Creating an Outdoor Living Space for Year-Round Use

Posted by Neal R. Hendy on Tue, Aug 22, 2017

When you invest in an outdoor living space, one large consideration is the bang you'll get for your buck throughout the year and the changing weather. Southwestern Ohio and the surrounding areas experience a wide range of seasonal weather patterns, and the thought of putting your budget into something you'll only get to use 4 months out the year can turn many homeowners off. The good news is that there are ways around that with some clever designs and helpful products.

Water Drainage

Drive around greater Cincinnati after a thunderstorm and you'll likely spot our region's propensity for temporary flooding. Since storms occur throughout the year, excess water is an issue for many homeowners, and handling drainage and run off well is an important (and often necessary) component of any outdoor living project. When your project will involve excavation or if your property has a significant slope, be sure to discuss underground drainage as part of your project. Also be sure that any additions to your home, such as a covered porch, includes adequate gutters and downspouts.

The large retaining wall in this Bridgetown project uses a internal drainage to prevent excess storm water from seeping through the stones. Landscaping by: Werbrich’s Landscaping

Snow and Ice

When snow is left to pile up, it compacts and becomes quite heavy. Add a coating of ice, and you quickly have a potentially dangerous situation. To combat this, covered structures in your outdoor project should have a "snow load" consideration and be sufficiently supported to account for the additional weight of whatever might fall from the sky in colder months.

42092_04.jpgThe sturdy supports and angled roof of this Mason outdoor living room will stand up to the winter snow load.

Cooler Temperatures

It doesn't always snow each year, but we can rely on the temperatures dipping pretty low through the winter. In order to use an outdoor room in cooler temperatures, many homeowners include an outdoor fireplace, or install a radiant heater (or often both). Radiant heaters are especially designed to direct warm air into spaces or objects, rather than heating the air more indirectly. Having an exterior heat source is great for holiday parties when guests may want to get away from the interior bustle, or for that mid-winter hot chocolate break.

Radiant heaters mounted under the roof of this Montgomery outdoor living project will help keep the space usable year-round.

Hot Temperatures

It's an oft-told joke that the weather in Ohio changes faster than our moods, so it's no surprise that we experience high temperatures each summer. Hot weather brings its own set of considerations for outdoor living. The most obvious solution is to include a covered structure in your plan that will provide shade. A roof will also give you an opportunity to install ceiling fans to keep the warm air moving, which will help keep humidity down and generate a consistent and reliable breeze. Also be sure that skylights used in your project are coated with UV shielding to keep harmful sun rays out of your exterior space without sacrificing light.

42048_08.jpgThe large fan in this Indian Hill open stone pavilion will help keep the space from feeling stuffy in the summer heat.


Along with providing additional shade, screens in your outdoor space offer a barrier between you and bugs. Retractable screens are a great investment that come in a variety of options (including some that use a specially designed mesh to keep cold air in the space.) Many local yards are made unusable during the warmer months due to bugs, so a screened space can add significant value to your family by allowing you to enjoy being outside without the annoyance of bugs.

Each side of this backyard addition in White Oak is fitted with a retractable screen that closes the room off from bugs and adds shade.

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Topics: Outdoor Living

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