By Jane Marsh
Guest Writer for Wake Up World
Warm weather is conducive to time spent outdoors with friends and family. Spending time in nature also has proven benefits for your mental health.
Fortunately, you don’t need an expansive backyard to create a living space that’s comfortable, relaxing and entertaining. You can set up your patio or backyard for use throughout every season. Here are eight ways to create your dream year-round outdoor space.
1. Determine Your Outdoor Space’s Purpose
Before revamping your outdoor living area, it’s essential to determine its intended purpose. Do you want to be able to eat meals outside with your family? Are you looking to create an outdoor fitness area for yourself? You may be simply seeking a tranquil escape from everyday life.
More than likely, its purpose will be to entertain or unwind. In fact, Fixr’s Outdoor Living Trends 2021 report says 80% of respondents use outdoor spaces for entertaining family and friends, while 61% use them for relaxation.
Each purpose for outdoor living has several advantages for mental well-being and cognitive function. For instance, studies show that nature activates the parasympathetic nervous system to alter positive feelings and emotions. Additionally, spending time outside creates opportunities for physical activity and social interactions with others — each beneficial for a healthier mind.
2. Choose Comfortable Seating
Whether you’re looking to seat visitors or set up a lounging area for yourself, comfortable seating is essential. Depending on how much space you have to work with, it’s possible to set up multiple sitting arrangements with various pieces of furniture.
For instance, you could purchase an outdoor modular sofa with accent chairs and a separate table for dining. Additionally, Adirondack chairs are great for gathering around a fire pit, while you could spend lazy afternoons swinging in a hammock.
Additionally, floor pillows can create comfortable seating for outdoor meditation. People have practiced mindfulness and meditation for thousands of years to reduce the body’s adverse immune response to chronic stress, which helps decrease anxiety and depression.
3. Spruce up Landscaping and Hardscaping
If you’re looking to create a backyard oasis for year-round zen, sprucing up your landscaping and hardscaping can improve your health and well-being. For instance, Japanese culture has long encouraged “forest bathing” — an intentional and meditative practice while one surrounds themself with nature. Forest bathing means absorbing the outdoors in a literal and spiritual sense.
Plants protect themselves from insects and disease by releasing phytoncides. Meanwhile, their phytoncides also increase human white blood cells to help them stay healthy. Enshroud your outdoor space with beautiful greenery to create a relaxing environment. You can also create intricate designs with perennial plants and flowers, ceramic pots, large stones and gravel walkways.
4. Add Lighting
Use your outdoor entertainment area any time during the day or night by adding different lighting. Homeowners have plenty of options to choose from, including the following:
- Floor lamps
- Outdoor ceiling fans with lights
- Recessed lighting
- Strung lighting
- Colored lights
- Lights along walkways or garden beds
You could include tiki torches, too — a fun touch to illuminate your outdoor setting. Additionally, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and solar lights are excellent, efficient options for eco-conscious homeowners.
5. Establish an Outdoor Feature
Adding an outdoor feature is another excellent option for creating your dream backyard space. Imagine cozying up with friends on a brisk autumn night around a warm, open flame.
Staring into a crackling open flame can induce a meditative state and heightened awareness of the moment. It might even bring you closer to nature.
You could also add a water feature like a fountain or pond. Ponds are easier to maintain than you think. Including a pond pump will oxygenate the water and keep it clean and healthy for fish without much work on your part.
Studies have also suggested that listening to nature sounds for 30 minutes reduces stress and relieves muscle tension.
6. Include a Food and Beverage Area
According to Living Cozy’s The Outdoor Trends Report 2022, there were 2,105,000 Google searches for outdoor kitchens — a luxury not everyone can afford. As lovely as it’d be to construct a gourmet pizza oven and built-in barbecue, they’re not always in everyone’s budget or space allotment.
However, you can still work around this problem by including a cart or cooler for snacks and beverages. Designated food and beverage stations make entertaining easier by removing the need to run to the kitchen. Better yet, you can get a cart with wheels to conveniently serve your guests and move party essentials around wherever everyone sits.
7. Heat the Area
Some are fortunate enough to have year-round sunshine and warmth. Others may need to figure out a heating system to make their dream outdoor space comfortable during the cooler months.
Include heaters to keep yourself and visitors warm when the evening temperature drops. Otherwise, consider enclosing your patio with floor-to-ceiling windows for the winter. Pop the screens back in for summer and keep the sunroom windows open for a cross breeze.
Homeowners typically spend between $8,000 and $80,000 to turn their patio into a blended outdoor-indoor living area. Of course, it makes it much easier to control the temperature for four-season use.
8. Install a Sound System
What’s a year-round outdoor entertainment space without music? Installing a sound system will help meet all your entertainment needs.
Of course, you can always use your headphones while basking in the sun, but speakers create a fuller sound for music and movies. You can also purchase Bluetooth speakers that look like decorative rocks in your garden beds. Otherwise, some speakers come paired with lighting features.
Enjoy Your Outdoor Space All Year
Your backyard should be an extension of your indoor living space, leaving you comfortable and at peace. As such, you want to enjoy it year-round. When creating changes to your outdoor area, consider what will make it the most usable throughout the year — it’ll help you decide what design decisions you need to make.
About the author:
Jane is the founder and editor-in-chief of Environment.co where she shares practical tips on how to live a greener life.