Five Facts for Fantastic Grilling

Meat grilled steakThe sun is shining, the birds are singing, and it’s time to fire up the pit for some springtime backyard entertaining! Call your friends and get ready for a good old-fashioned barbecue with these tips for grilling success.

1. Cleanliness Is Tastiness

Keeping everything clean and sanitary will lead to a more enjoyable and safer meal. Before placing any food on the grill, make sure to thoroughly scrub your heated grate with a wired brush before and after use. This will prevent charred debris from previous meals making its way into your next meal. Also, avoid using the same cutting boards, utensils, and platters for raw and cooked foods. This could result in cross-contamination and hospital bills.

2. Just Tap It In

When applying rubs, be sure to keep it gentle. Simply pat the whole meat down with your desired rub evenly, and call it a day. Using too much force can damage the meat’s fibers and texture. You can also run the risk of over-seasoning your meat and having your family wishing they had gotten take-out instead.

3. Sit, Don’t Flip

Burgers: one of the most commonly grilled items, but also one of the easiest to get wrong. Many rookie grillers will feel like they have to constantly flip their food. However, it is better to let your food sit and get fully cooked, rather than constantly moving it. A good tip is to check for grill marks on the bottom, then flip.

4. Heat On, Heat Off

Foods that do not take long to cook — such as burgers, steaks, and vegetables — are best grilled directly over the heat source. Foods like whole turkey, chicken pieces, briskets, and ribs are better suited for indirect heat, away from the flames.

5. Shish KaBOOM

Who doesn’t like a good kabob? A hit at most barbeques, the shish kabob gives you a great variety of grilled foods on just one stick! To ensure your kabobs are a hit, grill each food item of the kabob properly. Remember, vegetables and some meats need different types of heat. For safety reasons, don’t forget to wet your sticks before skewering.

Mega-Tandem™ Provides Striking Support for Utah Homebuilder

During the construction of a home in the Salt Lake City area, the landscape contractor was challenged with building a retaining wall that would support the garage and driveway area, which had an elevation drop of about twenty feet into the property line and neighbor’s yard and needed to be terraced according to city codes. The home also needed a grass ramp sloping from the driveway into the home’s own backyard, which was at the same elevation as the neighbor’s, twenty feet below. The Mega-Tandem™ Mass Segmental Retaining Wall system achieved the project’s structural goals, with the bonus of an enhanced aesthetic look of natural stone.

DEVELOPER: Ken & Kristen Keller, Keller Development

INSTALLER: Terra-Scape Landscaping – Rand Locke, Owner

DEALER: Beehive Brick & Stone – Dee Young, VP of Sales

SUPPLIER: Amcor, an Oldcastle company

 

Family Backyard Getaway

Profile-HERO-Anchor North Patio-AfterSealerThe goal of this project was to create a backyard getaway where the homeowners could enjoy family time within the outdoor environment. The outdoor living room, complete with Belgard patio and outdoor fireplace, was designed as an extension of the home’s existing wood deck. The installer also included a mix of shrubs, trees, plants, and large boulders to enhance the natural feel of the landscape.

Notice the difference in paver color before the color boost sealer was applied.

Notice the difference in paver color before the color boost sealer was applied.

The installer was able to include many different types of natural and manmade products to create a unique sitting area that includes a beautiful fireplace for friends and family to enjoy. The homeowner also liked the way the patio looked after a rain storm, so Belgard suggested to clean and seal the patio and utilize Belgard’s BG-2295 color boost sealer, which enhances the blended colors throughout the entire patio.

PROJECT LOCATION: Framingham, MA

APPLICATION: Backyard patio with fireplace

PRODUCTS USED:

Mega-Arbel® Patio Slab – Color: Danville Beige

Old World Paver™ for border – Color: Danville Beige

Belgard Elements Brighton Series – Color: Gascony Tan

DEALER: Cornerstone Landscape Supplies, Inc. – Framingham & Marlborough, MA

SUPPLIER: Anchor, an Oldcastle Company

Homeowner Gets the Look of Slate without the Cost

Profile-CPM-Apr2015This comfortable and intimate outdoor patio was created using Lafitt™ Rustic Slab, which offers the look and texture of cut slate. This fantastic foot-traffic paver uses elegant modular lines in a rich range of color options and can either be used to overlay an existing patio or can be installed using standard paver patio construction. Multiple sizes allow laying patterns that mimic natural stone without the cost.

Retaining and seat walls add dimension to the patio design and allow the patio to feel as though it is cut out of the countryside. The landscaped water feature adds to the natural feel and serves as both a serene backdrop and a visual anchor to the overall design.

PROJECT LOCATION: Oregon

PRODUCT USED: Lafitt Rustic Slab – Color: Toscana

INSTALLER: Northwest Outdoor Living and Landscapes – Robert Lussier

DEALER: John Deere Landscapes – Clackamas, OR – Jim Vachter

SUPPLIER: CPM, an Oldcastle Company

The Rising Trend of
Vertical Gardens

The country is going green, in more ways than one! Everywhere you look, people are finding new and interesting ways to garden. One of the more recent trends is the rise of the what is called “vertical gardening”. Entire websites and companies are devoted to the trend. For those looking to add a little more dimension to their lives, vertical gardening is the way to go.

What exactly is a vertical garden?

A vertical garden can take any number of forms and is basically any vegetation that exists on a plane other than a flat horizontal surface. It can be as simple as a tier of stacked planters or as intricate as a high-rise wall completely covered in vegetation. Classic forms of vertical gardens include those created with trellises and arbors, but today’s modern vertical gardens have grown to incorporate a variety of ideas, techniques, and materials.

iStock_000053493598Small

A vertical garden like this could be constructed with curtain rods, t-shirts, and a glue gun.

How do I get started?

Wherever there is a blank wall or a bare fence, there is the potential for a vertical garden. There are companies that sell pre-made pockets and planters that are specifically designed to attach to walls or fence boards. However, the ideas are virtually endless for creating homemade versions. Unique ideas include converting rain gutters into vertical rows of horizontal planters, or constructing planter pockets out of heavy-duty fabrics.

02560c1db3ac23ccc51cbb978b6eadf1

This sloped yard was terraced to create a meandering walkway with a tailored vertical garden.

What if my yard is sloped?

Well then, you have the perfect natural setting to create a vertical garden. Any gardening you do will already be multidimensional. But if you want to create something more structured and permanent, consider terracing the slope with pavers and retaining walls to create layers of built-in planters, which will define the garden areas and, at the same time, make the space more usable.

Boy Scout Helps Navy Widow Keep Husband’s Dream Alive

Future Eagle Scout Timothy Bedford displays the completed Warrior Fire Pit project her organized and help build for Landing Zone Grace Warriors Retreat.

Future Eagle Scout Timothy Bedford displays the completed Warrior Fire Pit project he organized and help build for Landing Zone Grace Warriors Retreat.

As one of the final qualifications for achieving the rank of Eagle Scout, a scout must organize and complete a community service project. For his project recipient, Timothy Bedford of Troop 996 in Virginia Beach chose to help the Landing Zone Grace Warriors Retreat (LZ-Grace) build a relaxation area for special operations forces veterans returning from deployment.

“I chose the project because our family has a great appreciation for military personnel,” said Bedford, whose father is a retired Navy senior chief. “We are aware of the effects of wartime deployments on service members and their families. I wanted a project that would help those who serve our nation and sacrifice to protect us.”

With Cambridge Cobble pavers donated by Belgard and local dealer Lancaster Farms, Timothy organized over 35 volunteers to build a fire pit and patio area as a relaxing gathering spot where veterans can help each other decompress from the tensions of deployment and transition back to life at home.

The dream for the LZ-Grace retreat center was originally conceived by 32-year veteran Navy SEAL, Steve Bukowski, who himself had trouble transitioning from each deployment. But before Bukowski could achieve his dream, he died of a massive heart attack only six months after his retirement.

A little over four years later, Bukowki’s widow, Lynette, and the Bukowski family have now brought this dream to life by converting a rundown horse farm into LZ-Grace where special operations forces veterans will benefit from peer mentoring, recreation-based therapy, life skills instruction, and post-transition planning.

LZGraceFirePit“Mrs. Bukowski shared her late husband’s vision of a place where service members could rest, heal, and reconnect,” Bedford said. “She told me recovery happens when people can talk over a meal or sitting around a fire. As a scout, I have always enjoyed campfires. I would have done whatever project she needed most, but my heart was to build the fire pit.”

Although, the retreat center is not scheduled to open until late summer or fall of this year, the Warrior Fire Pit, as it has been named, is already well used by the numerous volunteers working daily to renovate the property, many of whom are retired or former combat special operations forces, local firefighters or police officers, or SWAT team members.

“I often find many of the guys volunteering out here sitting around the fire talking after a full day of hard, dirty labor,” said Lynette Bukowski, LZ-Grace founder. “The comradery which naturally takes place around an outdoor fire opens a space for healing of hearts and minds and spirits in many. It’s easy to talk and tell stories around a fire. It’s also easy to sit quietly and listen and reflect.”