Winter weather certainly means different things in parts of the country and the world. A wintery evening on the back deck of a home in Florida might be a brisk 70 degrees or (gasp!) reach down into the low 40s or 30s! The northern US would scoff and sneer at such “warm” temperatures. The winter averages in Minnesota and Montana, for example, are in the single digits.
If you want to enjoy your gazebo in winter, you first must be able to reach it. If you’re facing a blizzard, being outside might not be a wise choice. If you aren’t completely snowed in the scenic view you expressly built that outdoor structure to enjoy is a perfect winter wonderland, there are some ways to keep warm you might want to consider.
Bring the heat
If it’s really, REALLY cold (we’re not talking “Florida”, “Hawaii”, or “South Texas” cold here) then you’re probably going to have to supply the heat from something other than a warm beverage. The first thing you’ll need to do is figure out what can fit and what can be safely used in the type of structure you’re trying to use.
Infrared heaters can cover a large area and keep you warm without emitting carbon monoxide. No matter what your heat source, you have to make sure you keep the area around it free from flammable objects and as strange as it may initially seem, you want to have ventilation. That’s especially true if you have any kind of combustible heat source.
Infrared heaters can be mounted on structures with a sturdy frame and can also hang from the inside of the roof, but many of the models require some reliable electrical wiring. We’re not talking extension cords running from the house here. If the type you have is able to be used outdoors, you might be able to run power to it safely, but make sure you’re not using indoor only heaters outside. Portable stand heaters can cover even larger areas and crank out some serious BTUs and if it relies on combustion, it’s basically designed for outdoor use.
Double-check that ventilation before using your heat source. Seriously. We’re not kidding.
If you just want to cut down on wind chill, consider covering the gazebo or pergola with a tent or canopy. You can add to the atmosphere with a well designed model and if the bite of the wind is all that’s keeping you from enjoying a winter evening in your structure, this can be an effective method of keeping warm. It won’t add to the heat, unless you couple it with another method, but if you’ve got a professionally installed enclosure material, it might help retain the heat you give off better than a tarp.
Maybe you’re enjoying one of the mildest northern winter days or a fine south Florida afternoon and the temperatures are just barely chilly enough to make jackets and jeans a must. If you need a little extra, perhaps your gazebo or pergola furniture just needs some cozy covers and blankets and pillows will do? If your furniture is made of iron or hard plastic or even wicker, sitting down might not be as comfortable. These go well with another method, but it might be the only one you need in certain situations and enough if it’s just the furniture that’s keeping you chilly.
Close it up
This might seem like one of the ritzier methods, but closing in your gazebo with glass and windows can make your outdoor space a place to enjoy year round. Sure, in the winter you’re concerned with keeping in the heat, but what about keeping out the pests in the summer? Enclosing the gazebo is certainly more of an investment, but instead of an igloo, it might feel more like a greenhouse with less wind to worry about and coupled with a heater, can turn the place almost tropical.
Start a fire
No, not INSIDE the gazebo—unless you don’t have a completely closed roof. If you’ve got an open style or pergola, you might get away with it, provided the rest of the structure isn’t flammable and you’ve got enough room. Since we’re talking combustion again, ventilation is the most important consideration. You could try a wood stove with a chimney leading outside, but that doesn’t mean you don’t worry about clean air. Gazebos are small spaces (even big ones) and carbon monoxide build up is very dangerous. Detectors don’t cost that much anymore, so you should probably consider having one on hand, along with, of course, a fire extinguisher.
If you’ve got a closed roof and you still want to roast some marshmallows, what about installing a fire pit nearby? You can still have seating and refreshments inside the gazebo, but a fire pit can certainly heat a large enough area if the flames are properly watched. Never leave a fire unattended, but you already knew that, didn’t you? That would be as ridiculous as trying to use a propane grill as a heater.
Seriously, don’t do that either. That’s not what it’s meant to do.
Take a (warm) dip
Have a bunch of room in that gazebo? Is it professionally and properly wired? Have a hot tub?
How cool (pun intended) would it be to enjoy the warmth of heated water, therapeutic jets, and perhaps some bubbles? Your only concern would then be, “how close is my hot tub to the house” because making a run from the hot water in a towel to the house with wet clothes would not be fun. If you’ve got an enclosure, the steam might be building up on the windows and the heat might be enough to make it quite comfy inside. If it’s exposed to the elements, you might have to be a little more creative with your post-dip planning.
No matter how or when you choose to enjoy your outdoor structure this winter, staying warm doesn’t have to be too difficult. Whether it’s with electricity, flame, glass, cotton or even water, you’ve got some options to enjoy the winter wonderland in comfort.