Looking to get more use out of your outdoor space? The region's climate makes outdoor cooking and dining a perfect fit in most backyards. Here’s a quick look at five things every patio needs to be a comfortable, functional place for eating.

1. Shade: Whether your patio sports an umbrella, an awning or a full roof, having a shady place to eat outside will make your dining area more comfortable and will make your space usable even when it’s raining. No rain checks for your next cookout!

2. Bug repellents: Everyone hates it when the ants crash your picnic, so plan ahead to effectively battle the bugs. Remove any standing water from your patio to prevent mosquitoes from breeding nearby. Retailers also offer a variety of personal sprays, candles and plants for warding off those pesky bugs.

3. Sturdy dinnerware: You don’t want to bring your good, breakable china outside, where the concrete poses an imminent threat. Instead, look for sturdy plastic or metal dishes that can hold up to the elements. While you’re at it, look for a good set of wine glasses for your late evenings on the patio.

4. A nice dining set: Of course, outdoor dining means having an outdoor dining table set, but don’t forget about the supplements to that, like a cabinet to store dinnerware, grilling tools and cooking supplies. Finish that space off with adequate lighting, from tabletop, garland and overhead lights to great solar-powered options.

5. Grill or fire pit: The most important thing for your patio is probably the grill, and there are a lot of options: charcoal or propane? Two burners or four? Movable or built-in? Think about your family’s grilling needs, and don’t overdo it. Perhaps a fire pit and skewer will do it.