Add warmth to your backyard with a patio heater. ATTRIBUTION: Steve Parker (Flickr)

Chilly temperatures keep most people inside during the winter months, and this means that outdoor spaces like patios and decks are neglected until spring arrives. You don’t have to be stuck inside all winter, though: While you can’t control the weather, you can add a few design elements to your outdoor space to make it more comfortable when it’s chilly. With a solid plan and a few supplies, you can continue enjoying and entertaining on your patio throughout the cooler months.

Update Your Outdoor Décor

One of the easiest ways to make your patio feel a little cozier is by updating the décor to match the season. Start by stringing some soft lights above the patio to set the mood. Insulate with a thick outdoor rug and hang up outdoor curtains to keep cool drafts at bay. Make the space more welcoming with candles, winter flowers, and warm colors like red and yellow.

Add a Heat Source

The evenings can get chilly in winter, even here in California. Take the chill off by adding a heat source to your patio. A patio heater is an excellent way to extend your backyard entertaining season. Many patio heater models even come with wheels so they’re easy to stow away when warmer weather returns.

Cover an Open Patio

In the spring and summer, you probably enjoy the gentle breeze that flows through your patio, but in the winter, harsh winds can make it difficult to enjoy the outdoors. Help block out the elements by covering your open patio with screens or retractable canvas.

Engage in Activities Designed to Warm You Up

Whether it’s a hot cup of coffee in the morning or a yoga session in the afternoon sun, partake in activities that will help keep you warm outdoors. Also consider installing a TV outdoors and taking advantage of body heat by inviting over friends or family for a movie night or the big game.

Add Throw Pillows and Blankets

Pillows and blankets not only make a space appear cozier, but they can also help keep you warm as you sit outdoors. Make seating extra-warm by draping sheepskin over chairs and benches. If you haven’t already, add cushions to your seats to avoid having to sit down on cold chairs.

Block Wind With Coniferous Trees

Coniferous trees like fir, spruce, and pine have thick needles that are effective at blocking cold winds. Help shield your patio from the elements by planting coniferous trees around the perimeter. Instead of planting the trees in a straight line, which can be difficult to accomplish, use more natural cluster planting or plant the trees in multiple staggered rows.

Set Up a Fireplace

A fire pit or fireplace is a popular way to warm up your outdoor space. Fireplaces can range from inexpensive portable pits to custom-designed hearths with elaborate features. While most are fueled by wood, others may require propane or gas. Be sure to check local laws in your city or county before using a wood-fueled fireplace.