Sunny days are here! With the official arrival of summer, many of us are looking forward to spending the season taking any opportunity to spend some time on our decks, porches and patios. We’ve got some ideas for creating the perfect space to unplug, unwind and relax.

find your zen
Shift the focus to nature by turning your outdoor living space into a zen garden. It can provide you some much-needed respite from everyday life. To achieve the vibe, you don’t have to commit to the trademark gravel or sand features found in traditional Japanese dry gardens. Consider adding a water feature for relaxing, natural background noise and seating for peaceful contemplation. Incorporating garden sculptures or rock formations can add a touch of personality to the space.

a concrete idea
Concrete tables, bench seating and fire pits are trending thanks in part to their durability. These pieces are easy to clear, naturally weather-resistant and can stand up to years of use. A wrap-around concrete bench is a great option for a fire pit because it will hold up with the heat. If you’re worried about keeping things cozy, outdoor rugs can bring in warmth and texture to the space, and cushions can always be added for extra comfort.

contain yourself
Planters are a great way to add a splash of color and life to your patio—especially if you don’t want to maintain a large garden. All you need are containers, potting soil and some plants, and you’re ready to go. The options are endless. If you prefer a more modern look, opt for sleek planters paired with succulents. If you like it bold, go with bright blooms. You also can switch up what’s in your containers seasonally, so the look is never stale and can stand up to weather changes.

set sail
Nothing can ruin an afternoon on the patio quicker than glare and heat. Try a sail shade. Aptly named, these sail-like coverings provide more shade than an umbrella and are cheaper and easier to install than awnings. Because they are breathable, they can keep out UV rays while not trapping heat. To make sure your sail shade lasts, choose one that is mold and mildew resistant.