How to Pick the Best Fire Pit for Your Backyard

fire pit

Imagine curling up with a glass of wine around a blazing fire pit.

Sounds more like something you find at a romantic hotel getaway, than in your own backyard.

The truth is a backyard fire pit can bring a sense of warmth and luxury to any outdoor space. They are perfect setups for cooking or simply for ambiance. The presence of fire can even reduce your blood pressure.

Fire pit options include the convenience of gas power or the traditional charm of a wood-fueled pit.

No matter which style you choose, it should match your personal wants and needs.

Let's review the world of outdoor fire pits and find the best fire pit for you and your family.

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Uuni 3 Pizza Oven: Best Portable Wood Pellet Pizza Oven?

Uuni 3 pizza oven

You’ve done the traditional tailgater barbecue and it was fun. But everyone is on the act now and you’d like to do something different this football season.

What would be a good game day treat for this season?

How about cooking real wood-fired pizzas to go along with those ice-cold artisan brews that you’ve packed? It’s so easy with the Uuni 3 outdoor pizza oven. In 60 seconds you could turn out hot, tasty pizzas and be wowing the crowd just like your favorite team.

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Green Thumb: Your Guide to Backyard Care

lawn care

You've spent a long time -- not to mention a considerable amount of money -- designing your dream backyard.

But if you don't know how to properly take care of it, you'll see your flowers wilt and your investment go down the drain.

Plus, gardening and other basic backyard care have been shown to have numerous mental health benefits. This means that tending to your yard won't just ensure your home looks its best -- it will also help you to de-stress.

So, where should you start when it comes to backyard care?

Read this post to learn the most important basics. Hopefully, by the end, you'll finally get the green thumb you've always wanted.


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Camp Chef Pizza Oven – Our #1 Choice for Outdoor Pizza Oven in 2017

Patio party coming up? How about making it a pizza patio party?

Now we’re talking. Combine the best combination of good friends, good food and a great location and you’re going to create some lasting memories.

How would you like to do this without spending a fortune on building a special installation in your backyard or on the patio?

Even better, how about something that you could take camping, tailgating, even to the beach?

Read on, because our Camp Chef Italian Artisan Pizza Oven review might just be your ticket.

More…

Quick NavigationWhat Is the Camp Chef Italia Artisan Pizza Oven?Pros:Cons:Here Are the Standard Features of the Camp Chef Pizza Oven​First Off, How Does It All Work?What Kind of Fuel Does It Use?Can I Use Natural Gas?How Long Do I Have to Wait Between Pizza Batches?Can I Use this in a Commercial Setting?What Else Can I Make in a Camp Chef Pizza Oven?What’s the Camp Chef Oven Cleaning Routine? What’s the Secret to Good Artisan Pizza?What Am I Getting That Makes Such Great Pizza?Any Tips or Tricks to Getting My Best Pie?Do I Have to Do Anything Special with the Camp Chef Italia Artisan Pizza Oven?What’s the Warranty Period? Any Concerns to Be Aware of?Where Can I Buy the Camp Chef Italia Artisan Oven?Ok Then, What’s the Final Word?

 

What Is the Camp Chef Italia Artisan Pizza Oven?

The Camp Chef is a portable pizza oven that bakes artisan-style pizza in as little as 3 minutes.

The Camp Chef pizza oven can do this because it heats in as little as 15 minutes to the desired 600° to 700° temperature. Slide your pie in the oven, close the door, and 3 to 7 minutes later you’ll be enjoying that delicious, sizzling, mouthwatering pizza.

Not a pizza dough swirling pro?

No worries, it’s as easy as store-bought pizza sauce and dough or pizza from a take and bake place – even frozen works. But, if you feel like trying your hand at it, go ahead and use any specialized pizza dough and sauce.

Then pack it up and take it camping or to the beach, it’s that versatile.

If you’re a pizza aficionado, this is a unit that you’ll want to check out.

Let’s do just that…

PROS

CONS

Fast heating

No smoky flavor

Fast baking

Somewhat uneven heating

Light weight

Oven doesn’t get to highest temps with bottle propane

Easy to assemble

Front cover not hinged

 

 

Here Are the Standard Features of the Camp Chef Pizza Oven

  • Stainless steel body with double wall insulation in the ceiling
  • Easy electronic ignition
  • Micro adjust 17,000 BTU gas burner in the base of the unit
  • Built in temperature gauge on top
  • 13.5″ x 20″ Cordierite ceramic pizza stone
  • Uses 1lb disposable propane bottles
  • Uses standard bulk propane with supplied 5ft hose and regulator

First Off, How Does It All Work?

Electronic ignition gets The Camp Chef Italia started quickly. The oven gets up to temperature in as little as 15 minutes. You control the temperature by using the micro adjust gas burner that is situated below the pizza stone.

The stone is a 13.5” by 20” piece of Cordierite ceramic. It’s the same material used in kilns so you can be assured that it’s more than ready to take the heat.

The burner heats up the stone while the gap around the stone allows hot air to move up and heat the oven dome.

The oven mimics a wood-fired brick oven by contact cooking the pizza dough on the stone while cooking the pizza toppings with convection heat via the double walled stainless-steel dome.

But, no smoky wood flavor. Here’s why…

 

What Kind of Fuel Does It Use?

The oven runs on propane and is ready to accept gas from two sources. For portability, you can use the easily found 1-pound disposable bottles.

Or you can use the supplied 5-foot hose with regulator to connect to a standard bulk propane tank.

So, no woodchips, pellets or wood chunks to fuss with — that’s why no smoky flavor — and no ashes to spill all over your patio, campsite, or beach site.

Sound good?

Be aware, some users have said that you’re not able to get the highest temperatures with the disposable bottles.

Not a problem, you’ll just need to vary the type of pizza you’re going to make. You can still cook at lower temperatures, though it may take a minute or so longer.

 

Can I Use Natural Gas?

That’s a common question many users ask. The Camp Chef pizza oven isn’t made to run on natural gas. Currently, there isn’t a connector or adapter available from the manufacturer to allow natural gas use.

A couple of notes to keep in mind:

The Camp Chef is meant to be used outdoors only.

Be certain to read the instructions on disconnecting the gas supply when the oven is not in use.

Ok, the electronic ignition makes it fast starting, we know it’s fast heating so…

 

How Long Do I Have to Wait Between Pizza Batches?

You can make one 12-inch or two 10-inch pies at a time. So, figure about 10 minutes on the high side between batches. This is because every time the door is opened, heat escapes and the oven must come back to temp.

Not a big issue because the stone holds heat for a long time. It’s the air that needs to be reheated and that happens quickly.

TIP: If you prep your pizzas ahead of time, the process will be a lot faster. Be sure to keep the oven door closed even when not cooking to keep those temperatures up.

 

Can I Use this in a Commercial Setting?

Another common question, but officially, no, the unit isn’t intended for commercial use. However, there are some pizza restaurant owners who have used the Camp Chef Italia pizza oven at open-air events. They’ve reported good results after a little practice and experimenting with time and ingredients.

Here are the measurements and weight if you’re going to be moving it around:

  • Shipping weight is 47 pounds.
  • Assembled weight is 22 pounds
  • Assembled, it measures 20″ d x 26″ w x 16″ h
  • Add 5” x 23” to the front for the ledge

Speaking of practice and experimenting:

 

What Else Can I Make in a Camp Chef Pizza Oven?

You can bake bread, calzones, cookies and other smallish baked goods. And that’s not all, you can cook chicken and fish, even roast meats.

The truth of the matter is, if you can fit the food through the opening, you can probably cook it in the Italia pizza oven.

Once the baking is done, it’s time for cleanup. Keep reading for good news there.

Find it on Amazon

 

What’s the Camp Chef Oven Cleaning Routine? 

The body of the oven is easy to clean, just wipe down the inside and outside with a damp cloth. Before cleaning the stone, make sure it has completely cooled. You risk cracking the stone if it’s still hot.

Clean the stone by rinsing in water, but don’t soak it or use detergent. The stone is porous and will absorb water and soap. Scrape off any burnt-on residue like cheese or other toppings. Drips can be wiped up with warm water.

The stone will darken as it seasons. That’s something that you want to happen so don’t try to wash it off.

Alright, those are the basics, so, ready for some secrets?

What’s the Secret to Good Artisan Pizza?

Proper air and stone temperature is the secret. The trick is to get the air temperature to around 700° so that the toppings will be properly cooked while keeping the stone at around 550° to avoid burning the crust but still make it crispy.

The built-in thermometer in the Camp Chef oven top does a good job of measuring the air temperature — so no trick there.

For the stone temp, a good quality infrared thermometer comes in handy. You can measure several spots on the stone to judge overall temperature.

This is especially important if you’re going to be making more than one or two pizzas and need to keep opening and closing the door.

 

What Am I Getting That Makes Such Great Pizza?

The high air heat and properly heated stone make this pizza oven a standout. Plus, like we said, it does this quickly, in as little as 15 minutes and you’re ready to start baking.

The heat is fully adjustable letting you cook many different types of pizza as well as other foods. The ceramic stone then pulls the outer moisture off the dough for crispness. This ensures that you get a perfect crust while the inside stays fluffy and moist.

Any Tips or Tricks to Getting My Best Pie?

Measure the stone heat separately to make sure you’ve got the right baking temperature. You want the stone to be at 500° to 550°. The air temperature needs to be higher – 650° to 700° – to cook the top.

For thin cracker style crust, bake at a low to med temperature to prevent burning. You will need to adjust the overall pre-heat to a half hour or so.

Use room temperature ingredients and dough. If you use frozen, thaw completely.

If making the dough that’s noted in the instructions, let it proof for 48 hours.

Go easy on the toppings as they may not cook quickly enough if piled too high. Also avoid too many high moisture toppings.

Use fine cornmeal on the peel to make it easy to slide the pie into the oven.

Spin the pizza 180° at least once in the first 90-120 seconds. Pop large bubbles so they don’t burn. Keep turning as needed to evenly cook.

If the crust is cooked but the top isn’t quite done, use your metal (not wooden) peel and lift the pie up near the top of the oven. The hot air will finish the cooking while keeping the crust just the way you want it.

 

 

Do I Have to Do Anything Special with the Camp Chef Italia Artisan Pizza Oven?

The pizza oven is meant to be used outdoors, so don’t use it in an enclosed space. For example, don’t use it indoors, in a camper, or in an RV.

If you’re going to leave it outside, keep it covered. Camp Chef has a custom cover called the Camp Chef Italia Artisan Protective Cover. You can find it on Amazon. 

Clever, huh?

The portable pizza oven can sit on any solid flat surface but if you prefer a cart, Seville Classics makes one that has a shelf for a separate propane canister that you can find on Amazon. 

When you’re done baking, make sure the gas is off as directed in the instructions.

 

What’s the Warranty Period? 

Camp Chef has a one-year warranty on the stove and components. This doesn’t include paint or finish. Be sure to activate the warranty by registering online here:

https://www.campchef.com/productregistration/productregistration/setRegistrationMethod/

For more information or to file a warranty request go here:

https://www.campchef.com/warranty-information

Any Concerns to Be Aware of?

The gauge shows the temperature of the air inside but doesn’t give you the temperature of the stone. Take that in to account when baking as the stone could be quite a bit hotter than you think and burn the bottom of the pie.

Avoid extreme temperature changes to the stone. Don’t place frozen foods on a hot stone as it could crack.

Use oven mitts or gloves when handling the cooking stone and any other hot parts like the front cover.

It’s safe to use outside as that’s Camp Chef’s intended purpose for the oven. Remember to use standard fire safety when cooking outside. A fire extinguisher is a good idea to have handy.

We suggest you invest in the following Amazon Best-Selling tools to make life with your pizza oven a little easier and cleaner.

A peel or spatula like the Kitchen Supply aluminum peel or the Camp Chef Professional Pizza Spatula will make it a simple thing to slide the pizza in the oven. It also helps when you rotate the pizza so that it will bake evenly.

​​

The Janico Pizza Oven Stone Brush is a good stiff bristle brush that helps remove the debris on the stone.

To keep track of the temperature of the pizza stone, the Etekcity Digital Laser Infrared Thermometer does a great job.

Where Can I Buy the Camp Chef Italia Artisan Oven?

The Camp Chef Italia Artisan Oven can be purchased at larger outdoor and home supply stores as well as larger sporting goods stores.

We recommend you purchase it here at Amazon. You can take advantage of their top-notch customer support, easy to use return policy and free Standard shipping. And, if you’re an Amazon Prime Member, you can get FREE 2-day shipping.

Camp Chef Pizza Oven

Insert WordPress Content

Check the current price on Amazon here

 

Ok Then, What’s the Final Word?

Our conclusion is that the Camp Chef Italia Artisan Pizza Oven would make a great backyard, camping or all-around outdoor propane powered pizza oven. It fits smaller patios and it’s portable. It’s easy to set up on a picnic table or grill stand and you can be cooking in 15 minutes.

It stands out to us for its versatility in baking other foods too. It’s not a one hit wonder.

You can find our complete selection of outdoor pizza ovens here

10 Stunning Patio Kitchen Designs

patio kitchen

It's the perfect summer afternoon for a get-together, warm and sunny with a comfortable breeze. Your friends are enjoying your outdoor space, but you're stuck inside cooking.

A patio kitchen is a perfect way for you to cook while enjoying the outdoors. Join your friends in the fun while you feed them!

You love to impress your friends, or at least create a space they'll enjoy. How should you design your kitchen?

Today we'll give you 10 ideas for jaw-dropping patio kitchen designs.

Keep reading to find out how to combine design, cooking, and outdoor fun!

1. Seating Galore

You're outside to spend time with your friends and family. Seating gives them a place to land while they chat or eat and keeps them out of your way!

Basic patio furniture provides a place to sit but doesn't fit seamlessly into a design.

A long island counter with bar stools gives you somewhere to prep food and your guests somewhere to sit. The longer, the better for the most amount of seating.

Another versatile seating option is an L-shaped bench. These benches fit in a corner of your patio kitchen to provide seating and storage.

If you're on a tight budget, it's easy to create a DIY L-shaped bench. Place a table in front of it for durable seating with a place to eat.

2. Sheltered Patio Kitchen

Don't let a little rain stop your party! If you live in an area where the weather gets dicey, consider a design with a couple walls and a roof.

outdoor kitchen

Leave at least one side open to enjoy nature. Some extra coverage extends the portion of the year you can use your patio kitchen.

To keep using it into fall, check out our tips to cozy up your patio for the chilly weather.

Keep in mind that if you're grilling under a patio roof, you'll need to install the proper ventilation. A ventilation hood will stop the smoke from annoying your guests or damaging your beautiful outdoor space.

3. Pizza Patio

A pizza party doesn't have to mean calling up the local pizza joint. Bring the fun outside with a pizza patio!

Install a pizza oven as the center piece of your patio kitchen. Channel your inner Italian chef every time you slide a pizza in.

The biggest plus of this feature? It's not limited to when you're hanging outside.

You can use this oven all year long for fresh, delicious pizza.

Check out some of our pizza recipes. Then invite your friends over for an adult version of a pizza party.

4. Earthy Area

When you're outside, do you want to channel your inner earth-child? Enjoy the beauty of nature without limiting yourself to cooking over a fire or eating nuts and berries.

Design your outdoor kitchen with natural stone floors and counters. Use wooden elements for softer accents.

For that real, natural touch, work with your landscaping in this design. Plant accent flowers, trees, and bushes around your kitchen to invite mother nature in!

Just be careful that you're not letting dry leaves and such too close to your hot appliances. Fire isn't the element you want to channel here!

5. Tiki Time

Missing your tropical vacation? Bring the tropical vibes to your kitchen with a tiki theme!

Feature a bar in your kitchen design, complete with a sink and a fridge to keep your drinks cool. Add a tiki-hut umbrella or roof to your bar or seating to channel tiki vibes.

To keep the air moving on hot days, install a palm-frond fan under your patio roof. Add a water feature fountain to remind you of the ocean.

You can find it on Amazon.

Bonus points if you keep a stash of little umbrellas on hand for the drinks!

6. U-Shaped Layout

Your theme makes the kitchen look beautiful, but the layout is key for a useful design. Choose the layout that will make your kitchen the most functional for the most fun.

A U-shaped layout provides plenty of space for multiple cooks to move around in your kitchen. It wraps around three sides of your patio while leaving one side open.

Place different appliances on each side of the U for the best functionality. One person can grill in one area while another preps a salad.

Get more people involved in the prep while leaving space for the others to chat!

7. Seamless

You'll use your patio kitchen to enjoy your outdoor space, so you should seamlessly incorporate it into that space.

Choose a material for the "floor" of your kitchen that you can continue out into an extended patio. Get extra stone tile or wood and continue it out past the kitchen.

With that seamless design, your outdoor areas will fit together visually. That way, guests can hang out by the fire pit or the grill and not feel like they're in different locations.

Check out these Outdoor Kitchen Design Ideas :

8. Weather-Proof

You have to consider the weather in your area for your patio kitchen design. Choose materials that can hold up to your weather.

For example, stainless steel holds up well against the rains of the Pacific Northwest. However, a porous stone wouldn't go damage-free in all of that water.

To stay stunning, your kitchen has to stay in good shape.

9. Pool-Side Snacks

Just like you don't want to be away from the action while everyone is outside, you don't want to be far away while they're all in the pool.

Design your layout to wrap around part of your pool or sit right next to it. Then, you can easily interact with those swimming while you cook.

Even if no one's swimming, a water feature next to your kitchen is gorgeous. Enjoy the calming ripples of the water while you grill up a steak.

10. Chef's Dream

Don't forget about the actual cooking in your outdoor kitchen. Appliances can bring a stunning visual impact just like other design elements.

Pack your outdoor kitchen with the fancy appliances of your dreams. Include a grill and gas burners for versatile cooking.

patio kitchen

Add a fridge so you don't have to run inside for ingredients. Include a dishwasher to stay outside for cleanup, too.

If you want to get really fancy, get a warming drawer to keep things warm while you finish up the cooking.

For those who don't care about fancy stonework or water features, your kitchen appliances can supply an impressive visual impact.

Enjoy the Joys of Entertaining!

The days of slaving away in the kitchen while your guests enjoy your backyard are over. Bring your cooking talent to the outdoors with a stunning patio kitchen!

Whether you choose something theme-heavy, like a tiki area, or food-focused, like a bunch of appliances, your outdoor kitchen will pack a stunning impact.

If you have any questions on how to create the perfect patio, shoot them our way.

Which of these design tips do you want to use? What features do you want in your patio kitchen?

Leave a comment to let us know!

Best Outside Fire Pits in 2017- Use your Backyard Longer this Fall!

Outside fire pits

Is there anything more enjoyable than sitting around a fire with friends?


According to anthropologists, fire played a significant part in our evolutionary history and was probably central to the socialization of the human species.


Moreover, Christopher Lynn has discovered that campfires lower blood pressure


So this is official. Campfires are good for you!


Unfortunately, campfires can be a messy affair. Thankfully, we now have more civilized ways to enjoy sitting around a fire pit. Some of the modern outdoor fire pits will give you a smokeless and hassle free experience. At the push of a button.


Isn’t progress a great thing?

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Everything You Need to Know about Patio Covers

Does your backyard need an upgrade? Do you find yourself hanging out inside all day because there's too much sun on your patio?

When it comes to upgrading your backyard, patio covers are an excellent option for providing shade and comfort while also improving overall appearance.

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about choosing the best patio cover for your backyard!

Things to Consider

Do You Want A Permanent Or Temporary Addition?

Patio covers come in permanent, semi-permanent, and temporary varieties. Your decision will be determined by a number of things, including:

  • How much money you want to spend

  • How much time you spend on your patio

  • How long you plan to stay in your home

  • How much effort you want to put into building and assembling a cover

How Much Coverage Do You Want?

If you're looking into purchasing a patio cover, it's safe to say you want some shade for your backyard. How much shade do you really want and need, though?

If you have just a small patio, something like a large patio umbrella might be sufficient. It will also be more affordable. However, if you need to cover a larger area, something like a pergola or a canopy will be more effective, even though it will cost more to install.

Be sure to measure the area you want to cover before making any purchases. That way, you don't have to worry about returns if the cover you purchase isn't the right size for your patio.

Can Your Patio Cover Handle Sun Exposure?

No matter what kind of patio cover you choose, don't forget that it will need to withstand years of sun exposure.

The type of material your patio cover is made from (discussed in more detail below) will have a big effect on how it holds up under the sun. If you're not willing to do touch ups or repairs, you'll need to make sure you choose a material that is extra durable.

Does Your Cover Match The Rest Of Your House?

It's important to think of a patio cover as an extension of your home. Whether you go for something small like an umbrella or build a fully integrated addition, it should match your house.

Is Your Patio Cover Functional?

The main goal of patio covers is to, of course, shade your patio. At the same time, you also need to make sure the cover you buy doesn't interfere with anything else in your backyard.

For example, do you have plants that won't be able to get direct sunlight? Do you still want to have a view? Be sure to take the answers to these questions into account when you're buying or building your patio cover.

Patio Covers

Types of Patio Covers

Popular Materials

Cloth

Cloth patio covers, from umbrellas to fabric awnings, are simple to install and can add some color to your backyard. Cloth doesn't last as long as other materials, so it will need to be replaced more often. But, a lot of people still like it for its versatility and more affordable price.

Make sure the cloth you use is UV and water-resistant and is designed for outdoor use. If you're simply suspending the cloth from poles around your patio, you'll also want to make sure you hang it so that rainwater can drain away and does not collect anywhere on the cloth.

Wood

Wood is another material that is popular for patio covers because of its beauty and timelessness. Many people also opt for wood over other materials because it comes in a variety of colors and textures, so it's easy to match to their homes.

The only downside to wood is that it requires quite a bit of upkeep. Wood needs to be sanded and repainted regularly in order to look its best. It is also prone to warping, peeling, and rotting.

Vinyl

Vinyl is great because it is a low maintenance material. It doesn't need to be sanded or repainted, and it is highly durable.

However, vinyl doesn't have the same wow factor as wood. It also may fade over time and comes in a limited number of colors. Since you only have a few color options and vinyl can't be painted, it can be difficult to find the right match for your home.

Aluminum

Aluminum is highly durable, environmentally friendly, requires minimal upkeep, and is more affordable than other materials. It also provides a lot of protection from the elements, and you don't have to worry about a lot of maintenance.

At the same time, aluminum does retain a lot of heat. Because of this, you may be uncomfortable hanging out underneath it in the middle of the day.

Popular Styles

The materials listed above can be used to construct many different styles of patio covers, including the following:

  • Screens and shade sails:

    If you want something more integrated than a simple umbrella, cloth can be used to make screens and shade sails. These patio covers will limit sun exposure and add style to an otherwise boring patio.

  • Pergola:

    A pergola is an attractive and interesting addition to any patio. They also allow you to decide how much sun or shade you want on your patio. Pergolas are usually made from press-treated wood, cedar wood, vinyl, or fiberglass.

  • Lattice:

    A lattice is more contemporary than a pergola, and it features thinner and more simple pieces. Lattices are often made from durable woods like cedar, redwood, or teak, and the boards are placed closer together to let in less sunlight.

  • Integrated cover:

    An integrated cover is attached to your home and gets rid of exterior walls. It's obviously the most expensive option, but it can be useful and satisfying if you spend a lot of time outside. If you opt for an integrated style, it is extremely important that it matches your home exactly, otherwise, it will look out of place.

Looking for More?

You know more about your options when it comes to covering your patio. But, you also need to think about how you're going to add some extra style to the area to really take your patio to the next level.

Check out our blog

for great tips on decorating your patio and maintaining it as the seasons change.

Best Leaf Blower Reviews for 2017 – Our Top 4 Selection

Leaf Blower Reviews

Let’s talk about a love/hate relationship. Yep, something that’s traumatic to many. Of course, I’m talking about a leaf blower. Everyone’s favorite tool to hate.

That is, until they use one to move a huge pile of leaves and debris and turn a 4 hour job into one that’s a little over an hour.

Then, with a big smile, it’s off to fire up the barbecue on that nice clean deck or backyard…

Why Use a Leaf Blower?

A blower is a lot easier to use than a broom or a rake when you’ve got a huge amount of leaves or debris to move. Even a lower power blower is a handy tool to use when you just need to clean off a small deck or patio area.

Or your garage…

Can I Complete Any Other Jobs with One?

Depending on what you buy, you can also get an all-in-one unit that allows you to do mulching and vacuuming. If you’ve got a garden, the mulching feature is something you’ll get a lot of use out of.

We review a unit that inflates and deflates toys and such as well.

Which Leaf Blower Should I Buy?

You’ve got 2 power types and 2 styles each of blowers to look at. As you might expect, one will be particularly useful for one job, but another is better suited to another task.

It’s not uncommon for some people to have a lower power electric blower to use as a broom replacement working alongside a higher powered gas model for those big jobs.

The 2 types of blowers are:

Gas Powered

  • 2–Cycle
  • 4 Stroke

Electric

  • Corded
  • Cordless

The gas powered models are offered in 2 handling types as well. The more powerful units are offered in a backpack version and the slightly lower power versions come in a more compact handheld version.

Let’s briefly talk about the 2 types of blowers, and then we’ll head on into a review of our 4 top blowers.

Gas Powered:

Gas power blowers tend to be a more powerful. They generally come with variable power switches and can be dialed up to move large amounts of leaves or debris. Then, dial them down to work around areas like flower beds and gravel.

Because there’s no cord, it means you’re free to roam and can cover a large area. Gas power means you can run for as long as you want because it’s easy and quick to refuel.

There’s no need to worry about running out of battery power in 30 minutes. Or having too short an extension cord.

Gas blowers are loud, though some have much better mufflers and can keep the noise down. There are some models that say you can work without ear protection. May be so, but we don’t recommend it.

On average, gas powered units have poor mulching and vacuuming ability. Most gas units don’t have the extra attachments available to do those jobs.

Gas powered units come in 2 choices: 2-cycle or 4 stroke.

The 2-cycle models need to have the oil mixed with the gas in order to keep the engine lubricated. We recommend buying it premixed to get the ratio right. This is because it could help you with warranty service wrangling down the road.

Oil/gas pre-mixing isn’t necessary with the 4 stroke units. There’s a separate oil reservoir that you need to make sure is filled properly every time you use the unit. The 4 stroke models tend to be a little heavier yet they are more efficient when it comes to gas use and emissions.

Gas blowers can be heavier, so consider a backpack unit if your jobs are going to be a big ones. Gas powered units also have the highest speed and air output.

Jobs best suited for:

· When you have a large area and a lot of leaves or debris.

· You’re dealing with wet or heavy leaves, stubborn dirt and debris.

Electric Powered:

Though electric blowers tend to be a little less powerful than gas powered units, many models are lighter and easier to handhold. This has the advantage of being useful to a person who isn’t particularly strong.

Most upper end units also have variable power control to lower the power to work around flower and plant beds or dial it up for the really big jobs.

Electrics are easier to start; you just plug them in and turn them on. They’re more environmentally friendly than gas and are emission free.

Electric power units are quieter. Maybe not so much when you’re standing right next to them, but at 50 yards, they are much better. They should meet or exceed city noise ordinances.

One big disadvantage with a corded model is that the cord limits you to how far you can go. You want to give some thought to how easily you can access an outlet.

Upper end electric blowers have better mulching and vacuuming ability and most come with the appropriate attachments. For those that don’t, they can be easily purchased.

Corded models, in the upper ranges, have high air speeds and airflows. Some are comparable to some of the gas powered units.

Cordless models are light and portable. A disadvantage to them is that you need to keep an eye on the battery. Working time can be shorter than the job requires.

There is no good way to accurately judge working time as it all depends on how much blower power you’re using and whether you’re vacuuming, blowing, or mulching. We recommend that you consider an extra battery if a cordless is your choice.

Cordless models also tend to have lower output velocities (CFM).

A big plus: An electric engine is maintenance free, no worries about oil mixing or gas.

Or smell…

Jobs best suited for:

· When you need something light and easy to carry.

· When you need a quieter unit but you still need power.

· When you don’t want to bother with gas or oil.

Before we get into the reviews, let’s define a couple of terms just to make it easier to understand.

MPH is how fast the air is traveling out of the tube. This is determined by the shape of the nozzle at the end. A narrow opening equals higher MPH.

CFM is how much air is being moved through the tube. The wider the tube, the higher the CFM.

Don’t led astray by high MPH values, because that can change, as noted above, by the shape of the nozzle at the end. What’s more important is the CFM, because a higher volume of air is what really pushes the leaves and debris.

Decibel rating is how loud something is at 50 feet from the item. So, the leaf blower may sound pretty loud when you’re holding it, but it might not be so loud at 50 or more feet away.

If you’re wondering where to buy a leaf blower, we suggest Amazon for pricing, great customer service and outstanding return policy. Each review below has a link to the appropriate model on Amazon’s site.

First up…

#1: Worx WG505 Trivac

  • Power: 120V corded electric
  • Air flow: 350 CFM
  • Air speed: 210 MPH
  • Decibel rating: 70 dB
  • Weight: 11 pounds
  • Accessories: 10 gallon collector bag

The Worx WG505 TriVac is a light weight 120V corded electric leaf blower with a 12 amp motor. It’s an all in one design – you get a blower, mulcher and vacuum all at the flip of a switch. There are no tubes to change or tools to use so it makes moving between jobs simple and fast.

The Worx uses a heavy duty metal impeller which combines a long life with powerful 10:1 mulching ability. That means two important things

1. No need to worry about pebbles or other hard objects damaging the impeller.

2. There’s power to reduce 100 gallons of leaves to one 10 gallon bag in no time.


PROS


  •  Lightweight at 11 pounds
  • Powerful 210 mph/350cfm air flow
  • Heavy duty metal impeller for better mulching and resistance to hard objects
  • Easy switch between tools with a flip switch
  • Angled tube for easy access underneath items

CONS


  • No cord included
  • Small collector bag
  • Louder than other electric blowers

The Worx WG505 puts out 350 CFM of air at 210 mph. The air flow speed is regulated by a thumbwheel – down to 75 mph – making it easy to use around delicate plants and when you want to keep the dust down.

Though there should be more than enough blow to push wet leaves and debris where you want it, a few users have said they feel it’s not very powerful as a blower. But they give it high marks for working well as a vacuum and mulcher.

A collector bag comes with the WG505 that is easy to empty though it is somewhat small at 10 gallons. We suggest getting the WORX WA0030 Landscaping 26-Gallon Spring Bucket Yard Bag. You can then drag it behind you and work a longer stretch without emptying the bag so often.

Cleaning the TriVac is easy—just open the impeller housing to reach inside to clear out clogs. Make sure the unit is unplugged while doing this.

The well-made handle makes it very comfortable to use with good balance. The angled nose on the tube makes it easy to get underneath items like patio furniture or cars.

The WORX WG505 TriVac electric leaf blower gets 3.8 out of 5 Stars on Amazon. It comes with a 2 year manufacturer warranty


#2: GreenWorks 24322 G-MAX 40V

  • Power: cordless electric via 40V 4AH battery
  • Air flow: 340 CFM
  • Air speed: 185 MPH
  • Decibel rating: 68 dB
  • Weight: 9.9 pounds w/battery installed
  • Accessories: 9.6 gallon (1.2 bushel) collector bag

If you need an electric unit that gives you a little more freedom to roam, then the battery-operated GreenWorks 24322 G-MAX 40V might be the answer.

The GreenWorks is a variable speed cordless leaf blower and vacuum that uses a brushless motor. According to the manufacturer, this gives the motor an 80% longer lifespan as well as creating less noise and vibration.

It has a plastic impeller so it’s only meant for leaves and light debris. Anything like pebbles or other hard objects could damage or break the impeller.

The G-Max is powered by a 40V 4AH battery that gives it up to 60 minutes run time per charge. The manufacturer says this equals about 4.5 bags of trash or leaves. The 4 AH battery charges in about 120 minutes.

A battery’s lasting power will depend on whether you use the unit on full power, low power, or somewhere in between. Most users have gotten usage between 20 and 45 minutes.

If you figure you’re going to be moving back-and-forth between full and low power, expect your battery power to be similar. If you need more time, consider buying an extra battery.

The GreenWorks G-Max is very quick and easy to operate. Just snap in the battery, press the power button and away you go.

Note: If you find that the unit won’t turn on, check the safety switch on the gate first:

As a safety precaution, there’s a safety switch on the gate. If, for some reason, it becomes unlatched, it won’t allow the unit to turn on.

The GreenWorks 24322 has a variable speed dial that allows you to turn the airspeed and volume down when you’re working around delicate plants or shrubs. It also helps conserve the battery power when using at the lower speed. When on Turbo mode, battery life is about half as normal.

The unit can be changed from blower to vacuum in seconds via the gate on the bottom. Open the gate and insert the collection tube to enable the vacuum function.

The G-Max gives you 10 to 1 mulching capability to make short work that pile of leaves.

PROS


  • Lightweight at 9.9 pounds with the battery installed.
  • Cordless
  • Fast charging
  • Powerful vacuuming
  • Best for small areas
  • Very quiet

CONS


  •  Battery runs out quickly on Turbo mode
  • No power monitor
  • Low battery capacity for large areas
  • Battery somewhat difficult to remove

The GreenWorks 24322 G-MAX 40V get 3.9 stars out of 5 on Amazon. It has a four year warranty on the tool and a two year warranty on the battery. Both are covered by the manufacturer.


#3: WORX 32-Volt AIR Multi-Purpose Blower/Sweeper/Cleaner with 120 MPH / 80 CFM Output, 4 lb. Weight, with 8 Attachments – WG575.1

  • Power source: 32V 2.0 Ah lithium-ion battery (included)
  • Up to 80 CFM depending on attachment
  • Up to 120 MPH depending on attachment
  • dB rating: 61 dB
  • Weight: 4 pounds

Looking for something a little lighter to do a little touchup or easy cleanup around the house or garage? The WORX WG 575.1 is quiet, light weight and easy to use. It comes with 8 attachments to help around the house.

Coming in at 4 pounds, the WG575.1 makes a perfect broom replacement. It’s powered by a 32V 2.0 Ah lithium ion battery that provides a relatively long run time for this size of blower.

The runtime can be up to 20 minutes or more depending on the attachment you use and it recharges in as little as three hours.

It’s not as powerful as the other units in this review, but it’s perfect for quick cleanup of small yards, patios, and sidewalks. It will easily clear grass clippings, dry leaves and light debris. Several users have said that it’s perfect for around flower pots and deck decorations.

It’s probably best to think of this unit as a broom replacement or a softer blowing second tool to accompany your more powerful blower. The large selection of accessories makes the WG575.1 flexible.

And, because it’s so light and compact, you can use it just about anywhere. Pack it in your RV, boat, or a car whenever you travel. It’ll be extremely handy when it comes to inflating rafts, mattresses, or toys. The deflator attachment will be handy when it’s time to pack up the toys and head home.

When you receive the unit, the battery pack will be uncharged or it may have a partial charge. Don’t use it until you’ve given it a full 12 hour charge. The charger unit that comes with it is matched to the battery, so don’t use a different charger. The light on the charger wall plug will turn green while the battery is charging. Once the green light goes off, the battery is fully charged.

PROS


  • Lightweight
  • Large selection of attachments
  • Quick and easy to get started
  • Compact
  • Relatively fast charge time
  • No gas or oil needed

CONS


  • Low powered
  • Short run time
  • No vacuum or mulch capability
  • Expensive battery replacement
  • No variable speed adjustment

The WORX WG 575.1 comes with a three year manufacturer warranty provided you register the tool within 30 days. If you don’t, the warranty is only for 24 months. The battery and charger are guaranteed for 12 months regardless of registration.

This is strictly a blower or inflating tool. There is no option to turn it into a vacuum tool or do any mulching. It would make a great companion to one of the other units in this review.

In the package: the blower, eight attachments, battery, and charger.

Attachments: long tube, dust brush, short tube, extension hose, dust nozzle, detail brush, wide nozzle, inflator nozzle, accessory bag and deflator cover.

Suggested additional items to purchase are a second battery and the Universal Fit Gutter Cleaning Kit.

The WORX 32-Volt WG575.1 gets 4.1 stars out of 5 on Amazon.


#4: Hitachi RB24EAP 23.9cc 2-Cycle Gas Powered 170 MPH Handheld Leaf Blower

  • 441 CFM 
  • 170 MPH 
  • 23,9 cc 2-stroke 
  • 8.6 lbs 
  • 7-year warranty for consumer use

Need some real power to clear out heavy debris? Want to finish that huge job faster and in more comfort? The Hitachi RB24EAP 23.9cc 2-Cycle Gas Powered 170 MPH Handheld Leaf Blower throws out a whopping 441 CFM of air to push the most stubborn stuff around.

The 23.9 cc Commercial grade 2-stroke engine is comfortable and low vibration. It's lightweight with only 8.6 lbs, making it very comfortable to work with for long periods. You can also buy a shoulder strap for added comfort of use.

The RB24EAP is a gas leaf blower running on regular unleaded gasoline. Note that it shouldn't be used with Ethanol. It’s low emission, fuel-efficient, and is CARB compliant. It is a 2–Cycle motor meaning you have to mix oil in with your fuel. The recommended mixture is 50:1 fuel to oil using two cycle oil.

The Hitachi also features a large 2-finger throttle lever which makes it easy to use. When the unit is turned off, the stop switch will automatically reset to the on position for easier starting the next time.

You can purchase the oil separately and mix it yourself, or you can buy cans of the oil/fuel premix for convenience. 

PROS


  • Excellent debris movement
  • Superior air velocity
  • Outstanding power and durability
  • Lightweight and comfortable to use
  • CARB compliant

CONS


• Can be difficult to start

• Can't be used with Ethanol

• Sometimes difficult working with warranty repair stations

• No vacuum or mulch kit option available 

It comes with a seven-year manufacturer’s warranty which is the best warranty in the industry.

The Hitachi RB24EAP 23.9cc 2-Cycle Gas Powered 170 MPH Handheld Leaf Blower gets 4.4 out of 5 stars on Amazon. And don’t forget the gas and the oil.

Which Electric Leaf Blower Is Best?

We think the WORX WG505 Trivac is the best deal in an electric leaf blower because of its metal impeller and higher volume output. If you’re looking for a “broom replacement” blower, the WORX WG575.1 is a light and compact choice for small jobs and touch ups.

Which Gas-Powered Leaf Blower Is Best?

If you need power and a long running time, the  Hitachi RB24EAP Handheld Leaf Blower is going to be your best bet. The fuel tank will last a long time and it's sufficiently lightweight to make it comfortable to use.

And the 23.9 cc engine pumps out 441 CFM of air to move the toughest pile of leaves. You’ll get the job done, quicker.

Top 10 Leaf Blower Buying Tips:


1. Pay attention to the nozzle. A flatter nozzle makes sweeping easier while rounder, more open ones make loosening debris a lot easier. Rounder nozzles also vacuum more efficiently.

2. The heavier the leaf or debris you need to move, the more CFM you’re going to need. A rounder nozzle helps here.

3. If you need to be careful around areas like flower beds or mulch, look for blowers that let you adjust the air speeds.

4. Look for a bottom mounted air intake because the side intakes can get blocked by your clothing.

5. On gas models look for a primer bulb for easier starting. Also look for a clear gas tank so you can keep an eye on fuel consumption.

6. Try them out before buying. Check for balance in your hand as well as a second grip for additional control.

7. Look for an easy to get to shut off switch for safety.

8. Plastic impellers and blades get damaged and break if you often vacuum up pebbles or other hard objects. Look for metal impellers if you work around gravel.

9. Consider a backpack unit if the job will last longer than an hour. Check the harness for comfort and vibration damping.

10. Check local ordinances for noise standards and restrictions. Compare this to the dB rating of the blower.


5 Tips About Using Power Tools:


1. Don’t use corded or cordless electrical tools in wet or damp conditions.

2. Keep kids and pets away from any power tool especially when they’re in use.

3. Store gas and oil in a well ventilated area away from flame or heat.

4. Wear safety equipment like safety glasses, ear protection, sturdy footwear, and gloves. Don’t forget to keep your arms and legs covered as well.

5. If you’re using an extension cord, keep these things in mind:

· Use only an outdoor use rated extension cord.

· Be sure the cord is in good condition. Check for cracks and exposed wire.

· Use a polarized plug. Don’t clip off the grounding prong.

· Plug it into a GFCI receptacle.

· Disconnect it from the outlet or remove the battery when the tool is not in use.

· Keep your feet and hands away from moving parts when the tool is running.

Your Cordless Leaf Blower’s Battery Life

A couple of notes if you’re buying a battery-powered blower. Most of these units use a lithium-ion battery that will sometimes come with a partial charge. Don’t use them with this pa8tial storage charge. Instead, charge the battery for a full 12 hours before using it the first time.

Otherwise, you risk the battery failing in a very short period of time. This is a pretty common complaint on most online sites.

Don’t completely drain a lithium-ion battery and then charge it either. It’s better for the battery to still have some juice in it when you charge it.

Some batteries will have an automatic shut off that will prevent you from deep discharging the battery by continually turning it on and off to get the last little bit of juice. This is on purpose so that you don’t accidentally destroy the battery life.


What now?

Buying a leaf blower is a small upfront investment that will save you a lot of time in the long run. 

If you have a lot of trees in your backyard, you shouldn't hesitate to get one.

In any case, a leaf blower is very useful to get your yard ready for winter.

8 Pool Cleaning Tips to Keep Your Pool Pristine Without the Hassle

Pool Cleaning
Pool Cleaning

Keeping your pool clean can be a daily struggle.

Seemingly overnight, algae can take hold and spread. And then you're dumping $50 worth of chemicals in to get it blue again. If you let it go, it could cost as much as $1000 to fix.

But by learning how to keep your pool pristine by pool cleaning the right way, you can work smarter, not harder. And you can save time, money and frustration on pool maintenance.

We'll share the secrets to keeping a pristine pool. Let's take a crystal clear look at them now.

Find Your Zen in the Daily Routine

For a pristine pool, pool cleaning should become as second nature to you as making the morning coffee.

Pools need at least a little attention every single day. But it doesn't have to be a chore. When you reframe your thinking and develop a routine, cleaning the pool can be a very relaxing experience.

Enjoy the back and forth movement of the brush. Find rapture in the sound of the filter. Watch the sunlight reflecting off the sheer blue water as it ripples with the wind.

You may even get an opportunity to save a floating insect from certain death. Now, that's good karma. And it's a great way to start or end your day.

Skim Like A Pro

Skimming should happen every day, especially if you have trees or bushes near the pool. Any debris that sinks to the bottom will tie up free chlorine when that should be protecting the pool as a whole.

Just because you have a skimmer on the pool doesn't mean that the pool is on auto-pilot. Debris can sink before the skimmer can grab it. So net it off each morning and after a storm.

Keep your summer patio swept so that excess leaves or other matter don't blow into the pool.

Skimmer baskets need to be emptied at least weekly, so that the organic matter doesn't tax your pool sanitation system.

When your chemicals are tied up trying to fight big leaves instead of algae, the algae is free to grow. And you'll be spending more money on chemicals than you should have to.

Scrub Like You Mean It

A daily scrub won't be unrewarded. But, as a must in pool cleaning, a couple times a week will suffice. It does take a couple days for algae to take hold to the point that it's noticeable.

But if you have a zero-tolerance algae policy, you may want to add this to your daily routine. You can also invest in a robot pool vacuum that can be run daily or constantly, giving algae and debris no chance to taint your pristine waters.

Scrubbing the sides and bottom isn't a haphazard affair. For best results, you'll try to scrub every inch of surface. But fortunately, fresh algae is very loose, so a light swipe will remove most of it.

Optimize Filtration

The filter only needs to run 6-8 hours a day on a well-maintained pool. This can reduce your cost of running a pool by as much as 70%.

Running your filter full time may seem like the convenient thing to do. But if you can keep your pool pristine with less, either get a timer or make shutting it off and turning it on a daily routine.

Make an A in Chemistry

A major part of pool cleaning is keeping the water balanced.

Unbalanced water can:

  • Damage pool components
  • Allow algae to flourish
  • Make it harder for chlorine to do its job
  • Cost you more money to maintain
  • Make your skin itch
  • Bleach your clothes
  • Damage your hair

The CDC warns about the dangers of an unbalanced pool to your health. Unbalanced pool water can make you sick. In worst case scenario, people have even contracted antibiotic resistant bacteria from dirty pool and spa water.

At the very least, to prevent health risk, your pH should be between 7.2- 7.8. And free chlorine should be at 1 ppm (parts per million).

But cyanuric acid, alkalinity, and calcium hardness should also be managed. Water should be tested and adjusted at least weekly.

the chlorine content and ph are measured. clean water in the pool

Test strips are the most convenient. But to get more precise results, you'll want a testing kit.

Read the instructions and add chemicals slowly. Some have to be added before others and you may need a precise amount. Chemicals should never be pre-mixed.

Not following instructions can lead to a chemical roller coaster that will cost you extra time and money to re-balance.

So put on your lab coat and respect the chemicals that you're working with.

Learn to Love Baking Soda

Keeping the pH up in a pool can be a major struggle. Pool water constantly wants to return to its more naturally acidic state. As you likely remember from high school chemistry low pH = more acidic, while high pH = more alkaline.

For chlorine to be effective, pH should remain between 7.2 and 7.8.

Rain and hose water are more acidic than pool water. Any debris — including microscopic algae — in the pool make it more acidic.

Acid is the enemy of pool equipment. And algae loves it.

Pool chemicals can get expensive. But there are cheaper options...baking soda. And if you're a member of warehouse wholesale clubs like Costco or Sam's Club, you can buy a huge bag of baking soda for around $7. That's 50-75% less than pH increaser.

You can also buy baking soda at the grocery store and save.

Pound for pound, the same amount of baking soda as sodium bicarbonate (pH increaser) gets the job done.

Don't Be Afraid of Shock

Even if you're keeping your water perfectly balanced, pools need a shock sometimes to keep more stubborn algae from taking hold.

If several people use your pool regularly, or you have algae problems or cloudiness, shock at least one time a week as part of your pool cleaning. Once every two weeks will work for some.

Only shock at night and run your filter for the next 8 hours.

If your pool starts turning green, scrub it and then hit it hard and repetitively for several days in a row until it's blue again.

You can't over-shock a pool.

Play Tennis After a Party

No, we won't be playing the traditional way. Party-goers and sun-bathers can leave gunky oil in your pool. Even our skin has oil so there's no avoiding it.

This oil will clog your filter.

Throw tennis balls into the water periodically — but especially after a pool party — to absorb excess oil on the water surface.

Pool Cleaning Made Easy

Regular pool cleaning will save you time, money and frustration. It allows you to have an amazingly pristine pool as the centerpiece of your backyard.

For more tips and reviews to help you create your own beautiful backyard, check out our blog.

12 Delicious Pizza Recipes To Impress Your Friends This Summer

Best Pizza Recipes

With 3 billion sold annually in the US alone, it's fair to say pizzas are probably one of the most popular food in America.

The reasons they will never go out of fashion are:

- easy to buy, make or eat.

- cheap

- infinite choices of toppings

- most people love them

Like a lot of food, the latest trend is to make them yourself. There's nothing like a homemade pizza, right?

The backyard hasn't escaped this trend, and many manufacturers have designed outside pizza ovens especially.

In this article, we are going to reveal our 12 favorite pizza recipes of all time.

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