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There is an average of 178 sunny days each year in Columbus, and we need to make the most of every single one. Instead of fighting the crowds for patio space at your favorite restaurant or bar, why not upgrade your own patio to make it the hottest spot to hang this season? Whether you have a sprawling deck and yard or a balcony just big enough to stand on, there are some easy ways to brighten your space.


A place to sit is the number one easiest way to make your patio more relaxing instantly. Patio furniture comes in all shapes and sizes from traditional Adirondack chairs to zero gravity loungers. Try it out before you buy to be sure it’s something you feel relaxed in. If chairs aren’t your thing or just won’t fit in your space, look for outdoor floor cushions, short padded benches, or plush and cozy poufs.


Sunlight is great, but too much of it can make your patio hot and uncomfortable. Add a little shade to your chill zone with a big umbrella or a hanging curtain. Retractable awnings provide complete shade or full sunlight whenever you want it. For the best of both worlds, try a pergola with climbing plants that filter the light naturally.


With warm summer nights just around the corner, you’ll want to keep the patio party going well after dark. Shed some light on your space with multi-colored paper lanterns or go more traditional with wall mounted sconces. Strings of white holiday lights are perfect for wrapping around posts or balcony railings. (Christmas lights in the summer may get strange stares from your neighbors, but hey, it’s your patio, not theirs.) At the very least, change any lightbulbs in your existing patio lights to make sure you get maximum illumination all spring and summer long.


A bare concrete slab or a dull grey balcony can be turned into an outdoor paradise with a little life—plant life that is. Hanging baskets of flowers keep floor space free and add much-needed color to dull spaces. Try growing your own herbs and veggies. Not only will it save you money at the grocery store, but the pleasant smells of growing mint or basil will add another sensory level to your patio experience.


With the great outdoors come all of Mother Nature’s creatures, invited or not. Mosquitos are a major nuisance that can be easily controlled with a little pre-planning. Citronella candles can protect a tiny space, but the best option for eliminating flying pests is a fan. A ceiling, standing, or well-placed desk fan will keep the area free from intruders too weak to fly into the breeze (this includes mosquitos). No room for a fan? Go the old-fashioned route and have some bug spray handy for you and your guests.

You don’t have to love the great outdoors to enjoy the spring and summer weather, but if your patio or balcony is bland and uninviting, you could be missing out on sunshine and fun. With so many easy options, you can create a brand new space in a single day or less.