Warmer weather is the perfect time to take advantage of your backyard, but what happens when it gets a little too warm? There’s no need to run back indoors and crank up the air conditioner if you can find ways to keep your backyard oasis cool. Updating your landscaping can ensure your backyard oasis feels comfortable even during the hotter months of the year.

Nature’s umbrellas

At the beach, umbrellas are used to create shady spots on the sand. In your backyard, you can plant trees to act as shade-creating apparatuses that will never turn inside out on a windy day (although they might lose a few leaves). In addition to their ability to create shady areas around your backyard, trees and other outdoor plants can actually lower the temperature in the area. During photosynthesis, plants release water vapour that cools the air.

Keep in mind that you do have to plant with some strategy. When it comes to trees, consider where the sun will be in relation to your property when you plan on using your backyard the most, then plant trees in areas where they can offer shade accordingly. When it comes to plants, too many of them, or clusters of them near your home, can trap heat rather than promote air flow.

Cooler than concrete

Heat-absorbing surfaces such as gravel, asphalt, rock, and concrete can turn up the heat in your backyard. Decks and walkways made with these materials are not only potentially dangerous to step on barefoot, but they can raise the temperature in their vicinity by radiating the heat they absorb. If these surfaces have been soaking up the sun all day, they’ll keep emitting heat even after the sun goes down.

Consider using bark or woodchips for pathways around your backyard, and vinyl for your deck in lieu of the usual wood. Vinyl planks come with channels inside which dissipate heat, and they can be manufactured in lighter colours that reflect more light than wooden decks, or composite decks made of wood and recycled plastic. While the initial price of a vinyl deck can be a turnoff – vinyl costs about four times as much as a wood deck, and three times as much as a composite deck – it can actually lead to saving time and money down the road, as you won’t have to treat the deck with water repellent every one or two years.

Water, water, everywhere

When you sweat, it’s your body’s way of keeping you cool. When sweat evaporates, it actually cools the surface of the body. This process of evaporative cooling can also apply to bodies of water in your backyard. When water in, say, a backyard pond evaporates, it actually cools the air near the water surface.

You don’t need to have an Olympic-sized pool in your backyard to benefit from landscaped water features. Fountains, small waterfalls, and water containers are all possibilities. In you opt for a feature like a fountain or waterfall, you also get the benefit of being able to listen to flowing water – a soothing sound to come home to after a long day at work!