The benefits of dining “al fresco” are endless and it can be a great mood booster to reduce stress and increase relaxation. The only spoiler is when Mother Nature tries to ruin the ambiance with her blazing sun, gusty winds or pesky bugs. To beat these elements of nature, try incorporating some of the following design tips into your outdoor space.

Add a Protective Pergola

Building a shade structure will architecturally define your outdoor dining area and also provide powerful weather protection. “As people spend more time outdoors, we are seeing them take seasonal weather patterns into consideration and adjust their pergola designs as needed,” explains Scott Selzer, CEO of Arcadia Building Products.

A pergola not only provides shelter for your dinner guests, but it also protects outdoor kitchen equipment and furnishings. For tips on how to design a pergola for your space, check out this article.

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Keep Bugs Away

Keeping bugs away from outdoor dining can be a challenge. The best bug deterrent is having a screened-in outdoor space, but if that isn’t an option, try lighting candles (citronella works best) or adding a heat source like those shared here.

You can also add a ceiling fan over your dining table to keep air continuously moving and limiting mosquitoes, gnats and flies to hover. When choosing an outdoor ceiling fan, make sure to select one that is “wet-rated” with rust-resistant components for all-weather protection.

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Maintain Stability During Storms

Even though you probably won’t be eating outdoors in the middle of a storm, keep your dining furniture intact for future use when strong storms hit. If your furniture isn’t heavy duty, loop bungee cords through stacked chairs and attach to a permanent structure on your deck to keep furniture in place when strong winds hit.

If you have a pergola, make sure to open its louvers to allow wind to penetrate, which makes them more stable. High-tech pergolas even offer sensors that open automatically at certain wind speeds. And don’t forget to close umbrellas and other shade structures before inclement weather arrives.

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Embrace End of Day Shade

Late day sun can be a nuisance to your outdoor dining experience. Determine where the sun penetrates the space and then plan accordingly. Try using retractable shades or sun-screens to make the environment more relaxing and inviting.  

Outdoor dining rooms can be a much-needed oasis where you can enjoy quality time with family and friends, while sharing good food and creating long-lasting memories. Just make sure to always take into account whatever weather Mother Nature may throw your way.

Post and photos by Arcadia Building Products, a manufacturer of adjustable louvered pergolas.