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Buying Advice

What's in your pool equipment closet? What's the best type of patio furniture or outdoor kitchen to buy? Get acquainted with the world of outdoor furnishings, along with the various types of pool vacuums, filters, pumps, heaters, skimmers, brushes, and more. Learn the pros and cons, ins and outs, and buying advice to help you make the smartest choices.
  1. Pool Vacuums & Cleaners (3)

What to Look for When Buying a Fire Pit
Before shopping for a fire pit, learn what to look for. Size, safety, location and materials are important in finding the best fire pit for your outdoor living space.

Best Patio Fire Pits
Warm-up your winter nights and find a reason to linger outdoors during the summer with an outdoor fire pit. Once you get one, you'll wonder how you ever got by without it. We narrow down the selection for you.

Where to Buy Outdoor Fire Pits and Fireplaces
Shopping for an outdoor fireplace or fire pit? Do some research, like exactly where to go shopping. Look no further -- we've done the work for you.

How to Heat Up Your Outdoor Space
The patio party doesn't have to end when the sun goes down. Find a way to heat things up with this guide to recreational fire pits, fireplaces and outdoor heating sources.

Playhouse Kits to Buy
Playhouses and tree houses are an integral part of a child's outdoor play area. If you don't quite have the DIY thing down to the point that you think you can tackle small-scale home-building, consider one of the many playhouse kits available. We've found some of the best.

Top Picks in Outdoor Cushions and Pillows
It's like sprinkles or icing on a cake: colorful, vibrant or carefully chosen outdoor cushions and pillows can add oomph to your outdoor deck and pizzazz to your patio furniture. Outdoor pillows and cushions vary in price, depending on the fabric, brand or designer. Garden-variety pillows in solid colors from discount stores are usually more...

Before You Buy a Hammock
The image of a hammock under a big tree conjures up daydreams of summer afternoons spent idyllically in your own bird-chirping version of Eden. If you really want a hammock, what do you need to think about before ordering one online or adding it to the cart at your big-box retailer?

Before You Buy a Patio Umbrella
Before you shop for a patio umbrella, do some research. Most umbrellas measure anywhere from 5 to 11 feet in diameter. Affixed to a pole, they are placed into a hole that's in your outdoor dining table or anchored by a weighted umbrella base. Using a crank at the top of the pole, you can raise or lower the canopy of the umbrella. Sounds simple?...

Before You Buy a Play Set
Before you give in to your child's pleas for a swing set, do a little homework. Don't let the store or your child pressure you into an impulsive purchase before taking a few things into consideration.

Let's Go Shopping For Garden and Patio Stuff
Ready to go shopping for outdoor furniture and accessories? We've hunted down the best stores to help you furnish your outdoor room.

Outdoor Fabric Brands
Outdoor fabrics come in a variety of textures, colors, prints and brands. Discover some of the top names in the world of outdoor fabric, so you'll know what to look for.

Award-Winning Outdoor Toys to Get Your Kids Out of the House
While considering gift ideas for children, keep in mind that the current generation of kids spends less time outdoors than any other generation in history. While a computer game or screen may be on your favorite child's list, why not introduce them to the pure, low-tech world of outdoor toys and activities?

Before You Buy: Hose Holders and Reels
Hoses and reels may not be glamorous, but are a necessary part of a yard. Discover the different types to hold and contain your garden hose.

The Top Books About Pools, Patios and Outdoor Living
Consult this compilation of book lists on home and garden topics for your next project. Whether it's pools, patios, or DIY -- your next book is likely on this list.

Planning a Sandbox or Play Table
A sandbox is one of the most basic of all outdoor activities in which a child can engage. That's what makes it enduring in its appeal, setting the stage for imagination and creative play -- truly the best kind. While many sandboxes are available, requiring you to just add sand, buying one is not the only option. Let's explore other choices before making a quick decision.

The Best Books About Swimming Pools
Need design inspiration for a pool or tips on cleaning and maintenance? A good pool book might just be the answer. Check out our list of the top swimming pool books.

Shopping at Flea Markets for Vintage Patio Furnishings
Years before the recession hit, bargain hunters were combing flea markets and estate sales looking for outdoor furnishings. Many weren't doing so out of necessity -- they simply liked the look and individuality of vintage patio chairs, tables, loungers and outdoor accessories. There's an endless supply out there, if you know how to spot the...

The Best Spa and Pool Towels
When you step out of a pool or spa, a nice, big towel should be waiting. If not, we've tracked down some of the nicest to give that special someone, including you.

Above Ground Pool Manufacturers
An above ground swimming pool seems like a great idea, but where do you go to learn more about the different manufacturers? The following is a frequently updated list of above ground pool manufacturers. While above ground pools have seen a rise in popularity since the Great Recession, some manufacturers have had to close their doors because of...

Pool Party: Make a Splash With Fountains, Floats and Inflatables
The pool party is at your house! Since you're the lucky one with a swimming pool, spa, hot tub or other outdoor water feature, you have the job of making sure the outside party is a splashing success! Nothing is more fun and festive at pool party than fountains, underwater light shows, inflatables, pool toys and other waterworks and accessories....

2013 Best Pool Cleaner / Vacuum: About.com Readers' Choice Awards
Meet the three finalists for Best Pool Cleaner/Vacuum in the 2013 About.com Readers' Choice Awards. Pool & Patio readers have until March 19th to vote for their favorite in the site-wide contest.

What is Balau?
Dubbed "the poor man's teak," balau is a rich-looking wood that's becoming increasingly popular for outdoor furniture. Find out more about this exotic hardwood and why you may want to choose it over teak or ipe for your next patio set.

Home and Garden Magazines
Thinking about subscribing to a home and garden magazine, but not sure which one? Check out our helpful guide to what's what.

Pool and Spa Brushes
Maintaining a pool or spa is something that you can definitely do-it-yourself, provided you have the right tools for the job. Cleaning your pool does not have to be a back-breaking chore if it's done regularly, on schedule -- before algae builds up. During swim season -- usually summer -- maintenance may take about 3-5 hours per week. If it...

10 Tips for Finding Inexpensive Patio Furniture
Maybe it's time for some new outdoor furniture, but your budget won't bend. Like other potential purchases, you can work more closely toward your goal if you have an open mind and do some creative searching. Stores that specialize in patio furniture year 'round often carry high-end, deep-seating brands, but are less likely to hold incredible...

Father's Day Gift Ideas for Outdoor-Living and -Loving Guys
Father's Day is a day to spend outdoors. Maybe it's that manly hunter-gatherer-stereotype, but the idea of Dad at the barbecue with an apron, matching chef's hat and shiny grilling tools seems to epitomize the whole scene. Your intrepid searchers have again combed the web for some extraordinary gifts for an extraordinary guy.

Charcoal vs Gas: Before You Buy a Grill
What's better, charcoal or gas grills? Derrick Riches, About.com Guide to Barbecues and Grilling, explores the pros and cons of both types of outdoor cooking equipment.

Above-Ground Swimming Pools: Deep Savings
Late summer may be the best time of the year to get a great deal on an above-ground swimming pool. Besides potentially saving hundreds of dollars, you'll still get to enjoy your pool, especially if you live in an area that experiences Indian summers or soaring temperatures in the early fall. Above-ground pools can be as simple or elaborate as...

Above-Ground Swimming Pools Make Pool Ownership A Reality
If an inground swimming pool isn't in your future for whatever reason, maybe an above-ground pool is the solution. Above-ground swimming pools range from economical models to more luxurious (and expensive) styles. Many can be enjoyed year 'round, and some use saltwater systems popular with inground models. Above-ground pools also have solar heating systems and covers. A good way to give your pool…

Gifts for the Garden and Patio
Don't get caught empty-handed before a party. Wine is nice, but how about something that will last longer, is thoughtful, outdoorsy and will be loved by its recipient? Check out our gift ideas for the home and garden.

Patio Furniture Brands
How can you tell the differences among outdoor patio furniture manufacturers? About.com has compiled a handy go-to list of garden furniture brands, companies and manufacturers. Explore each company's website to learn more about the products and where you can buy them.

Grills: Gas or Charcoal?
Grill lovers can be opinionated when it comes to which type of barbecue they prefer, hands down, to the other. The choice: gas or charcoal. Which one is the winner?

A Brief History of Metal Lawn Furniture
Where did those metal lawn chairs, gliders and other steel outdoor furniture get their start? Did they just appear in front of a motel on Route 66 one day in the 1950s? A Texas company produces powder-coated metal lawn furniture that's built to last.

Books About Japanese Gardens and Landscaping
A visit to a Japanese garden inspired you to change your own outdoor space. You know you need to do some homework. One of the best sources -- a book. Peruse this list of books on Japanese landscaping and gardens, sit back, and let the possibilities present themselves. Share a favorite book with us and keep us posted on your project.

Home and Garden Books
Need ideas for your yard? Check out our list of the best new home and garden books. They also make great gifts.

Home and Garden Gift Ideas
Think outside the house for those on your gift list for any occasion. If you have a yard, you know about the joys and fun spent relaxing and playing outdoors, in the pool, on the deck or play areas. Consult our gift suggestions that include everyone on your list: women, men, hot tub and spa lovers and children. Enjoy your shopping excursion!

Outdoor Furniture: Chairs & Benches for Relaxing Outside
The heat may be luring you outside, but with no place to sit except a couple of rump-sprung beach chairs or a low retaining wall, you'll soon find yourself heading back inside to enjoy the recycled air conditioning. Maybe it's time to get serious about buying some attractive outdoor seating for your patio, deck, porch, lawn, balcony or whatever...

What is Resin Wicker or All-Weather Wicker?

The Best Croquet Sets to Buy
Use that bare lawn in your yard to play an old-fashioned game of croquet. Check out our top picks in croquet sets.

The Best LED Christmas Lights
What is it about Christmas lights that brings out the decorator and celebrator in so many of us? For some, it reminds them of their childhoods, when they would look at lit-up neighborhoods from the backseat of their parents' cars and try to recapture some of that early sense of wonder and awe. Others simply "like lights" and are fueled by the...

2013 About.com Readers' Choice Award Winners: Pool & Patio
Congratulations to the four Pool & Patio winners in the 2013 About.com Readers' Choice Awards! So, who won?

Outdoor Gifts: For Mom or Any Occasion
It's not too late to buy or send a Mother's Day gift! Mother Earth sets the stage for that female-outdoors connection. So, it's only appropriate that many Mother's Day gifts revolve around nature and mom's outdoor environment. Mom might get a spiritual, nurturing or renewal fix from gardening, her patio, relaxing outside or enjoying gatherings...

Outdoor Lights: What are Rope Lights?
The clear, white or colored tubes of light that twist or wrap around porches, deck railings, columns and are parts of a landscape have their advantages and disadvantages. Find out if rope lights are something in which you might want to invest.

The Best Inflatable Christmas Decorations for 2011
The Christmas season brings out the decorator in most of us, and is the one time of year that home dwellers and whole neighborhoods show their holiday spirit with lights and often-extravagant yard displays. While those lighted plastic blow-mold figurines dotted lawns and porches of Midcentury, Post-World War II homes, giant airblown inflatable...

Romantic Gifts for Your Pool and Patio Lover
What's the best gift to give your pool and patio lover? Think about the setting: a bubbling hot tub, moonlight on the patio, a romantic walk along a lighted pathway, colorful lanterns floating in a pool, the warmth of a big thirsty towel waiting for you as you step out of the spa. Sound good? These gift ideas were carefully researched, with...

Cleaning Swimming Pool Filters
How often should you clean a swimming pool filter? While each filter is different, experts suggest taking a reading when the filter is clean. It's time to clean the pool filter when the pressure rises about 10 psi.

Build, Install or Buy a Swimming Pool, Spa or Hot Tub
Why do you want a swimming pool or spa? The real question probably is why wouldn't you want a private swimming pool or spa? You may have a clear-cut reason, like your children are on a swim team and need to practice daily. Maybe you want one "just because." Take some time to seriously consider how a swimming pool or spa would benefit your home and your life.

Gifts for Children's Outdoor Play Spaces
Kids love to play outdoors, and kids love to play on stuff outdoors.It's simple and a given: kids love to play outdoors, and kids love to play on stuff outdoors. They delight in playhouses and play equipment that's tailored for their smaller sizes, and love having a space outdoors they can claim as their own. As with any gift, you can go...

The Top Patio Dining Sets for 2011
Think about it. An outdoor dining set is like the anchor or hub of an outdoor room. You've got your burgers, marinade and some sort of grill. You can't just hand someone a meat patty and expect them to wander aimlessly throughout your yard. Enter the outdoor dining set. It lures you and your guests outdoors and keeps you there. Check out this...

The Top 5 Pools, Spas & Equipment for People with Arthritis
Warm-water exercise is one of the best ways for people with arthritis to increase their strength, relieve joint pain and relax sore muscles. Take a look at these five recommendations, including pool ramps and lifts for easier access in and out of in-ground and above-ground swimming pools

The Best Shark Decor for Your Yard and Party
Party outside, shark-style, with the best shark-inspired toys, decorations and products that celebrate the Great White.

About.com Readers' Choice Awards 2012: Best Outdoor Lighting
With traditional low-voltage landscaping lights, solar lighting, LEDs? Accent lights, security, pathway or deck lights? Nominate the specific product, design or model, along with the name of the company or manufacturer.

Emerald Green Patio Furniture and Accessories
How will Pantone's 2013 Color of the Year, Emerald, look in your yard? Guess what? It already is outdoors, growing in your garden and reflected in the water of your pool or pond. From there, it's a matter of adding a few touches here and there as accent pieces. Take a look at the Emerald accessories we've found for your garden.

About.com Readers' Choice Awards 2012: Favorite Outdoor Toy
The five finalists have been chosen in the Favorite Outdoor Toy category for the 2012 About.com Readers' Choice Awards. To help you choose, About.com Pool and Patio has researched each nominee so our readers / voters can become better acquainted with each product and finalist.

About.com Readers' Choice Awards 2012: Best Book, Outdoor Living and Design
Great books provide inspiration and instructions for outdoor projects. A new category for the 2012 About.com's Readers' Choice Awards is Best Book: Outdoor Living and Design. Books can include topics ranging from landscape design to DIY playhouses, and deck designs to patio container gardens. The book nominated must have been published in 2010...

2012 Best Hot Tub / Spa: About.com Readers' Choice Awards
The 2012 About.com Reader's Choice Awards honors the year's top hot tubs and spas, as nominated and chosen by our readers. This year's Best Pool and Patio awards seeks to honor the Best Outdoor Patio Furniture, Best Pool Cleaner/Vacuum, Best Pool Test Kit, Best Hot Tub/Spa, and Best Decking.

About.com Readers' Choice Awards 2012: Pool and Patio
What are the best outdoor living products on the market? For the second time, About.com Pool and Patio is participating is the annual About.com Readers' Choice Awards. Beginning on Wednesday, January 18, 2012, we will be will be accepting nominations in the following categories:

Hanukkah Outdoor Decorations - Decorating Ideas for Hanukkah Celebrations
Hanukkah is not about glitz and megawatt yard displays. Still, many households that are Jewish, interfaith, or those who want to honor all the winter holidays like to decorate outdoors. We've assembled decorations that will add some beauty, fun or spirit to your Hanukkah festivities. Shalom!

Blow Mold Outdoor Holiday Decorations
Before there were inflatable holiday decorations, lawns and porches were decorated with plastic lighted figurines: Before there were inflatable holiday decorations, lawns and porches were decorated with plastic lighted figurines: Santas, snowmen, reindeer, elves, candles and just about any other Christmas character you can imagine. These wonders...

Best Outdoor Lighting: About.com 2012 Readers' Choice Awards
Ready to vote for the company that designs and manufactures what you consider to be the Best Outdoor Lighting? The About.com Reader's Choice Awards 2012 Best Pool and Patio category honors the year's top pool and patio products, brands and manufacturers, as nominated and chosen by our readers. This is the second year that the Pool and Patio...

Best Book, Outdoor Living and Design: About.com Readers' Choice Awards 2012
The Best Book, Landscape Design and Outdoor Living category is new to the 2012 About.com Readers' Choice Awards. The five finalists include books about succulent container gardening, designing for privacy, outdoor structures and outdoor DIY projects.

Best Patio Side Tables for 2011
Where are you going to put that icy cold beverage or plate of bbq? Not on the ground! Don't despair: we've hunted down the top patio tables for 2011.

The 2011 About.com Readers Choice Awards: Pool & Patio
The About.com Reader's Choice Awards 2011 Best Pool and Patio category honors the year's top pool and patio products, brands and manufacturers, as nominated and chosen by our readers. This is the first year that the Pool and Patio category has joined the Readers' Choice Awards, making it About.com's biggest awards event ever!

Best Book: 'Landscaping for Privacy'
In 2012, the Best Book, Landscape Design and Outdoor Living was a new category for the Pool and Patio awards. Votes have been counted and a winner has been announced. Congratulations to author Marty Wingate and for winning Best Book for 'Landscaping for Privacy."

Must-Try Outdoor Cleaning Products
Faced with cleaning outdoor surfaces, patios or furniture? Check this list of products for eliminating stains, mold, mildew, odors and dirt.

Outdoor Home Improvements For $3000 or Less
Have you thought about using that $3,000 tax refund for outdoor home improvements? Discover how the experts would spend that extra money to improve their yards.

Outdoor Drinkware for the Stylish Patio Table
Leave the glasses inside and use acrylic or something unbreakable when serving drinks to your guests outside. Check out our top picks for outdoor drinkware.

The Best Beverage Dispensers for Outdoor Entertaining
If you're entertaining outside, consider using a beverage dispenser or jar. We've found some of the best and best looking.

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