It’s that time of year when it feels really good to get your hands dirty planting a container of beautiful summer annuals. (Summer officially starts today!)
Browsing through a garden center and walking among all the annuals can be inspiring, but it can also be a bit overwhelming. So, that’s why Topiarius is providing you with a free planting plan! You can enjoy the beauty AND know exactly what you need to buy.
This plan is for a 4′ x 16″ planter, but the quantities can be modified to fit another size container. We L-O-V-E our plantings to be lush instantaneously so we make sure to have enough plant material on-hand. Additionally, these plants do best in part sun/part shade.
A few tips for planting:
Make sure your container has drainage holes.
Use potting soil (not Chicago clay soil).
Compact the soil a bit before and while planting so that after a few days the roots aren’t exposed as the soil has settled.
Remember to water immediately after planting then regularly.
Choices and options can be amazing, right? But when you’re trying to make a simple choice and you’re faced with endless options, it can stop you before you begin. Finding the perfect grill is no different. So, rather than getting lost in the possibilities, I had a conversation with Zac Selleck from Chicago Gas Linesto help me sort through all the chatter and make this process easy.
What is it you love cooking?
There are no longer distinctions between what you cook inside and what you cook outside. From being able to boil water, fry an egg, bake a pizza, sear steaks or tuna, smoke ribs, bake potatoes, grill vegetables, rotisserie cook a chicken . . . it is all possible. Because you don’t have to limit your options, what are you truly desiring to cook outdoors? Maybe it’s just a few options or maybe you’re saying yes to all of the above.
If you’re interested in pancakes, a hash, grill cheese, or bacon? Then, skillet cooking is an option. If you’re interested in being able to sear proteins like steaks and tuna then look at infrared grills; they will allow you to cook at a higher temperature in half the time. Or if you prefer the slow cooking process of smoking ribs, pork belly, or roasts because the beautiful smoke ring is the only thing that matters, then smokers are your focus.
What will fuel the grill?
Grills measure their efficiency in BTU’s. British Thermal Units are a “measurement of how much heat a grill generates at its maximum output. If you think of BTUs like your car’s fuel efficiency or MPG (miles per gallon), BTUs measure your grill’s fuel efficiency or OPB (output per burner) as well as all the burners combined.” 
While each grill will operate with its optimum BTU, depending on its make and model, all grills operate more efficiently when they are fueled by a direct gas line providing consistent and dependable fuel. When there isn’t a direct gas line, options are propane, charcoal or pellets.
Often exterior gas lines are added after home construction. It is only a recent phenomenon that home construction will include these lines to outdoor spaces. While it is most often feasible to retrofit a line to your grill, it isn’t always possible.
What size are you looking for and where do you want it located?
Grills come in many sizes from 21” – 54” widths, but 36” is the most common. Many companies have other appliances that they offer too, such as side burners and refrigerators. The additional options make it easy to get the exact configuration you want.
If you have an outdoor kitchen design, you will want a built-in grill. If you do not, then you’ll need the additional cart for a free-standing set-up.
Now that you have answered these 3 questions, here are the TOP grills on the market right now. All of them will make your outdoor cooking and dining amazing experiences.
According to Zac, the best grill on the market right now is LYNX. They were bought by Viking about 2 years ago, so as LYNX they continue to bring the high-end quality they’re known for and are backed by a recognizable brand name of VIKING.
The 36” gas grill from LYNX begins at $5,800 (without stand).
Not only is the Hesten Aspire another excellent grill, you have the added dimension of being able to choose from 9 different color front panels. If you’re looking for a way to reflect your personality in the design of your outdoor space, then Hesten is a great place to start.
The 36” Hesten Aspire begins at $3,500 (without stand).
If you’re looking for a grill that is straight-forward and uncomplicated, then Broilmasteris the option for you.
The 36” Broilmaster begins at $2,200 (without stand).
We’ve designed many outdoor kitchens to include the Green Egg, so it’s worth mentioning here. It is an all-in-one grill that grills, smokes, roasts, and bakes while using natural lump charcoal. But, know it may take you some time to learn how to maximize its power. It is a grill that relies heavily on air intake and when there is a slight 10-15 mile per hour wind, the grilling process can easily become more challenging and make cooking inconsistent.
To see more designs of grills in outdoor spaces, visit our Pinterestboard.
Are you thinking of postponing the renovation of your outdoor space? Then, you need to keep reading.
Topiarius is offering, for the month of May, our Outdoor Stimulus Package. If you sign a designer retainer with us for $5,000 or less, you will be reimbursed 100% with a signed installation contract.
Contact us either through our website, phone, email, or click on the below graphic. We’ll connect you to one of our designers. They will spend some time with you discussing your project and determine if a complimentary on-site meeting is the next step.
The signed design retainer contract must be signed and paid in May 2020.
The 100% reimbursement applies when the retainer total is a minimum of 5% of the installation contract total.
No partial reimbursements.
The installation contract must be signed and deposit paid in 2020.
If you’ve ever wandered through a museum on your own the items around you can be interesting, even pretty. But, if you walk with a docent or have an audio tour, the museum comes alive with all of the explanations, contexts, processes, materials, etc. The same concept applies when looking at quality craft work, specifically our outdoor custom containers. Consider this your docent tour of what it takes to make great work in your landscape.
The first concept to understand is that all outdoor built items will “move”. As the weather changes and materials age, there is a constant contraction and expansion. A great example of this is if you have hardwood floors. In the summer the boards swell/expand and in the winter they shrink/contract sometimes to the point that you can see small spaces between the boards. (And this is inside with a very controlled environment.) Outdoor quality is thus found in the steps taken to mitigate the effects of this movement.
Here‘s what Topiarius does to make sure our outdoor containers are built well.
1st Notable: The top cap (A) of our containers have mitered corners that are glued AND biscuit jointed
These two images show the angled cut of the boards as they come together, as well as, what the biscuit looks like in between them. The biscuit helps align the boards for a perfect fit and provides additional support to keep the joint tight over time. Within the first year, if your container does not have properly secured corners, there will be unattractive spaces between the boards.
2nd Notable: What’s on the inside of the container holding it all together? We all know if a foundation isn’t solid, everything built on it will fall apart.
The interior framework should be screwed together, NOT nailed. Screws by their very nature are stronger and can withstand the outdoor movement that’s been explained.
The lumber that is used to make the frame is also outdoor rated for direct contact with the ground. (Yes, there are different categories for lumber. Lumber that can survive “living” outdoors and lumber that can only survive indoors.)
3rd Notable: In addition to the framing, the materials used to clad the framing are just as important.
This image shows 3 examples of materials. The top board is MDO (medium density overlay), the middle is PVC sheet stock (like Azek), and the bottom is pressure treated plywood. The top two are excellent options for building the containers because they have a smooth surface that can be painted easily. The pressure treated plywood works well if the container is clad with other materials, like cedar boards, that cover and hide it.
The style of container that you choose for your project will determine what cladding material will work best. But, the cladding materials will be the largest visual part of your container, so choosing wisely will ensure a successful installation.
4th Notable: How are the corners of the container installed?
Because all materials used outside will move with temperature and moisture fluctuations, planning for this at the corners of the container is important. BUT, this is contingent on the style of container that is chosen. Each style uses different methods to minimize the movement and each will vary in how long it will take before change is seen.
One of the methods we use is to use corner boards to hide the ends (as is the picture of the green container at the top). If the end of the boards are going to show, we use construction adhesive, pin nailing and screwing in boards from inside the container.
5th Notable: How does the drainage on your container work?
Every annual, perennial, tree, and shrub must have drainage, especially when planted in containers. Plants’ roots need to have both water and oxygen and if they are drowning in water, like humans, they don’t fare well.
At minimum a constructed container must have holes. At best, the holes are connected to a pipe that drains most of the excess water BELOW your deck boards or pedestal pavers. This method keeps unsightly water stains to a minimum.
The next time you look at outdoor built containers, see if you can spot the quality, or lack there of, now that you know what 5 notables. When you’re ready for a great design and installation, let Topiarius get to work for you.