Summer prep in 1, 2, 3…

The first official day of summer is upon us and you know what that means – more fun in the sun! But sometimes summer entertaining can turn out to be far more taxing than it is relaxing – so why not pick this weekend to do a few things to make your outdoor space ready for any occasion? These three tips will help make sure you’re stressing less and entertaining more.

1. Create Conversation Nooks

The grill, the appetizer table, the drink station…these are all popular spots for your guests to hang out during summer barbecues. But take a look at where you might want them to mingle. Create gathering areas; make them big enough to be social but quaint enough to be cozy. Whether it’s chat sets for small spaces, dining tables where you can enjoy a meal or a board game, or lounge sets for conversations lasting into the night, just thinking about the function of each space can help you adjust outdoor furniture appropriately. Already have a patio set? Consider upgrading your outdoor patio cushions. You’d be surprised how inviting a fresh set of seat cushions will be on last year’s furniture.

2. Make an Outdoor Kitchen

Don’t have a built in grilling station outside? No problem. It’s easy to setup an outdoor kitchen – from grills to smokers or even an outdoor pizza oven, you just need to designate a space for the cooking magic to happen! Throw in a shade-friendly gazebo and you’ll have a perfect spot for people to chat up the grill master. Add an outdoor folding table for prepping, a spot for grill accessories and a patio cooler to keep some cold drinks handy, and your chef will be one happy griller! Of course if you want an all-in-one, a grill gazebo might be the ticket. Either way, it doesn’t take much to take your cooking outside.

3. Set the Mood for Entertaining

Outdoor lawn games, pool toys, drink stations…they all help create an inviting and entertaining addition to your summer party. Whether it’s setting up different areas for a bean bag toss, giant checkers or croquet, games are sure to be a hit for kids of all ages. Then think about placing different tubs around for guests to quickly grab a drink – galvanized steel tubs can denote adults-only beverages and colored rope handled tubs can hold child-friendly options. And don’t forget to add ambiance with charming string lights, lanterns, candles or solar-powered path lights. Fire pits also help light up the night and are perfect for smores!

Once you realize how simple these little projects can be, you’ll probably see tons of opportunities to update your outdoor living space. And your neighbors at Orchard are always here to help. After all, summer is all about being outside– so let’s get you out there enjoying the season!

Bright Ideas: Use Accent Lighting to Set the Scene

Lighting your outdoor space is a no-brainer during the day, but if you’re planning to use your patio after sunset you’re going to need more than what mother nature provides.

Patio String Lights

String Lights

String lights are an outdoor entertaining staple. Everyone uses them, and for good reason. They add fun to just about any backyard, they’re available year-round, and they’re super easy to hang.

You can put them just about anywhere. Wrap them around trellises, trees, and umbrella poles. String them overhead or run them around the yard. And one of our favorite touches: use icicle lights on a banister, and let the light drip down the handrail.

If you’re throwing a theme party, you can even get string lights shaped like pineapples, globes, whatever you want.

Pineapple Lanterns

Lanterns and Luminaries

Want to set up a cozy nook, but don’t have any portable walls for your yard? No problem. Divide your space into conversation sets with patio chairs and lanterns. The little pools of light and comfy seating can make even big open spaces a more intimate feel.

Set out lanterns with candles, hurricane lamps with tea lights, or mason jars filled with battery operated lights. Put them on tables as centerpieces, light up foot paths, or just put them on the ground by the chairs. Just use battery-operated lights if you’re going to put them by anyone’s feet.  “Burning down the house” is a song, not a suggestion.

Torches

If you’re looking for a low-tech lighting option, torches are a fun, casual way to light a party. Just pull them up and move them where you want them.

Fire’s an instant attention-getter, so it’s a snap to create focal points. Flank the food table, back-light the bar, and outline the dance floor. Bonus? You can fill them with citronella oil and use them to keep your gatherings bug-free.

Just remember, however you decide to brighten your evening, the spotlight should always be on having fun.

Get the Dirt on Organic Gardening

reneesBeen thinking of going organic? Good news! It’s easy, it’s rewarding, and all you need to get started is plants, dirt, and fertilizer.

Organic Plants

Think about what you want to put in your garden, and how much space you have to work with. Plan out where you’ll put each plant, and how many of each you want. Graph paper is a lifesaver here, because you can plan out every square foot if you want to.

The types of plants you’re going to grow will decide how deep your dirt needs to be. Herbs don’t need deep soil, so they can do well in window boxes and containers. Tomatoes, on the other hand, do better in raised beds or in-ground. Sometimes you can cheat the system by planting shallow plants right next to deep plants, but every plant needs some space of its own. No one likes to be crowded.

Do a little research on how many plants to grow. You don’t want to end up with way too many of something you’re not going to eat, and some plants can surprise you. For example, an average zucchini plant in an average garden having an average year will produce thirty pounds of zucchinis. Thirty pounds. On average.

Browse Organic Seed Starting

Jobes Blood Meal and Bone Meal

Organic Dirt

Before you start digging holes, you need to get to know your dirt. Use a soil test kit to figure out what nutrients you’ve got enough of, and what you need to add. Ideally your pH will be balanced, and your soil will be rich in nitrogen (for leaf development), phosphorous (for fruit growth), and potassium (for healthy roots). If you’re lacking in any of those minerals, amend your soil and test again after a few days.

Start prepping your garden soil about a month before you want to plant. Mix your amendments (like fertilizer, nutrients, and specialty soils) in with a garden fork or a shovel. You want to make your soil fluffy. Dirt that’s too tightly packed can make it harder for roots to grow.

Check if your soil’s ready for planting by rolling a clump lightly into a ball.  Now crumble it in your hand. If it just breaks into a few smaller pieces, it’s ready however, if it feels doughy or soggy you need to wait for drier weather. And if it’s hard or powdery water the ground, fluff it again, and check again in a few days.
Soil and Fertilizers

Browse organic soils and ammendments

Organic Fertilizers

Fertilizers and amendments don’t just feed the plants. They also feed the soil, helpful bugs, and all the other things that keep your garden thriving. Everything needs to eat, after all.

Add them to your garden in the spring and again in the fall. And if you have a longer growing season, you can use a little more. Organic fertilizers are slow-releasing, so you’re not going to overload your soil.

Browse organic fertilizers

Pests

OK, we didn’t mention pests. But we need to be realistic. You’re going to have pests. And since you’re not going to use any chemical herbicides or pesticides, how will you protect your plants from being choked out by weeds, or eaten by bugs? Thankfully, your neighborhood Orchard Supply Hardware store is well-stocked with a full line of pest management and weed controls for organic gardening.

And don’t let your organic gardening end with vegetables. Shrubs, flowerbeds, even your lawn can benefit from organic methods. Don’t be stingy, spread the love!

CA ONLY: No Sales Tax –  February 18-20, 2017 the price you see is the price you pay. So it’s the perfect time to stock up and save on the stuff you need anyway.

OR Residents ONLY: 10% OFF –  February 18-20, 2017 the price you see is the price you pay. So it’s the perfect time to stock up and save on the stuff you need anyway.

Head over to your neighborhood Orchard Supply Hardware® and grab the plants, soils, and amendments you need to get your organic garden started right.

Organics

#MyOSHProject: Create A Succulent Mini Garden

Not only are they exceptionally hardy, they come in a happy array of shapes and sizes. Good luck choosing. A succulent mini garden can be hung in a variety of ways, placed on shelves, or tucked into nooks all around the house. It’s like bringing a bit of summer indoors. Find everything you need at your neighborhood Orchard Supply Hardware store.

Supplies:

Canning Jars

canning-jars

Spanish Moss

spanish-moss

Jute Twine and Adhesive

twine

5-lb Pebbles

pebbles

Cactus Mix Potting Soil

vlack-gold

Ready to get Started On Your Succulent Garden?

  1. Select canning jar(s). Keep in mind if you plan on hanging, or where you want to place.
  2. Put in a layer of Spanish moss. The moss will compact quite a bit, so it’s a good idea to put in more than you think you might need.
  3. Add a layer of rocks or pebbles. This will allow excess water to drain to be absorbed by the moss.
  4. Fill the jar with cactus mix to about 1-in from the rim.
  5. Plant with the succulent of your choice.
  6. If you want to hang the planter, wrap twin multiple times around the rim, and then secure with the adhesive.
  7. Mini succulent garden ready to cheer your indoor space.

Want to embellish your planter? Look throughout the store for ideas. You’ll find paints, markers, tapes and much more.

All items may not be offered at every store.
Call your neighborhood store for availability. FIND A STORE

#MyOSHProject: A Backyard Oasis in An Afternoon

Been longing for a quiet backyard getaway? Creating a customized escape in your backyard is easier than it sounds. All it takes is a few hours and a trip to your neighborhood Orchard Supply Hardware store.

What you’ll need:

Quikrete® All-Purpose Gravel

Quikrete All-Purpose Gravel

Laredo Stepping Stones
(In 3 shapes and 2 colors – Cream and Tan)

Laredo Stepping Stones

6-Pack Ground Cover Plants

plants

Gardena 3-Piece Bistro Set

Bistroset

Decorative Outdoor Pillows

Pillows

Ready to get Started?

  1. Find a level area in your yard or garden. Don’t have a level area? Talk to an expert at your neighborhood Orchard Supply Hardware store about the tools and tips you’ll need to create one.
  2. Lay down the gravel
  3. Place stepping stones approximately 4-in from each other. Be as creative as you like in laying out a pattern
  4. Plant groundcover 4 to 6-in from each other to allow room for growth
  5. Add a bistro set (or garden bench), toss on some pillows, grab a book, and enjoy!

Find a store near you or shop online.