Creative Tips for Outdoor Living Spaces You Can Enjoy Year-Round
When it's balmy, enjoying outdoor living is a breeze. But there are design strategies that let you enjoy your backyard, patio, deck, or porch even more often. Explore our tips for outdoor spaces that are comfortable and inviting through the seasons.
Provide coverage from the elements
Staying completely cozy and dry on your porch as the rain pours down is a distinctly lovely experience. Similarly, you might enjoy a light snowfall outdoors under a canopy in the yard. Enjoying the outdoors in varied weather requires coverage. If your home has a porch, the architecture provides cover and shade. For your backyard patio, these are options to consider for shade and protection:
- Patio table umbrella
- Cantilever umbrella
- Retractable awning
- Patio cover or pergola (may have an open or closed roof, or a removable cover)
- Ramada (architectural feature with roof and open sides)
The architectural features, such as the ramada and gazebo, should be built to withstand strong wind, heavy rain, and snow. Other elements, such as umbrellas and retractable awnings, are only appropriate for light winds and light showers, and they should always be closed, retracted, or put away for more severe weather.
Make outdoor cooking a four-season option
Summer is known as grilling season for good reason. But you can enjoy delicious grilled food 12 months out of the year with these smart tactics:
Become a grill care expert. You know how to grill up an excellent meal from appetizers to desserts. But grill cleaning, upkeep, and protection are also essential if you want to use your grill through the year. Here's what to do regularly:
- Follow the care instructions for your grill after every grilling session, whether it heats with propane or charcoal.
- Remove all grease and food from the grill between usage as they attract animals.
- Cover your grill between use with a high-quality cover.
- Check your grill's interior spaces for mold, leaves, and stowaway critters.
Create a covered spot for set-up. When grilling is easy and enjoyable, you're more likely to grill through the year. Create a space where you can bring supplies and the food you're going to cook. This may be an outdoor kitchen, or you can use the patio table with the umbrella open or an outdoor teak sideboard beneath an awning.
Offer comfortable seating, even in winter. Take a moment to pull patio cushions from the outdoor storage containers. The chef should have a comfortable place to sit, even when the weather is frosty. And family and friends may even bundle up to keep the chef company, especially if there's a fire pit roaring and hot cocoa on hand.
Keep your outdoor living spaces warm for fall, winter, and early spring
Encourage family and guests outside on crisp days by providing warmth against the chill. Here are elements that bring a fun and cozy vibe to the backyard through the seasons:
Patio and outdoor space heaters. You can enjoy cool spring and summer evenings, crisp autumn days, and even winter festivities outdoors with patio space heaters. Select propane or infrared heaters and find them in styles to match your outdoor décor. Freestanding propane patio heaters with an umbrella design (to direct the heat down) are the classic look. But today, patio heaters come with distinctive propane tank covers and even unique finishes, such as bright teal—the perfect match for coastal décor. Tall, pyramid heaters provide an eye-catching focal point, while heaters shaped like wine barrels or ceramic planters are a sophisticated option.
Fire pits. Create magical memories with a crackling fire any time of year. Fire pits have come a long way burning logs in a circle of rocks. Today, you can choose low-profile designs in different metallic finishes and statuesque vertical concepts. Many fire pits showcase rustic cutouts of animals or ocean-inspired cutouts of shells or seahorses.
Coffee tables with gas fire pits. A stylish alternative to wood-burning fire pits, these coffee tables allow you to light a warming fire in an instant—without the substantial cleanup.
Cozy blankets and pillows. Bring the same creature comforts you enjoy inside into the outdoors with you. Make any sitting area warm and inviting with a few decorative pillows, or leave some throws around to grab and drape around your shoulders while enjoying a cup of coffee outside on a chilly spring morning or a drink by your fire pit on a crisp autumn evening.
Provide comfortable seating areas year-round
When fall arrives, you may put some outdoor furniture into storage. But to fully enjoy your outdoor spaces, you need some furniture that stays at the ready. Choose rugged and all-weather materials. Outdoor rattan armchairs are a good choice for patios and porches, though they'll need waterproof coverings between uses in the winter. Side tables and Adirondack chairs crafted of eco-friendly HDPE are perfect for around the fire pit and in the outdoor kitchen such as rattan and eco-friendly HDPE—and they don't require outdoor coverings.
Create cool breezes on hot days with outdoor fans
Make your porch comfortable in the summer heat with outdoor patio fans strategically placed above seating areas. Choose a fan that matches your outdoor style. A windmill fan suits rustic and farmhouse styles, while a fan with streamlined matte black blades offers a modern aesthetic. If you don't have space on your patio ceiling for a fan, opt for a wall-mount fan. Pro tip: Whichever model you choose, make sure it's damp- or wet-rated for use outdoors.
Keep things handy with outdoor storage
Make things easy with weather-resistant resin deck boxes for storing seat cushions and throw blankets. Your friends and family can grab them for an impromptu fire on a cold fall evening, and return them when the fire goes out. These boxes shouldn't be kept outside through inclement weather. Keep them stored on the covered porch or beneath an awning, or set them out just before fall and winter weekend gatherings when the forecast calls for clear skies.
Illuminate relaxing evenings outside with lights
Summer nights are just too sweet to pass up. Illuminate your outdoor spaces to enhance their beauty and functionality once the sun goes down. Outdoor lighting design typically includes some of these elements:
- Patio lights
- Flood and spotlights
- Hanging pendants
- Patio ceiling fans with lights
- Landscape lighting
- Outdoor lamps
Create an all-season garden
Elevate your outdoor spaces for year-round enjoyment even further with seasonal plantings in your garden. You can tend seasonal vegetables, herbs, flowers, flowering trees and shrubs, and ornamentals throughout the year. This gives you a reason to get outdoors, and a verdant garden to enjoy when you're sitting outside. Plant in your garden beds, but also rotate your seasonal plantings in window boxes and planters. Pro-tip: Move your planters to match seasonal changes in sun positioning.
In addition to plantings, don't forget to add yard and garden décor. Whimsical sculptures and figurines, designer clay pillars, or stylish churn pots are beautiful on their own or when paired together.
With some thoughtful planning, your outdoor spaces become destinations for friends and family throughout the year.