Patios are the heart of outdoor living in the warmer months, but just because there’s a hint of fall in the air, doesn’t mean it’s time to pack everything up and wait until next year. Designing a patio that can be used all year in State College, PA, will help prevent cabin fever and make the most of outdoor living spaces.
Add a Roof
Adding a roof to an existing patio is the first step to winterizing an outdoor living space. This can be a freestanding structure or an extension of the home (like a covered porch). A roof protects everyone from the elements and it also traps heat, making the space much warmer than the surrounding yard.
If there’s a pergola in place already, adding inexpensive polycarbonate sheets on top provides protection from snow and rain. Polycarbonate sheets are tinted or clear while clear sheets provide a well-lit space while protecting those outside from moisture. The sheets can be removed for summertime to encourage airflow.
Outdoor Fire Feature
While the patio can be warmed up with a patio heater, this solution doesn’t exactly invite people to gather around it. A fire pit or outdoor fireplace is a focal point that can be used in any season. To create a fire pit that’s user-friendly all year, make the ledge wide enough to warm up feet or lay down drink or snacks. A fireplace with a large hearth will likewise encourage people to sit right beside the fire on extra chilly days.
It’s not just the temperatures that send people running indoors in winter—it’s the wind. Mitigate wind chill by planting a dense row of coniferous trees on the windward side. Alternatively, a tall privacy fence on the windward side could do double-duty as a windbreak.
If you haven’t installed a covered structure and if it’s feasible to do so, consider placing it where the house itself will act as a windbreak.
Nothing is less appealing in winter than a cold stone bench. If there’s stone seating around a fire pit or fireplace, simply suggest adding cushions and have plenty of blankets on hand as well to make sitting outside feel cozy.
Cushions can be used on lounge chairs too, to keep the wind from chilling anyone’s backside while adding pop of festive color to a wintertime scene. A waterproof storage bin for cushions, pillows and blankets will prevent them from being damaged when not in use.
Winter days are tragically short, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from enjoying time around the fire. When it’s pitch-black at 5 p.m., good landscape lighting will set the tone for an enjoyable evening. The warm glow from the fire pit or outdoor fireplace only provides illumination for a relatively small space. Additional lighting should be available to light the way to the house, but avoid using flood lights because their light is harsh and ruins the atmosphere.
A Hot Beverage Center
Electric kettles heat water very quickly in case somebody needs their cocoa warmed up. A hot beverage center with just enough room for an electric kettle, a few mugs, and tins filled with cocoa, coffee or tea, can provide instant access to a warming treat—without having to take off the snow boots to get something from the kitchen!
Photo Credit: Unilock