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Sitting Pretty — Part 3: Controlling the Climate


By Sandra Nelson


One of the joys of a truly functional outdoor living space is the fact that inclement weather  —  days that are too hot or too cold  —  don’t force you back inside. Instead, these carefully designed spaces let you decide where to spend your days and nights.




To avoid being chased indoors during the summer heat, there are several options on the market. One is a high velocity fan. A high velocity fan doesn’t lower the air temperature, but it does trick the body into feeling cooler. When the breeze from the blades hits the skin, it speeds up the evaporation rate of a person’s natural perspiration rate which reduces body temperature. Another choice is a misting system which combines a high velocity fan with mist jets that disperse water into the air. Misting systems actually lower ambient temperatures, but are more effective in dry, arid climates than in hot, humid ones. 



Furniture and floor coverings can help make a difference too. Covering portions of the patio flooring (whether it is made of paving stones, wood or concrete)  with light colored outdoor rugs helps make the outdoor living space more comfortable. Since light colors reflect the sun’s rays rather than absorb them, pale shades of floor coverings make the space feel cooler  —  especially to bare feet. Plastic coated water-resistant fabrics on pillows and seat cushions can feel sticky in hot summer temperatures. Choose light colored natural fabrics instead that help to wick perspiration away from the skin..






For those wanting a more permanent solution than fans and umbrellas (see last week’s post:, a pergola could be a solution.   Pergolas are simple structures designed to provide a degree of relief from the harsh rays of the sun.  More than just a shade structure tough, pergolas add a sense of charm and romance to the garden as they weave the outside and the inside together in one place. They invite us to linger in  dappled shade, taking in the feel and fragrances of nature around us. They serve as a visual frame of the scene surrounding us. They appeal to our senses, as well as our utilitarian needs.



Because pergolas are open- walled, using only columns or posts as supports, and have cross rafters instead of a roof, they feel both airy and intimate at the same time. Often built as a free-standing focal point, they can also be attached to a building or strategically placed to create a dramatic entry to a deck or pool area. To add a degree of privacy to their open-walled design, plant vining plants around them or install graceful, draping curtains.



Traditionally, pergolas have been constructed of wood. Although wood remain the most popular material for pergolas, they are available in a wide range of materials  that are designed to complement a variety of architectural styles.



 Having a pergola custom designed by an experienced landscape design firm allows you to tailor the pergola to meet your specific needs . Carefully considering the orientation on the property and adjusting the angle of the roof rafters, a custom design lets you determine how much sun or shade you want. 






Nothing has the pull of a roaring fire on a cold, winter night. It warms a room and sets a mood. Adding a full-sized fireplace to an outdoor living space takes a three-season space into a four-season paradise. A patio fireplace can provide enough heat to ward off frigid winter temperatures and turn an ordinary space into an extraordinary haven. Fireplaces add significant value to a home and are considered one of the top outdoor improvements to make to a property. Fireplaces offer another unexpected benefit. Wood smoke is a natural insect repellent, so a summer fire helps chase pesky insects away.



For those who prefer more temperature control and widespread heat than a fireplace can provide, portable patio heaters are the answer. With costs significantly lower than fireplaces, they too can extend the outdoor season. Units today are available as either propane gas or electric. Most are on wheels for easy movement and have automatic shut-off safety features. With sleek, elegant appearances and environmentally friendly smokeless operation, portable patio heaters are an excellent climate control choice.


Spaces that are beautiful and functional don’t just happen. They are the result of careful planning and thoughtful choices. The design staff at Embassy Landscape Group can lead you through the process of turning an ordinary patio into an extraordinary one. Give them a call today. You won’t regret it.