Excellent Features to Enhance Outdoor Living in State College

Excellent Features to Enhance Outdoor Living in State College

The outdoor space of your Stage College, PA, residence is an extension of your home and should be designed to provide comfort and add beauty to your everyday living. Selecting materials for your landscape is an undemanding task when you know what to look for. Here are some tips on selecting landscape design features to enhance your outdoor living experience

Gorgeous Unilock Pavers for Harrisburg Hardscapes

Gorgeous Unilock Pavers for Harrisburg Hardscapes

The hardscapes of your home would be incomplete without gorgeous pavers for the “floor” of the structure. In Harrisburg, PA, finding suitable pavers is as easy as consulting the Unilock catalogue. The company offers easy to install, durable, and affordable options that will appeal to the homeowner’s eye for beauty and the contractor’s interest in quality and unity.

Here's Why Reliable Stone Supply is so Important in Harrisburg, PA

Here's Why Reliable Stone Supply is so Important in Harrisburg, PA

Having a high quality and reliable stone supplier is an important asset in any Harrisburg, PA, contractor’s arsenal. Having the right quality of materials for your project is almost as important as the experience of the contractor. With the right supplier, you can be assured of the durability of your project and the satisfaction of your client.

3 Trusted Patio Paver and Natural Stone Brands PA Contractors Can Depend On

3 Trusted Patio Paver and Natural Stone Brands PA Contractors Can Depend On

Choosing the right materials is without doubt the most important aspect of designing and installing a landscaping project for your Harrisburg, PA, clients. Trusted brands, in addition to inspiring confidence with clients, also happen to provide materials with top fit and finish that can make your project really stand out.

Ideal Outdoor Kitchen Building Products from Unilock in PA

Ideal Outdoor Kitchen Building Products from Unilock in PA

For a flawless kitchen design in Lancaster, PA, it is important to choose materials that will not only match the style of your landscape but also boost the value of your home. Unilock offers a wide range of quality products, ideal for grill islands, bars, and seating that will impress with their stunning design and offer comfort.

Essential Building Materials for High-End Outdoor Kitchen Constructions in PA

Essential Building Materials for High-End Outdoor Kitchen Constructions in PA

In an outdoor setting, low quality materials and appliances deteriorate quickly. When choosing building materials for outdoor kitchen construction in Lancaster, PA, you can rely on Watson Supply to provide you with materials for outdoor kitchens that will withstand the rigors of weather, time, and outdoor living.

Pondless Waterfall Supplies in PA

Pondless Waterfall Supplies in PA

For a successful pondless waterfall project, every Lancaster, PA, contractor needs quality supplies and materials that will both complement the landscape and ensure its durability and longevity. This now popular water feature is becoming a favorite among homeowners because it takes up less space than pond waterfalls, requires less maintenance and running costs, and provides the relaxing ambience of cascading water.

A Guide to Maintaining Hardscapes in Winter

Homeowners are increasingly turning their attention to hardscaping — those landscape elements that are made of hard materials such as brick, wood or stone — to transform their outdoor space. For those looking to maximize beauty while minimizing work, extensive hardscaping is an attractive solution. These beautiful and functional walkways, decks and patios don’t need to be mowed in the summer nor be replanted in the spring.

However, while it is true that hardscapes can be considered low maintenance, they are not “no maintenance.” This is especially the case during winter, when harsh weather and freezing temperatures can adversely affect your hardscaping.

Luckily, with just a little bit of effort, you can preserve your outdoor space for years to come.

Preparing and Maintaining Hardscapes for Winter

The key to properly maintaining winter hardscapes is preparing them before the harsh weather actually hits. Consider the mild temperatures of autumn. This is one of the most enjoyable times to do work outside, so what better time to do the majority of the preventative maintenance on your outdoor living spaces?

Here’s what to do:

1. Prep your furniture.

Despite being designed for the outdoors, patio furniture should be your first step when prepping for winter. Because outdoor furniture gets very little use in winter and because it will be exposed to the harsh winter weather, winter is tougher on your furniture than all other seasons combined.

With that in mind, you have one of two options when prepping outdoor furniture for the colder months. Many opt for covering their furniture. Depending on the quality of your outdoor furniture, it may have come with custom sized covers. If so, use them.

If you don’t have custom covers, don’t fret. Generic furniture covers come in a variety of sizes, and unless your furniture is a particularly odd shape or size, you can easily find a cover that will fit snuggly and do the job just as well as a custom one.

If your seating has fabric cushions, you should bring the cushions inside, even if the base of the furniture remains outside. If the fabric can be removed, this would be a great time to launder them as well, as the warmer months can cause mildew to form even if it isn’t visible.

The best way to protect your furniture is to bring it inside so it doesn’t fall victim to the winter weather. If you have an outdoor shed or copious garage or basement space, store your furniture there. But, if you don’t have that space or if your furniture is large, leave it outside and take the steps to protect it so you’ll be able to use it again when the weather warms.

2. Prep your outdoor kitchen.

Most homeowners have at least one classic outdoor cooking appliance — a grill. Outdoor cooking has only increased in popularity, though, and as such, many homeowners have increased the size of their outdoor kitchen to include brick ovens, wet bars and even refrigeration.

Whether you are still working with the basic round charcoal grill or you are firing homemade brick oven pizzas, you should always take care to protect your outdoor kitchen before the first snowfall, especially since the colder weather will likely cause you to do the majority of your cooking inside.

If you have a grill and you have the space to move it inside, by all means, do so. Simply add it to your list of furniture you bring in every fall.

However, whether your grill is too large to bring inside or you are the adventurous type who still likes to light up the charcoal even in sub-zero weather, many people are better off leaving their grill outside year round. If so, just make sure you have a good snug cover that will keep it protected.

If you have a more extensive outdoor kitchen, you also want to make sure to shut down and drain the water lines before they have the chance to freeze. Cover your sinks to ensure they do not collect debris or ice that could cause damage. You’ll also want to disconnect the electricity to any powered outdoor appliances. Finally, give all of your outdoor appliances a thorough cleaning.

Just keep in mind that unlike your sink, you do not want to cover any outdoor appliances that have electric components. A cover will actually cause moisture to collect on the wiring and could potentially damage your equipment.

If you have a stone countertop, make sure you use a specialty winter sealant to prevent unsightly leaf stains or cracking during the winter.

prep your outdoor kitchen for winter
prep your outdoor kitchen for winter

3. Prep your water feature.

Since water freezes in winter, water features require special care during the colder months.

Depending on the size and nature of your water feature, there may be detailed specific steps that will be outlined by their manufacturer. However, there are a number of general rules that any water feature owner should follow, regardless of the size.

Start by removing any tropical plants or fish that are not able to handle freezing temperatures. Follow that with a good cleaning of your water feature. Winter conditions can make the build-up associated with water features much more damaging, so it’s best to make sure your fountain or pond is clean before it freezes.

If you have a feature like a fountain that does not need to run during the winter, shut off and drain the water lines. Also remove the pump so it isn’t damaged by the winter cold. Make sure to do this well before the first freeze so any residual moisture can evaporate first.

However, if you own a pond containing fish that are capable of withstanding the winter, you want to make sure water continues to circulate. Consult the water line and pump manufacturer recommendations to properly maintain the water circulation to keep your fish happy and healthy.

4. Prep your deck.

Regardless of the materials used, winter can be hard on a deck. That’s why the autumn is the best time to do the prep work before winter sets in.

Start by both power washing and sealing your deck. Power washing removes build-up that can be locked into the wood by a winter’s freeze. Sealing gives your deck a layer of protection against the elements. These are also good practices for the spring as well, as the harsh summer rays are equally hard on decks.

You also want to make sure any plants, trees or bushes near your deck are well-trimmed. Mold and moss on plants can easily travel to the wood of your deck, so it is best to leave a 12-inch gap between plants and your deck.

Make sure you have been keeping up with your deck sweeping as well. Just leaving leaves and other debris to sit can wreak havoc on a wood deck, so make sure even the corners have been properly swept.

If you can, also move all your furniture and potted plants off of your deck for the winter. These items can leave stains on the wood and be damaged themselves in the winter months.

prep your deck for winter
prep your deck for winter

5. Prep your potted plants.

Your plants also need to be taken care of and properly prepared for the winter’s freeze. This is especially important if they are plants that do not naturally do well in the freezing temperatures.

If your plants are small enough, bring them inside before the first frost. Not only will this help preserve them, but adding some green to your indoor space is a great way to brighten up the winter — when you are likely going to be spending a lot of time inside. Just make sure if you do bring your plants inside, you are keeping them in a place where they will get enough sun.

If your planters are too large to move inside, you should wrap the plants with an insulating fabric, such as burlap. Not only will this protect the plant by keeping the soil warm, but it will also preserve the planter itself.

6. Tackle those gutters one last time.

While this isn’t directly related to hardscaping, there is one unpleasant home care task that can also benefit your hardscape in winter: cleaning your gutters.

Remember, snow and ice can collect on your roof all winter long. When it melts, you will suddenly have a large amount of water that needs to be guided to its proper place. Also remember that autumn leaves are the most common gutter-clogging materials. A combination of thawing snow and leaf-filled gutters can do a lot of damage to your hardscaping — in addition to your home’s foundation and other portions of your property.

So while cleaning the gutters isn’t fun, it is important, whether you have extensive hardscaping or not.

Ongoing Winter Maintenance

While much of the winterizing work actually takes place before winter sets in, there are things you can do during the winter to ensure your hardscapes and landscapes are weathering the cold well.

First and foremost, if it does snow, consider shoveling your hardscape just as you would your driveway or sidewalks. While you may not be using your outdoor brick patio during the winter, a blanket of snow could still be doing damage to your hardscape just by sitting there.

To avoid damaging your hardscaping materials, you will want to keep in mind that some surfaces can handle the scraping of the shovel while others can’t. If you are going to shovel your patio, use a plastic shovel rather than a metal one, which is more likely to gouge. If you can sweep the snow rather than shovel it, that’s even better.

Also avoid using de-icers such as salt, if possible. These are especially harsh and can leave divots in your surface, cause unsightly discoloration or even cause your pavers to become brittle. If you do need to use a product to make walking on your hardscaping safer during icy conditions, consider using cat litter. This adds grit to reduce slipping without damaging the surface of your hardscape.

If you do have to use ice melt, make sure to clean it up as soon as the winter event is over to prevent it from seeping into your hardscape surface.

ongoing winter maintenance
ongoing winter maintenance

Keep Entertaining All Year Long

What if you plan to keep using your outdoor space rather than closing it up for the winter? If that’s the case, great! You’ll still want to ensure your space stays free of debris, snow and other elements that could damage your hardscape, but you can incorporate features that will provide warmth and comfort even when the temperatures plummet:

  • Fire pit. Many outdoor living spaces these days include a fire pit. They are great for roasting marshmallows or singing campfire songs during the summer, but they can also be used to provide enough heat to enjoy your outdoor space in the winter. Whether your fire pit is portable — generally a metal structure with legs to keep it off the ground — or a permanently installed one, just make sure you have a sufficient fire break surrounding the pit. This is a non-flammable flat surface that surrounds the pit where people can gather but won’t catch fire if a spark or ember lands outside of the pit.
  • Chimenea. A chimenea is a variation on the fire pit, but it’s instead more like an outdoor fire place. Some are made out of clay while others are metal, and they include a chimney. Just keep in mind that while they are more contained than a fire pit, sparks and embers can still escape, so they should also be used with a fire break.
  • Patio heaters. Patio heaters are an easy and energy efficient way to temporarily heat outdoor spaces. They come in a variety of sizes, making it easy to find the perfect heater for the amount of space available and the size of the crowd you are trying to keep warm. Just make sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to avoid the risk of fire.

For All Your Future Hardscaping Needs

Here at Watson Supply, we have been meeting the landscaping and hardscaping needs of Central Pennsylvania since 1993. We supply the essential tools and materials from industry leaders to help you transform your outdoor space into the landscape of your dreams.

If you are in need of winterizing supplies, are looking to make a big change in the future or you are just looking to make some small alterations to your hardscape, contact us today.

For all your hardscaping needs
For all your hardscaping needs

Your Comprehensive Guide to Hardscaping

The outdoor elements that surround a residential property are typically divided into two categories: softscapes and hardscapes. Softscapes are the natural elements that spring from the ground, such as grass, trees, flowers, bushes and gardens. Hardscapes consist of all the man–made elements that facilitate human activity, such as walkways, decks, patios, fences, lights, pavilions and fountains. With the proper balance of hardscaped and softscaped elements, a residence can be just as beautiful and comforting on the outside as it is on the inside. Some houses come with well–developed hardscaping, while others could use work in terms of the organization and balance of walkways, seating areas and visual fixtures. As with all types of home improvement, however, hardscaping involves foresight, planning and a significant investment of resources, time and labor. Before you decide upon a hardscaping project, consider both the practical factors, such as how the structure in question might impact the livability of your outer space, and the visual factors, like the finishes and design of your outdoor space.

Hardscaping
Hardscaping

The Benefits of Hardscaping

If you intend to remain at your current property for years to come, the benefits of hardscaping are twofold. First and foremost, hardscaping could greatly enhance the look and functionality of your property. Whether you opt for an all–American backyard look or something more akin to the Japanese garden, your property is sure to come out looking better than ever. As such, the backyard and patio could ultimately be more enjoyable for you, your guests and other members of your household. Curb appeal: A house can have a beautiful design and be equipped with a solid roof, immaculate paint job and cozy interiors, but the property's overall appeal could still be lacking if no care is given to the outside areas. If a house looks depressed to the average passerby due to poor lawn maintenance, it could be hard to move on the resale market. Likewise, a ghostly backyard replete with broken decks, cracked/drained ponds, dilapidated play structures, rotten vegetation and chipped fixtures are a major turnoff to any prospective buyer. Simply put, hardscaping is an essential component of home maintenance, whether you intend to occupy or sell a property. Livability: Hardscaping can also make your outdoor space easier to manage and navigate. For example, if you build a gravel walkway that extends from your backdoor to around your garden and back, your whole entire garden would be easier to access and manage. Likewise, a strategically placed fence will make your yard safer and more secure. Essentially, hardscaping could render your property more livable. In terms of overall livability, hardscaping can improve a residential outdoor space with the following benefits:

  • Increased privacy
  • Essential boundaries
  • Leveled topography
  • Improved shelter
  • Reduced need for bush trimming or lawn mowing

Privacy and security: The privacy that you could gain from adding a fence or replacing any preexisting fencing could come in very useful if you have a hot tub or pool installed in your backyard. Likewise, fences can also serve as boundaries, such as when the play area and garden need to be separated for practical reasons. If you have children or pets in the house, yet also maintain a garden in the backyard, a fence could allow for a playing area while keeping the crops safe from stomping feet or digging canines. Land evenness: On some properties, topographical unevenness is an issue that must be solved for practicality and safety reasons. If there's a sharp slope in your backyard or along the sides of your house, a retaining wall could be erected to prevent soil from sliding down and causing damage in the process. There are different types of retaining walls available, including concrete, gravity and anchor–based walls. Soil slopes, however, can still be a threat if there's no proper drainage because, unlike flat ground, slopes prevent water from sinking straight into the soil. Therefore, a retaining wall must be equipped with a draining mechanism to reduce the risk of a collapse at some point in the future. Shelter: Roof–equipped forms of hardscaping can serve as outdoor shelters, which come in handy during certain weather spells. A gazebo, for example, is a convenient place to go if drizzle starts during a backyard cookout party. Likewise, a tree house could function as a safe haven on hot days when sun rays cover the patio. Reduced lawn maintenance: With increased hardscaping, there's less greenery along the outer space of a house that needs to be maintained. If you consider tasks such as lawn mowing and bush trimming to be burdensome rather than joyous, an increased amount of gravel, structures and fences could make your home a lot more manageable. If your outer space is small to begin with, the addition of a patio or rocky path could reduce the spread of your lawn to a size that might only take minutes to mow on a weekly basis during summer months.

Softscaping
Softscaping

The Principles of Hardscaping Design

Hardscaping generally works in a complementary balance with the softscaping of a given property. This is not to say that the two should be balanced out 50/50, but that each should enhance what is special about the other. Ultimately, the hardscape–to–softscape ratio of your outer space will likely depend on the size of your property. If you live on a large piece of land, softscaping will inevitably account for the majority of your outdoor property, and a rocky trail or miniature pond would thereby serve as an accent to the overall greenery. By contrast, a basic hardscape feature — such as a patio or fountain — could ultimately monopolize your backyard if the property is smaller. Asymmetrical balance: In terms of balance, hardscaping elements don't need to be set up as bookends, but there should be some respect to symmetry in the overall layout. This can be achieved through asymmetry, where elements are arranged with regard to balance, but without the mirror–image constraints that characterize symmetry. A perfect example would be a backyard that features a fountain on the left side and a stone path that curves out from the right of the backdoor. Despite their contrast, the fountain and path could serve as complementary elements that would balance out the hardscaped scheme of the backyard as a whole. Other examples of asymmetrical hardscaping could include the following:

  • A patio bookended with a hot tub to the right and an outdoor fireplace to the left
  • A cobblestone path leading out leftward from the backdoor; a goldfish pond to the right
  • A waterfall along a rocky slope that leads into a stone swimming pool

Focal points: At the heart of every hardscaped scheme lays the focal point: the object that draws the majority of attention from household members and guests. Whereas surrounding hardscape and softscape serves as a backdrop, it's the focal point that not only attracts the most attention, but also tends to standout within the periphery of people's vision. A hardscape focal point tends to be a large, tall and somewhat unique object that contrasts with its surroundings. An example could include any of the following:

Interior/exterior continuity: The purpose behind hardscaping is relatively simple — to provide a sense of unity between indoor and outdoor living spaces. Therefore, the intent is not to overwhelm with contrasting styles between the inside and outside of a home. To the contrary, a hardscape should lift much of its thematic elements from the styles, colors and motifs seen within the rooms and hallways of a corresponding property. Examples of how hardscaping could reflect an interior scheme might include any of the following:

  • Stone panels mirrored between the indoor fireplace and outdoor path, steps and patio
  • Decorative wood panels on the interior walls and outdoor structures
  • Exotic design elements, such as Mediterranean motifs, on the inside and outside
  • Lighting features
  • Color schemes that extend from the interior rooms to the backyard

For utmost unity, a hardscaped design scheme can reflect not just the interior colors and structural elements of a house, but also the style and textures of the indoor furnishings. Outward view correlation: The continuity principle can even be extended to the natural view beyond your property. If you live on the crest of a panoramic view of mountains, hilltops or ocean water, you might consider correlating some of the hardscape elements to the sights that lie within view of your windows and deck. For example, if a mountaintop can be seen far off beyond the valleys and hills behind your house, consider utilizing white and grey stone along the curved walkway that leads outward from your backdoor.

The Materials of Hardscaping

Concrete pavers: While traditional poured in place concrete has long been associated with the dull, urban landscape, homeowners are now embracing interlocking concrete pavers due to their durability and aesthetic appeal. Consisting of flat, pre–hardened concrete pieces, pavers come in a wide variety of sizes and can be installed in a variety of patterns. Unlike traditional concrete slabs, pavers do not weaken under the changing extremes of weather. Thanks to the interlocking capability of a properly installed paver job, the pavers move with the freeze thaw cycle and remain structurally sound for a lifetime. Because of the joints in a concrete paver installation they are not susceptible to the cracks that form on poured sidewalks and patios when the underlying soil softens or redistributes. Furthermore, concrete pavers are capable of enduring quadruple the weight of slabs. When it comes to residential hardscaping, concrete pavers are an optimal choice for the following elements:

  • Patios — Unlike wood, concrete pavers don't need finishing and aren't subject to mold or deterioration over time. Also, they are not subject to cracking like poured concrete. Many finish styles and colors allow for a truly custom patio that will last for the lifetime of the house.
  • Walkways — Whereas stone can be more costly, brick can be uneven and gravel can feel loose and awkward, concrete pavers provide solid, even surfaces under the feet.
  • Pool decks — Concrete pavers are a great option for pool decks. They are salt resistant, slip resistant, and chlorine will not affect their colors. Around pools, the joints will take on moisture and leave the pavement cooler underfoot.
Concrete Pavers
Concrete Pavers

Wood: While concrete lends itself to a strictly modernized look, wood has a timeless quality it owes to its natural origins. As the primary basis to homes throughout the ages, wood has also been one of the principle hardscaping materials in everything from patios to fences. In terms of interior/exterior thematic continuity, wood is one of the most applicable materials for mirroring outdoor fixtures to indoor walls and furnishings. Wood is ideal for numerous hardscape features, including:

  • Decks — Concrete might be stronger, but the spaces between wood bars allow for rain to drain through to the ground underneath, which is vital not only to the state of a patio, but to the sanitation of an out space.
  • Gazebos — A common feature of old country estates, the typically octagonal, pavilion structure of a gazebo is best constructed with wood.
  • Tree houses — Likewise, wood works best for tree houses, which in a sense serve as man–made outgrowths of wood's primary source, the tree trunk.
  • Fences — Yes, the age–old residential necessity is best constructed with the use of wood, whether you opt for a traditional picket fence or something taller, more secure and modern looking.

Brick: Though its popularity has ebbed in recent decades, brick remains a reliable building material that carries over well between interior and exterior elements. A brick hearth to a living room fireplace, for example, can serve as the starting point to a thematic trail that extends out through the backdoor and runs between the lawn and garden. Despite its relatively high cost, brick is a reliable material that can last for years under various weather conditions. Even though cracks can sometimes form along the mortar, those can easily be fixed with some basic maintenance work. Stone: Known as a classier, more sophisticated alternative to concrete and other building materials, stone can give your hardscape an appearance akin to the outdoor spaces of a lavish estate. As with brick, stone can thematically link fixtures between the interior and exterior of a home. The following stone types are among the most popular choices for hardscaping on residential properties:

  • Sandstone — With a range of hues that includes canyon orange, sandy gray and beige, sandstone offers a look that can range from neutral to sedimentary.
  • Limestone — Salty in tone and sandy in texture, limestone can be used for a gravel base to paths and trimmings. As a bonus, the limestone will help neutralize your soil if you live in an area where the rain is acidic.
  • Flagstone — Perhaps the most popular of all hardscape stones, flagstone is usually applied in panels of various size and shape over paths of grout.
  • Quartzite — A light colored stone with a smooth texture, quartzite is ideal for sleek tiles and trimmings.
  • Slate — Much darker than other stone types, slate has a sedimentary appearance that looks especially well in hardscapes with a deep gray or charcoal theme.
Stone
Stone

In today's hardscapes, another option is synthetic pavers. Though lacking the natural qualities of wood or stone, pavers can be colored and textured to approximate the look of various materials, including brick and flagstone. On properties, both large and small, hardscaping is a major undertaking. Whether you opt to do the work yourself or hire a contractor, it is essential that each project be handled with the proper tools and parts. For home improvement projects both in and around Harrisburg, PA, come to Watson Supply for all of your hardscaping supply needs.

Elephant Armor

The World's Most Amazing Cementitious Patch and Overlay Product!

GST International's Elephant Armor™ is designed to limit catastrophic failure no matter what material it is applied over. Due to its ability to micro-fracture and flex over moving surfaces, Elephant Armor™ reduces the potential for structural cracking.  Surfaces include: concrete, asphalt, steel, wood and EPS structural foam.  More importantly, it is the only product on the market that can be applied over existing cracks and limit the propagation of those cracks through the new Elephant Armor™ surface.

Specially engineered as a patch or overlay product that offers tremendous flexural and tensile performance as thin as 1/4".  High ductility, allowing the overlay or patch to ‘FLEX’ without failure

  • 500 times the tensile strain capacity of other cement-based products
  • 10 times the bond strength of other fiber based mortars for superior crack resistance
  • Up to 4,000 psi in 4 hours
  • The unique chemistry of Elephant Armor makes it resistant to UV rays, chemicals and provides an expected life of 100 years
  • Prevents the propagation of existing cracks through the surface
  • Resists de-icing salts, freeze/thaw
  • High abrasion resistance
  • No harmful chemicals, acrylics or epoxies are used
  • Zero slump to flowable is adjusted onsite by controlling the added water.

If you are in interested in more information about Elephant Armor or in purchasing the product, please email us or call us at 717-238-9730.

Aquascape Pond Stars by Nat Geo Wild

Have you ever thought about beautifying your backyard with a pond installation?  If so, there is great inspiration coming your way this September on Nat Geo Wild.  A new series, entitled Pond Stars, follows an expert team of pond builders who can turn any barren plot into an attractive, inspirational and even, healing oasis.

Focused on supporting the local ecosystem, the Pond Stars team integrates serene beauty to yards through a combination of pond installation, decorative water features, unique natural seating, patio installs, stone arrangements and more.  Along with natural elements, the Pond Star team also combines cutting edge accent lighting and underwater LED lighting with cameras to ensure the yards can be enjoyed when the sun goes down.

The Pond Stars Leader: Greg Wittstock

Led by longtime pond installation expert, Greg Wittstock, the team uses its unique expertise and appreciation of the outdoors to tackle these challenging assignments.  Wittstock sucessfully developed a childhood hobby into Chicago based Aquascape Inc, North America’s #1 supplier of water gardening supplies.  Aquascape Inc appeared on Inc Magazine’s list of 500 Fastest Growing and Privately Held Companies in North America from 1999 – 2002.

Together, with Greg’s team of distinct personalities and expertise, they all play pivotal roles in educating clients with the nature around them.

The team includes pond experts:

  • Ed Beaulieu (The Scientist), who holds a B.S. in Zoology and a concentrated master’s studies in Marine Biology, has built hundreds of custom designed ponds, from water gardens to large commercial features.
  • Brian Helfrich (The Foreman), who is a Construction Manager at Aquascape Inc, has given hundreds of pond construction seminars.  He is a contributing author for The Pond Builder’s Bible
  • Chris Hanson (The New Guy)

From the wetlands of northern Florida to the mountains around California’s San Gabriel Valley, this “behind the scenes” adventure is sure to entertain as the Pond Stars team encounter feathered and scaled critters in challenging ecosystems.

Catch the first episode of Pond Stars, which premieres on Nat Geo Wild on Tuesday, September 9th, 2014 at 10:00 PM EDT / 7:00 PM PDT.

If you are in interested in a pond installation or purchasing pond materials, please email us or call us at 717-238-9730.  We can get you in touch with a Certified Aquascape Contractor or sell you the materials for a Do-It-Yourself project.

It's not too late to winterize your pond!

OK, so you know you should have done it by now, but everything got so busy with the holidays that you just never got around to it.  Yes, we have all been there at one time or another.  But don't fret, there is still time to winterize your pond, and you'll be glad you did when you go to start it up in the Spring.  So...it might be too late to get a net on to catch the Fall leaves, but getting them out NOW will save you headaches later. Check out this video for a quick step-by-step on how to winterize your pond.

If this video has been helpful to you, please leave us a comment below.  We are an Authorized AquascapePRO Distributor here in Harrisburg PA, and we can help you with all of your water feature questions and problems.  Or, if you are interested in having a water feature installed, we can get you in touch with a contractor that can take care of that for you.

Will my LED landscape lighting melt snow?

It seems that winter is finally coming to central PA, and if you are anything like me, you are probably thinking "I wonder if my new LED landscape lights will melt the snow?"  OK, so maybe you weren't thinking it before, but you are now, right? Well, the answer is yes.  And no.  Most professional grade LED fixtures generate enough heat to melt any snow that falls when they are on.  Many less-expensive LEDs on the market do not produce very much light since they are under-powered.  Because of this, there is not a lot of heat generated, limiting their ability to melt snow and ice as it hits the fixtures.  So the answer is "Yes" if you buy high quality LED fixtures, but "Maybe" or "No" if you buy low-quality LED fixtures.

Quality LEDs (the ones that quality landscape contractors install) will radiate more heat.  Why is this?  These fixtures are designed with internal heat sinks that pull the heat away from the LEDs and out into the housing.  This is done to increase the longevity of the LEDs, with the added benefit of heating up the housing. While they won't get hot enough to burn you (unlike incandescent light fixtures), they will heat up enough to melt the kind of snow and ice events that we typically receive here.

Now if we get completely buried in snow or ice, particularly during the daytime when the lights are off, it might take some time (hours or possibly even days) for the melt to occur after the lights come on.  This kind of snow event is rare enough around here that most people are not going to worry about what their landscape lighting looks like for that short period of time.  The benefits of LED lighting far outweigh this concern in most peoples' minds.

So the bottom line is this... Have a quality designer install quality LEDs, and you can enjoy the benefits of LED landscape lighting all year long, including during all but the very worst of snowstorms that come along.

Last minute lunch on the Primo XL

I forgot to bring lunch to work today, so what's a guy to do?  Cook some chicken thighs on the Primo XL, that's what! A quick trip to the grocery store for some chicken, a little seasoning, and back to work to get everything cooking.  I started our Oval XL and stabilized the temperature around 325 degrees (this took about 15 minutes).  While it was heating up, I washed and dried the chicken, sprayed it with some cooking oil, and rubbed on some spices.  I seasoned 3 pieces with SeasonAll, 3 with an Italian Blend, and 2 pieces with nothing at all.  Variety is a beautiful thing!

I set up the grill for indirect cooking by using the firebox divider and putting lump charcoal in only one side, and put in the drip pan rack, ceramic reflector plate, and a foil drip pan on the other side.  I wanted to get the chicken up as high in the dome as possible, so I put in the regular cooking rack and then the extender rack, too.  Here is a picture of the set-up...

I like to use the Primo Remote Thermometer, which allows you to monitor the grate temperature and the food temperature simultaneously.  The grate stayed at 325 degrees for the whole cook without any adjustments at all, and 45 minutes later when the chicken internal temperature reached 190 degrees, I took the chicken off... I knew it was going to be good when juices squirted out of the chicken when I picked it up with the tongs!  Here it is just before I pulled it off, and then plated.

(If you look at the before and after pictures, you can see how little of the lump charcoal was burned during this cook.  Closing up the vents puts the charcoal out, to be saved for the next cook.  Cooking with the Primo is incredibly efficient, and very little cleanup!)

If you'll excuse me, I've got to go eat!  The smell from this chicken is awesome!

Spare ribs and MOINK balls on our new Primo Smoker/Grill

Since becoming a distributor of Primo Smoker/Grills, we thought it would only be fair to cook on them (a lot). We decided that today would be a good day to cook some spare ribs low and slow, along with some MOINK balls (bacon-wrapped meatballs).  We certainly can't let this food go to waste, so I guess we are just going to have to eat it.  Here's my view after the ribs cooked for about 2 hours and the MOINK balls just went on.

And here are the ribs just about ready to come off.  (Sorry, the MOINK balls are long gone, so no photo of those)

I hope you enjoy your lunch as much as I'm going to enjoy mine...  What's YOUR favorite thing to cook on your grill?  Leave your comments below.

Outdoor Cooking Recipe #8 Grilled Atlantic Salmon

Welcome to our Outdoor Cooking Recipe Series!  We just had another Outdoor Cooking Demonstrations at which everything is cooked in our wood fired Chicago Brick Oven.  The food has turned out so good that we wanted to share all the recipes with you!  The menu for our third demo consisted of Grilled Atlantic Salmon, Blackened Sea Scallops, Herb Roasted Chicken, and Roasted Fingerling Potatoes.   We can only vouch for how wonderful these dishes are when cooked on our wood fired oven, no guarantees on how good they will be if you cook them on something else... Here is Recipe #8:

 and this is what the finished product looks like!

If you have been thinking about buying a Chicago Brick Oven and would like to join us for one of our upcoming demonstrations to see just how versatile they really are, please email chris@watsonsupplyinc.com to put your name on the list.  As soon as we have more demonstration dates selected, we will let  you know.  Hope to see you soon!  Also, please follow our blog to see the rest of the recipes as we post them...

(All of the recipes in this series were developed by Joe Mishler, Executive Chef at Devon Seafood Grill in Hershey.  Joe has a Chicago Brick Oven at home, and he loves cooking on it so much that he wanted to share some of his favorites with the rest of the world.)

Outdoor Cooking Recipe #7 Herb Roasted Chicken

Welcome to our Outdoor Cooking Recipe Series!  We just had another Outdoor Cooking Demonstrations at which everything is cooked in our wood fired Chicago Brick Oven.  The food has turned out so good that we wanted to share all the recipes with you!  The menu for our third demo consisted of Grilled Atlantic Salmon, Blackened Sea Scallops, Herb Roasted Chicken, and Roasted Fingerling Potatoes.   We can only vouch for how wonderful these dishes are when cooked on our wood fired oven, no guarantees on how good they will be if you cook them on something else... Here is Recipe #7:

and this is what the finished product looks like!

If you have been thinking about buying a Chicago Brick Oven and would like to join us for one of our upcoming demonstrations to see just how versatile they really are, please email chris@watsonsupplyinc.com to put your name on the list.  As soon as we have more demonstration dates selected, we will let  you know.  Hope to see you soon!  Also, please follow our blog to see the rest of the recipes as we post them...

(All of the recipes in this series were developed by Joe Mishler, Executive Chef at Devon Seafood Grill in Hershey.  Joe has a Chicago Brick Oven at home, and he loves cooking on it so much that he wanted to share some of his favorites with the rest of the world.)

Outdoor Cooking Recipe #6 Marinated Flank Steak

Welcome to our Outdoor Cooking Recipe Series!  We are gearing up for the next in our series of Outdoor Cooking Demonstrations at which everything is cooked in our wood fired Chicago Brick Oven.  The food at the first one came out so good that we wanted to share all the recipes with you!  The menu for our upcoming second demo consists of Chipotle Shrimp and Andouille Sausage Kabobs with Avocado Sour Cream, Marinated Flank Steak, Roasted Peppers with Basil Vinaigrette, and Russet Potatoes with Cilantro Butter.   We can only vouch for how wonderful these dishes are when cooked on our wood fired oven, no guarantees on how good they will be if you cook them on something else... Here is Recipe #6:

and this is what the finished product looks like!

If you have been thinking about buying a Chicago Brick Oven and would like to join us for one of our upcoming demonstrations to see just how versatile they really are, please click on this link to register.  http://outdoorcooking.eventbrite.com  Hope to see you soon!  Also, please follow our blog to see the rest of the recipes as we post them...

(All of the recipes in this series were developed by Joe Mishler, Executive Chef at Devon Seafood Grill in Hershey.  Joe has a Chicago Brick Oven at home, and he loves cooking on it so much that he wanted to share some of his favorites with the rest of the world.)

Outdoor Cooking Recipe #5 Shrimp and Sausage Kabobs

Welcome to our Outdoor Cooking Recipe Series!  We are gearing up for the next in our series of Outdoor Cooking Demonstrations at which everything is cooked in our wood fired Chicago Brick Oven.  The food at the first one came out so good that we wanted to share all the recipes with you!  The menu for our upcoming second demo consists of Chipotle Shrimp and Andouille Sausage Kabobs with Avocado Sour Cream, Marinated Flank Steak, Roasted Peppers with Basil Vinaigrette, and Russet Potatoes with Cilantro Butter.   We can only vouch for how wonderful these dishes are when cooked on our wood fired oven, no guarantees on how good they will be if you cook them on something else... Here is Recipe #5 (in two parts):

and this is what they will look like (this picture shows green peppers instead of cherry tomatoes, but you get the idea)!

If you have been thinking about buying a Chicago Brick Oven and would like to join us for one of our upcoming demonstrations to see just how versatile they really are, please click on this link to register.  http://outdoorcooking.eventbrite.com  Hope to see you soon!  Also, please follow our blog to see the rest of the recipes as we post them...

(All of the recipes in this series were developed by Joe Mishler, Executive Chef at Devon Seafood Grill in Hershey.  Joe has a Chicago Brick Oven at home, and he loves cooking on it so much that he wanted to share some of his favorites with the rest of the world.)

Outdoor Cooking Recipe #4 Roasted Potatoes with Shallots and Fresh Tarragon

Welcome to our Outdoor Cooking Recipe Series!  We recently had the first of our series of Outdoor Cooking Demonstrations at which everything was cooked in our wood fired Chicago Brick Oven.  The food came out so good that we wanted to share the recipes with you!  Our menu for this first demo consisted of Blackened Sea Scallops, Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin, Roasted Asparagus with Toasted Almonds, and Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Shallots and Fresh Tarragon.   We can only vouch for how wonderful these dishes are when cooked on our wood fired oven, no guarantees on how good they will be if you cook them on something else... Here is Recipe #4:

and here they are!

If you have been thinking about buying a Chicago Brick Oven and would like to join us for one of our upcoming demonstrations to see just how versatile they really are, please click on this link to register. http://outdoorcooking.eventbrite.com  Hope to see you soon!  Also, please follow our blog to see the rest of the recipes as we post them...

(All of the recipes in this series were developed by Joe Mishler, Executive Chef at Devon Seafood Grill in Hershey.  Joe has a Chicago Brick Oven at home, and he loves cooking on it so much that he wanted to share some of his favorites with the rest of the world.)