“Winterize” your outdoor space so you can use it when it’s cold

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Porches, patios and decks have become go-to entertaining spaces, especially since the onset of the pandemic. While the changeable weather can present you with some challenges, there are things you can do to get the most out of your outdoor space, even during the colder months. From outdoor heaters to rain protection, here are some steps you can take now to improve your yard and enjoy it all year round.

Choosing the right outdoor heater for your ylate

There are many types of outdoor heaters to choose from, and they all have different pros and cons. Outdoor heat sources are mainly of three types: electric, propane and wood heating. Whichever type you choose, be sure to follow all the directions on its packaging and always keep heat sources away from flammable objects like furniture and curtains.

Also remember that pedestal radiators can tip over in poor conditions, so keep that in mind when choosing where to place them.

Electric heaters

Electric infrared heaters come in the form of bars that can be mounted horizontally on a wall or roof beam, or on a bracket. There are also smaller, disc-shaped ones that mount to a stand for a smaller area. The thing to keep in mind about an electric heater is that you will need an outside power source. Most types can be plugged into standard household current, so you’ll need an outlet nearby.

Propane heaters

“Pyramid” and “mushroom” gas heaters are an option if you don’t have an outside electrical outlet. They use refillable propane tanks and can heat approximately 215 square feet of space for up to 50 hours per tank. There are also a variety of decorative propane heaters available, although their runtime and tank life vary by size. Gas heaters require more active maintenance than an electric heater, as you will need to turn off the tanks and check the hoses for leaks after each tank change.

Wood burning stoves

Fireplaces and wood-burning stoves are the most common sources of heat fueled by firewood. These don’t need any power source, but should be at least 10 feet away from any flammable structure. Open pits can also be dangerous in windy and dry conditions, subjecting them to weather and climate restrictions. If this is your favorite heat source, having a backup source is also a good idea.

Heater Safety

Be sure to follow all guidelines listed on your outdoor heater‘s packaging and always keep heat sources away from flammable objects like furniture and curtains. Heaters on stands can topple under the wrong circumstances, so keep that in mind when choosing where to place them. Always be aware of the danger of fire when using an outdoor heat source.

Protection against rain and wind

Even if there is a roof over your porch or patio, rain can still blow and wind can cause heat to dissipate quickly. A great way to prevent this is to use curtains or screens around the outside of your structure. There are vinyl, fabric and bamboo options designed to reduce wind in the colder months and add shade in the warmer months. For a more affordable option, you can even use shower curtains, which are often already water and mildew resistant.

Awnings and tents

A canopy or tent can be a good option if you don’t have a covered porch. These are available in many different sizes, but they generally need at least a significant amount of space in your garden. Keep in mind that most temporary structures will need to be secured to the ground so they don’t fly away, either by stakes driven into the grass or by weights attached to the structure. (Check your item’s packaging for manufacturer’s specifications.)

Lighting

As the days get shorter in winter, outdoor lighting is essential. Defining your space with a touch of light can make the porch more inviting. Some porches have built-in sconces or spotlights, but to give your space a warmer feel, you can also add accent lighting. If you have outdoor outlets, a string of LED party lights can go a long way in lighting up your space. Otherwise, there are a variety of solar-powered, rechargeable, and battery-powered options.

Fabrics

Soft and comfortable cushions and blankets are essential for outdoor outings during the winter months. Mildew resistant blankets are great for the outdoors and should be taken indoors when not in use. If you already have outdoor cushions that need updating, you might want to consider sewing new covers for your shower curtain fabric cushions – this is usually cheaper than reupholstering and it is already moisture and mildew resistant. You can also consider adding an outdoor rug to warm up the space.