As we head deeper into alfresco season, it’s time to ready your yard for some fun in the sun. That’s easier said than done in this part of the world, where the middle months of the calendar often can be unbearably hot and uncomfortable. So before you begin work on making your outdoor space more inviting, consider these sound tips from a few local experts for enjoying the great outdoors without suffering the elements. After all, preferring the shade to the sun doesn’t mean staying inside.
Options are plentiful and fit into a range of different budgets, from umbrellas to arbors to going the whole nine yards and installing a pergola – which may scream “long-term project” to many of us, but according to Gwynn McDowell, president of Midland Vinyl Products, 11607 N Santa Fe in OKC, installing a pergola will “typically take no longer than two days to complete,” following a meeting with the customer to discuss the desired layout.
McDowell said that a pergola or patio cover is “the way to go” for creating the perfect shady nook in your garden. A construction using vinyl means you have a cover that will stand up to the harsher side of Oklahoma weather year after year.
“The great thing about vinyl is that it will not warp, splinter, rot, peel or be subjected to termites,” says McDowell. “Any dirt, mud or spills from drinks or food can be wiped or hosed off, and they will never need to be stained or painted,” resulting in the perfect low-maintenance addition.
The structure, which comes in a choice of white, tan, black, EcoStone, Ashland wood and the 12 colors offered in Midland’s Woodgrain series, has to be stand-alone, and needs to be situated on a patio, deck or concrete pad to allow for level installation.
And if you explore the ideas of arbors and pergolas and still yearn for a simple patio umbrella, you may be interested to hear that they are no longer simple. According to Laura McLaughlin, managing owner of Thompson Pool & Patio, 1400 24th Avenue SW in Norman, some offer tilt options and bar-height poles, and may even come with built-in LED lights, ready to soak up some solar energy and shine a light on your evening gathering.
McLaughlin said that while Adirondack chairs are still a favorite, the trend is moving toward more “conversation-style seating” – the perfect pick for your new outdoor gathering spot. “We’re seeing more cushion sofas, love seats, coffee tables and side table settings than before,” she adds.
Creating a fuss-free space means picking the right furniture for the job. Beverly Hayden, owner and manager of J.C. Swanson’s Fireplace and Patio, 17 W 1st in Edmond, said acrylic patio furniture can be left out all year round.
“Acrylic furniture is mildew-resistant, and as long as you keep the dirt off by using a leaf blower, it can be left all year round. If you would rather cover your furniture, make sure you use a water-resistant cover – as a waterproof cover traps moisture, so when you come to remove it, your furniture is covered in mildew,” Hayden says.
And once you’ve created your perfect patio spot, the end of the summer does not have to be the end of patio season with the addition of a fire pit. Hayden said that some even come with the added bonus of a casual dining area – which, of course, are their most popular sellers.
So with all that in mind and sunny days on the horizon, there really is no time like the present to prepare yourself for a summer outdoors.