Tiki torches and a fire pit can make your patio a fun area to relax with family and friends, who can also enjoy appetizers and burgers off the grill, while seated around tables, on outdoor sofas and in comfy chairs.
When the COVID-19 pandemic kept families home, and now with gas prices making vacations more expensive, more people are investing in their backyards to get out of the house for entertainment and “staycations”.
Having the same number of seating indoors and out, while hosting a get-together is one thing which may seem obvious, but is often overlooked by many couples, according to Sutton-Darr.
“If you’re entertaining in the house for six-to-eight couples, you have to keep that in mind with your deck or patio by having enough seating for the number of people you normally entertain,” she said.
It is also something to keep in mind when shopping for a table.
“The center of your plate to the center of your guest’s plate needs to be 24 inches — that’s for a rectangular table,” Sutton-Darr said. “A round table has to be 62 inches in diameter for eight people.”
She said a round table is better for conversation.
“A round table with a pedestal is more practical for leg room,” Reid added.
Sutton-Darr said she has a table with a leaf to enlarge it when she and her husband have a party with eight people.
For waterproof furniture, Reid said, “outdoor cushions have a specific foam that dries faster if you leave it uncovered in the rain.”
Instead of buying cushions that match your outdoor sofa, Sutton-Darr suggests that mixing it up with different color throw pillows could be more interesting. She also recommends having a plastic trunk to store cushions and other supplies.
Some use a throw rug on their patios and decks. Sutton-Darr said it works on a deck with slats, but can be ruined on a deck with Trex material, because water cannot escape.
Sutton-Darr has deck lighting on a timer. “Every night at eight o’clock it goes on,” she said.
Reid suggests having decorative lighting.
“I like sconces on the outside of a deck,” Sutton-Darr said.
Reid suggests using solar lights that can be placed in the ground.
“I like spotlighting different trees and bushes in your yard,” Sutton-Darr said. “It provides ambiance.”
During the day, Sutton-Darr said she has an umbrella that can be adjusted to provide shade over her hot tub or be moved over her table when it’s raining.
“We have a motorized awning for the sun,” Reid said.
On colder days and nights, Reid said you can buy an outdoor heater like restaurants use. “We gave a heater. We use it all the time,” she said. “It was like $150 at B.J’s.”
Sutton-Darr uses plants to adorn her outdoor space, while attracting bees and butterflies. But to avoid bees while eating, she suggests placing small containers of white vinegar on the table to keep the insects away.
“One cost-saving-tip is to buy perennials, put them in pots, and at the end of the season you can put them in the ground and you’ll have them forever,” she said.
Both women also recommend bird feeders and bird houses, so you can sit on your deck or patio and see all kinds of birds.
“I have a bird bath with a multi-colored pedestal top for birds,” Reid said.
“I think wind chimes are a must,” Sutton-Darr said. “You have to stimulate all your senses.”
“It’s so soothing,” Reid agreed.
Sutton-Darr said breaking up your deck into different areas can make it more interesting. Of one possibility, she said, “maybe a bench facing the garden.”
For something truly unique, she said, “my friend has a koi pond with interesting plants in it. People love it. But it is high maintenance and you have to have a heater.”
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