No matter where you live, summer sounds like the most outdoorsy of seasons. You’re more likely to spend some time in the backyard whether you’re less than a mile from the mountains or a block from the beach.
With a gazebo, you’ll find your options for enjoying the warm weather grow and the more imaginative among us have ways to get the most out of those shady structures. We’ve collected some tips to help spark some super summer memories.
It’s a wonderful motto. If you’ve got power running to the gazebo, you may have outdoor friendly appliances already installed to store or prepare food, run fans or misters, or enjoy some music or television while outside. Maybe you’ll have to rely on an extension cord, but surveying your spot before the night of the big barbecue or a spontaneous garden party, you want to know just where things need to be set up and how much moving around you’ll need to do. There’s nothing like a last minute run to the hardware store to show you how a little preparation can save you a ton of trouble.
Make it your outdoor “home base”
Many a child has heard “close the door!” when the air conditioner is running. Why keep everything you need inside the house if you’re going to be spending time outdoors? The spot you pick for the gazebo is likely the centerpiece of attention, but even if it isn’t, you can use it as the center of action. Make a small list of the things you like to enjoy while outdoors or even just mental notes of all the things you tend to go back inside for when spending time outside. If you’ve got an all-weather container, it’s a great spot to place those items like bug spray, citronella candles, paper towels, plates and plasticware (maybe inside plastic bags, with some extras), garbage bags, hand sanitizer, beach towels – anything that makes sense to you. If you’re having a barbecue, you may not be able to cook the food inside, but you certainly can use it for seating or a place to lay out the food.
Keep an eye on the skies
Having an outdoor structure is great, especially if it’s completely covered and an afternoon shower suddenly shows up. Having a great gazebo doesn’t necessarily mean you can still use it the way you want to if the weather isn’t cooperating. It can still be dangerous to stay outside in a thunderstorm, but when the weather is fair, have a picnic basket ready to go so you can get the most out of your outdoor investment. If you’ve got the gazebo and the weather is great, think about having a late outdoor meal or hosting neighbors for dinners and drinks.
Chances are that you want your gazebo to do more than look pretty. The choice of outdoor furniture to keep there or bring out when you want to use it can make a big difference. If you choose all-weather rugs and accessories and furniture, it’s probably hardier and harder to move, but having a sealed container to put nice comfy pillows and towels (that can be removed and stored to make it easier to enjoy in nice weather) should be something to consider. If you’re bringing the furniture out to the gazebo only when you want to use it, make sure it is light enough to be easy to move, but still be comfortable. There are plenty of camping chairs that do the job well and some even come with beverage holders.
Throw some (extra) shade
Even fully covered gazebos might let a ray of light in the wrong spot. You don’t have to stop at the gazebo. Still have some extra shade sources around. An pop up canopy can extend your shaded space and fit right next to the structure. Even just one extra beach umbrella can still come in handy and do double duty as insurance against the rain. Having a movable source of shade is a nice thing to go with the gazebo that most likely – and hopefully – won’t.
Stay warm when the sun sets
Sometimes there’s a big difference between the heat of the day and once the sun starts to set. If you live somewhere like that, you’ll want to have a heat source handy – even in the summer. It can be a portable one, but as always, consider safety first. If you’ve got open flames – maybe for a night of camping and s’mores – you probably can’t use it inside the gazebo and always make sure you observe the recommended distance. If you’re using a heat source inside the structure, you always want to make sure you can do so safely.
Don’t try to do too much
How big is the gazebo? If you bought it because the capacity was 10 people, you probably can’t really fit 10 chairs comfortably inside. If it doesn’t provide enough shade and protection from the weather, you might not be able to run power and watch TV in there. There’s ways to use it, but not every gazebo is the same. Sometimes those great Pinterest ideas just won’t work for your structure, so knowing what you can’t do with yours is very important, especially if what you can’t do makes things unsafe.