By Paul Colbert
Falling leaves and pumpkin spice lattes. Crisp nights and gloriously mild afternoons. There’s a lot to love about autumns in Pennsylvania. Daytime temperatures drop into the 50s and 60s, and at night there’s just enough chill in the air to put on a jacket. It’s a great season to lounge in your own yard and enjoy the fall colors. Here are five tips for using your hardscaped patio into the fall.
1. Light a Fire
Who says s’mores are only a summer treat? And you don’t have to wait till Christmas time to roast chestnuts over an open fire. Fall is the perfect season to curl up next to a fire pit and stare into the flames. Or enjoy conversation with your friends and family around the fire. Nighttime temperatures in eastern Pennsylvania can dip into the 20s and 30s in October and into November — perfect fire weather. It’s even better if you have radiant heat installed in your hardscaping. The air may get frosty on those fall nights, but you and your guests will be toasty.
2. Football Parties
Forget taking the tailgate to the game. Instead, tailgate on your hardscaped patio. A built-in outdoor kitchen or barbecue grill will wow your guests. But if not, set up a charcoal grill complete with brats and burgers, some bean dip and some beers and you can set up a TV on the patio. Tailgate like you’re in the parking lot of Lincoln Financial Field!
3. Soak It in Before Winter
Host a fall brunch. It’s good for you to soak up all the time outdoors that you can before snowflakes start flying. A 2017 study found spending time outdoors regardless of season, alleviates stress, depression, and anxiety. And it’s easier to hang out on your hardscaped patio when it’s not freezing. Keep an eye on the weather and have an indoor backup plan: That 60-degree day you had planned your brunch for may suddenly become a 40-degree day. Even your best friends will want to retreat if their teeth are chattering.
4. A Fall Garden
Gardening is also good for your mental health, and you can enjoy working with your plants and dirt until the first hard freeze. Lots of plants bloom through eastern Pennsylvania’s beautiful fall season — especially native plants that are adapted to the climate. For example, try planting wild bleeding hearts, which will add color and zest around your patio into October.
5. Autumn Stargazing
There’s a lot to see in Pennsylvania’s nighttime sky. See if you can find the constellations of Perseus, Pegasus, and Cassiopeia. There will probably be some amount of light pollution through most of the metro area. But most residential areas are not that bright, and you should be able to make out plenty of major constellations, stars, and planets from your patio. If you don’t have chaise lounges or other outdoor furniture, layout some sleeping bags or hang up a hammock to make it comfy to stare at the stars through an autumn evening.
Labor Day is not an expiration date for good times on your hardscaped patio in eastern Pennsylvania. Even as the temperatures dip and the days get shorter, there’s a lot to enjoy in the fall season from your own backyard, before the cold pulls you inside until spring.
Paul Colbert is a travel blogger and nature enthusiast. He loves exploring new places and new ways to enjoy the outdoors.