You may be asking yourself why choose to talk about entertaining in the backyard in the middle of winter. Well, if you’re finally ready to give your backyard a facelift, winter is actually the best time to start planning so you can break ground as soon as it’s thawed and be ready for the long and glorious days of summer when they finally arrive. Where to begin? Glad you asked.

Lead With Intention

You know best what you want to do with your backyard space. If it’s for parties, creating a space that is functional and free-flowing should be your priority. One with enough lighting to battle the darkness, space to sit and enjoy pleasant company, and a patio for grilling and eating that’s easy to keep clean and serve everything from small get togethers to large celebrations. If you’ve got kids, play space is key. Whether you’ve got a smaller brood and favor grass and play structures or your kids are older and ready to dive into a pool all summer long you have many options that can be tailored to you and your family. And you don’t have to suffer class or style in any of those options either.

Fill It Out

Whether you’re in the grass and patio arena or the pool and pergola category, how you fill in those spaces can liven up the aesthetic of your new backyard. Lemon, Lime, and Orange trees are very popular and easy to grow in So-Cal. They also provide beauty as well as a grocery item used for cooking and cocktails. Stick with the agriculture trend and fill out planters with herbs and simple veggies like vine tomatoes, lettuce, and cucumber. Sweet Potato vine is a low water consumption plant that adds color and cover to any garden. You can also switch to a fully drought-proof garden and add more stone, statues and structures like the chiminea, and fill it in with succulents and aloe (instant relief for those poolside sunburns).

Taking Shelter

The summer months only get hotter at this point in humanity. While you may have a pool to cool off with during the summer, you’re always going to have rain or sunshine and will thusly need a place to take refuge while still being able to enjoy the backyard. A gazebo is a popular such structure that offers variety in design as well as functionality. Pergolas are a classic staple of backyards. String lights can be hung easily from the beams creating a romantic atmosphere. During the colder and wet seasons, you can install heaters and a tent tarp that can roll up when not in use and easily unfurl to provide shelter from the elements. You can position these structures anywhere in your yard, directly off the house or on the opposite end. If you need to opt for a quick fix, free-standing umbrellas – or the kind that fit in the center of your patio table – are a great option. Quality umbrellas, especially the ones with weighted stands, can set you back anywhere from $100 – $400, but they offer instant protection from the sun and are always portable. They also give you the chance to express your style with different color and pattern options.

Let There Be Light

In the summer, the days stretch out forever and you don’t want them to end. In the winter, darkness comes all too soon. Lighting your backyard in creative ways can enhance your nighttime entertaining and keep the party going regardless of the sun and moon. Lighting can be achieved in a variety of ways from fire pits and chimineas to pool lighting, walkway lights, string lights in your pergola or gazebo, even lights built in to your patio steps. Take advantage of the opportunity to create something unique that sets the perfect mood for your space.