Outdoor Rooms: 4 Common Roadblocks to Outdoor Living from EP Henry
Outdoor rooms are becoming a part of the lifestyle in the United States. It’s well known that spending more time outdoors is great for the lungs and the spirit, but for many Americans, spending time outside isn’t a habit.
Don Covart, President of Parsippany, NJ design firm Fox Hollow, Inc., says comfort is key when designing an outdoor space that will lure homeowners outside. “Everything you do inside can be done outside,” Don claims. Don talked to EP Henry about 4 common issues to address when creating an inviting and relaxing patio.
“Fire pits and fireplaces make it really nice for outdoor living in the evening after dinner, or on the weekends in the spring and the fall,” said Don. Controlling the temperature with fans and shade in the summer and heating elements in the cooler months help make an outdoor space welcoming. Patio furniture and hardscaping tends to get the bulk of the budget, but heating and cooling is too often overlooked. Incorporating these comfort boosters will make an outdoor room much more enjoyable. Added bonus: “The [fire pit] smoke helps keep the bugs away,” Don said.
“People worry about mosquitos and ticks and getting lyme disease,” said Don. “They don’t want to go outside because they are afraid of deer ticks.” Cleaning up the landscape will help reduce the number of deer ticks. “Ticks usually live in transitional spaces in the lawn,” Don said, such as walkway edges and flower beds. “They live in leaves and leafy debris.”
Actively treating the space with anti-pest measures is essential for an enjoyable outdoor room. Monthly sprays, citronella candles and topical skin creams can help. Any standing water, even if it is only a capful, must be dumped. Over 2,000 mosquitos can spawn in a single water bottle cap filled with water. It can help to grow bug-deterrent plants in pots on the patio and in surrounding flower beds. Always have topical treatment on hand for guests.
A neat and tidy lawn makes for a welcoming outdoor area. Fences or “green fences” made of trees and shrubbery can be installed help mask less attractive features of neighboring yards. When working with new customers, Don immediately addresses any landscape issues. “Their landscaping might be a little disheveled,” he said. He advises that keeping on top of landscaping does more than elevate curb appeal. It also beckons the homeowner to get outside and enjoy the scenery.
Once the grooming is done, then plan the seating areas. “Some people like sunny areas, some people like sun and shade. Maybe add a pergola to add some shade, or some trees,” Don suggests, as a way to have various options for family and guests.
“People are so rigged into electronics, but they don’t think about bringing their laptop or TV out [to the patio],” Don said. “You can have sound systems, computer games, video games, TV, all outside. People don’t want to go outside because they don’t want to leave their stuff inside.” Getting a simple, easy-to-install wifi extender adds a lot of utility to the patio. Special TVs that are made to withstand the weather can be installed in an area of the hardscape, perhaps above a fireplace. “At home, we have a raised patio and roofed area, with a couch to take a nap on or watch tv. It’s an open space where we hang out. It’s got some covered areas for shade, other places for some sun. Everybody’s happy.”
Sitting outside should be as relaxing as curling up in a favorite chair. By addressing these common blocks to spending time outside, the homeowner can add functionality, fun and more living space to their home.
EP Henry®, the oldest American family-owned and operated manufacturer of unit concrete products in North America, provides the highest quality and broadest product offerings in Hardscaping(™). Based in Woodbury, New Jersey, EP Henry manufactures a wide range of paving stone and retaining wall products, including permeable pavers which are a best management practice (BMP) for stormwater management. EP Henry also offers beautiful patio pavers, outdoor kitchen kits, garden wall solutions and more.