As the weather cools, many families are forced indoors during chilly evenings, which is a shame because fall is a beautiful season that should be enjoyed. There are a few fairly fast and easy ways to make your outdoor area more hospitable in the cooler months. All you need to do is organize the yard so that wind and moisture are minimized, and extra warmth is provided. Here are a few tips to make the most of your yard during the cooler seasons and well into spring.
- Create a shelter belt. If your outdoor space or patio is highly exposed, determine where most of your frosty winds are blowing from and build a barrier in that vicinity. The most effective barrier is a fence, but if this is a view you do not want to obstruct, small hedges, open-weave fences, and tough trees can help reduce the wind's severity without blocking the landscape. This barrier will not only make outdoor activities more comfortable, but it can also reduce home heating costs.
- Install a heating device. Patio heaters, chimineas, fire pits, or fireplaces are all excellent options for adding a bit of heat to the vicinity. If you have a large area, you may want to use more than one. While they take a little more effort to install, a fire pit or place is a fantastic edition that creates ambiance and allows your family to enjoy activities like roasting marshmallows or just gathering around the fire, which are fun activities year round.
- Get the right gear. The right patio furniture will make being outside a pleasure. Look for cushions and pillows that are plush. Have several "outdoor blankets" handy (i.e. blankets clearly designated as appropriate for outdoors use.) Store these inside and wash them once a week or as appropriate for your family's use.
- Consider awnings or canopies. If your outdoor space is exposed, you may want to consider adding a "roof" over the gathering area. This can help minimize moisture. This certainly isn't necessary for all yards, but can increase the social areas usability in some climate zones. A retractable canopy will allow you to keep the area dry and also view the stars on clear nights.
- Now that you have the space, use it! Plan activities, invite over friends, and keep extra marshmallows or hot beverages handy for spontaneous evenings. A nice outdoor gathering area will give your family a delightful place to socialize without the distractions of TV or modern life.