Designing for Outdoor Living

One of life's small pleasures is enjoying the great outdoors from your backyard. Here are two dozen ways to make your garden a nicer place to visit.
Protect yourself against
the sun with umbrellas.

1. Umbrellas. 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.

2. Awnings. 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, then close when the warmth of fall and winter sunlight is sought.

3. Shelters. 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.

4. Hammocks. Swinging gently in a hammock while suspended in midair -- there's true comfort in being cradled! Its netting is a fine choice of material, 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.

Add comfortable seats outdoors
to maintain home luxuries.

5. Seating. 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.

Continued on page 2:  Ambience