Canadian summers are short. A well-designed patio can not only make your backyard a summer hot spot, but it can allow you to maximize your outdoor time, even when temperatures start to drop.

Here are a few patio upgrade ideas that will help you create a relaxing, stylish, and safe space that you can enjoy from spring to fall.

Pick a purpose before you pick your patio furniture

Even if your patio is as simple as a few cement slabs, decide how you’ll use the space before you start buying furniture and other decor. Do you love to sit outside and read in the sun? Or do you want to host dinner parties in the shade? Once you’ve figured out what you want to do with your space, you can decide whether you just need a small bistro set or a larger sectional couch and a dining table. It’s a good idea to include some storage in your plans for things like cushions and pillows — you don’t want anything blowing away or getting soaked in a storm!

Bring your kitchen outdoors

Do you hate cooking indoors on a beautiful summer night or constantly find yourself running between the barbecue and the kitchen? An outdoor kitchen could be the answer. It can be as simple as adding an outdoor mini-fridge or as intricate as installing prep tables, a sink, cabinets, and a stove.

If you do decide to go all out and bring your kitchen outside, you’ll want to work with a professional who can safely install outdoor electrical or gas appliances, depending on what you’re planning to install. If you plan on making a significant upgrade, it’s a good time to talk to your home insurance broker and make sure your new investment will be covered.

Light up the night

Lighting is often overlooked but can make a dramatic difference to your evening patio experience. Solar lights are a great option as they’re easy to install and don’t require any wiring — so they won’t add to your hydro bill, either. If you’ve taken the time to clean up your garden and shrubs, why not highlight them with spotlights? You could also add some mounted lights on the fence for a restaurant-worthy dining experience. Plus, don’t forget string lights, which can add a trendy touch to any outdoor space.

Last but not least, invest in some lighting for your walkways and steps. The last thing you want to worry about is children or guests taking a spill in the dark. Path lighting could be your best purchase as it may help prevent third-party liability claims

Outside fires: yay or nay?

If you want to enjoy your patio (almost) year-round, a fire pit, gas fire table, or chiminea can keep you warm in the spring and fall. There are different rules about backyard fires depending on where you live, so when you’re considering adding a fire element to your patio, your first step should be checking municipal laws. If you do add a fire element, always be sure to follow instructions and keep the area around the fire clear of debris.

As with any change you make to your home, significant renovations or upgrades may impact your premium or require different coverage. If you want to find out more about how backyard renovations could impact your insurance rates, reach out to your broker. Once that’s done, all that’s left is to send out some patio party invites and light up the barbecue!

Do you know someone who could use a backyard rejuvenation? Share these ideas with them on Facebook and Twitter.