Spring Cleaning - Getting Your Outdoor Area Ready for Spring

 

Now that winter is done and dusted for another year, it’s time to start getting your outdoor area ready for spring. After months of enduring damp weather and less frequent use, your patio or deck may be looking a little worse for wear – but giving it a quick makeover doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Here’s how to make spring-cleaning your outdoor area as painless as possible.

 

De-Grime the Floor

Dust and dirt can build up in your outdoor spaces over winter, especially if you live near the beach or in a busy urban area. Getting rid of this layer of grime as soon as the weather starts warming up is essential to making the most of your patio during spring.
 
Begin by clearing all your outdoor furniture out of the way. Sweep up any dead leaves and neglected pot plants, and then mop the floor using a gentle detergent. You might need to bring in a gurney to get rid of the worst of the grime. Make sure the cleaning products you’re planning to use won’t damage your patio’s flooring materials by checking labels and spot-testing prior to use.

 

Wash Wooden Furniture

Scrubbing wooden furniture with a soft brush and mild soap can remove any mildew that may have set in over winter (add bleach or vinegar to shift stubborn stains). Once you’re done, wiping a generous layer of wood polish over each piece of furniture can help add extra shine. To prevent your hard work from going to waste, make sure you allow the wood polish to dry completely before placing it outdoors again.

 

Freshen Up Outdoor Cushions

Forgot to bring your cushions indoors during winter? Everyone loves a good cushion in their outdoor area, but these decorative features don’t fare so well in cold and damp conditions. To banish the last of those drab winter tones, putting any mouldy cushions through the wash can make a huge difference to the appearance of your patio.
 
If winter has done serious damage to your cushions and they’re too far gone to save, give your patio an instant makeover by buying some new ones. Scattering cushions with pretty patterns and bright colours around your outdoor area is a great way to welcome the arrival of spring.

 

Make Time for Repairs

Whether your patio came off second best in a bad winter storm or is simply starting to show signs of wear and tear, this is the perfect time of year to do repairs. From minor adjustments to complete structural overhauls, repairing faults can make sure your space is both comfortable to entertain in and strong enough to withstand the upcoming storm season.
 
Now that you know how to prepare your patio for the arrival of alfresco living season, check out our gardening tips for spring.

 

Technology to Improve Your Outdoor Living

 

Technology can take your outdoor area to a whole new level. The right products can change your outdoor lifestyle for the better, from keeping cool to staying connected. Here are our favourite tech tips for keeping your patio cool and enjoying your time outdoors.

 

Fans

This might not sound like the most high-tech feature, but don’t underestimate the power of a good fan. Lots of fan units are designed especially for use in outdoor areas, so you can enjoy a breeze on your patio even at the height of summer.

Not sure how to spot a good outdoor fan? Be sure to keep an eye out for weather-resistant designs. The blades should be made from durable materials like timber, or UV-resistant plastic. Your fan’s motor should also be sealed against moisture, so it doesn’t conk out on humid days.

 

Evaporative Coolers

Unlike most normal air-conditioning systems, evaporative coolers can be effective in outdoor areas (as long as the space you’re trying to cool isn’t too large). Have you ever noticed that the temperature tends to drop near large bodies of water like the ocean? That’s because water evaporates heat from the air. Evaporative coolers work in a similar way. Hot air enters the unit where it is filtered through cooling pads, before being released in a stream of cool air.

They might not create the same fridge-like effect as typical air-conditioner, but an evaporative cooler can still make heatwaves more bearable.

 

Misting Systems

Rather than staying cooped up inside all summer, a misting system can help you beat the heat outdoors. By showering your patio in a light cloud of water, a good misting system offers sweet relief from soaring temperatures without causing water damage.

You can get a portable misting system, or install a system in the roof of your patio.

 

Strong Wi-Fi

If you’re trying to enhance your patio with technology, a good Wi-Fi signal is essential. Whether you want to catch up on Netflix in a cool outdoor setting or stream your favourite songs while eating alfresco, having a patio with internet access can come in handy. But if your outdoor area is situated too far away from your modem, the signal might be patchy.

You don’t need any complicated gadgets to connect your outdoor area – simply use a Wi-Fi range extender. This device can ensure your patio always has access to the internet.

And, of course, you can personalise your area as much as you want. From outdoor stereo systems to fun lighting, there are heaps of ways you can tech-up your outdoor living area to make it the place to be this summer.

 

Natural Shields for Your Patio

 

Is your patio lacking in privacy? It can be tricky to shield your outdoor area from nosy neighbours without creating a closed-off effect. Rather than going overboard with building materials, greenery offers a flexible solution for adding privacy to your patio. You can plant a hedge, install a vertical garden bed or go wild with pot plants – when it comes to creating natural shields, the possibilities are endless.

Here are some suggestions to get you started:

 

Hedges

Hedges

You don’t need to be an expert landscaper to grow a hedge from the ground up. Whether you want to block off a small section of your patio or your entire outdoor area, a neatly manicured hedge is the perfect decorative feature for enhancing privacy.

To grow your own hedge, you’ll need the following supplies:

  A suitable hedge plant (Blueberry Ash and Lilly Pilly are both suited to Queensland’s climate)

  Quality garden mix (don’t just use the soil from your garden)

  Mulch

  Compost

  A shovel

  Secateurs

Begin by digging the holes for your hedge. Most hedges should be planted at a depth of around 35cm. Keep in mind that the closer you dig the holes, the faster your hedge will form. After throwing a handful of compost in each hole, you can plant your hedge (be sure to compress the dirt around each plant tightly to prevent air bubbles forming). Sprinkle some mulch on top of each plant and give them a good watering.

Within a few weeks, your hedge should be getting nice and dense. Ask your local nursery how often you should water your hedges, as some plants are thirstier than others.

 

 

Bamboo Screens

Bamboo Screens

Bamboo screens aren’t just an effective privacy enhancer – they can also add an exotic touch to your yard. Hardwearing and weather resistant, bamboo can withstand everything from pouring rain to blazing sunshine. If you want to build a privacy screen that blends in seamlessly with the rest of your yard, the natural colour and texture of bamboo make this plant a versatile option.

You can use wood strips, metal brackets, or even zip ties to attach your bamboo screen to your patio. Just make sure the bamboo has been coated in a waterproof stain before you start building.

 

 

Statement Pot Plans

Statement Pot Plants

Looking for a more temporary solution to your lack of privacy? Scatter some large pot plants around your patio to make it feel like a shady sanctuary. If you ever want to open up your space to the outside world, you can simply move the pot plants out of the way.

Vertical gardens can also be used as privacy screens, and require minimal maintenance. Climbing plants tend to grow quite quickly, so you can start enjoying more privacy within weeks of planting your vertical garden.

If you’re not much of a gardener, there are plenty of other ways to shield your patio. To enjoy permanent privacy in your outdoor area, check out Altec’s range of privacy and weather screens.

 

Gardening Tips for Spring

 

Want to whip your garden into shape for the warmer weather? Whether your patio is your yard’s main feature or you have acres of flowers and trees to care for, every landscape needs tending to at this time of year. With some handy horticultural tricks, you can help your garden thrive during spring.

So make the most of the milder temperatures with these top tips for springtime gardening.

 

Lawn Care 101

Lawn Care 101

Start your spring yard work from the ground up. First on the list: your lawn. If your grass is looking a little patchy after all those frosty winter mornings, now’s the perfect time to nurse it back to health.

Take these steps at the start of spring to give your lawn a makeover:
 

  • •  Trim the tops of the grass with a light mow – don’t go too short as it will be hard for it to bounce back, and don’t leave any grass clippings over the yard.
  • •  Aerate your lawn by using a garden spike to poke holes throughout the yard. This will allow better oxygen, water and nutrient circulation and promote growth.
  • •  Top dress your lawn. Use a quality top dressing and rake it out evenly through your grass. Try to avoid covering it up entirely – you want the dressing to be about 1-2cm deep in at the roots.
  • •  Water it down, then avoid walking on it or mowing it for a week or so.

 

Potted Plant Paradise

Potted Plant Paradise

Why not celebrate spring by adding an extra touch of greenery to your outdoor space? From glossy ceramic vases to classic terracotta pots, you can display your favourite plants any way you want. If you’re starting from scratch, be sure to get your hands on some quality potting mix. Don’t use soil from your garden, as it could be infested with pests or weeds. Pick up some potting mix from your local nursery to ensure your plants grow big and strong.

When it comes to planting spring bulbs in a pot plant, the bulb should be buried at a depth 2 to 3 times its own height. This ensures the flower stem will have enough support once it starts to grow. Even though the weather usually remains mild during spring, don’t forget to water your pot plants regularly. The soil inside a pot plant dries out a lot faster than ground soil, and your plants may get a little thirsty on warmer days.

 

 

Flower Power

Flower Power

Not sure what kind of flowers to plant during spring? These are some of our springtime favourites:
 

  • •  Pansies – These low growers can brighten up any garden bed
  • •  Heucheras – Also known as coral bells, heucheras come in a variety of pretty colours and leaf shapes
  • •  Kale – While not technically a flower, if you’re trying to grow a veggie garden, kale is the perfect springtime edible. It’s tolerant to the cold, and won’t wilt once summer rolls around
  • •  Lilac – Embrace the sweet fragrances of spring by planting some lilac in your garden.

 
 

Flower Power

Not much of a green thumb? If you’d rather fill your garden with elegant outdoor structures than pretty flowers, get in touch with Altec today. We are here to help you design the perfect patio, deck or carport for your yard.

Our expert patio designers can create an extension that flows seamlessly between your indoor and outdoor areas. Regardless of your property’s size, we know all the tricks for making the most of underutilised spaces. To transform your garden, Altec can install flyover patios, gabled patios, pergolas, alfresco dining areas and a range of other outdoor structures.

Book in a free consultation to start planning your garden makeover today.

 

4 Ways To Use Your Carport (That Don’t Involve Your Car)

 

A carport without a car?! We understand your surprise, but hear us out. We’re not suggesting you kick your car out to use your carport for other things – after all, it’s a carport – but if your car has a safe spot in the garage, or you’ve recently downsized your car family (leaving a sad, empty carport), then this is for you.

 

Vehicles

1. Put your other vehicles in there

Boats and caravans need a place to live, too! Extreme weather can impact all of your vehicles, so if you have an empty carport and other vehicles sitting out in the yard or on the curb, you know what to do!

 

Gym

2. Turn it into a gym

While you won’t want to leave expensive equipment out in the carport for security reasons, having a space for things like skipping, bodyweight workouts, or light weights that you can store in a locked chest or locker can be an awesome way to keep fit in all sorts of weather. And it means you don’t have to lose your rumpus room to all your fitness equipment!

 

Kid-Friendly

3. Create a kid-friendly haven

Got little ones? Although time flies, individual days can sometimes seem to drag. Use your carport to create an age-appropriate circuit for the small person or people in your life. Consider sensory activities like water play buckets with kitchen utensils, a sand box, a finger-painting station, and have a snack table at the end. It’s a great way to spend even the rainiest of afternoons – and it’s outdoors, so no stressing about getting paint on the floors or furniture!

 

Outdoor Cinema

4. Turn it into an outdoor cinema

Still waiting for that theatre room to happen? In the meantime, set up your carport for the big game or for the next movie night. All you need is a projector, a plain sheet, a way to fasten the sheet, and some chairs. Voilà – your very own cinema. Just don’t forget the popcorn (or the wine, if it’s a grown-up occasion).

So there you have it! Four ideas for making use of an empty carport. And if you don’t have one, what are you waiting for? We love a good carport – have a chat with our team to find out why!

 

Screening Your Space – Blinds vs. Louvres

 
Adding a bit of privacy screening to your outdoor area is a necessity for many homes in urban and suburban locations. But what type of screening is best for your yard? When it comes to building structural features to enhance privacy, there are plenty of options to choose from. Let’s unpack the pros and cons of blinds and louvres so you can make an informed choice.

 

Wind Blocking

Blinds

Blinds are great for completely shielding a space without blocking off natural lighting. They’re also ideal for outdoor areas that are exposed to direct sunlight, as you can raise or lower them based on the position of the sun at different times of the day; no more trying to block out the glare while you relax outside.

You can get blinds in a colour that suits your structure and décor, and they’re fairly easy to maintain – they just need to be wiped over occasionally to avoid dirt build-up and keep the moving parts free from grime.

Do keep in mind that blinds will likely need to be set into a frame to ensure they don’t flap around in windy conditions.

 

Wind Blocking

Louvres

Static louvres are great if you need to maintain a high level of air flow and light in your space, but still need a bit of privacy or shade from a certain angle. The word ‘static’ makes them sounds quite limited, but louvres come in several different configurations.

They can be built into an otherwise solid section of roof, opening up your space partially. Louvres can also be fitted throughout your entire roof, opening it up even more. Alternatively, they make an effective feature in the structure’s vertical spaces – they’re a great option when you don’t want to fully enclose your area with walls, but still need something to block the sun or the view from next door.

The main challenge for louvres can be cleaning. When they’re built into the roof or upper walls, accessing them may be difficult, making regular maintenance trickier. Of course, it’s nothing a good pressure washer, broom or ladder can’t handle!

 

The main points to consider

When you’re deciding whether blinds or louvres suit your outdoor space, these are the main questions to ask yourself:

  •   What am I trying to block, and why do I need to block it?
  •   How big is my space? Is it a small or large outdoor area?
  •   Do I need a screen that offers a shield from ceiling to floor?

If you need to block out the sun because it’s extremely hot, you may opt for louvres to allow for breeze. Alternatively, if you need to block the whole area off from nosy neighbours, you may be better off going for blinds that you can roll all the way down when you’re trying to enjoy the peaceful outdoors.

If you have any questions on either of these options, make sure you contact our experienced team members – they can help you pick the perfect screen!

 

Outdoor Living Ideas That Won’t Bust the Budget

 

Do you want a stylish and practical outdoor space like the ones always featured in gardening magazines and on renovation shows? The professionals might make it look easy, but a lot of people just don’t have the time, money or expertise to turn their plans into a reality.

Enter: the outdoor living ideas that will make your area better, without being difficult or expensive.

 

Get creative with seating

Were you thinking of heading to your local outdoor furniture supplier to pick up a traditional 7-piece dining set? Not on our watch! If you have a day free, you can make your own seating options, without paying through the nose for the same wooden setting everyone else has.
From wooden pallets to cinder blocks to milk crates, all kinds of materials can be used for seating and tables. Bolt the pallets together and throw on some cushions for comfort, or use cinder blocks as supports for a weathered piece of timber (treated, to ensure it lasts) to make your own table.
 

Altec-Better-Homes-and-Gardens

Photo: Better Homes & Gardens

 

Go green

Plants are great for adding colour and energy to your space, but they can be quite expensive if you want anything more than seedlings. To offset the cost, try to source your plants cleverly. Think your local markets or cuttings from friends or neighbours. If you’re a homeowner in Queensland, many council zones entitle residents to 2 free plants a year from a participating nursery.
 

Light it up

Christmas lights aren’t just for the festive season. Pick up some lights when the sales are on and turn your outdoor space into a sparkling wonderland. Not only will this give you enough light to enjoy the outdoors after the sun goes down, it also adds a beautiful ambience and makes for a great conversation starter!
 

Altec-Pinterest

Photo: Better Homes & Gardens

 

Dress up your pot plants

Get DIY on your pot plants to create an interesting and eclectic collection that can be spread around the yard. From simple paints, to mosaics made from old CDs, to pots made from scratch using clay or recycled materials, you’ll have plenty of choice when adding a touch of personalisation to your backyard.
 

Screen your area

Simple lattice screens, feature walls crafted from recycled cinder blocks, stylish outdoor blinds – these are just a few easy options to add style to your outdoor living space. Whether you leave them blank or add touches of greenery over time, screens can increase your privacy while adding a unique design element to your yard.
 

Altec-Little-Things

Photo: Better Homes & Gardens

 
You don’t need a ton of time or money to create interesting additions to your outdoor area. If you’re thinking of making more significant changes to your home, make sure you have a chat with one of our experienced design consultants!
 
 

How To Keep Your Patio Or Deck Warm In Winter

 

Outdoor spaces are only for summer, right? Wrong! It doesn’t take a lot of effort to ensure your patio or deck can be used all year round, rather than just when the weather is warm.

 
 

Choose the right heater

Choose the right heater

A high-quality outdoor heater can make a huge difference to your space. There are a variety of heater types you can use, including standing electric heaters, radiant heaters mounted on the wall or ceiling, gas-powered patio heaters, or even outdoor wood heaters. The heater you choose may depend on factors like the size of your patio or deck, how open it is to the elements, your access to power or how your seating is arranged.

 
 

Rugs and pillows

Throw rugs and pillows

Blankets and pillows can cosy up even the coolest spot. Perfect for an autumn evening spent catching up with friends over a barbecue, the right pieces don’t just offer a nice way to beat the chill – they can also add to your outdoor décor. If your space is quite exposed and you’re worried about your blankets and pillows being ruined, we recommend keeping them indoors. Simply bring them out when you want to use your patio or deck.

 
 

Wind Blocking

Wind blocking

Wind-chill is a major issue for many outdoor areas. If you find your patio or deck has the wind whistling through it during the cooler months of the year, consider adding a barrier to make your space more comfortable. Wind blocks can be created in several different ways, so it comes down to how much you’re willing to spend. Consider options like:

  • Blinds
  •   Louvres
  •   Slats
  •   Floating glass walls
  •   Retractable awnings
  •   Plant life
  •   Full or semi-enclosure.

 
 

Let there be light

Let the light in

Or, more accurately, the heat. If you can invite sunlight into your space without opening it up to the wind, you can help keep your area warm and inviting on even the chilliest day. Skylight domes or panels in your roofing can help with lighting and warmth, so your patio or deck stays bright and comfy all year round.

 
 

Insulated Roofing

Insulated roofing

Insulation is like a thermos for your home. It can help keep the air at your preferred temperature, whether that’s warm or cool. Insulated roofing works well on its own, but pairing it with any of the options above is a great way to maximise the effectiveness of your heater or warmth from the sun.

As a nation that loves the outdoors, it seems a shame to wait for the perfect weather to enjoy it! Whether you choose to curl up in a woolly blanket or find the perfect outdoor heater, you’ll thank yourself for winter-proofing your patio or deck this year.

Want more information on patio screens or enclosures? Contact our expert team online or by calling 1800 503 682 today!

 

 

4 Ways To Make Your Patio The Envy Of Neighbours

 

If you love entertaining, why not establish your home as the go-to for neighbourhood parties? Or perhaps you just want to have your neighbours peeking over and wishing they had such a nice space on their side of the fence. No matter your motivation, we know how to create a patio that everyone can enjoy – even if they don’t get to experience it firsthand!

 
 

Excellence in Design
 

It all starts with design

If you’re lucky enough to build from scratch, keep in mind that a great design is the foundation for an awe-inspiring space. You’ll want high-quality flooring and roofing, sufficient air flow, access to power, good natural light or lighting, and enough head height that you don’t have to hunch over when walking around. Keeping these basics in mind, you can work with your builders to design an open and airy outdoor space. Good builders will work with all the stakeholders in your household to ensure a high-quality design that everyone loves, all while considering elements like drafting, engineering and council approvals.

A good design will lend itself to different décors and uses, but a bad design will likely limit how you use your patio. Putting in the hard work through the design phase will be worth it when you have a highly practical area that adds value to your home and lifestyle.

 
 

Furniture Patio Altec
 

Amazing furniture

While design is the foundation, furniture is the bricks and mortar. You can throw an aluminium set on your patio and be done with it, but if you’re planning to spend more than 10 minutes at a time outside, you’ll probably want furniture that is strong, comfortable and durable. Depending on how much room you’re working with, you may be able to fit a dining set, a lounge set, or even both, making your outdoor area a truly functional extension of your home.
 
 

Perfect Plants Patios - Altec
 

The perfect plants

Whether you want to create a tropical retreat, an outdoor oasis or an industrial haven, the right plants can add a touch of luxury to any space. Head down to your local plant nursery and speak with the people there – they should be able to recommend plants based on your patio’s exposure to the elements and the look you’re trying to achieve, so you can get the right greenery for the job.
 
 

Personality in your Patio - Altec
 

A bit of personality!

After all, it’s your home! Décor is the finishing touch to crafting a patio that your neighbours wish was their own. For example, if you love frogs, place a cute frog ornament next to one of your pot plants. If you love art, consider hanging a unique canvas on a wall. Whatever you choose though, be wary of going over the top – one or two little stone frogs tucked away are cute and quirky, but a large frog statue in the middle of the floor might be a little over-the-top.

You don’t have to be the next contestant on The Block to get the best patio in the suburb. By carefully considering which elements to add to your space, you’ll end up with a gorgeous patio that is comfortable, practical and versatile.

Want to find out more about patio designs? Or team is ready to have a chat – simply contact us today!

 

Custom Patios or Flat Pack Patios – Which Is Better?

 

Are you wondering whether a flat pack patio cover, deck cover or carport is the most suitable solution for your home? Even the most dedicated DIYer can get caught out by the traps of the famous flat pack. We’ve taken a look at some of the myths associated with ready-to-assemble (RTA) structures, and whether they stand up to scrutiny.
 
 

Flat Pack Products Unstable

Flat pack products are easy and fast to assemble

Many people think flat packs are easy and quick – and in some cases, they may be. However, for a lot of people, assembling a flat pack can be a painful experience. You only have to do a quick Google search to see the huge number of posts and forum threads on how to stay sane while putting a flat pack together.

 
 

Flat Pack Products Unstable

Flat pack products are sturdy and durable

In an ideal world, components of flat packs would be the same quality as materials sourced by custom builders. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. Flat packs usually have fewer upfront costs, so it’s to be expected that the quality of poles, roofing and joinery won’t be of the same standard as pieces and products used by builders. This can result in a structure that just doesn’t stand the test of time.
 
 

Flat Pack Products Cheap

Flat pack products are cheaper than custom-built products

As we mentioned above, the initial costs associated with flat packs are generally cheaper than getting a builder out to do the job. But are RTA home extensions really easier on the hip-pocket than going custom?

Depending on the quality you end up with and how well you put it together, your flat pack patio cover, carport, or deck cover may not go the distance. With less structural integrity to stand up to the harsh Queensland weather, you may end up with a carport that blows apart in the first windstorm or succumbs to the first branch that hits it.

If you’re unlucky enough to end up with a cover that doesn’t go the distance, by the time you’ve paid for a replacement or repairs, you may find that you would have been better off with a higher quality product.

 
 

Flat Pack Products Easy

Flat packs are an easy option

Sure, it may seem like you can just buy one and throw it up over the weekend. Of course, we’ve already covered how it often isn’t that simple. But there’s more to it – you can’t forget about the council approvals and fees, as well as the other elements that you may need to consider. From flooring to drafting to engineering, flat packs are limited in ways that custom builds are not. And if you have a unique shape to build within, this all goes double. While custom patios can be built to the specific area, flat packs will be a standard design, which can make them look ‘tacked on’ or cheap.

So while flat packs can look like a convenient and cost-effective alternative to getting a home extension built by professionals, using this type of structure may not always go to plan. When it comes to your home, you get what you pay for, so it’s worth investing in something that will add genuine value to your home and your lifestyle.

Speak to one of our friendly team members to learn more about the benefits of a custom-built home extension today!

 

Altec are Brisbane's leading Patio & Carport Designers and Builders.

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