Turn outside in with these backyard products

Those of us who love the great outdoors often love it precisely for the reasons other people hate it -- namely, it's not a climate-controlled environment. It's nature, damn it!

But there are others who won't venture outside their man-made boxes for a breath of fresh air until all the snow has melted and the sun is shining -- and even then, there are still reasons to complain about all that stuff out there that we can't control. The wind -- there's too much of it. The bugs -- ditto. The sun -- it's shining too bright, and you can't keep the shade from moving with the time.

Or maybe they've already spent all day outside, hiking and biking and rock-climbing, and would simply like a little bit more comfort as they enjoy an evening cocktail on the patio, watching the sun go down.

Regardless, here's some of the latest technology in three different options for your own backyard:

SeaShell awnings (pictured above) are made from recycled lightweight aluminum and fan out like umbrellas, designed to fit into awkward places where awnings might not normally be possible. They have no foot or ground attachments, leaving more space below for lounging.

These Oasis Solar Insect Screens can be placed to enclose patio areas, windows, doors or garages; they block both insects (obviously) and UV rays. You can see through them, so they won't interfere with your view. Of course, Colorado's mosquito problem pales in comparison to some moister, hotter states, but better safe than infected with West Nile, we suppose. At least you'll be able to grill some burgers and steaks without flies coming in for a landing on your feast. Sunesta Retractable Awnings are, well, retractable awnings available in a wide variety of style and colors. You can find them exclusively at Innovative Openings, along with the other products mentioned here; Innovative Openings is a Colorado company with outposts in Denver (303-757-7979), Boulder (303-449-6465) and Fort Collins (970-229-5933).

These are all certainly fancy ways to modify your outdoor experience, and no doubt they're somewhat effective. But -- call us purists -- we'll take an authentic, mosquito-laden, UV-ray-filled afternoon in the backyard any day.

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