Pool & Spa Outdoor Blog

5 Areas to Improve with Outdoor Lighting


Outdoor lighting enhances your backyard’s ambiance, improves the functionality of your space, and ensures that the perimeter of your pool and the rest of your backyard remain safe for family and guests to walk around.


Take a look at these 5 great ideas for improving outdoor lighting around your home.

The Grilling Area: Outdoor Grill Lights

Grill Lights and Outdoor Lighting for GrillsTask lighting is essential for gauging cooking times. The best option to go with is a flexible grill light designed to be weather-resistant. You can even find battery-powered models if you are short on outdoor electrical outlets. In terms of installation types, you will find a variety of options:

  • - Clip-on grill lights are the most portable, but tend to be the least sturdy.
  • - Clamp-on grill lights are typically more durable than clip-on light fixtures because the clamp screws right onto your grill shelf. screws on easily to your grill shelf, so the light fixture can be moved relatively without problems.
  • - Fixed-mount grill lights are other option that are installed on your grill permanently. The fixed-mount installation is the most seamless, with the light fixture directly affixed to the top of your grill shelf.


Photos courtesy of Kichler Lighting



Outdoor Lighting for Dining Areas

The Dining Area: Outdoor Hanging Lights


When it comes to outdoor lighting for dining areas, soft, intimate lighting helps set the scene for relaxed dinners with family and friends that extend into the evening—and a little light goes a long way. You can scatter candles across the table, arrange a few battery-operated outdoor lanterns, or hang an outdoor candelabra. Remember to use drip catchers (also called bobeches) for any suspended candles.









Photo courtesy of Kichler Lighting



Outdoor Lighting for Stairs - Recessed LightingThe Stairs: Outdoor Step Lights

 

Recessed lighting on stairs adds both safety and style to stairways. These light fixtures are easy to install and come in a variety of designs and colors to match the style of your outdoor space.

Color-changing LED step light kits are one option. You can control the mode of these lights using a remote control. For a party atmosphere, you might want to set the step lights to bright, fast-changing colors. On a quiet night, you can create a calming vibe with a slow display of more subdued colors.



Photo courtesy of Trex Company




The Deck/Railings: Outdoor Deck Post Lights

Outdoor Lighting for Decks and RailingsCreating an outline with string lights or rope lights is a classic option. You can also install lights on the deck’s post caps and railing.

Another option to consider is light fixtures with “photocells,” which will enable automatic turn-on at dusk and turn-off at dawn. Photocells are sensors that detect light. When the sun goes down, they will sense that light levels are declining and signal for the light fixture to turn on. Photocells are often incorporated into solar lights, but they are also available in battery-powered and hardwired lights.




Photos courtesy of Kichler Lighting


Outdoor Recessed Lighting for Patio Surfaces and Decks The Patio Surface: Recessed Lighting

 

Did you know that many recessed lighting kits for stairs can also be installed right into the flooring of decks or patios? Believe it or not, it’s a relatively easy weekend project, and a unique alternative to conventional landscape lighting.

To install recessed lighting, you will first wire the lights together and connect them to an LED driver that will power the lighting system. Once they are wired, you will drill small one- inch holes in the deck or patio and simply push the lights in—they will be secured automatically with spring clips.







Photos courtesy of Kichler Lighting



About the Author: Emily Widle is a blogger for Pegasus Lighting, an online retailer that sells a wide selection of outdoor step lights for the home, among other unique lighting products.




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DIY: Homeowners Extend Patio with Eco-Friendly Pavers


Homeowners: David and Elisa
Location: Castro Valley, Calif.
Project
: Extend outdoor living space by adding a deck to existing concrete patio and resurfacing entire area with VAST® Composite Resurfacing Pavers
Cost
: $2,000

  New Backyard Patio and Deck with Vast Composite Resurfacing Pavers

Before                                                                                       After

 

How they did it:

David first planned and built the framework for the new deck. He designed it so that the deck brings the home’s outdoor living area beyond the existing concrete patio and out to the hot tub. To create a cohesive look between the concrete patio and new deck, the couple decided to refinish the area (360 square feet) with the VAST® Composite Resurfacing Paver System they had seen at a home and garden show. “These pavers are low-profile so they could go on top of the old patio(no clearance problems). We could use them on the deck, too, for the unified look we wanted,” says Elisa. The pavers, which are made from 95 percent recycled materials, offer the look of brick pavers and are designed to cover old patios and decks for an easy renovation project.

Homeowner Installing Vast Composite Resurfacing Pavers in herringbone pattern

To install the composite paver system, David first laid down the installation grids over the patio and deck frame. He started from the edge of the concrete patio and worked his way out to the new deck. He used glue to secure the grid sections to the concrete patio. On the new deck, David fastened rows of the grids to the decking boards with 1 1/2- inch decking screws.” He then laid pavers (4 x 8 x 1.75 inches) in a herringbone pattern, alternating among three different colors of pavers for a stylish effect. David did not have to rent a concrete saw. To cut grid sections and pavers to shape and size for the edges and corners of the installation, he used just a regular 10-inch miter saw.  

“I liked that VAST’s installation grids make it easier to get good results,” says David. “You lay out the grid, insert the pavers, and the grid does the work of spacing and aligning them.” To finish the design, he used pavers of the same color in a basketweave pattern to create an attractive border.

“We could not have afforded to tear out the concrete part and build [an] all new [patio],” says Elisa.  “In the end, we got a beautiful patio with a green product that’s easy to install and maintain.”



Backyard Hot Tub Deck with Vast Composite Resurfacing Pavers

About VAST®

VAST® Composite Resurfacing Pavers are manufactured by VAST Enterprises, LLC (www.vastpavers.com), a materials science research and manufacturing company in Minneapolis, Minn. VAST composite masonry products are a patented blend of post-consumer recycled automobile tires and plastic containers. Since its founding in 2006, VAST has used more than five million pounds of recycled rubber and plastics to create their array of top quality products.












Photos courtesy of Vast Enterprises, LLC



5 Crowd-Pleasing Super Bowl Party Recipes



Keep fanatic football fans satisfied from kick-off to halftime with these 5 hearty and delicious game-day recipes for wings, ribs, pizza, beef stew and more!

 
Maple-Mustard Country-Style Spareribs

Ingredients:

6 large country spareribs, about 41⁄2 pounds

3⁄4 cup maple syrup

3⁄4  cup mustard, coarse grained

1⁄3 cup dark brown sugar, plus 1 tablespoon packed

2 teaspoons Tabasco

2 teaspoons soy sauce

Salt and black pepper, coarse ground

 

Directions:
Mix maple syrup, mustard, brown sugar, hot sauce, and soy sauce. Set glaze aside.

Create indirect fire with foil drip pan half-filled with water. Lay ribs on rack over drip pan and brush with glaze. Cover and cook for 1 hour 15 minutes, turning and basting every 15 minutes.
Move ribs to hot side of grill. Brush with glaze, cover, and grill for 5 minutes. Repeat, turning and basting, until ribs are tender and brown (about 20 minutes).
Season with salt and pepper and serve.



Serves 6


Recipe and photo courtesy of National Pork Board 




Grilled Sweet Potato Salad

Ingredients:
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1⁄2-inch thick rounds

1⁄4 cup plus 3 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 1⁄2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, or more to taste

1 1⁄2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh cilantro

1⁄4 cup very thinly shaved red onion

1 1⁄2 tablespoons crumbled Cotija cheese (or other mild crumbly cheese, such as farmer’s cheese)

 

Directions: 
Preheat a grill to medium-high and the oven to 350°F.

Place the sweet potatoes in a bowl, and add the 3 tablespoons olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss well. Then place the potatoes on the grill and cook until nice grill marks develop, 2 to 3 minutes on each side.

Transfer the potatoes to a baking sheet, place it in the oven, and bake until they are tender enough to easily pierce with a fork, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool to room temperature.

Arrange the sweet potato slices on a platter, and drizzle the remaining 1⁄4 cup olive oil and the lime juice over them. Sprinkle with the cilantro, red onion, and cheese, and serve.

 

Serves 4 to 6


Recipe by Emeril Lagasse, from Emeril at the Grill, HarperStudio, New York, 2009, courtesy of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. Photo courtesy of Steven Freeman




Mediterranean Grilled Wisconsin Mozzarella Skewers by Chef James Campbell Caruso

Ingredients:

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons Spanish sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 teaspoons minced garlic

12 fresh mozzarella ciliegine balls (1⁄3 ounce each)

12 seedless red grapes

12 pitted kalamata olives

12 cherry tomatoes

12 large caperberries

6 (8-inch) to 12 (6-inch) skewers

 

Directions:

In a large bowl, mix the oil, vinegar, lemon juice, oregano, pepper flakes, and garlic. Add the remaining ingredients; toss well to coat. Refrigerate for 2 hours to marinate.

Heat a gas or charcoal grill to medium.

For 8-inch skewers, thread 1 mozzarella ball, 1 grape, 1 olive, 1 tomato, and 1 caperberry on each skewer; repeat so you have two of each item on each skewer. For 6-inch skewers, thread 1 of each item, in the same order.

Grill the skewers on all sides for 5 to 7 minutes or until the cheese is soft and the skewers are thoroughly heated. Serve the skewers as a tapas or side to grilled meat.

 

Serves 6


Image and recipe courtesy of © 2010 Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, Inc.




Seriously Simple Beef Stew

Total Time: 2 hr 25 min

Prep: 15 min
Servings: 8 servings, 1 cup each

What You Need:

1 boneless beef chuck eye roast (2 lb.), cut into 1-inch chunks

2 cups water

3/4 cup KRAFT Original Barbecue Sauce

1-1/2 lb. baking potatoes (about 3), cut into 1-inch chunks

6 carrots, peeled, cut into 1-inch-thick slices

1 onion, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup A.1. Thick & Hearty Steak Sauce


Make It:

Bring meat, water and barbecue sauce to boil in Dutch oven or deep large skillet; cover. Simmer on medium-low heat 1 hour.
Add vegetables; stir. Cook, covered, 1 hour or until meat and vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.
Stir in steak sauce; cook 2 min.

 


Recipe and photo courtesy of Kraft Foods

Apple Cheddar Pizza with Roasted Pecans

Ingredients:

1 (12 oz. can) refrigerated, ready-made pizza dough

Vegetable oil cooking spray

3 large apples, thinly sliced

1 cup apple juice

1 Tbsp. cornstarch

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

2 Tbsp. honey

1/4 cup chopped toasted pecans

1 cup grated white cheddar cheese

 

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly coat 14-inch pizza pan with cooking spray. Press dough into pizza pan.
Cook apples in apple juice until tender. Drain off juice and reserve. Place apple slices on dough.
Dissolve cornstarch in apple juice, cinnamon, and honey. Cook over medium heat until clear.
Spread sauce over apples. Sprinkle pecans on top. Top with cheese. Bake in a 425 degree oven for 15-20 minutes.



Servings: 8

Recipe and photo courtesy of the U.S. Apple Association



Check out these other Super Bowl-worthy recipes:


Buffalo Hot Wings Recipe
Buffalo Hot Wings

These homemade Buffalo “wings” use cut up chicken breast for a meaty and mess-free wing-eating experience. Get the recipe>>>








Grilled Nachos Recipe
Grilled Nachos


Grilling adds a smoky flavor to these mouth-watering nachos. Get the recipe>>>







Homemade Baked Tortilla Chips Recipe
Homemade Baked Tortilla Chips

Enjoy some guiltless game-day grub. Baked tortilla chips are healthier than regular fried versions and easy to make. Get the recipe>>>









BBQ Chicken Deluxe Pan Pizza Recipe
BBQ Chicken Deluxe Pan Pizza

Forget delivery. Wow your guests with this recipe for BBQ Chicken Pizza. It’s topped with chicken, bacon, pineapple, jalapeno slices, and mozzarella cheese for a sweet and spicy flavor that’s sure tickle everyone’s taste buds.Get the recipe>>>









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