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Rosie on the House

Six ideas for remodeling your backyard for summer

(Pixabay Photo)

Little by little, the thermometer is creeping up and up.

We all know that it’s only a matter of weeks before we’re really starting to feel the heat. With that in mind, we put together a list of six backyard remodel ideas to help you improve your outdoor living conditions this summer.

Build a living room

If you have a covered patio, that’s the perfect place for your outdoor living room.

Decorate it the way you would inside: Buy a sectional sofa and group other chairs nearby so there is plenty of seating space. Have plenty of cushions and ottomans or coffee table.

Be sure to buy furnishings with fabrics that resist sunshine. You’re outdoors, but you still need to feel cozy and intimate.

Hang art on the walls or the pillars or the fences.

You need a focal point: Maybe a fireplace or a firepit or a water feature?

Do something shady

Adding more shaded areas — perhaps a sail shade for part of your swimming pool and/or your dining area — can change your attitude toward summer heat.

You can build a free-standing gazebo, ramada or pergola with concrete or wooden pillars and a permanent roof.

More affordable popular options can be shade sails or canopies such as the ones sheltering playgrounds in parks. They look like something on a sailboat.

You can buy a small shade structure with a stainless steel frame for less than $10 per square foot.

Some homeowners buy them and attach them to existing structures in the yard, such as their air-conditioning system, but it’s better to let the shade or awning company install stainless steel columns. That way, your mini-sail is less likely to blow away in a monsoon.

There’s often a 10-year guarantee on the fabric.

Add a pond or waterfall

The sight and sound of water can cool you off mentally. Plant native trees around a pond in your yard, add plants and you can have an area that is 10 degrees cooler, but will probably make you feel more refreshed than that.

Pond builders have built amazing water features on the back patios of townhouses and condominiums so you don’t need much space.

Check out the latest in misters and foggers

Misters have been around forever, but the newest misters for cooling off an outdoor living room are more exciting and efficient. For a long time, misters hung in tubes along the edges of ceilings of covered patios.

Now, you can bring the misters in to where the people are. You can even buy misters in ceiling fans that will broadcast cool spray in a 360-degree radius.

You can also mount the newest misters onto your existing shade umbrellas or you can have free-standing fans that blow mist over your seating areas.

Pumps can also put out clouds of fog to roll across your swimming pool and your patio. To create the perfect climate all year long, add a free-standing heat lamp or two for cooler evenings.

Sprinkle those pavers

Another cooling tactic is to install irrigation heads among the pavers surrounding your swimming pool. As they spray, they can reduce the surface temperature of those pavers by 30 to 40 degrees when you exit the pool.

You can even operate the sprinkler heads via a remote with an electronic irrigation system.

If you’re in the market for pavers, look for the lighter-colored ones. Our own temperature tests of patio surfaces at 112 degrees in the direct sun found that light colored surfaces can be from 15 to 20 degrees cooler than darker-colored areas.

Plant a tree strategically

Plant a desert tree or two to throw more shade in your backyard and help cool your house and patio.

Make sure trees are in areas with plenty of room to spread out. The rule of thumb is to plan on enough room based on the expected canopy width of the full-grown tree. The exception to this rule would be trees with small root canopies, such as palm trees.

Always give your trees a long, deep soaking with a hose frequently in the first few weeks, especially if you plant them in the spring. The first summer they will need plenty of extra watering as well.

For more homeowner advice, DIY tips and videos, and information about all the projects around your house, home, castle or cabin, visit Arizona’s largest collection of homeowner DIY advice and information at RosieontheHouse.com.

And if you are in need of a quality contractor you know you can trust, visit our list of Arizona’s very best contractors or service providers for your home improvement projects at RosieontheHouse.com – Arizona’s most-trusted referral network.

Tune in to KTAR every Saturday morning from 7-11 a.m. for the Rosie on the House broadcast!

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