5 Helpful Outdoor Living Products

Nothing says summer more than relaxing outside with friends.
Nothing says summer more than relaxing outside with friends.
Paper Boat Creative/Getty Images

It's summertime ... and the living is often outdoors. Warmer temperatures, longer days and slower schedules in June, July, August and September seem made for leisurely afternoons by the pool, cocktail parties on the patio, and cookouts on the deck.

Before you start inviting friends over to join you for fun and frivolity, however, make sure your backyard is equipped with a few helpful outdoor living products to keep your days carefree and casual. From lighting to impromptu shade to all-weather chests designed to protect your valuable gear, here's a look at a few products that can help make those lazy warm days (and nights) even more enjoyable.

A Grill for Cooking

Smoked chicken, beef kabobs, shrimp on the barbie and barbecued ribs. These summer epicurean delights have one thing in common: They're cooked on a grill! No backyard is complete without one, and whether you choose charcoal or gas, you're certain to find a grill that's right for your budget. If charcoal is your thing, a classic Weber grill is easy on the budget, rings up for as low as $30 and doesn't take up much space. If you're looking for the Cadillac of charcoal grills, you can also find $1,000 ceramic models that can keep coals hot in the firebox for up to 24 hours. If you prefer the convenience and easy clean up of a gas grill, you can find models with refillable tanks for as low as $200, or you can choose heavier duty models with premium features like a rotisserie and stovetop burners for $3,000 and up.

A Fire Pit for Warmth
Keep the good times going long into the night with a cozy fire pit.
Keep the good times going long into the night with a cozy fire pit.
Jeremy Samuelson/Getty Images

Gathering around a campfire has been a social event since the earliest days of mankind, which may help explain the fire pit's appeal in today's backyards. A fire pit, outdoor fireplace or chiminea can be a great addition to your patio. You'll enjoy hanging out around the fire late at night, toasting marshmallows and telling ghost stories. Plus, a cozy outdoor fire will add warmth during the cooler seasons, encouraging evenings snuggled up with a cup of hot cocoa.

When shopping for a fire pit, you'll find simple, affordable options at your favorite stores, including The Home Depot, Frontgate and Restoration Hardware. If you're interested in a more elaborate stone or brick version with seating, pizza oven or connections to natural gas, contact a stonemason.

If you're the do-it-yourself type, you can even build your own fire pit from a kit or find plans online. Be sure to check with local building codes or other restrictions in your neighborhood before starting your project.

A Torch or Lantern for Lighting

Some of the best conversations happen after the sun goes down and the temperature cools, when it's too comfortable to go inside. Add a little ambiance to those evenings by equipping your patio, deck, or backyard with a few torches, lanterns or other outdoor lighting to help keep the good times going.

Look for torches made of stainless steel refillable with lamp oil, or metal lanterns of all shapes and sizes to fill with tealights or larger candles. Battery-powered lights are an easy, low maintenance option, or choose an electric lamp or strands of lights designed especially for outdoor use. Eco-friendly solar lights feature panels inside that gather energy during the day and turn on when it gets dark.

Whatever you choose, you're certain to find a style that suits your style and the mood of your outdoor space.

A Tent, Awning or Pergola for Shade

Let's face it, no matter how much you enjoy being outside, some days the afternoon sun can be just too hot! That's when an awning, umbrella or portable pergola can come in handy. When there's no oak tree in sight, or if your deck, patio or garden doesn't have a built-in cover, consider one of the attractive, easy to install options now available. Look for a structure made with a high performance outdoor fabric and lightweight metals for easy installation and durability. So many choices are available, it's easy to create an outdoor space that's comfortable and offers some shady relief from the heat.

An Outdoor Chest for Storage
Store all your garden tools and patio equipment in a handy outdoor chest.
Store all your garden tools and patio equipment in a handy outdoor chest.

One of the most interesting "new" products to appear on the consumer backyard scene in the last decade or so is the weatherproof outdoor storage chest. These sizable trunks offer space to store outdoor cushions, garden tools, pool accessories and more, while eliminating dampness and mildew. You can find attractive versions made from teak, all-weather wicker or durable composites. An outdoor patio storage chest is a great investment that will help extend the life of your outdoor cushions and toys. What's more, it can always work as extra seating when family and friends gather.


From Garden to Table: Recipes from Your Backyard

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