5 “Green” Gift Ideas

Christmas is this weekend and if you’re anything like me, you haven’t bought a thing. At Backyard X-Scapes we are always looking for ways to help our customers “go green” without breaking the bank or pushing too far outside the box. We believe that Christmas gift-giving can be meaningful, generous and eco-friendly. The following are 5 of our favorite ideas for green gift-giving.


iTunes or Amazon.com Gift Cards – While it goes without saying that digital gifts cut down on waste by eliminating packaging and carbon emissions by eliminating production and shipping, they are also in high demand in today’s tech savvy society. We all know that both iTunes and Amazon offer gift cards for downloading music, but they can also be used for video streaming. Instead of buying DVDs as gifts, give your loved ones the gift of waste-free entertainment; they can stream almost any movie as well as entire television series.

Homemade Gift Coupons – Give the special person in your life many gifts in one without costing you a dime.  Coupons for massages, breakfast in bed and babysitting are all great options that only require time and effort on your part. This gift is ultra-personal, won’t drain your checking account and doesn’t produce an ounce of waste, especially if you use recycled paper to craft each coupon.

Sony Ericsson GreenHeart Cell Phone – The techie in your life will love Sony’s new GreenHeart line of cell phones and accessories. These phones create 15% fewer carbon emissions than traditional phones by eliminating the paper manual (it is stored digitally within the phone), utilizing recycled plastic in the phone’s structure, employing an energy efficient display and waterborne paint. The packaging is also eco-conscious.

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Hide Anything in Your Backyard

Do you ever look out into your backyard and wish that that unsightly eyesore ruining your perfect landscape would magically disappear? Artificial rocks are a perfect to solution to any visual conundrum. With both natural looking and aesthetically appealing they are also durable, sturdy and ready for anything. As they come in a variety of shapes and colors, the ideal fit is not difficult to find. Here are some ideas for how to take your backyard or walkway from an eyesore to eye candy.

Hide Outdoor Plumbing
Use a rock to hide ugly centrifugal pumps, irrigation valves or septic lids or cleanouts. These outdoor necessities definitely have their purpose in our lives and we probably would miss them if they were gone; however, we don’t necessarily have them in sight for them to do their job. Not only do they take away from the visual purity of our landscapes, but they can also be dangerous if located in a busy walking area or if small children play near them. A low to the ground rock is an easy solution. Not only does it eliminate the eye sore, but it can also completely change the focal point of your landscape. Now, instead of wishing the traces of indoor plumbing would disappear, you can easily forget about them.

Address Plaques
Do people visiting your home ever complain that they can’t read the faded address number spray painted on the curb or can’t find the numbers hung next to the garage? Make things easier for everyone by installing an address plaque rock. The unique flat surface lends itself nicely to the addition of numbers or characters while the size, shape and color of the rock still look and feel like the real thing. Add a solar powered lighting source next to the rock and never hear a guest complain about driving aimlessly up and down the street looking for your house again.

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Create a Holiday Table Centerpiece

Although eating and drinking are considered to cater to our sense of taste, it is undeniable that we eat first with our sense of smell and sense of sight.  How a dish smells and how the food is presented, greatly affects the eating experience.

For centuries now, people have used the experience of eating to bring people together, celebrate important events and join in happy festivities.  With the holiday season now here, we wanted to give you some no fuss, quick and easy tips on spicing up your table setting.

We always talk about how lighting is key to any home or garden design.  Candles have been used for centuries as a source of light and to accent tables.  By grouping candles together of different heights or colors, you can create a visual landscape across your table.

During the holidays, between wrapping presents, decorating the tree and your home, there is always excess material around.  Ribbons make wonderful accents to table settings by inducing a bit of decorative flare.  You can also tie ornaments to the ribbons and lay them along your table or around the candles.  These cute little ornaments with ribbons can also be used as party favors for your guests to take home as a sentimental holiday treat.

No matter how hard we try to efficiently utilize wrapping paper, it seems that there is always so many strips wasted, that are either too narrow or too short.  Grab a pretty vase, and with your excess wrapping paper, crumple them into small balls and fill the vase with them, to create a popcorn color effect.  Complete the vase with a ribbon around the neck, or mix in holiday ornaments for added dimension.

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Tropical Holiday Decorating Ideas

One of the greatest things about this time of year, that can also be stressful is the back to back holidays.  Right after Thanksgiving, in addition to tasty leftovers and an abundance of sales, comes the bittersweet task of planning for Christmas and New Years.  Prepping your home for the holidays doesn’t have to be an expensive, time consuming or brain wrenching project.  Here are some ideas on how to get the most out of your holiday decor and save money at the same time.

Bright Lights

White twinkle lights are a perfect way to dress up your home or garden accents for the holidays and the best part is that they can be re-used all year round.  Many gardens, restaurants and trendy neighborhoods use white lights to dress up trees and create a magical atmosphere.

To create your own backyard “candy cane lane”, line your thatch umbrella kit with lights to not only create a tropical holiday look but also light up a table setting or walkway.  White lights, unlike the colored ones, are versatile to use all year long.

Decorate Creatively

Instead of going the traditional route, merge classic iconic holiday items with a tropical twist.  Add Holly or Poinsettias to Tiki Statues to accent an area, or make a wreath out of Bamboo and Thatch for your front door.

Don’t want to clean up after the holidays are over?  The classic popcorn garland can bring the family together to make a yummy decorative treat.

If you don’t have a fireplace to hang stockings from and don’t want to put holes in the wall, line your wall with bamboo fencing and use hooks to hang decor and various items from it.  This way you can re-use the bamboo for both indoor and outdoor purposes.

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BOO-tify Your Backyard this Halloween.

Autumn not only brings in the crisp air and colorful leaves but also a string of holidays to follow.  Kicking off the fall season is a holiday that kids and adults can enjoy alike.  Halloween is the one day a year where ghoulish identities and sweet treats flood the streets once the sun has set.

This Halloween we’re gonna give you tips to creating a Tropical Scare-ground that will have your visitors dying to stay!

A  Spell Binding Atmosphere

Creating atmosphere is one of the most important factors in throwing any get together or decorating for any themed event.  For a “Tropical Halloween”, to start you want to think typical season colors such as Orange and Black, then expand upon that.  Bold colors such as Red, Yellow with touches of Brown can also create an appealing flow for your color scheme.

Have a wooden or chain fence that clashes with the nightly warm atmosphere?  Use bamboo fencing or thatch to line any surfaces.  The greatest thing is that the surface textures will be great for holding any cobweb accenting, or dangling lights.

You can also use decorative pottery to evaporate dry ice to create the effect of  a cauldron releasing smoke, or a dense fog along the ground.  Tiki statues have novel expressions which will help add character to any surrounding.

Got a Tiki Bar?  Use it to serve punch, candy or other bewitching treats.

Lighting the Dark

Although Halloween is about things that may go “boo” in the night, setting up ambient lighting can also create a haunting scare.  The classic carved pumpkin with tea light candles never goes out of style and always works well outdoors along walk ways, stair cases and in the lawn.

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