How to make an Outdoor Living Room

by Jim Sweeney

Outdoor living has made a recent surge in popularity, prompting many people to ask themselves, "How could I get an outdoor living room in MY backyard?". 

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Minnesota seasons are ever changing and there is a degree of preparation that is necessary to enjoy your time outside. When crafting your backyard into an outdoor living space it is important to think about the functions. What do you want in your backyard? A swimming pool? Modern contemporary look? BBQ grill? Pizza oven? Planting Beds? Fireplace? After deciding what you will put in your outdoor living space, then decide how you will install it. What is important? When do you use each space? How can we make the order of events in the space seem natural? After relaxing in the porcelain surrounded hot tub, where are you going to dry off? Do you enjoy an evening cigar while watching the sunset? What kind of outdoor furniture do you imagine within the space? Do you and your honey have a drink of wine on your favorite swing at dusk when the kids go to sleep? Great backyard design becomes great not because it is close to "perfect", but because it is close to you.

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Staying ahead of your neighborhood squirrel

by Jim Sweeney

A bird feeder can be an amazing addition to any outdoor backyard living space, yet what do you do when the birds aren't the ones that are feeding? Here are some tricks to keeping pesky squirrels out of your bird feeders and keep the birds off your outdoor deck furniture. 

 
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Use squirrel-proof feeders. There are several on the market that are weight-activated, allowing birds to feed but not squirrels. Some have better features, and might last longer, but are also a bit on the expensive side. This solution might sound like it needs a landscape engineer of some sorts but in reality, you can find the bird feeder you need for your modern or traditional garden.

Use a squirrel-resistant feeder if you are budget minded. These tend to be less expensive, and are not quite as sturdy but will do the trick. These feeders will definitely slow down the seed consumption and might work if you only have an occasional squirrel, but are not truly squirrel-proof like the choices above.

Spice it up! Try mixing some spice in with your birdseed! Birds naturally process spice with no harm to their bodies, yet squirrels have a much more complicated taste palate that is sensitive to spice. Experts recommend using hot peppers (capsicum), or pepper flakes to detour those pesky rodents. The only thing to stay away from is the use of powdered hot pepper, because it is known to blow into birds eyes due to wind and keep them away from your modern house design.