The Perfect Staycation at Your Own Backyard Retreat

Vacations aren’t always about the most luxurious getaway or spending a few months’ salary on something that will be over in a few days. They are about making memories, doing things you don’t always get the chance to do and escaping from the day-to-day hustle. If you’re looking for a way to save a few dollars but still get a great vacation in, consider having a staycation at home this year and making the most of the beautiful amenities you have right in your own backyard.

Plan Ahead
The purpose of a staycation is to still take a vacation but without greatly affecting your wallet. Make it a point to plan a few activities for everyone, otherwise you could feel as if nothing special happened during your time off, and you’ll wonder where the time went. So you didn’t go to the Mexican beach resort? Whip up some tropical drinks and a special guacamole recipe and turn up the music. Or plan a few family activities around town you never get to try because daily life just happens. Be intentional with planning your “trip.”

Disconnect
Even though you didn’t need to use your passport to step outside, act as if you don’t have an international data package and disconnect! Turn off your smartphones, laptops, tablets. Take a break from social media. Just be –with each other, reconnect as a family, enjoy moments without worrying about where or who you’ll share the moment with except the people who are right in front of you.

Get Creative
Think outside the box when it comes to your backyard. Yes, swimming all day is exactly what you should be doing on your staycation. Grilling out, eating on paper plates, soaking up every hour of sunshine allowed are all perfect, but think beyond that. Why not rent a projector, throw a white sheet on one side of the house and show a movie under the stars? Play a family game of flashlight tag by the moonlight.

Just because you didn’t “go” anywhere doesn’t mean you have do your usual routine. Say no to laundry, dishes, cleaning, if only for a few days. And enjoy your time off.

Posted in Backyard Living, Family Fun, Pool and Spa Tips | Leave a comment

Keep Your Pool Water Sparkling On a Daily Basis

Pool maintenance is much like house work – not the most fun thing to do but necessary when it comes to attaining sparkling water. Crystal-clear pool water year round is perfectly attainable by following these simple steps:

  1. Make sure the pool has enough chlorine. While your filter will remove the solid debris, chlorine is necessary to remove bacteria, algae and viruses, all of which can cause cloudy water. Your chlorine level should be between 1.0 and 3.0 parts per million (ppm). You can check your chlorine level by using at-home testing strips.
  2. Make sure your pH level is balanced. A normal pH reading falls between 7.2 and 7.6. Often times, low pH levels mirror low chlorine levels.
  3. Skim your pool’s surface twice a week to remove solid debris.
  4. Vacuum your pool at least once a week, twice depending on the debris from your surrounding environment or how often the pool is used. A well-vacuumed pool makes it easier to control the pH levels and helps avoid decay at the bottom of the pool’s surface.
  5. Empty your skimmer baskets at least twice a week. If your skimmer baskets are full, they won’t be able to collect residual surface debris, reducing the effect of your surface cleaner.
  6. Backwash your filter after vacuuming the pool to keep the filter in good working order.
  7. Brush the tile/water line and the pool walls.
  8. If you notice the water getting cloudy, stop by your local pool store to pick up a clarifier. They usually work within 24 hours.
Posted in Pool and Spa Tips, Pool Maintenance Tips | Leave a comment

Pool School 101: The 5 Keys to Basic Pool Care

There are five basic keys when understanding how your pool functions. Pool maintenance can be relatively simple once you know the basics in pool care, leaving you to enjoy a well-balanced healthy swimming pool.

Circulation
You must circulate your pool water in order to maximize the sanitizer’s effectiveness. The more pool water is in motion, the harder it is for bacteria and algae to take hold. The better the water circulates, the better the filtration, the cleaner the pool.

Filtration
As one of the most important pieces of pool equipment, the filter removes both solid debris and microscopic matter. Typically, you should backwash your first when the water pressure reaches 8 to 10 psi above normal, as well as after each vacuuming. You should also get your filter chemically cleaned twice a season to remove any grease, oil and other deeply embedded debris that you’re unable to remove during a regular cleaning.

Cleaning
Every pool has pockets where circulation doesn’t occur, leaving it vulnerable to algae and bacteria growth. At least once a week, the pool walls should be brushed and vacuumed to remove the debris not caught in the filter.

Testing
Measuring and adjusting your pool water’s pH and sanitization levels should be a regular part of your pool care routine. You should also bring your water in to your local pool retailer to get tested at least three times per season to better understand how your pool is affected by how often your pool is used, the weather and the products you apply.

Chemistry
Water chemistry isn’t as hard as it seems. By providing a sanitary swimming environment and balancing the water with the amount of chemicals at the right time, there’s no doubt your water will remain crystal clear and inviting.

Posted in Pool and Spa Tips, Pool Maintenance Tips | Leave a comment

How Children Benefit From Swimming

benefits of swimming in childrenThe amazing thing about swimming is that children of any age, size or disability can do it. There’s nothing limiting about being in the water. The important thing is to really understand how children can benefit from swimming and then incorporate it into their daily/weekly/monthly routine and see just how much it positively affects them.

Safety is one of the most important reasons why swimming should be a part of a child’s lifestyle. The sobering fact is drowning is one of the leading causes of unintentional death in children. By teaching children to swim at an early age, they’ll not only become stronger swimmers and gain valuable experience in the water, it will also greatly reduce the risk of an aquatic emergency.

While childhood obesity remains at 17 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s important to be proactive in our children’s lives. Swimming is an excellent way to incorporate fun exercise and activity into a child’s routine. As an excellent cardiovascular workout, swimming promotes healthy heart and lungs, increases stamina and improves strength. Since childhood obesity has been linked to juvenile diabetes, the CDC recommends swimming as one of the ways in which children can have fun getting and staying healthy.

Swimming has also been related to positive mental and emotional health, an important tool in combating childhood depression. Since the natural buoyancy of water is more relaxing than other types of exercise, people tend to stay in longer releasing more endorphins, your natural feel-good compounds.  It also stimulates brain chemicals and affects serotonin levels that influence mood and produce the stress-reducing hormone ANP, the brain’s response to stress and anxiety.

However you incorporate swimming into your child’s life – as regular exercise or just plain fun time in the backyard pool – the benefits are endless and they’ll feel better because of it.

Contact Aqua Pool Co for your pool and spa supply needs.

Posted in Health, Wellness | Leave a comment

A Helpful Checklist for Opening Your Pool in the Spring

What's Your Pool Shape Personality? | AquaPoolCo Above Ground Pools Gulport MississippiAs the air outside begins to turn from cool and crisp to warm and inviting, a number of families have opening their pool for the spring on their minds. Below is a quick checklist that will help ensure that your pool maintenance duties are kept to a minimum while still maintaining crystal clear pool water.

Step 1: Remove & Store the Pool Cover
Get rid of any debris or water that may be sitting on top of your winter cover. Clean the cover, allow it to fully dry, and then stow it away until next winter.

Step 2: Remove Debris
With a skimmer net or leaf rake, remove any leaves or other pieces of debris from the pool water. For silt, sludge, or other debris that has sunken to the bottom of the pool, use the vacuum or automatic pool cleaner.

Step 3: Check Your Equipment
Springtime pool maintenance is a great time to give your equipment a good, thorough check to ensure it’s all ready for the upcoming summer season. Take a close look at the:

  • Skimmer
  • Returns
  • Hoses
  • Any fittings
  • Your pump
  • Filtration system (if using a sand filter, top it off with the appropriate kind of medium if necessary and for DE or cartridge filters, furnish this equipment with the necessary refills)
  • Heater

Be on the look out for any signs of wear and tear, hairline cracks, or other damage and repair or replace as necessary.

Step 4: Attach Your Equipment
Hook up any hoses, fittings and components.

Step 5: Check Your Water Levels
Your pool should be filled at least to mid-skimmer level prior to you turning on your filtration system. Do a walk around and look for any signs of leakage, paying particular attention to the fittings and hoses before turning on your system, and again afterwards.

Step 6: Check Your Pool Water
The final essential check: your pool water chemistry. This includes testing the pool’s total alkalinity, pH, and cyanuric acid levels prior to adding chemicals to balance the pool to determine how much of what chemical is needed.

Posted in Pool Maintenance Tips, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Enjoy Spring with These Backyard Grilling Recipes

shutterstock_143638519Spring is in the air and soon everyone will be heading out to their outdoor living spaces to fire up the grill.  We’ve been taste testing and we’ve found two great recipes for you to try this spring.

 

 

 

Honey Mustard Grilled Chicken
Ingredients:

  • 1/3 Cup Dijon mustard
  • ¼ Cup honey
  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp steak sauce (though Worcestershire Sauce will give your chicken more of a kick)
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

Directions:

  1. Preheat the grill to medium heat.
  2. In a bowl, combine the mustard, honey, mayonnaise and steak sauce.  Set aside 2-3 tablespoons for basting, and dip the chicken into the remaining sauce until its coated
  3. Lightly oil your grill grate and grill the chicken over indirect heat for 18 to 20 minutes.  Turn the chicken occasionally or until the juices run clear.  During the final 10 minutes, baste the chicken from time to time with the reserved honey mustard sauce.

Recipe Credit:  http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Honey-Mustard-Grilled-Chicken/?prop24=hn_slide1_We-Love-It-When-This-Happens&evt19=1

Warm Balsamic Kale Salad
Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • ¼ Cup diced onion
  • 1 diced red pepper
  • 1 diced yellow pepper
  • 8oz sliced baby portobello mushrooms
  • 4 Cups kale
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ Asiago or Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter into a large skillet.  Add onion and peppers and saute until softened (several minutes).  Add mushrooms and the remaining tablespoon of butter.  Continue to saute until ingredients are browned.
  2. Add in the kale, garlic and balsamic vinegar, and saute until kale is a deeper green but not silted.  Remove from heat.  Top the salad with Asiago or Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper.  Serve and enjoy immediately!

Additional Tip: Chefs can even serve this salad in their backyard oasis as a meal if they choose to top it with grilled chicken, salmon, or legumes.

Recipe credit:  http://pinchofyum.com/warm-balsamic-kale-salad

Posted in Backyard Living | Leave a comment

How to Increase the Life of Your Aboveground Liner

What's Your Pool Shape Personality? | AquaPoolCo Above Ground Pools Gulport MississippiNo homeowner loves the word “repair”, and that certainly goes for aboveground pool liner repair, as well. Pool repairs of any kind can not only be costly, but they can stand in the way of you fully enjoying your backyard oasis. In order to keep your liner in the best shape for as long as possible, we recommend:

 

1. Maintaining good water balance. As long as this is being done on a regular basis, you’ll substantially increase the life of your liner.

  • The best pool pH typically ranges between 7.4 to 7.6
  • Alkalinity should be between 80 and 120ppm
  • Calcium hardness should stay between 200 and 400ppm

2. Watch your use of chlorine. Chlorine shouldn’t come in contact with the liner before it has been fully dissolved in water. With granular and tableted chlorine, dissolve in water first then disperse throughout the water. If you use liquid chlorine, add to the water and agitate it to disperse.

3. Never drain the pool completely. Always keep about one foot of water in the shallow end because the liner can shrink if the water pressure is too low.

4. Repair small tears immediately with a special patching glue that can be used underwater. It’s not necessary to have to drain the pool.

Posted in Pool Maintenance Tips | Leave a comment

Causes and Solutions of a Cloudy Pool

Cloudy pool waterKnowing how to maintain a pool properly largely means knowing how to keep the pool water clear and uncloudy. At least once in every pool owners life, however, he or she will likely pull back the pool cover to discover murky water. Before reaching for a clarifying product, listed below are 3 factors that may be causing the cloudy pool water, and what steps you can take to eliminate it.

1. Imbalanced Water Chemistry
Knowing how to maintain a pool means keeping on top of maintaining a proper pool water chemistry. Your pool’s pH and calcium hardness will likely be behind your cloudy pool.

  • Ensure your pH is between 7.2 and 7.6
  • Free chlorine levels should range between 1 and 3ppm with a combined chlorine of 0
  • Calcium hardness should be within 200 to 350 ppm
  • Total alkalinity should be within 90 to 120ppm

If adding any chemicals for pool maintenance, be sure to run the pool filter for 12 to 24 hours. As a preventative measure, remember to add shock to your pool on a weekly or bi-weekly basis (depending on how heavily it’s being used).

2. Early Algae Growth
Any time your water chemistry is “off” you invite the growth of unwelcome guests such as algae. If your water is properly balanced and still cloudy after running the filter for a full day, try adding a dose of algaecide and running the filter again for 24 hours. In the future, this problem can be avoided by learning how to maintain a pool properly, which includes brushing and vacuuming the pool.

Heavy rains and lack of sunlight can be behind you cloudy pool water problems. Choosing an appropriate pool cover that will keep out unwanted rain water while also allowing your pool to benefit from the natural oxidizing power of the sun’s UV rays will do wonders for your pool water, particularly if you close your pool for the winter.

Posted in Pool Maintenance Tips | Leave a comment

Time for a Hot Tub?

Hot tub soakAs a growing number of American homes are being constructed on smaller lots, the hot tub is increasing in demand. So is it time to add a hot tub to your backyard?

If you’ve never owned a hot tub before, it’s important to note its many benefits:

  1. Better sleep. Studies have shown that hot water immersion prior to bedtime can help people fall into a deeper, more relaxed sleep.
  2. Stress relief. Soaking in a hot tub, especially one infused with aromatherapy fragrances, can lift any mood and release the body’s natural endorphins.
  3. Family Connection. Consider the quality time you can enjoy in the hot tub as a family, and a perfect hangout you can give your teenagers and their friends.
  4. Overall better health and wellness. Hydrotherapy is backed by many health professionals as a way to overcome aches and illnesses that affect us daily. Warm water immersion has been proven to be a healing and calming tool for many hot tub users.

If you already have an aboveground pool, consider adding a hot tub so you and your family can reap the benefits of both hot and cold water plunge therapy. This invigorating activity has existed for thousands of years in ancient China and Rome, and is believed to reduce muscle inflammation and pain, as well as expedite recovery. Many bathers who take part in this activity also report it as being a fantastic way to beat the blues, as it acts as a mood elevator.

 

Posted in Backyard Living, Health, Hot Tubs and Spas | Leave a comment

Low-Maintenance Planter Ideas for Outdoor Decks and Patios

succulent
With Spring on the horizon, it’s time to start thinking about the gardening that will need to take place this year. Whether you’re looking to give your outdoor living space a complete overhaul or are trying to lighten your maintenance load this year, we have some great low maintenance planter ideas that can work with any number of backyard garden ideas.

Succulents
Not everyone is born with a green thumb.  For those of us who love our garden but are lacking the knowledge or time to properly maintain our plants, succulents such as these are a great choice.

  • Aloe
  • Haworthia
  • Gasteria
  • Scilla
  • Flowering Autumn Joy

Ornamental Grace
For homeowners who want to add some texture to their outdoor living spaces and planters, ornamental grasses are an attractive low maintenance option.  These plants only need to be trimmed and cut once in the spring and require very little water.  Plant two or three varieties in the same box to create a stunning visual display.

Topiaries
Requiring more care than the above plants, topiaries are a great way to add some height and diversity to your garden.  Best of all, these plants can be dressed up for any occasion, from winding string lights around them to planting perennials around their base to inject bursts of color to your garden.

Separate Planter Boxes
Keeping each plant in a separate planter is one way to create an easy to maintain backyard living space.  Situate these planters together in groups or affix them to a garden wall if you’re short on space.

Xeriscaping
For those looking to create a garden that’s easy to maintain and sustain, xeriscaping may be something to consider.  This new form of landscaping increases water efficiency, allowing homeowners to conserve water without having to sacrifice the appearance of their outdoor living spaces.

Posted in Backyard Living | Leave a comment