Monthly Archives: July 2013

Creating Curb Appeal

We’ve talked a lot about creating beautiful outdoor spaces in the backyard, but what about the front yard? With cooler temperatures this summer, outdoor projects don’t seem as daunting as they normally do during a hot, humid summer in the Midwest. Why not take advantage of the weather and add a little curb appeal to your home’s exterior by installing a stone walkway or driveway? Semco offers a variety of landscaping stone that will bring your home’s exterior from ‘eh’ to ‘wow’ in no time!

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Walkways

Does your current walkway provide a nice entrance to your home? If not, one way you can add ‘Wow’ to the front of your home is by adding a stone walkway or path. Use flagstone or pavers from Semco like the Pennsylvania Blue Pattern Flagstone shown above to create a beautiful path to your home’s front door and provide a warm, welcoming entrance for your family and friends.

Driveways

Say goodbye to cracked concrete with bits of weeds growing through and add a stone driveway. Stone driveways are durable and add a look of elegance and sophistication to any yard. If you have already added or plan to add a stone walkway, one idea is to continue the look into the driveway by using the same stone. Or if you want to spice things up a bit, go with a different, yet complementary stone. With over 30 varieties of flagstone, Semco has many stones that work well together.

Steps

A great finishing addition to the front yard is to add stone steps from the walkway to the front door. We suggest picking steps in similar pattern and color to those used in your walkway to provide a seamless match. Semco offers a variety of stone steps to help make a stunning entrance to your home.

These are just a few ideas for adding curb appeal to an existing home. With so much time spent in the backyard on patios and outdoor spaces, it’s easy to forget the importance of creating a warm, welcoming entrance to the front of your home for your family and visitors. Durable, long-lasting stone from Semco will not only add to the beauty of your home’s exterior but also add to its resale value, should you ever decide to leave. In the meantime you’ll love arriving home to a beautiful space each day!

Tips for a delicious dinner in your outdoor space

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This Blue River Country Blend Tumbled Dimensional building stone makes for
a beautiful addition to any outdoor grilling space. 

You’ve built a beautiful patio and it’s decorated to perfection. Now it’s time to sit down and enjoy it with your family and friends.

There’s no better way to enjoy an amazing outdoor space then by grilling the perfect dinner. Here are a few tips for becoming a grill master.

1. Start with a clean, hot grate. You will want to preheat your grill for 15 to 25 minutes to make sure it is hot enough. This will keep foods from sticking and keep the insides moist. After you get the fire going, make sure your grate is clean. This will require the purchase of a good brush and/or a scouring pad but will keep your food from getting too charred. Be sure to scrape again after you finish cooking.

2. Practice patience. The guide to good grilling is letting your food properly cook without turning it over or checking on it frequently.

3. Add a little flavor. Glazes and marinades are a necessity when grilling. They provide extra spice and help make food juicier. Try this Mediterranean marinade from delish.com.

4. Watch the time. To prevent charred (and possibly inedible) food, be sure to pull your grilled food off a little before it’s done, as grilled food continues to cook after coming off the heat. But be careful, you don’t want to end up with undercooked meat. The best way to know when to remove food from the grill is to use a digital thermometer. Juices should run clear in chicken and the more firm a steak feels, the more well-done it is.

5. Go beyond the usual. Tired of grilled steak, chicken and seafood? Add to your menu options by trying something different like this recipe for homemade grilled pizzaor grilled roasted red peppers.

As you can see, with a little preparation and a little patience, you and your family are just a few steps away from enjoying a delicious meal in your beautiful outdoor space!

Beyond the pavers

Creating a beautiful outdoor space goes beyond just installing a patio. From decorative touches to your existing space to installing beautiful stone fire pits and retaining walls, the possibilities are endless and there’s something for every budget.

Fire pits & fireplaces
Hard to imagine now, but it won’t be long before the days start getting shorter and the nights start getting chillier. Get a head start and be prepared when fall does arrive by doing a custom fire pit or outdoor fireplace install this summer.

Fire pits provide an excellent gathering place for guests and extend the functionality of your patio into the fall and winter months. Check out our “how-to” page to view a video on installing your own fire pit.

If you have a large space or are looking for something more dramatic than a fire pit, consider having a custom fireplace installed. This provides a perfect backdrop when entertaining and allows your area to stay warm all year long.

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Retaining walls

Another way to add an instant “wow” factor and additional seating to your outdoor space is with the addition of garden walls. These walls provide the perfect frame for your landscaping and can be covered with outdoor cushion for extra seating when you’re entertaining.

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Lighting

Go beyond the traditional tiki torch and add lighting to your landscape. From lights along your walkways to softly lit bulbs overhead, lighting can go a long way in setting the mood of your outdoor space.

If you’re looking for more low-key lighting options try adding tabletop lanterns or jarred candles hung from trees. Eye-catching, colored candles can really make a space pop, and added bonus, you can get specific scented candles to keep the bugs at bay.

Add a little color

A pop of color can instantly brighten up any outdoor space. If you don’t have the budget for fire pits or fancy landscaping, no problem. You can buy a couple of brightly colored plants and place around your space. Just be sure to buy plants that are appropriate for the amount of sunlight they will be getting.

If you aren’t a green thumb and don’t want to have to worry about keeping something alive in the summer heat, decorative outdoor pillows are another way to bring color to your patio. You can also add in colorful table linens and tabletop floral arrangements.

These are just a few ideas for making your outdoor space beautiful and as you can see it can be done on any size budget. From the elaborate to the easy, the most important thing is to create a space that is comfortable and enjoyable for you and your family.

Tips for hosting a successful 4th of July gathering

Fourth of July is a great time for an outdoor get together. From food to seating to decorations, planning a celebration requires time and organization but that doesn’t have to equal stress.  Here are a few tips for making a get together as enjoyable and stress free as possible.

• Decorations. When it comes to decorating your space, look for things that are unique and can be used again. Have an empty container? Create a unique arrangement using red, white and blue fans that guests can use to keep cool.

• Seating. While not everyone will be sitting all the time, it’s still important to make sure there’s plenty of seating for everyone. It doesn’t have to be just chairs. Think outside the box and try large pillows, old crates, garden stools, use some of our stone to create unique seating like the picture below, or whatever works for you and can be easily stored or maintained when not being used.

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• Entertainment. It’s always a good idea to have games or activities available to keep people entertained. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just put out a few things such as bean bag toss or croquet to give people something to do should they start to get bored.

• Food. Simple things like hamburgers, hot dogs and chips are perfect for a July 4th cookout. You can spice up the menu by adding a summer salad and frozen dessert. Remember to keep food covered when it’s not being served and quickly put away anything that might spoil or attract bugs. If you’re grilling, make sure the food is cooked thoroughly and eaten promptly.

• Drinks. Few things end a party quicker than running out of drinks so be sure your bar is well-stocked with plenty of drinks, both non-alcoholic and alcoholic, if you choose, for everyone. Dehydration can happen quickly in the summer, even if it doesn’t seem hot outside. Make sure guests are staying hydrated and drinking plenty of water. Plastic tubs or kiddie pools full of ice make for great coolers at large gatherings. Also be sure to give guests a way to identify their cups such as stickers or tape to write their name on.

With a little planning and preparation you can have a fun and successful Fourth of July celebration. Just remember the most important thing is to enjoy the day and your company!

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