On the Rocks

Pave the way to unique and interesting landscape design with lava rocks.

An alternative to traditional ground covers and mulches, lava rocks are rich in color and earthy in texture. On soil, the rocks also limit weed growth and watering needs.

"From coast to coast, we've seen a significant rise in lavascaping," says Alan Meudt, vice president of Mountain West Colorado Aggregate, producers of Mountain Magic and Yardcare lava rock.

"Because of its simplistic beauty and efficiency, lava rock is not only a top choice for homeowners, but landscape designers and architects as well," he says.

The rocks (about $3.30-$6.30 per cubic-foot-size bags) come in red hues, black and gold. Red rocks blend into any garden setting; the black works well as a backdrop for greenery, and the gold makes a good accent.

Lava rocks are available at home and garden centers throughout the county. For information, call (800) 727-9959, or visit the company's Web site at www.mountainwest-ca.com

You can take in the sun but still have it made in the shade.

Set Sail

Shade Sails add an architectural element to your surroundings and let you enjoy the sunshine while providing shade and UV protection.

Don Crenshaw of Huntington Beach started crafting the structures last year after sailing around the world with his wife, Erica. The Crenshaws were introduced to shade sails in Australia, and Don Crenshaw decided to import them.

The shades, anchored by steel or timber poles or attached to the home's structure, are made of a high-density polyethylene fabric from Australia. The fabric, available in a variety of colors, has a UV density of 90% or better. It is the equivalent of having 15+ protection on your skin.

The edges of the fabric are threaded with stainless-steel wire, and tension keeps them in place. Once up, the shades can withstand nearly any weather condition.

Each shade structure is custom-designed and fitted. Most can be constructed without a building permit.

Prices, which include installation, range from about $1,000 for a window covering to more than $3,500 for a larger yard structure. For more information, call Crenshaw at (714) 969-7628.

Bold Bedding

Marimekko's over-scaled patterns and vivacious colors are sure to wake up any bedroom suffering from the blahs. The linens maker known for bold colors and patterns now lends its signature style to beddings collection exclusively for Crate & Barrel. The linens are 100% cotton and take their inspiration from nature and the countryside.

Among the latest styles are Marika, an abstract blue and white leaf pattern complemented with stripe pillowcases and stripes on the comforter reverse. Taika evokes the sway of natural grasses in the fields. Paratiisi is an equally scaled plaid, and Tertuu is a sophisticated cobalt blue, lime and yellow fruit-filled design.

The bedding is available at Crate & Barrel stores throughout the county or through mail-order: (800) 323-5461.

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