Four Season Outdoor Living: Design A Year Round Backyard Space

Children In A Year Round Backyard Patio Space With Lights
(Image credit: 1111IESPDJ)

Call it what you want, but cabin fever, the winter blues, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD) are very real. Spending more time outside can help overcome these feelings of depression. And one way to encourage yourself and your family to spend more time outdoors is to create a weather-comfortable, year-round outdoor space.

How to Create a Year-Round Backyard

Can you have a four-season outdoor space, even in cold climates? The answer is yes. By simply adding a few design elements to an existing porch or patio, you can turn your summertime entertainment spot into usable living space all year-round:

  • Add warmth – A fire pit, outdoor fireplace or a patio heater is a must-have to chase away the chill of winter temps and make sitting outdoors more comfortable.
  • Include lighting – From string lights to outdoor fixtures, patio lighting is essential to offset earlier fall and winter sunset times.
  • Try cozy – Switch out those bold Hawaiian-print patio pillows for ones sporting fake fur or knit fabric. Add a few wool blankets. Use rugs to give the patio a cozier feel.
  • Make a windblock – Don't let those chilly winter breezes ruin your year-round outdoor space. Add waterproof drapes, roller shades or plant a row of evergreens to divert northern winds.
  • Weather-resistant seating – Opt for patio furniture that doesn't retain moisture or can be easily wiped dry. Cover upholstered furniture or use a deck box to store cushions when not in use. 
  • Install a hot tub – The perfect addition to a year-round backyard, the warm water of an outdoor spa can soothe sore muscles and help reduce stress. 

Check Out Our Guide to Outdoor Living

Enjoying Four-Season Outdoor Living Space

Creating the year-round backyard is one thing, learning how to use outdoor living space all year long is another. Try these ideas for outdoor entertaining or to simply lure the family outdoors for a bit of fresh air:

  • Mealtime – Backyard cooking isn't limited to summertime. Add a grill, smoker or dutch oven and try your hand at rib-sticking, tummy-warming comfort foods. Make a pot of chili, your favorite soup or a hearty stew. Top off the meal with oven-fresh corn bread or biscuits. Grill pizza, roast marshmallows for s'mores or smoke a brisket.
  • Gametime or Movie Night – Wifi, streaming and modern cable options allows these once indoor-only activities to be become an essential part of any year-round outdoor space. Gather family and friends to enjoy your favorite team or make it a cozy night for two while watching a romantic flick.
  • Holiday Gatherings - Add Halloween or Thanksgiving décor to the four-season outdoor living space and set the ambiance for apple bobbing, pumpkin carving or a traditional holiday meal. Decorate an outdoor Christmas tree and enjoy the twinkling light show while enjoying a steaming cup of hot chocolate, peppermint tea or flavored coffee.
  • Outdoor Exercise – Don't let cooler temps thwart your exercise routine. Add speakers or use your wireless earbuds to play a relaxing melody for your daily yoga session or an uplifting beat for aerobic workouts. 

Finally, don't forget landscaping can keep your year-round backyard visually appealing. Choose evergreens, ornamental grasses and berry producing plants to provide food and shelter for wildlife and add winter interest to the garden.

Laura Miller

Laura Miller has been gardening all her life. Holding a degree in Biology, Nutrition, and Agriculture, Laura's area of expertise is vegetables, herbs, and all things edible. She lives in Ohio.