Outdoor Steel Pergola Designs for Shaded Seating In The Garden

outdoor pergola

When you think of your garden or backyard space utilization, it is natural that you think of how you can comfortably relax in it. Your garden feature in landscaping will certainly have the utility units that together with natural surroundings make it not just beautiful, but stylish too. The outfits and designs of your garden units will reflect your lifestyle and taste, apart from adding value to your living standards. The other factor is proper utilization of the available space with the right material in keeping with factors like durability and low maintenance.

Beyond conventional materials

A spacious backyard or a garden is bound to have a pergola among other utility units and landscaping features. Conventionally pergolas of brick and mortar pillar pergolas tend to become too expensive to install. Those that are made of wood, of course, are prone to easy decay and destroy, despite their tempering with chemicals. Modern technology has not left the building of pergolas behind, but introduced a variety of outdoor steel pergola designs.

steel pergola

Steel made designs

Steel being a malleable metal gives more options of creating designs for the roof, and also can be colored to suit the exterior color scheme. The spanning capacity of steel pergolas also helps the steel sheets to fit into the space needing fewer rafts and posts in the pergola design.

  • Simple steel pergolas can be made by placing a minimum of four vertical posts according to the space covered by pergola with a couple of rafts on top to form a basic framework. Even the most simple of such steel frame for pergolas can be then embellished either with planters, or even with rolling mat shutters for creating stunning effect in the landscape.
  • You can also form a series of arches of varying diameter in sequence with molded steel bars that can then have either steel or wooden rafts placed sequentially on it for an artistic impression as well provide partial shade even without the presence of planters on it.
  • A more conventional bay type design for which steel can be used to make the pergola is placing of the cross-sectional bar-like rafts on top of the posts, forming a wide gaped mess-like look. To make the whole structure look even more stylish, you can also add arches between the posts. The grid bar of steel on top will provide shade that planters usually provide.

Style up your garden

These kinds of steel pergola designs are ideal for hosting sitting arrangements under their shade while giving un-obstructive view of nature outside. You need not embellish the outdoor steel pergola designs with planters, in case you find them difficult to maintain, as the designs themselves will give you the shade you desire. You can also color the steel to match the décor of your building facade, or the garden landscape to give it a stylish look. The steel pergolas can give that perfect classic look of the conventional pergolas in your garden according to the design that you choose.

The DIY pergola kit

  • In case you wish to streamline it with modern straight line outer building facade and landscape, you can leave it to the minimalist post and bar design of the pergola structure for the right kind of effect.
  • Whatever is the design that you choose, the steel pergolas will give you a lasting and durable shade for seasons to come as they are usually powder coated for anti-rust.
  • Since it is the age of DIY or the do it yourself methods, outdoor steel pergolas come as pre-fabricated kits of different parts which you can buy by choosing the design of your choice and also install it all by yourself.

If you want to know more and see pergola designs, then please go ahead here to get more details.

Garden Design in 2015 – Start planning now!

Its the start of a new year and with Christmas and the winter out of the way many are now waiting for summer. If you will be spending a lot of time in your home this year you might consider sitting outside in your garden and in which case it might be a great time to redesign your garden ready for the hot summer.

structures-garden-designs-1

With planting, weather factors to consider and the time it takes to put together a plan for a garden the idea time is January should you have the budget after the festive period. Here are a few ideas of how you could redesign your outdoor space.

For some more inspiration see Leicester garden design services where you can see some of the creations that Groby Landscapes, who are a local landscaping company in the area have completed.

Add a bridge or water feature

Should you have water in your garden, whether it be a pond or water feature, you may consider building a small bridge to add a nice walkway to your outdoor area. Planning should start now with hiring a landscaping company that can plan this part of your garden and provide a schedule and the materials to ensure it is done for the summer.

Should you not have any form of water in your garden then you can always redesign your garden with a water feature in mind. These come in a variety of different styles, ranging from traditional Victorian looking features through to trendy looking designer water features. These can be bought via a garden center or installed by a landscaping company as part of a garden redesign project.

Decking and Fencing to modernise

If your garden is in need of sprucing up a great way to do this can be just by adding wooden structures. If your fence is wearing down then modern timbers can be used to add an updated look to your garden, this can also be extended to decking which can give you a great sitting area in the summer months.

Paving and Pathways

When you consider the other options for your garden and then add paving and pathways into the equation, without even going onto planting you can see how many options become available to you when having a garden designed. Paving can be an easy answer to how to fill your outdoor space without it requiring maintenance (to which artificial grass becomes yet another options!) Pathways to certain elements in your garden can really help to make it stand out – for example you can have a pathway leading from decking through to a garden shed, pond or other object of interest.

These are just some of the ideas you could use to create a great look for your garden in 2015 – the important thing is to know how to put them all together to get a great end product and for that we would highly recommend a professional and experienced garden designer that can often draw up a plan for you from the start so you can see your initial ideas become reality.

Pruning Grapes and Fruit Trees

It’s into February now – the longest month of the year psychologically, so the shortest month numerically – and pruning the fruit trees and grape vines is the name of the game in my region. Even as we’re facing yet another nasty winter weather ‘event’, this one scheduled to dump a foot or two of snow on top of ice that will no doubt interrupt electrical service and make the animals miserable. Though it should be melted off by the weekend, when we’ll be back to more normal 50+º days. At least it won’t be bone-chilling cold as it was twice last month. Which is good, since we just finished replacing the incoming water pipes due to freezing…

Last spring and summer my region got so much rain that the apples and peaches went crazy. About 20 inches above what is considered ‘normal’ in this microclime, and this microclime ‘normally’ gets a good inch of rain a day (average) from mid-March through June. Anyway, two of my apple trees were so overloaded with heavy fruit that big limbs sank onto the grape arbor, and finally broke off altogether. The peaches – first year the volunteer from a seed in the old compost bin had produced full fruit – ended up with its limbs sunk onto the pumpkin patch, not broken off, but split along the bends. And the grape vines, which daughter had over-pruned the year before so I hadn’t pruned before season, were so thick I had grapes growing on the ground, even as sturdy fence poles supporting the arbor sank low over the upper end of the mints below.

So I’ve got the clippers, loppers, hand saw and chain saw set out on the shed workbench and ready to go to work once the snow’s melted. While grandson and/or hub are armed with the chainsaw, I’m going to finally get rid of the ugly back yard he-holly I’ve been hating for years now, and about half the boxwood out front that blocks way too much sun from the solarium.

Figure I’ll just cut the apple trees in half. They were originally those nifty Stark “columnar” apples I ordered on line nearly 20 years ago and planted too deep. Instead of being a 10-foot tall central, vertical limb with apples all around, they reverted and got 25 feet tall with branches everywhere straight up. Too tall for me to reach, I engineered a hand-claw onto a big plastic drink cup and duct taped it to a long sapling pole so I could pick ripe apples in the upper reaches, but I’m thinking just cutting them short should encourage more low level fruiting. If not, I’ll just take ‘em down and plant new apple trees on the upper terrace above the driveway next year.

The peach is trickier, because ‘m just not sure how to prune it properly. It’s nearly 30 feet tall after 4 years, so I figure it’s probably not a true mini. I’d like to encourage it to be short and thick, though, more spread out but less likely to droop to the ground when full.

I already know that any removed large limbs or portions of upper trunk need to be slant-cut so water won’t stand on the ends to encourage rot, and that I need to paint those cuts to seal them. But planning what cuts to make is a thoughtful job, for which it’s best to follow the advice of agricultural ‘experts’. For that purpose I’ve gathered some good sources – complete with detailed illustrations and instructions – and offer them below. Will take pictures of the before and afters, with more to follow at mid-season and harvest to show how well the project works for what I’m aiming for. Stay tuned, and if you will be pruning your fruit this month or next, please do check out the sources at the links below. They could help salvage older trees/vines, and increase your harvest!

Useful Links:

NC CES: Training & Pruning Fruit Trees
NCSU: How to Prune Peach Trees
Stark Bros.: Successful Fruit Tree Pruning
How to Prune a Grape Vine – Illustrated
Pruning Grapes in Home Gardens: Some Basic Guidelines

Antioxidants vs Radiation: Lemon Balm!

Lemon_Balm!Most of us who are committed to the homesteading lifestyle are committed because we perceive the value of living closer to the earth, taking responsibility for ourselves per the ‘conveniences’ of life, and care a great deal about the general health and well-being of ouselves, our families and our communities. A lot of us grow a lot of our own foodstuffs so that we can know “what’s in it” when we eat it, and some also raise their own livestock to receive that high quality protein from a source unconnected with the impersonal death industry that meat and dairy production has become in this modern age.

And for the general robustness of our bodily defense and repair mechanisms – so important to maintaining health and promoting longevity – the value of antioxidants is something we’re familiar with. Antioxidants serve to reduce the amount of “free radicals” in our bodies. Free radicals are loose, fast-moving electrons (and sometimes positrons) that damage molecules and cells by knocking electron shells of atoms out of whack, thereby disrupting molecular bonds. And while a certain amount of oxidative reactions are part of normal metabolic processes, excess amounts of it can cause all sorts of problems. So plants and animals maintain multiple types of antioxidants to balance the processes, such as vitamins C, A and E, glutathione, certain enzymes and peroxidases, etc. which protect against oxidative stress which can cause neurodegenerative diseases, the ailments of aging, and even cancer.

A great deal is known from medical research about antioxidants and their protective uses, and a great many people take supplements or choose high-antioxidant foods as part of their healthy diet. Here is what some doctors have to say about it…

“Free radicals appear to play a central role in virtually every disease you can name, either directly or secondarily.”
Russell A. Blaylock, M.D.

“There is now overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrating that people who eat a diet rich in antioxidants and take antioxidant supplements will live longer, healthier lives.”
Lester Packer, PhD.

Okay, okay. We’re convinced. Many of us even know which of the foods we choose to grow and/or eat pack the most antioxidant whallop. But what about antioxidants that are used to prevent damage from oxidative health hazards most of us are not all that familiar with? Like, say, radiation exposure.

Mid-Winter Thoughts: A Continuum of Consciousness

Is Consciousness a Universal Aspect of Life?

harvestingMany years ago, when I was harvesting peppers and tomatoes in my very first yard-garden soon after my husband got out of the navy, a friend and I got into a discussion about the then-current ‘fad’ of talking to plants (and playing them good music) on the assumption that plants must be included on a supposed continuum of consciousness that extends through life itself from the smallest to the greatest. We had just recently given up eating meat in favor of an ovo-lacto vegetarian-like diet, no longer wishing to participate in the industries of mass death represented by the consumption of meat.

My friend asked if I wasn’t also guilty of visiting death upon those poor tomatoes and peppers, if I was willing to accept that a continuum of consciousness did exist. I laughed a little bit, and explained that those tomato and pepper plants I’d raised from carefully tended seed and interacted with regularly as they grew to maturity and fruited had an existence entirely limited by the length of the growing season. They would die regardless of whether or not we ate their fruit, as producing the fruit – and the seeds inside the fruit – was their ‘purpose’ in living at all. And because I cared enough about them to bring them to life from seed and tend them so lovingly, my time-limited tomato and pepper plants would be thoroughly insulted if we didn’t thankfully enjoy their fruit to the nourishment of our longer-lived and far more conscious bodies, perhaps save some seeds toward the perpetuation of their species during the next growing season.

Now, I admit it was a pretty silly conversation. But it was the ’70s, we were just beginning to set out on the path of homesteading and desired self-sufficiency, and plant consciousness was a regular big deal in some corners of the “expanded consciousness” new-agey movement. And truth is, if my family were in dire need of nourishment and it were not readily available for some reason, I’d have no problem killing, cleaning, cooking and eating whatever critter would best serve the need. Even rattlesnakes or lizards (taste like chicken), squirrel, deer, bird of any usable size, etc. Heck, during the Depression my Mom lived on her grandparents’ farm in Georgia because there was no work in Miami for her father. She managed to cut off the end of her finger trying to get the head off a rooster with a hatchet for Sunday dinner, so learned how to ‘flip’ the heads off chickens instead. People will do what they need to do to stay alive. My issue was primarily that I wasn’t willing to raise animals to kill – or kill them – and don’t believe that having some gigantic death industry do it for me so I don’t have to think about it is all that justifiable.

That’s just me, of course. Many homesteaders raise and slaughter their own animal livestock, which I believe to be an honest approach to eating a meat-based diet. Good on them to be willing to so honestly deal with the higher-grade consciousness of animals in that way.

Killed a Rattlesnake This Morning…

Killed_a_Rattlesnake

Just a bit of Father’s Day excitement here on the ‘stead, where this morning Sirius the Cat was seen stalking a slithery something in the jasmine growing along the garden fence next to the gateway.

Here in the highlands of the Blue Ridge – we are about 4 miles as the eagle flies from the eastern continental divide in the Western No’Cakalackie southern Appalachians – we don’t have that many pit vipers to worry about. Only ones we ever see, in fact, are copperheads and timber rattlers. Copperheads aren’t very long or heavy snakes, but they’re aggressive as hell and will actually chase you (or your cat, or your dog, or your grandkids) down just to get a bite in on something they’re either too mean or too stupid to know is never gonna fit into their mouth. In the 21 years we’ve lived on our remote homestead acreage we’ve averaged a copperhead a year to add to the fence collection of heads, but that really means some years we get several and some years we get none.

Grandson who has lived his whole life with us has never been bitten, but another grandson and a nephew visiting from their cities have. You can warn those city kids until you’re blue in the face to watch where they’re walking and stay away from snakes, but they’ve just no experience of the “deep woods” to rely upon, and that can easily end in a quick and painful trip to the ER and an inevitable argument with the ER staff who always want to insist that we can’t possibly know what kind of snake did the biting. Even though we’ve killed it and packed its head into a zip-lock to prove the point. Doesn’t exactly lend great confidence in their treatment skills, which no doubt helps to explain why grandson Number 2 ended up losing half his thumb to his copperhead.

And just so you city folk can know, copperheads and timber rattlers look nothing alike, nor are their habits anything close. Rattlers are a bit more evolved than copperheads, at least in my estimation. They are quite mellow temperamentally, generally avoid biting animals they can’t fit into their mouths (why waste precious venom?), would much rather do a little macho dance and rattle their tails menacingly instead. Sound a lot like cicadas, so that can be confusing if you’re not paying attention. And while they can easily blend into the scenery of a dappled forest floor or rock outcropping, out on the lawn or in the garden these heavy-bodied snakes are darned hard to miss. Our Father’s Day rattler was just barely 3 feet long (they can get to six feet), had five rattles.

Killed_a_Rattlesnake

Another urban myth about rattlesnakes – no, you can’t reliably tell how old the snake is by how many rattle rings it’s got. Because as the snake ages and more rattles are added with the annual molt, dried up old rattles at the end fall off. And while you may encounter a single snake when it’s on the hunt, rattlers tend to maintain familial relationships, sun themselves in groups and will den-in in large numbers during the winter.

Of course we kind of felt sorry for him, as rattlers generally don’t come into the mowed areas of the property at all, and this is the first one I’ve ever seen in the garden vicinity. We have a nice collection of nifty snake beheading devices kept in groups at several places around the property where copperheads are likely to show up, and a well-practiced alarm system for when one of ‘em does show up. The spotter must stay put and holler “SNAKE!!!” as loudly as possible, without taking his or her eyes off the thing. Because if you do, it’s going to disappear quickly and then you’ll know it’s around but not where.

We who hear the alarm then hurry to the closest beheading device storage and grab at least one long-handled device and one short, head to the scene of the showdown. We do not usually attempt to kick the snake to death barefooted – much prefer a hoe, a shovel, a heavy bank scythe, a sword, or a machete. For this one grandson used a hatchet (as seen in photo above).

People eat these rattlesnakes, I’ve heard they taste like chicken (doesn’t everything?). But since we don’t eat meat of any variety, we buried the body. If it had been as slim and lithe as the usual copperhead we’d simply have tossed it off the mountainside into the deep woods, but this one would be far too tempting to the dogs.

Rattlesnakes are pretty mellow critters as snakes go. Those rattles are there so they can warn you, which is kind. Their venom has been known to kill humans, but they don’t bite unless they have to. We nailed the head to the fence, a custom we learned in west Texas many decades ago. ‘They’ say it’ll keep the snake’s brothers away, but I’m not convinced that’s true. Doesn’t work that way with copperheads, anyway. Where there’s one there’s always another nearby that you aren’t seeing. I guess we’ll find out if that’s how it works for rattlers too. Oh… and hanging the head on the fence makes it rain, the same ‘they’ say. It rains an inch a day here in the southern Appalachian temperate rain forest this time of year, so I can’t swear to that one either.

At any rate, we’re into snake season now. While there are just the two species of poisonous snakes in my area, there are other varieties of venomous snakes in other areas of the country. Check out some of the useful information in the following links, and don’t forget that venomous snakes are a threat to pets and livestock as well as to humans. Happy Summer, and watch out for snakes!

Useful Links:

CDC: Venomous Sakes
Top 10 Most Venomous Snakes
Venomous Snake Safety
Snake Venom