Welcome Spring with a Real Backyard!

As temperatures begin to climb, thoughts turn to the backyard: is it ready for spring? If your outdoor living space needs some serious TLC before the flowers bloom, here are some great ideas for creating a natural, authentic backyard oasis.

Get decked out. The heart of any backyard is a solid wooden deck. It's the perfect spot for grilling, sharing family meals, relaxing with friends, playing with the dog, and enjoying nature. Whether you have a deck that needs a little updating or you're thinking of building a new wood deck, download the free Authentic Deck Guide at www.realoutdoorliving.com for information on upkeep, construction and building material selection.

Add an outdoor room. Already have a wood deck? Great! So what's next for your yard? Brad Staggs, HGTV and DIY show host and producer, and a licensed contractor, offers a few ideas: "Think outside the box and create a lovely little outdoor living room for your family and friends. Start with a nice, quiet spot under a tree or off in a corner. Add a garden bench and a couple of wooden chairs, plus a fire pit or chiminea, and top it off with a deep arbor covered in a climbing vine. Involve the entire family by building a simple bench and chairs, and let Mom pick out the perfect flower for the arbor. Then, sit back, toast some s'mores and enjoy the fruits of your labor!"

Keep it real. Your deck and other outdoor living projects should mesh with your backyard and be a seamless partner with nature. Unless you have plastic flowers and trees in your yard, why choose fake decking? Truth is, pressure-treated wood is the best option for decks and outdoor projects. It's beautiful, strong, durable and affordable. Wood doesn't conduct heat like other decking materials can, meaning no burned feet in the heat of summer. When treated properly, wood is impervious to rot and pests. And treated wood is proven to be people- and pet-safe. Sure there's a little bit of upkeep -- no building products are truly maintenance-free. Every spring when you clean your home and wash and wax your car for the first time, take a look at your deck and see if it needs a little cleaning or perhaps another coat of sealant. That's all it takes.

Concerned about our forests? Choosing wood for any home improvement project is a very wise environmental decision. Thriving, sustainably managed forests create a healthier environment for all of us. Choosing forest products -- wood -- encourages US landowners to keep replanting trees. The forest industry plants more trees than they harvest every single year, ensuring wood will be around for generations to come. Wood is one of the only naturally renewable building products available, and the only energy it requires to manufacture it comes from the sun. You can't get much more green than that.

To learn more about wood, download free do-it-yourself project plans and podcasts, check out some inspirational photos, download the Authentic Deck Guide and much more, please visit www.realoutdoorliving.com.

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