A large sun umbrella is a must-have in gardens that lack shade trees. Stand-alone umbrellas can be moved where needed -- to shade a lounge chair, for instance -- while table umbrellas generally stay put. Tilt to deflect the sun's rays at any time of day, and fold up when not in use.
If you think of aluminum window shades when you hear the word "awning," think again. Long popular in Europe, deck and patio awnings are gaining favor here, too. They extend living space outdoors and provide protection from the elements. When positioned over an east- or west-facing window, they also do a yeoman's job of keeping a house cooler. Retractable awnings can deflect the sun when needed and can close when the warmth of fall and winter sunlight is sought.
A shelter can be anything from a small, solid-roof arbor for reading to a large gazebo for entertaining. There are also portable shelters -- tentlike structures that give the protection of a covered gazebo at a fraction of the cost. Some even have side curtains to deflect wind or mosquito netting to intercept thirsty bloodsuckers.
Swinging gently in a hammock while suspended in midair -- there's true comfort in being cradled! A fine choice of material is used for the netting, allowing cool air to reach you on all sides. Tie one between two trees, or use a self-supporting hammock that can be moved wherever desired.
Sitting on a large rock or log has a certain back-to-nature attraction, but for longer sojourns, you'll want support for your back. Adirondack and sling chairs allow you to stretch out, stools offer the opportunity to put your feet up, and weather-resistant cushions soften the hardest surfaces.
Since the dawn of time, humans have been attracted to fire. It's not just something to keep us warm or to cook our food, it's also a beacon for social interaction or personal introspection. Candles create a warm and inviting mood, while a lighted fire in the garden is every bit as enticing as one indoors. To hold that fire, you have the choice of a permanent fireplace, portable outdoor hearth, clay or iron chiminea, or fire pit. You can choose between wood-burning and gas-fired units, and some even come with attachments that allow you to grill.
Outdoor lighting has a dual personality: It's great for adding sparkle and ambience to the night, but it's also important for safety. After all, you don't want to be tripping over things in the dark. Torches and candles set a casual mood, whether they're lining a path or standing sentinel around a patio. But if you go for artificial lighting, it doesn't have to look artificial. There are many ornamental fixtures available. Pair them with lightbulbs that cast a warm glow, and you have magic.
Retailers learned long ago that certain scents make good sense. The same flowers and herbs that go into potpourri, causing you to linger at the gift boutique, can be grown in your garden. Why not put them to use near your favorite seating area? Lilacs, roses, peonies, and many other plants will make dillydallying a common occurrence.
Nature is a good source for mosquito repellents. You could try planting black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) -- it's a natural bug repellent. But its pungent flowers might chase you away, too. Better choices are lemon-scented citronella grass (Cymbopogon nardus) and pennyroyal. Plant basil in containers near your seating area to repel flies, and include tansy in nearby beds to keep away ants and flies.
There's nothing like a screen porch for keeping you safe from the insect world while you're in the lap of the great outdoors. An 18x16-mesh screen will keep most insects outside where they belong. An alternative to a screen porch is to draw mosquito netting across a gazebo or other structure.
It seems that scientists have left no stone unturned in their quest to outsmart mosquitoes. Inhibitors are a chief weapon. Some confuse mosquitoes by using carbon dioxide as a decoy. Others scare mosquitoes by mimicking the sounds of dragonflies and male mosquitoes -- two enemies feared by impregnated mosquitoes, the ones that bite.
There are a number of commercial mosquito repellents on the market. Citronella candles and torches are a mainstay, as are foggers. Lotions and body sprays can also be used, but spray your clothes, too. Otherwise, mosquitoes can pierce the fabric to reach their meal. Many sprays contain DEET, a chemical insect repellent.
13. Personal Repellents.
In addition to applying various lotions and sprays, you can wear your protection. One personal mosquito repeller clips to clothing or attaches to the wrist. Another repeller the size of a credit card attaches to belts, pockets, or backpacks. Both emit sounds (inaudible to humans) that frighten mosquitoes away by mimicking the sounds of their enemies. And how about aroma-diffusing jewelry? There's now a line of sterling-silver earrings, necklaces, pins, and anklets that can be filled with a blend of citronella, mint, and lemongrass oils to keep bugs at bay.
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