At last the weather is warming up, the plants are springing to life and the sun is beckoning us outside. It may still be drizzling on occasion, but we know our gardens will be getting some heavy use in the next few months. To help you make the most of your outdoor space this summer, here are six simple ways (that won’t break the budget) to ensure that you’re ready.
1. Shed some light. I always say lighting is one of the most overlooked elements of garden design, yet it has the ability to give a landscape a magical quality. But let’s be honest, it can be expensive. If you’re not ready to commit to the installation of a new lighting scheme, a simple string of globe or twinkle lights overhead can impart the same effect. By stringing the lights overhead, you’re essentially creating a ceiling plane, which helps make the space feel cozier and more inviting. Nothing keeps people outside, enjoying a garden after dark, like a beautifully lit patio.
2. Give it a fresh coat. I’m always thrilled when I finally get to drag my outdoor furniture out of the shed. It’s a true sign that sunny skies have arrived. Before setting your furniture out for the season, give it a once-over. Are there any scuffs, maybe a few splinters? If you have natural-colored wood furniture, give those rough spots a quick sanding and apply a fresh coat of an outdoor finish.
Consider painting your outdoor furniture for more color. It’s necessary to first remove the existing finish or paint. This can be done with a hand sander. Once that’s done, choose a color that ties in with the existing scheme for a fresh, clean look, or go bold and choose a color that will make that piece stand out as a focal point in the garden. Either way, once you’re done, you’ll feel like you have a new piece of furniture.
3. Put a rug down. It may seem simple, but dressing up the floor plane by adding an outdoor rug that picks up the color of your home or the colors used in the surrounding landscape can transform an OK space into an “oh boy!” space. An outdoor rug works double duty by softening the hardscape and pulling the scene together.
Tip: Don’t feel like buying a rug and bringing it inside when the weather gets nasty? Try stenciling a rug-like pattern right on the deck. Be sure to use outdoor paint that can withstand the elements and foot traffic.
RELATED: DIY: How to Paint a Sisal Rug
4. The future’s so bright, you have to add shade. Do you love to relax on your front porch and wave to the neighbors as you sip a cool drink? Me too. But what about when the sun’s angle hits the porch just so, and suddenly it’s too hot and bright to enjoy your favorite spot? Instead of retreating indoors this year, try installing a simple rod and curtain that you can draw for a little relief. Not only will you get the shade you crave, but you’ll also have the benefit of a bit more privacy, should you desire it.
5. Remember the details. Sometimes the smallest thing can make the biggest difference. It’s no different when adding the finishing touches to your outdoor space. It can be as simple as adding a few colorful pillows to create a cozy corner … or adding carefully placed candles to light a path and draw a visitor into the garden. (It’s recommended that you use glass hurricanes to house the candles for safety’s sake, and, of course, don’t leave burning candles unattended.)
6. Add a touch of whimsy. Get creative and try hanging a group of mirrors in fancy frames on a wall or fence. The mirrors will create an optical illusion and make the garden seem larger than it really is. The eye is tricked into thinking there’s more to see just around the corner or on the other side of the wall. The fun frames will add a unique touch and make the space all the more inviting.
Caution: Outdoor mirrors should be reserved for small patios and avoided in open areas that could attract flying birds.