3 ways to set the stage for the perfect summer soiree

(BPT) – The backyard barbecue is a staple of the American summer. Long days filled with sun, fun, family and friends are what make lifelong memories. Now is the perfect time to start planning for your next barbecue, so you, too, can create memories you won’t soon forget.

However, before you fire up the grill, you will want to ensure your backyard is prepped and ready to host your friends and family.

Here are three tips to help you create the perfect setting for your patio party:

1. Lay the groundwork

The first step to setting any stage is to lay the groundwork. Unfortunately, many deck or patio surfaces become uncomfortably hot in the direct sun. The problem affects dark-colored deck boards, especially, which absorb heat throughout the day, as well as some composite boards that hold heat. As a result, what should be a comfortable stroll across your deck might end up feeling more like a crash course in the ancient art of fire walking. An overly hot deck is especially problematic for young children and pets, whose feet are more heat sensitive.

“Many people tell us they love the beauty and durability of their composite deck, but not the heat,” said Brent Gwatney, vice president of MoistureShield Decking. His company has developed a solution they call CoolDeck technology. The boards are engineered to absorb up to 35 percent less heat than other composites in similar colors, for a noticeably lower surface temperature on hot summer days.

2. Create shade

Once you have protected your feet from the heat, you’ll want to shield the rest of your body from the summer sun with a pergola or gazebo. These stylish coverings provide a refreshing shady area for friends and family to relax and enjoy themselves. Turn this area into the ultimate relaxation zone by adding hammocks or hanging chairs, along with climbing vines for added beauty and extra protection from the sun.

If you are a weekend do-it-yourself type, look for gazebo and pergola plans on popular social media sites like Pinterest and Houzz. For the less handy, many deck builders will complete the project for you without breaking the bank.

3. Light up the night

Once the sun sets and the temperature drops, you might find yourself missing the light and warmth of the day. While tiki torches offer a temporary aesthetic solution, a more permanent outdoor fireplace can provide heat, light and ambiance to keep your guests happy long into the night. There are many style options, from wood-burning designs to more modern styles that burn gas or propane.

The pricing varies greatly depending on whether you decide on a custom build, or choose to purchase a prefab or portable unit from a home improvement store. With a custom-built fireplace you can even include an outdoor pizza oven and give your guests an alternative to the typical burgers and hot dogs menu. A custom-built fireplace will cost more, and will require a stonemason, but will allow for more personalized features. For more budget-friendly options, you can always pick up a simple wood-burning fire pit from your local home improvement store, starting as low as $200.

Whether you are designing a completely new backyard or just giving your existing one a face-lift, these three tips will help you to create a stylish space that will keep you and your guests comfortable and happy during all of your summer events.