We’ve entered the dog days of summer, which means things have been hot outside for awhile and we’re looking for ways to keep ourselves cool for the rest of the season.  Of course we could just stay inside and enjoy our air conditioning, but what fun is there in that? We need sun and fresh air to keep ourselves healthy, and so do our pets. The best way to do that is to make your backyard as comfortable as possible, so that a heat wave doesn’t ruin your summer. Here is how to keep cool in your backyard.

Create Some Shade

There are two ways you can create shade in your backyard. The first, and most eco-friendly way is to add a little natural shade. You can start by planting trees. The U.S. Department of Energy says that the shade and evapotranspiration (the process by which water is transferred from the land to the atmosphere by evaporation by transpiration from plants) provided by trees can reduce the surrounding air temperatures by up to 6° F. What’s more, the shade directly under trees can reduce the temperature by as much as 25°F. If you don’t have enough space for adding a tree, you can install an arbor or trellis and cover it with climbing vines, or put in some shrubs. Not only can these tips help you stay cool, but they can help your home stay cooler as well and reduce your energy costs.

The other way you can cool off your backyard is to make some artificial shade. You can buy patio or cantilever umbrellas, add a shade sail or install a retractable awning or curtains. If you’ve got the space, you might even want to consider putting up a pergola, a gazebo or a pop-up canopy. Not only will these things keep you cool in your backyard, but they can add to the overall look you are going for and give you a space you are proud of.

Buy The Right Furniture

We’ve all sat down on metal outdoor furniture only to quickly stand up again because it was too hot. Getting singed by lawn and deck chairs that have been absorbing the sun’s hot rays for hours is not fun for anyone. Your best bet when selecting patio furniture is buying ones made out of wicker, accented with lightly colored pillows and cushions. You should avoid metal furniture that has the possibility of coming into contact with your skin at all costs, and any dark colored materials. You’ll probably also want an outdoor storage container to keep your cushions in when not in use, so they can last for longer than one season.

Water, Water Everywhere

It’s a fact that kids love to play with the garden hose, squirt guns and any other type of water they can get their hands on. For their enjoyment (and yours too) you can install one of several different inflatable toys for them to have fun with and keep cool, while running around and enjoying the weather. There are also the options of splash pads, water slides and cooling mats. Installing a misting line is another way to keep cool, and they can be placed on the lawn or even attached to your patio umbrella. Not only will everyone have fun with these options, but it keeps your lawn watered too!

Of course you always have the option of installing a pool. From permanent fixtures for larger spaces, to blow-up pools and temporary options for smaller backyards and lower budgets, there are many ways to get a pool set up. If you do have a smaller space, one trend that has been especially hot lately is using galvanized stock tanks as pools. These come in all sizes, and can give you an instant way to cool down in your backyard. You can even install a small pump and aerator to keep in clean, and you can purchase a cover to keep out leaves and mosquitoes.