Fireplaces, fire pits and brick ovens allow homeowners to extend their outdoor season by providing a warm place to gather during the colder months. To keep your outdoor fire features functioning properly through the winter season, follow these simple tips from our experts.
• Install glass or stainless doors on fireplaces and use stainless covers for fire pits to protect these fire features from accumulating snow and ice. Joe Raboine, President of Harmony Outdoor Living, Inc., explains that slowly building a fire to dry out a fireplace or fire pit that has already accumulated snow and ice reduces the risk of cracking the refractory cement or firebrick.
• If using ceramic gas log sets, it is critical to wrap those (if you don’t have a cover) with a tarp in the winter as these logs can deteriorate with excessive ice buildup – and are difficult if not impossible to light if the orifices are plugged with ice.
• Sweeping the flue once a year is recommended and is an easy do-it-yourself project.
• If the outdoor temperature is cold or below freezing, take extra time to slowly heat your oven. You do not want to “shock” your oven by taking it from freezing to 600° F in a matter of minutes. Bill Paschen of Chicago Brick Oven recommends that the fire be built-up over at least one hour. Start with a small fire and carefully add more firewood to gradually bring up the temperature.
Stay tuned to our blog for more seasonal tips for making the most of your outdoor living space!
Prep time: 10 min. • Total time: 1 hour
1 cup all purpose flour, unbleached, sifted
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/8 cup sliced almonds, chopped
1/4 cup shelled pistachios, chopped
1/8 cup raw sunflower seeds, shelled
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup seedless raisins
1 Tbsp grated orange peel
1 medium egg, beaten
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 Tbsp walnut oil
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray two small loaf pans with cooking spray.
2.Mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, nuts, dry milk, whole wheat flour, raisins and orange zest in a bowl.
3.In a separate bowl, mix together the egg, buttermilk and walnut oil. Combine with the flour mixture.
4.Transfer the batter into loaf pans and bake for 50 minutes.
Makes 12 servings
Landscape designers and contractors looking to increase their closure rate and boost profit margins have a new sales tool available at the click of a mouse. The new Belgard Design Studio has completed testing of the pilot program, and the online studio is now available for open participation. Contractors who participated in the pilot program achieved an average closure rate of 85%, and jobs closed utilizing the Belgard Design Studio boasted higher margins and fewer complications than other projects. Bring your designs to life and help clients visualize how the Belgard and Harmony Elements product lines can transform their backyards.
4 Levels of Service Available:
- FREE: Download each of 12 free backyard design plans from our online design library. Each design includes 3-D animated fly-throughs, 2-D photorealistic screen shots from various views, project dimensions, and materials lists.
- BASIC SERVICE: Already have a design in mind? Send us your 2-D drawings, and we’ll convert the image to 3-D renderings. Cost: Starting at $99.
- DELUXE SERVICE: Basic service plus 3 photorealistic screen shots, project dimensions, and materials list. Cost: Starting at $199.
- PREMIER SERVICE: Deluxe service plus fly-through animation and a jump drive. Cost: Starting at $299.
“The purpose of this program is to help contractors save time and sell more by allowing clients to get a real vision of how they will live in the space,” says Belgard V.P. of Marketing, Ken O’Neill. “Two-dimensional drawings really only show specs, they are flat and lifeless. 3-D renderings and animation allow the homeowner to visually walk through the space and account for traffic flow, outdoor furnishings, landscaping, lighting, colors, and a host of other factors. They can also get a better idea of how to phase out their dream scenario, which creates a long-term relationship between the contractor and the homeowner, ensuring not only a higher probability of closing this sale, but also future sales down the road.”
Participants in the pilot program agree. “Belgard’s 3-D renderings really got the client’s attention,” says Derek Harwood of Lee’s Landscaping & Design of Minneapolis, MN. “Access to the Design Studio gives me a competitive edge over others bidding for the job. And, I can pick and choose the projects that I know will benefit from a 3-D rendering.”
Additional designs are currently in development for the free online design library. Basic, Deluxe, and Premier services are 3-D conversion services for your existing 2-D designs. Custom design services are not available at this time. Turn-around time on 3-D conversion services varies depending on the scope of the project.
For additional information, please visit BelgardDesignStudio.com.