Seat four people at a four-foot-wide table under the Vizor Umbrella ($1,249 with base) and everybody will stay in the shade during peak sunlight hours. As the sun moves, rotate the asymmetrical canopy using a handle on the pole. The canopy closes around the pole thanks to a mechanism that raises the pole as the umbrella folds down. The Vizor comes in three colors—natural canvas, glacier blue, parrot green. Custom colors and graphics cost extra. Available at Annapolis Awnings (410-573-5198; annapolisawnings.com) or online at dfiro.com.
The EZ Hammock ($1,425) by Royal Botania doesn’t sway from side to side as rope hammocks do; it’s attached firmly to the stainless-steel bars. Want to sit and read? Scoot down, and the head of the hammock inclines; scoot toward the top, and you’ll be lying down. Both the hammock and the pillow—which attaches with Velcro—are quick-drying. Available in ten colors at DC’s Apartment Zero (202-628-4067; apartmentzero.com).
The German Grill makes charcoal grilling easier—and you don’t need lighter fluid. Pour in charcoal from the top, stuff newspaper into the chamber below, and light with a match. Fifteen minutes later, start cooking. Use a lever to distribute the coals safely, and control the heat with a handle that moves the charcoal basket up or down. Coals and ashes drop into a removable pan; the rest of the grill opens for cleaning. One model has a cabinet underneath ($1,890) and another a cart ($1,690). Available at germangrill.com.
Biodegradable pots by Ecosource ($3.99 to $9.99 are made of pulverized bamboo and held together with starch. They’ll beautify a windowsill or garden for two to three years; when they start to show wear, break them up (to speed decomposition) and toss them onto a compost heap. They’ll biodegrade in four to six months and provide a nutrient-rich addition to the soil. Other Ecosource pots, made of rice hulls ($4.99 to $19.99), have similar properties but last about five years. Available at Johnson’s Florist & Garden Centers, American Plant, the Greenhouse at Washington National Cathedral, and other stores.
Step on this white disk and water shoots up from the perimeter. This Austrian-made outdoor shower ($1,302) connects to a standard half-inch garden hose with a Gardena attachment (available for a few dollars at hardware stores). The disk, made of nonslip plastic, is a little more than 30 inches wide. Your weight on the disk determines how high the water will go—low for a small child, high for a tall adult, but over the heads of both. Available through viteo.com; click on “products,” then “fresh design,” then “shower.”