Expert Tips for Using Your Outdoor Area Year-Round

cozy outdoor space yearround

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When the weather is just so, sunny and warm, but not too warm, lounging on the porch or in the backyard is like a slice of heaven. People put a lot of time, energy and money into making their outdoor living space comfortable for just these moments. It’s a shame to close up shop when the weather is less than perfect, but designers say a few changes can make your porch, balcony, or patio perfect no matter the season. 

Meet the Expert

Light Things Up

Adding lights to your seating area make it seem like a seamless extension of your home, says Ash Read, interior expert at Living Cozy. “Whether you’re adding lights in the winter to brighten up the long dark nights, or opting for ambient lighting in the summer as the sun goes down, there are endless options for outdoor lighting, from delicate fairy lights to robust wall lights.”

Layers of Warmth

When the air starts to chill outside, many of us reach for a fluffy blanket while we are inside on the couch, watching a little TV. You don’t have to limit the extra layers to indoor living!  “Warm blankets, throws and soft furnishings will keep you nice and warm while outdoors, while also making the space feel like an extension of your home,” says Read. “Some garden-specific cushions can be left out all year-round, as they’re made from a specific fiber which quickens the drying time if they do happen to be left out in the rain and bad weather. During the winter months, thicker layers and blankets can be added to help you enjoy more time outside on your porch.”

outdoor seating

Melanie Rekola

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Sometimes, you need ambience in addition to warmth. “In winter, you need a heat source to spend time outside,” says Melanie Rekola of Melanie Rekola Landscape Design. “Adding a propane fire table works wonderfully for this and as it’s a moveable, standalone piece you won’t be committed to keeping it in its winter placement year-round.”

outdoor fireplace

Melanie Rekola

For the Birds

One of the best parts of spending time in our outdoor area is having a front-row seat to nature’s greatest shows. With the right equipment, you can bring the show to you no matter the season. “The addition of a bird feeder brings life and entertainment to a covered space year-round, and the bird life appreciates the protection from the elements too!” says Rekola. 

Spring Flowers

Sometimes, when winter fades and the new grass is starting to show its face, the temperatures are still a little on the chilly side. Use nature to entice people to hang out on the patio anyway. “ Spring planter arrangements cannot be overdone! By filling up multiple outdoor containers with a variety of spring bulbs in fall, you’ll be graced with a lovely assortment of flowers from early spring on,” says Rekola. “Many are also beautifully scented, which is very enticing! After they bloom, they can be relocated to the garden for the following year with new bulbs placed in the planters every year. Nothing feels better than doing a spring cleaning of the old winter décor and giving a porch its fresh, springtime makeover.”

Seasons in Bloom

When your spring and summer plants have faded, it doesn’t mean you have to wait months to enjoy gardening again. “While many plants are able to thrive in the summer months, some plants prefer the cold to the warm weather and vice versa,” Ash says. “Having a mix of both warm-loving and cold-loving plants is ideal to keep your porch in bloom all year-round. Some examples of the cold-loving plants you should consider adding to your porch include skyrocket juniper, hens and chicks and red twig dogwood.”

outdoor seating area

Melanie Rekola

Deck the Outdoor Halls

Even if things get a little too cold for you to sit outside for long, you can still enjoy the yard and porch from indoors. “Wintertime also provides a wonderful opportunity for Christmas and winter décor such as natural garlands, festive planters and ice lanterns that can still be seen and enjoyed even when the porch isn’t in use,” says Rekola. 

Get Comfortable

Of course, if you are going to spend time outside any time of year, you need a place to kick back and relax. “Having beautiful and comfortable furniture with a table in reach of every chair makes anyone enjoy an outdoor space longer and often into the wee hours,” Rekola says.

Be sure that whatever pieces you choose for the patio, they will hold up to the weather in your area. “The most useful material for outdoor furniture is wood as it’s weatherproof, waterproof and rot-resistant, meaning it should last a long time,” Read says. “Investing in wooden, weatherproof furniture will be well worth your money, especially if you use it all year-round.” Woods with a high oil content such as teak hold up especially well under extended outdoor use.

outdoor space

Melanie Rekola

Dining al Fresco

Don’t limit yourself to creating an outdoor living room with the perfect furnishings. The patio can be a lovely, calming place to enjoy a meal. “Adding a dedicated dining area allows you to enjoy your outdoor space while eating and drinking with friends and family,” Read says. “Barbecues and outdoor ovens are an amazing way to bring the kitchen outside so the cook is not left out of the fun! They can be used all year-round to cook up a storm no matter what season it is.”