1. Curl up in a nook: Cynthia S. Benoit, president of Benoit Exterior Design in Carlsbad, Calif., created a small nook in a client's courtyard, with a focus on a handmade copper water runner surrounded with delicate plants. The area, previously neglected, turned into a pleasant nook for anything from the morning newspaper to afternoon story time.

2. Sleep away the afternoon: Couple a cozy hammock with a few shady trees in the background, and you've got an instant retreat … and a readymade nap opportunity.

3. Put on your game face: Challenge a family member to a game of ping pong, boccie or horseshoes. Any game that allows for the sharing of a tradition, a passion, or an afternoon is always a summer success.

4. Light the tiki torches: Even basic tiki bars come with bar stools, built-in glassware racks and shelves for bottles. They're great for enjoying cool drinks or a full meal.

5. Do more with less: Zen gardener Kohei Owatari, of Valley Center, Calif., says Japanese-inspired gardens are well known for their use of fewer natural resources. "In this case, less is more. You don't want to crowd a Zen garden," he says.

© CTW Features

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