Enjoy Your Patio even in Winter

When many of us intend to stay indoors where it’s warm and cozy, it might seem like a wild idea to plan spending more time outdoors this time of the year. But just because the temperatures drop doesn’t mean you have to abandon your patio until spring. Create welcoming outdoor living spaces this fall by giving your patio and backyard a budget-friendly makeover just in time for winter. 

Warm up the Patio

If you would like to utilize your deck, patio or porch during the winter months, add a source of heat. A fire pit, fire bowl, or fire table is the perfect addition to a patio or deck, transforming it into a great place to gather with family and friends – imagine you’re sitting around a campfire, toasting marshmallows and telling scary stories. Wood burning fire pits are not allowed in Vancouver and other parts of the lower mainland. Check local bylaws for any specific restrictions.

If a fire pit, bowl, or table doesn’t quite fit your backyard style, there are plenty of other heating options, both electric and propane to choose from.

Another way to add heat to your patio or deck is with one or two heat lamps. Heat lamps extend the usability of your outdoor living spaces.

Warm up a screened-in or covered porch with a space heater. If purchasing a patio heater to be used on your porch, keep in mind most types of these kinds of heaters require some form of ventilation. Select one that will work in a covered or screened-in space. Read the owner’s manual and follow any special instructions.

Regardless of the type of source of heat, the unit should be placed on a flat or even surface, away from any combustible materials. Make sure you follow any clearance requirements.

Take Shelter

If your patio isn’t situated under an overhang, take shelter from the rain, wind, and snow by adding a roof or a pergola. Freestanding patio covers range from simple structures to ones with features such as curtains, retractable screens, and retractable roofs or awnings and can be installed over the existing patio. Budget-friendly ideas for DIY projects include building a pergola from a kit and installing a freestanding patio cover system.

While covering a patio open to the elements will help you use your outdoor living spaces all year long even in winter, it will definitely come in handy if your backyard gets a lot of sun in the summer.

If you know that you won’t be sitting out on the patio sipping hot cocoa when it rains or snows, but windy days are still a concern, give the patio some protection with privacy screens or a lattice-style fence that won’t totally block the view.

Cozy up the Patio Furniture

Add outdoor cushions in seasonal colours such as winter white, shiny gold, sparkling silver, and Santa Claus red. Sprinkle in some bright plaids or earth-toned checks for a little contrast.

For staving off those nighttime chills, place electric blankets (for outdoor use) within easy reach, either in a chest, storage bench, or draped on chairs. Insulated or heated blankets (battery-operated) that can be used up to eight hours before having to be recharged are also great choices for staying warm.

An area rug is a must for your winter patio makeover. A thick, weather-resistant rug protects the patio from wind and water damage while keeping toes toasty. Rugs also define outdoor living spaces and pull furniture, colours, and decor together for a polished yet inviting vibe.

Light up the Patio

A well-lit patio is an especially important part of the design plan for a winter patio makeover. Light up the space to dispel dark winter nights, but opt for warm lighting choices that create a cozy, intimate feel.

Solar lighting is a budget-friendly way to light up the outer edge of a patio. String fairy lights in nearby trees. Add down lights to a roof overhang or if the patio is attached to an exterior wall install sconces or another type of a wall-mounted fixture. Use uplights to put the focus on a particular aspect of the patio such as a sculpture, trellis, or water feature.

For that special holiday ambiance, lanterns placed around the seating area provide plenty of light without the harshness of overhead lighting.

Plant All-Season Plants

It is essential for enjoying your patio, deck, or backyard even in winter to include all-season plants in your landscaping design. Bringing colour into outdoor living spaces is important in the fall and winter seasons. Hardy plants, trees, and shrubs that thrive in cold Pacific Northwest weather include Japanese quince, pansies, dogwood, and conifers (pine, spruce, fir, cedar).

Include perennials such as sedum, peony, and wild columbine in your landscaping design. While they don’t actually bloom during the winter – they sleep until spring – they are hardy enough to survive the winter cold.