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The Great Outdoors

Enhancing your space for the summer months

Villa Vici

Cheryl Gerber Photograph

As the mercury rises, so does the amount of time we spend outside enjoying the outdoors. We asked local businesses for ideas on how to enhance your outdoor living spaces during the warm weather months. Experts in everything from the mailbox at the front curb to the pool in the backyard, provide us with advice on how to beautify your home for summer as well as how to make it more comfortable and energy-efficient. Their know-how can help make a difference when the heat is on.   Few outdoor amenities are as coveted as a pool. In business for 30 years, Earl and Lisa Hardoin, owners of Paradise Pools and Spas, cover every aspect of pools and spas, from design and construction to maintenance and repairs and have their collective fingers on the pulse of the latest trends – such as naturalistic aggregate finishes, glass tiles along the waterline, automation that can be controlled from your cell phone, ledges, and LED lighting. In a city where summer temperatures routinely reach the 90s, the Hardoins also offer features like pool coolers that lower the water temperature in a day or so, as well as water features including waterfalls and fountains, which can have a slight cooling effect. “We adhere to the highest standards construction wise, but at the end of the day the client wants to truly feel confident in who they are dealing with,” says Earl. “The relationships we build with our clients far exceed any pool we’ve done.” Paradise specializes in turning clients’ ideas into beautiful, working pools and spas – even when space is limited. “Some of our favorite projects have been in smaller areas whether in the French Quarter or in a side yard,” adds Earl. “They end up being the most dramatic transformations.”

The lawns, gardens and other green spaces that surround our homes and businesses are integral to the way we live in summer. While most landscapers recommend late fall as the optimum time for a landscape overhaul, planting does occur year ‘round and there are ways to make sure your efforts aren’t in vain. “If you decide to plant, you need to keep it irrigated,” says Tommy Benge of the family owned Benge Landscaping, which specializes in irrigation, lighting, shutter walls and outdoor entertaining areas like kitchens, patios and pergolas. In addition to traditional irrigation systems (which tap into the regular water source), Benge installs irrigation systems with their own meters, a money saving alternative for clients. “It’s a longer process but we make it seamless and easy,” says Benge. Other ideas that Benge advocates for summer are the use of shade trees, which help reduce heat and energy consumption, and outdoor misting systems, which can lower the temperature by as much as 8 or 9 degrees. “With people saving money going on stay-cations instead of going on vacation, we’re pushing the idea of investing in your outdoor living,” says Benge. “For the price of a resort style vacation, you can have a vacation in your own backyard.”

Another way to maximize the beauty of your outdoor space is to consider buying some new furniture. Tanga Winstead of Villa Vici says that with their increased space at the company’s new location, “We’ve mixed it up and brought transitional furniture outside for increased living space and versatile products that serve multiples functions.” Villa Vici’s new outdoor collections feature lightweight cement, aluminum, teak, resin wicker, marine vinyl and slipcovered Sunbrella to provide texture, durability and resilience.  Additionally, she says, “Our cast polymer pieces light up the night sky as a bar or decorative object. These items can also be brought inside for multipurpose use. “

Paradise Pools and Spas

Max Home, which builds and remodels outdoor spaces, takes a custom approach designed to ensure customer satisfaction. In business for 10 years, owner and CEO Larry Closs says sunrooms are a foolproof answer for anyone looking to improve their outdoor living space. The reason: a sunroom combines outdoor and indoor living in one. “Heat, bugs and humidity – all the problems of outdoor living – a sunroom gets rid of them,” says Closs.  “It’s nice to enjoy the outdoor with air conditioning.” Max Home sunrooms can be screened in, enclosed with glass, outfitted with windows that open and with air conditioning. Closs says pergolas, often used as part of a garden concept or to cover a hot tub, are also an attractive option for keeping cool.

Maintaining your landscaping will go a long way toward giving your outdoor areas a finished look and keeping your plants healthy even in the dog days of summer. An all-natural product Gomez Pine Straw, sold at wholesale prices and delivered free of charge, has a host of benefits. It’s easy to use, biodegradable and soil-enriching. It’s also a renewable resource. “There’s no better mulch to use than pine straw,” says George Gomez, owner of the Mandeville based business.  “In the summer, it retains moisture and in the winter, it protects plants from dryness and cold.” Gomez adds that pine straw, available in needles and crushed form, is visually pleasing with indigenous trees and plants, in contrast to dyed mulches. He prides himself on his company’s excellent customer service. “You can call us and we can get it to you the same day,” he says.

Benge Landscaping

No outdoor space will look its best or be worth the investment if your home itself is suffering from deferred maintenance. If you’re looking to replace tired, timeworn windows, LAS Enterprises, in business for nearly 60 years, manufactures and installs vinyl windows designed to stand up to Southeast Louisiana’s climate. With hurricane season beginning June 1, LAS also offers other ways to renew the look of your home while safeguarding it from damage.  Their Home Guard Shutter Line (available in Colonial, Board & Batten and Bahama styles) is comparable in price to wooden shutters and Florida Building Code (FBC) rated for hurricane protection. “Unlike wooden shutters, that crack, chip and fade over time, our shutters have the look of wood and are essentially maintenance-free,” says LAS owner, Rick Maia. “We know shutters, and we know hurricane protection. We have carefully engineered and manufactured our shutters for protection and security while maintaining aesthetics and keeping costs down for our customers.”

Pressure washing is another way to maintain your home and have it looking its best for the summer. It costs considerably less than painting and done annually can extend the life of your paint job. “Your appreciating asset deserves an annual bath,” says Kyle Kloor, who owns the family owned and operated Audubon Pressure Washing. With 20 years of experience specializing in commercial and residential jobs, the team at Audubon Pressure Washing prides themselves on their attention to detail. They tape all doors, windows and electrical areas to prevent water intrusion and use top-of-the-line machines with adjustable temperature settings and both hot and cold water technology. They have a range of detergents and antimicrobial agents to retard growth of mold and mildew (which is worst during summer heat and humidity) and they begin each job by covering plants and foliage with water to protect them. After cleaning fences and decks, they also can stain and reseal them.

Kloor and his technicians cater to the specific needs of each client and most jobs are done in a day.


You've Got Mail!

Electronic mail chimes to get your attention, so why not add a few bells and whistles to your snail mail? A custom aluminum mailbox from The Mailbox Guy is hand-cast and because of the nature of the molding process, no two are alike. “We’re extremely custom in what we do and how we do it,” says Wayne Schaub, co-owner of the business. “Our boxes are just that unique, not to mention the quality.” The Mailbox Guy offers eight designs (the most popular is the Ol’ New Orleans, which has fleur-de-lis accents) and a variety of colors and faux finishes ranging from French Quarter green to copper. Locally made and professionally installed, each comes with a 90-day warranty. Schaub notes that incorporating one of the company’s mailboxes into the front garden (versus at the curb) has become a popular trend with locals. “Mailboxes have almost become a garden accent,” he says. “It’s something different.”


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