A summer patio has everything you need to savour the long, sunny days ahead. Every year I take a little time to set my patio up just right; then I enjoy every glorious moment.
I look at seven factors that can enhance my summer patio living. Then I decide in which area I’ll make improvement this season.
1. Summer Patio Cooking
I’m not much of a chef, but I sure like to cook outdoors. To get ready for the summer grilling season I scrub down the grill and make sure it’s working. I have a gas grill and a charcoal grill, so I load up on propane and charcoal.
A good marinade is critical to great grilling, so I make my own marinade. I think of marinade like salad dressing: three parts olive oil to one part vinegar (I like balsamic), plus a little mustard, soy sauce, garlic, onion, and parsley. Mix it up in the blender. You can add chilli powder, ginger, curry powder, or other seasoning if you want a particular flavour. Safety tips: Keep the meat (or fish or chicken) in the refrigerator while it’s marinating and throw the marinade out after you put the meat on the grill.
2. Fire Pit for the Summer Patio
You can roast hot dogs and marshmallows over a fire pit, but I like it best for the atmosphere it creates. We sit around the fire pit, tell stories, and relish the companionship of loved ones. Plus, with a fire pit to keep us warm we stay outside later into the evening and later into the autumn.
I’m proud to say I made my own fire pit. It was a weekend well spent. Be sure to check your local building codes and fire codes before you make or install a fire pit.
3. Lighting the Summer Patio
Outdoor lighting serves two purposes: People can see where they are walking so they are less likely to trip and fall, and lighting creates atmosphere for the summer patio. At the start of summer I check the patio lighting to make sure everything works as it should. I also take time to consider enhancements to the lighting, like these:
Fairy lights are like fire flies on the summer patio. My favourites are weeping flower blossom, which lend a delicate touch to a table.
Hung from a trellis or fence, canning jars make perfect candle holders. Coloured jars add a bright touch; you can also use coloured candles in clear jars.
Solar garden lights are better than ever. They enhance the landscape and improve safety and security. Plus, they cost nothing to operate. I’m looking at solar powered floodlights, which are much brighter than standard outdoor solar lights.
4. Natural Mosquito Relief
Mosquitoes and other pests can get in the way of enjoying time on the patio. I don’t like to use poisons, so I make my own natural insect repellent.
I mix two tablespoons of witch hazel and two tablespoons oil (grapeseed, neem, jojoba, or olive) in a spray bottle. If I’m not going to use it all up right away I add ½ teaspoon vodka as a preservative. To that mixture I add about 100 drops of essential oils, which you can buy at natural foods outlets. I use half lemon eucalyptus oil and equal parts cedarwood, lavender, and rosemary essential oils.
Shake well before each use. You will have to reapply every few hours. Do not use on children under three years old.
5. Shading the Summer Patio
During winter it’s hard to imagine there could ever be enough sun on the summer patio to warrant shade, but it does happen. A big old maple tree gently shades part of my summer patio, so I’m in luck. If you don’t have a tree near your patio, consider planting one and using an umbrella until the tree’s big enough to shade you.
A pergola can provide shade and be a focal point for the summer patio. Sometimes an overhanging roof gives just enough shade. I’ve seen canopies and shade sails in lovely colours that complement the patio décor and give reliable shade.
6. Lounging on the Summer Patio
Before I shopped for furniture for my summer patio I thought about what I wanted to do in the space. Eating and lounging were the top activities, so I decided to shop for an outdoor dining set and several loungers.
When I went shopping for the outdoor furniture I looked at four things, in this order: comfort, durability, design, and price. I tried out every chair and lounger, read about the materials, and inspected the workmanship. You can pay a lot or a little for outdoor furniture; the more you pay the longer it will last. Some people are happy to replace their furnishings every few years, but I always go for the best I can afford.
7. Extra Touches for the Summer Patio
I have great fun decorating my summer patio.
I’m collecting wall sculpture to hang on the side of my garden shed. I already have a collection of wind chimes that play cheerily in the breeze.
I softened the edges of my patio with curved flowerbeds. For extra colour I arrange brightly coloured ceramic pots with tropical plants around the summer patio.
Every year about this time I pop a bunch of grapes in the freezer. My company feels so pampered when I bring out a bowl of frozen grapes as refreshment on a hot summer day.
This summer more than ever, we’re all about outdoor living. For more ideas for your summer patio follow us on Facebook and Google +.
Featured Image: Bridgman
Image 1: Slgckgc
Image 2: Drew Mclellan
Image 3: House to Home
Image 4: House to Home
Image 5: Timo Newton-Syms
Image 6: Adapted from Roger H. Goun
Image 7: Gardening in a Minute
Image 8: Bridgman
Image 9: Michael B.
Image 10: Kim