Creating an outdoor space for you and your family is a labor of love for many homeowners. Much of your time and planning shows in your investment.Creating an outdoor space for you and your family is a labor of love for many homeowners. Much of your time and planning shows in your investment. Whether you have an established outdoor area or are developing a brand new one, it is important to maximize your time outdoors. After all, no one wants to invest hard earned dollars on an outdoor entertaining space, only to be able to use it a handful of months each year.
So how do you create a space that will endure summer heat, spring showers and harsh winters? Follow this simple guide to get the most out of your outdoor living space.
Keeping Insects at Bay
No one likes battling pesky insects, while they are trying to relax or cook outdoors. Mosquitos and flies can be major nuisances during the warmer months. With West Nile and Zika a possibility, it is a good idea to protect your home from these intrusive insects. Try these simple solutions to keep your outdoor space as bug free as possible:
Screened in porch – Screening in your back patio is the absolute best way to protect yourself from bug bites. While it does entail more cost and planning, it is a long-term solution to creating a relaxing outdoor environment for you and your family. If your current patio is not covered, then a screened in room can still be added by simply extending your roof over the slab. If you want a more cost-effective solution, then a non-shingled roof can be added for your screened in room. There are also options for having screens and glass that opens. Either way, this is a beautiful and functional way to protect your outdoor space.
Citronella candles – Possibly the least expensive method for battling mosquitos, citronella candles can be purchased at any home improvement store. The fragrance emitted from these candles is designed to repel unwanted mosquitos. They can be placed surrounding your perimeter to help create a barrier against bugs. While inexpensive, they are not fool proof and do carry an extremely strong smell that can be bothersome to some homeowners.
Mosquito spray – Mosquito spraying has become big business. There are many local mosquito spraying companies that can be hired to saturate your exterior with mosquito repellent chemicals. While mostly effective, they can be expensive and must be kept on a regular spraying schedule. Of course, there are home sprays you can purchase to spray your home, yourself. It’s important to remember, anytime you are handling chemicals, protect yourself with goggles, a mask and gloves.
Mosquito misters – Just like water misters, mosquito misters can be installed around patios, pergolas, pools, etc. They can be purchased online, or installed by a local company. These misters regularly spray mosquito repellent into the air to keep the annoying insects at a safe distance.
Protection from the Rain
Rain is the number one outdoor party crasher. After all, no one wants to eat soggy hamburgers, or get soaking wet just trying to enjoy a warm breeze. Fortunately, there are several options to keep your outdoor entertaining area cozy and dry.
Covered patio – The best way to stay dry, covered patios are excellent investments not only for your outdoor enjoyment, but for your home’s value as well. Most homes come with a back-patio slab, some even come with a roof over the slab. But if yours doesn’t, then adding a cover to your patio may be the way to go. Your existing roofing structure can be extended to cover your slab. An expert contractor (I recommend OKC Backyards!!) can build or extend your existing structure to provide full coverage for your back-patio slab. If you don’t want to tie into your existing roof, then other forms of roofing can be used, such as wood beams, metal or man-made composite materials.
Pavilion – Pavilions are perfect structures to seamlessly blend with your outdoor environment as well as giving needed protection from the elements. Built from cedar beams, pavilions have complete roofs and can be built in any design your heart desires. Small, large, exposed beams (underside of roof) or fully cased, pavilions can cover any style or budget. They can also be tied into your existing roof, or remain as a separate structure.
Keep Warm in the Cold
There is nothing better than cozying up before a roaring fireplace, hot chocolate in hand, night sky all around you. The best part is, you don’t have to go camping to enjoy such a peaceful moment. You can stay nice and warm, and still enjoy your home’s outdoor space during colder weather with these easy options:
Enclosed patio – Anyone else have memories of their grandmother’s old screened in porch? Well, things have changed (for the better) and enclosed patios can be absolute stunners! Built to complement your home, enclosures can be as simple or fancy as your heart desires. Fully glassed, or with windows that open to allow a screened in feel, enclosures serve a variety of functions and can range from in-expensive to full out high-end. Don’t need the glass? Then just a screened in porch may serve your purpose and budget.
Heat lamps – Heat lamps have come a long way. Ranging from small, table top models to 8-foot-tall standalones, heat lamps can radiate heat for long distances. In other words, they can completely heat your outdoor entertaining space whether it be a pool area, pergola or back patio. They are easy on the eye, and portable. They can even be used away from an electrical outlet if you prefer the kind that are propane filled.
Outdoor fireplace – Now we have come to the grandmaster of outdoor heating – the outdoor fireplace! Functional and simply beautiful, outdoor fireplaces are fully customizable and can built on your existing patio, an extended slab, near your swimming pool, or any other outdoor area that needs that ‘wow’ factor. The best thing is they are not nearly as expensive as you may think. Outdoor fireplaces can be extremely budget friendly since they can be built as simple or as grand as you need. They put out fabulous heat, and can even be built with a two-way opening to heat both sides of your area. Simply put, an outdoor fire cannot be beat!
Outdoor firepit – The sexy cousin to outdoor fireplaces, outdoor firepits have become the new ‘hot’ addition for many homeowners. Flexible in their design, firepits have stunning capabilities, as well as the ability to radiate heat for all your guests. They can be constructed from several materials including stone, brick, concrete, metal and tile. There are several types of heating for firepits including gas, electric or log. The coolest thing about them is they are capable of glowing different colors such as blue or green depending on your heating type. If you need to accommodate several people, then outdoor seating can be built around the firepit. Cozy and fabulous, outdoor firepits may be your cold weather answer.
Staying cool during the summer heat is the number one challenge for anyone wanting to spend time outdoors. Summers can be brutal (especially in Oklahoma), which can definitely take the enjoyment out of your outdoors time. Good news! There are several options available to keep the heat from limiting your ability to enjoy your home’s outdoor spaces.
Misters – Did you like running through the misters at theme parks when you were a kid? I know I did. Fortunately, misters are now available to homeowners. Easily installed along roof lines, or around swimming pools, misters can add just enough coolness to allow you to get some outside summer time without wilting in the heat. Inexpensive and flexible, misters can be purchased in any length you need.
Ceiling Fans – Ceiling fans are economical ways to keep your patio or pergola cooled off in the heat. A licensed electrician can easily install remote controlled, or switch operated ceiling fans for the exterior of your home. Ceiling fans are also great ways to add bright or ambient light to your outdoor space. They require very little energy and can pay off exponentially, in the long run.
Pergolas – Ahh…pergolas! The best of both worlds, pergolas have slatted roofs to allow some sunlight in, but also provide cool shade. While they don’t completely protect your space from the elements, they do give ample shade when needed. One great feature of a pergola, is the slatted roof can be protected with a corrugated clear top. This allows you to get that mix of sun and shade while also providing protection from rain and wind.
Retractable awnings – Awnings have gotten a bad rap over the years because of their penchant to flap and fray in the wind. However, retractable awnings are installed into the roof line of your outdoor structure and are much sturdier than they used to be. Their ability to be retracted, whether manually or electrically, keeps them safe from extreme weather conditions. They are perfect for giving that extra protection from the sun and rain and can be installed on any size structure.
So now that you know what your options are, there is no reason to limit your outdoor entertaining to the sweeter months of the year. Your home is yours to enjoy, inside and out, all year long. And remember, each small investment you add to your home, can pay off handsomely in value. If you need help planning or designing ways to keep your outdoor space usable all year long.
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