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.

Believe It or Not,
It’s Pool Planning Time!

Marchesano Residence - Oklahoma Landscape

With the polar vortex sending frigid weather throughout the country, it’s hard to think about swimming pools. However, now is the time to dive head first into planning mode if you want to have everything ready for that end-of-school pool party.

Step 1. Get inspired

Start thinking about what type of design you want. Gone are the days of the boring rectangle surrounded by a simple concrete pad. With all of the colors, textures, and multidimensional design elements available today, the possibilities are literally endless. So grab your mouse, head to our pool deck Pinterest board or the Belgard Design Studio, and start working on working on some ideas.

Step 2. Think long-term

Is the pool the only missing element in your long-term outdoor living plan for your home? If not, think ahead to save yourself some major headaches. For example, if you intend to add a cabana, outdoor fireplace, or outdoor kitchen later on, plan to discuss that with your contractor so you can address the need for future utilities or footings, which could save you a lot of time and money in the long run.

Step 3. Find a qualified contractor

This is definitely a situation when you do NOT want to make a choice solely on cost. There are a lot of bad pool contractors out there who can put in a cheap pool and disappear. Then, when it cracks and leaks into the yard or the pump dies due to faulty materials or wiring, you could find yourself in a remediation situation that’s much more costly than putting the pool in correctly the first time. Our contractor locator page is a good place to start. Many of our authorized hardscape contractors are also pool contractors. If the Belgard contractors in your area do not build pools, they can typically make good recommendations.

Step 4. Design phase

Now the fun part…making decisions. An experienced contractor will be able to guide you through this process. The most important thing to remember during the design phase is to pick what YOU like. Forget what Aunt Tilda and your carpool friends say. If you like it, do it. You’re the one paying for it and the one who will be swimming in it. Trust your contractor’s experience regarding what works well and what doesn’t. In the end, stick to your guns on a design feature that you really love, or you’ll regret it later.

Step 5. Develop a construction plan

Most of these details can be worked out with your contractor. Your start date will typically depend on mother nature and the permit office. The construction time can take anywhere from 3 to 8 weeks, depending on the type of pool, complexity of design, and weather. Be prepared for a muddy mess for a little while. You may need to make alternate parking arrangements for your family to avoid blocking construction access. You will also need to consider some type of bathroom access for the construction workers. Lastly, you may want to bring your neighbors some cookies and invite them to the pool christening party as a gesture of goodwill for all of the construction noise and traffic.

New Year, New Yard

NewYardMost New Year resolutions tend to be about changing, growing, and investing in oneself for the better. We look inside and outside of ourselves to decide what we need to let go of, what we need to add, and what we need to improve upon to make life better for both ourselves and those around us.

“New yard” resolutions should take the same direction. It’s time to take stock of what you’d like to accomplish this year. Whether your goals are to increase your curb appeal, improve drainage, or create a new outdoor entertaining area, the process can sometimes seem overwhelming at first. Take it one step at a time.

Get inspired.

Sometimes we get so accustomed to how our yard currently looks, we have trouble imagining it any other way. It’s time to get clicking.

Set concrete goals.

When investing in your yard, you want to get the most return on that investment, both while you live in the home and once you sell it. Know why you want to make these changes. What goals are you trying to accomplish? How can you improve your environment and your lifestyle in a meaningful way? Think both long term and short term. If you have a larger overall plan that you want to phase out over time, save yourself time, money, and headaches by putting the entire plan together now.

Get expert advise.

Develop a relationship with an Authorized Belgard Contractor in your area who can help you with your long-term plan and knows what will work and won’t work with regards to your goals. For projects that will be phased out, a qualified contractor can help you pre-plan critical preliminary work that you will need to have in place for a later project down the road.

Get started.

Depending on where you live, January may not be the best time to start digging  in your yard. But, you can get started with some of the decision-making processes…choosing a contractor, working on a design, choosing pavers or retaining wall products, researching costs. Also talk to your Belgard Contractor about Belgard Preferred Payment, a same-as-cash payment program that allows you to spread payments over time on hardscapes, labor, and even additional items like furniture and appliances. Once your plan is in place, you’ll be ready to hit the ground running when the time comes.

Preventing Deicing Downfalls

OutdoorFireplaceThe recent blast of arctic air sent temperatures plummeting across the country, setting the stage for what has been predicted to be a colder than average winter with higher than average snowfalls. Many of you in high snowfall areas have probably already started stocking up on deicing agents for your walkways and driveways, which can sometimes have a corrosive effect and diminish the beauty of paved surfaces.

By choosing Belgard Hardscapes for your paver driveway, walkway or patio, you’ve already taken the first step to increasing resistance to the long-term corrosive effects of deicing materials. Belgard pavers are manufactured to be more resistant to salt absorption than asphalt and solid concrete, as well as more resistant to cracking caused by shifting temperatures.

746To ensure long-term resistance to the downfalls of deicing, regularly maintain pavers with sealers for additional protection and follow these tips:

  • Mix salts with sand prior to application
  • Don’t over-salt
  • Use salt for melting ice only, not snow removal
  • Once loose, remove ice to avoid salt buildup
  • Wash residue from pavers in the spring

For more information on caring for pavers in cold climates, click here.

Five Tips for Flawless Fall Outdoor Festivities

Fall can be a fabulous time to entertain outdoors. The weather can sometimes be unpredictable, but in most parts of the country, the needle hasn’t dropped quite low enough to send everyone scampering indoors yet. Here are five simple tips to help make the most of your outdoor living space during this time.

1. Decorate for the Season

Many people decorate the front of their homes or their dining rooms to coincide with the season, but never think to take the same concept to the backyard, where everyone gathers. Put away the bright summery throw pillows and exchange them for warmer tones. Place a few pumpkins in a basket to create harvest-themed centerpiece on an outdoor buffet or table. Add little touches of autumn all around your outdoor rooms.

Hardscape lights2. Light Up the Night

Nothing says “festive” like flickering lights. Who says stringed lights are only for Christmas? Now that the sun goes down earlier, you can take the opportunity to add some fun and festive lighting to your backyard. Get creative in how you light up your outdoor rooms. Look for LED lanterns, solar landscape lighting, or flameless candles that can be set on timers to light up as soon as the sun goes down.

3. Get Warm and Cozy

Provide your guests with opportunities to warm themselves on chillier evenings. Options can be as simple as a hot beverage or a comfy throw blanket or can include any variety of outdoor heaters, from permanent overhead installations to portable floor or tabletop butane heaters.

4. Crank Up the Fire

Whether a simple chiminea or a custom outdoor fireplace, guests love to gather around a fire. The crackle and smell of an open fire warms the heart and soul as much as the body. Make the fire an interactive part of your event by roasting marshmallows or hot dogs, or just open a nice bottle of wine and relax.

coppa-ricotta-and-arugula-pizza.201408065. Make it a Tapas Night

Forgo the formal sit-down meal for a casual night of finger foods and small plates. This will keep your guests moving, create an additional fire source, and allow you to showcase your outdoor culinary skills all at the same time. Ideas include kabobs, grilled shrimp, and flatbreads or pizzas — all of which can be prepped ahead of time and ready to go on the grill or into the brick oven once the guests arrive.

Enter the Belgard Backyard Tailgate Sweepstakes for the Chance to Win a Fabulous $6,000 Grill Station

SweepsHeroThis fall, the perfect tailgate isn’t at the game – it’s in your own backyard. Enter the Belgard Backyard Tailgate Sweepstakes, take the style quiz, and find recipes and tips to make your tailgate unforgettable.

Weekly Prize Package

Weekly Prize Package

What You Can Win:  Weekly winners will receive a $100 tailgating kit including a heavy-duty apron. One grand prize winner will receive a Belgard Elements Bordeaux Grill Station valued at $6,000. >>ENTER NOW

What’s your tailgating personality?  Do you consider yourself to be a gourmet tailgating guru, or do you prefer to stick with the tried and true classics? Or, maybe you have a creative side and like to mix it up from time to time.  >>TAKE OUR TAILGATING QUIZ

Tailgating Tips & Recipes

Tailgating Tips & Recipes

Get Ready for the Big Game:  From lawn and paver maintenance to the top 10 tips for backyard tailgating, learn how to make your next backyard bash unforgettable.   >>READ MORE

Ultimate Tailgating Recipes:  Whether you’re on a quest to find your new favorite burger recipe or are looking for a gourmet twist on tailgating, we’ve got the recipe for you!     >>READ MORE

 

No purchase necessary to enter or win. Contest ends 10/31/2014. Void where prohibited by law. Click here for a full list of sweepstakes rules and regulations.