bigger, fancier grill.
Pro Tip: Most types of grills allow for indirect cooking–cooking your food next to the heat source rather than directly over it. This method allows you to cook thicker cuts of meat slowly without burning the outside.
What Fuel Does the Grill Need?
At Creekstone, we carry grills that take one of three kinds of fuel: gas, pellets, and charcoal. Many veteran grillmasters swear by charcoal grills and claim they provide the best smoky flavor on a freshly grilled steak. Others disagree, however. It’s also somewhat common to hear people claim that gas grills produce the same flavor as charcoal grills, and much faster! You may hear similar claims about pellet grills since they also preheat quickly.
The type of fuel you choose should depend on a few factors. First of all, do you believe the fuel makes a significant difference in taste? Second, which fuel can you easily and consistently purchase to keep your grill going? And finally, are there any restrictions about grilling where you live? Some apartment complexes have rules against electric grills on the porch, for instance. Know your own preferences and any restrictions you may have to deal with.
Does It Come with a Warranty?
Grill manufacturers are confident in their products, and it shows. The vast majority of worthwhile grill models come with at least a 10-year warranty. Hopefully you’ll never need it, but it’s always a good idea to opt for a model with a warranty. Choose a high-quality grill made of durable materials and consult with our backyard renovation experts for details on its warranty.
Which Grill is Right for You?
No matter the brand, size, or fuel, any grill on the market has its own advantages and disadvantages. But don’t evaluate the grills on their own without considering how they’ll fit in your backyard. Do you have room for a massive grill? Do you have guests over often and a small grill just doesn’t have enough space? Consider every possible factor before you make your purchase.
As social distancing measures continue and people are stuck at home, homeowners are coming up with more creative ways to pass the extra time they now have. Some are learning a new language or taking up a new hobby. Others are reviving old hobbies or trying to get better at them. If you’re looking for ways to pass the time, why not practice your outdoor cooking skills? Fire up the grill and give these flavorful recipes a try!
The most commonly grilled dishes involve meat, especially beef, but your grill is far more versatile than that. You can serve up everything from standard beef dishes to seafood and even grilled desserts! Find your new favorite grilled dish here:
Lemon grilled shrimp kabobs
Chili rubbed ribs
Java pepper steak
1) Lemon Grilled Shrimp Kabobs
⅓ cup lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ lemon zest
1 lb shrimp
Cherry tomatoes (as many as you’d like)
Sliced onions (as many as you’d like)
Mix together the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and lemon zest into a marinade, and let your shrimp and vegetables marinate for several hours or overnight. Thread everything onto barbecue skewers, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and grill on each side for approximately 3 minutes.
2) Chili Rubbed Ribs
6 lbs ribs
3 tbsp packed brown sugar
2 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp chili powder
3 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
Dry rub the ribs with all these seasonings and refrigerate covered for half an hour. Wrap the ribs in aluminum foil and grill over indirect heat for an hour and a half. Finally, mix together your glaze over medium heat for 6-8 minutes:
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup packed brown sugar
2-3 cup ketchup
1-3 cup lemon juice
1 ½ tsp fresh grated ginger
Unwrap the ribs, rub them with the glaze, and cook over direct heat for 30 minutes or until nicely browned.
3) Salsa Steak
4 portions of steak (size can vary)
1 large tomato, diced
1 small red onion, diced
1 small cucumber, chopped
Half yellow capsicum, diced
4 tbsp coriander, chopped
1 tbsp seeded mustard
Olive oil to brush steak
Brush both sides of the steak with olive oil and sear each side, 2-3 minutes for boneless cuts and 3-4 minutes for cuts with bones. For a medium or well done steak, lower the heat to medium and leave for an extra 1-2 minutes. Once the steak is cooked to your preferences, remove from heat and cover for about 2 minutes to settle. While you’re waiting on the steak, mix up your salsa ingredients. Serve on the side.
4) Java Pepper Steak
1.5 lb tenderloin steak
4 tsp finely ground coffee
4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp ground cumin
Salt to taste
Preheat your grill and while you wait for it to heat up, place all ingredients in a freezer bag and seal it shut. Shake the bag until the steak is evenly coated in the seasonings. Grill the steak to your preferred level.
Pro Tip: For an especially flavorful steak, rub it with spices and let it sit in the fridge overnight before grilling.
5) Grilled Pizza
Naan bread or pitas, one for each serving
Olive oil to brush crusts
Pizza toppings of choice
Brush both sides of the naan or pitas with olive oil and grill for 2 minutes on each side. Remove from heat, add your pizza toppings, and return them to the grill until the cheese has completely melted.
6) Cheesy Potatoes
2 ½ lbs potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion
5 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
¼ cup butter, melted
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
6 slices American cheese
Mix all ingredients except the cheese together and spread over a large piece of foil. Fold the foil tightly around the potatoes and grill for 15 minutes on each side. Open the foil and lay the cheese slices over the potatoes. Cover again and cook for 1-2 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
7) Campfire Cobbler
2 cans of fruit pie filling
1 package yellow cake mix
1 ¼ cups water
½ cup canola oil
Line a Dutch oven with aluminum foil and pour in both cans of fruit pie filling. In a separate bowl, mix together the cake mix, water, and oil. Spread the mix over the pie filling. Cook on the grill for 30-40 minutes or until the crust is browned.
8) Grilled Fruit
½ cup Greek yogurt
½ tbsp vanilla
Zest of 1 medium lemon
6 tbsp honey
Handful of lavender flowers
6 figs, halved
3 large fruits: peaches, plums, apricots, etc., halved
Olive oil to brush fruit
Brush your halved fruits with olive oil to prevent them from sticking to the grill. Grill the fruit until nice grill marks form. Meanwhile, combine yogurt, lemon zest, and vanilla into a tangy sauce. Serve fruit with a dollop of yogurt, drizzled honey, flower garnish, and sliced figs.
Brush Up on Your Grill Skills
Few things are more comforting than a hot home-cooked meal prepared on your own grill. And what better way is there to stay fresh on your cooking skills? Give these recipes a try and serve up a great dinner tonight!
Is your backyard boring and just plain blah? Does your family spend more time inside on the couch rather than spending it outside in nature? Are you embarrassed to host outside get-togethers because your yard is unkempt and uninteresting? Don’t worry, your backyard isn’t a lost cause. In fact, it’s simple to transform your backyard from being dull to unbelievable with the right outdoor design!
Anyone can have an incredible backyard. To instantly transform your outdoor space, follow these five secret tips of outdoor design and you’ll be planning a party to show off your new yard in no time!
Work from a Plan
Plant for Seasons
Lines & Edges
1) Work From a Plan
Working from a plan is the first step in creating an unbelievable backyard. Draw your plans out and then work in phases so you don’t get too overwhelmed. Be sure to include any hardscape items you will be adding to your space, like an outdoor kitchen, covered patio, or pergola.
2) Plant for Seasons
If you want an amazing backyard through all seasons, plant to make it happen! With a little research, you can find the best plants for the best seasons and have a variety in your yard so you have greenery and flowers blooming all year round.
3) Lines & Edges
Pay attention to the lines and edges in your yard. Make a natural edge with different grasses or plants, or use stones or other materials to make your garden more enticing. Additionally, pay attention to the lines and add character with sweeping curves throughout your landscape.
4) Separate Spaces
To begin, separate your outdoor space into several smaller spaces. This allows you to make each individual space distinct and fills your yard with interesting details. By separating areas in your backyard, you can delegate specific spaces for everything! Have a lounge area for relaxing, a dining spot for eating al fresco, or a play space for the little ones.
Pro Tip: Don’t let bad weather chase you indoors! Talk to your contractor about adding a pergola or patio cover to your hangout space so the party can go on, rain or shine.
5) Secret Gardens
Everyone loves secret hideaways and your backyard is the perfect place to sneak one in. Find a nice corner or an area between two trees and add a little seating area, water fountain, or even a fire pit. This partially hidden area will not only give you a private spot to relax and enjoy, but the half-hidden space creates the illusion of more space.
Create an Outdoor Oasis
Your backyard is a large part of your home and it should be used just as much as the inside–especially now that we are coming up on the fall season with cooler temperatures! By following the above tips on outdoor design, you will have an unbelievable backyard in no time! If you don’t have the time or just want some help in the process, consider contacting alandscape professional to assist in designing your outdoor living area.
Connect with us to learn more secrets of outdoor design to help you create an unbelievable backyard.