Wednesday, April 11, 2012

5 Tips for Great Outdoor Spaces

I love spending time outdoors in the warmer months, and I'm sure a lot of you do as well. Spending evenings in the backyard with my family and a big glass of iced tea may be one of the best parts of the season for me. If you want to make your backyard more inviting for backyard living, or if you just want a few ideas for adding some character to your space, then read on for five great tips for an inviting space that encourages outdoor living! 

{If you like any of these inspiration photos, please click through to the original link before pinning!}


 Design*Sponge

1. Make it comfortable. Chairs, benches, hammocks are all things that help people linger outside. Throw on some colorful cushions, make sure there are surfaces for people to put food or drink on, and you're all set! And remember, it doesn't matter if your chairs match... in fact, an eclectic assortment would look just as great outdoors as it would in your living room -- let's work on letting go of that 'matched set' mentality for our outdoor spaces too. Look at garage sales (the season is almost upon us!) and places like craigslist to score some great deals.


 
 Mr. Goodwill Hunting

Another part of making an outdoor space comfortable in the summer months is planning for pests; mosquitoes can ruin a party faster than just about anything else! If you live in an area with lots of mosquitoes, make sure to eliminate standing water that is perfect for mosquito breeding, like birdbaths or gutters that need to be cleaned.

Some plants and herbs have been shown to deter mosquitoes, so you could plant things like catnip, rosemary, lavender, lemon balm or marigolds in your yard. A classic fix is to light Citronella candles when you're outdoors in the evening, and I've also heard that spraying Listerine around the area can help. (Anyone know anything more about that technique?)

2. Add lighting. There are lots of options when it comes to lighting! Most everyone probably has a hardwired porch light or two, but you shouldn't stop there... lighting can make or break a space inside, and it's the same for a backyard space; you want to transition from daytime to evening gracefully and without your guests (or your family) squinting to see who on earth they're talking to or where the porch steps are. 


Pick up some solar lights to line a pathway with, string mini lights above your porch or DIY some mason jar lanterns and hang them in your trees. Not only is lighting important for boring practical reasons like avoiding party-pooping incidents like twisted ankles or skinned knees, but they can also create a beautiful evening atmosphere that make people want to stay and hang out. In short, mini lights = party central, fo sho.

3. Build a fire.  Don't worry, I'm not unstable. It's just that people are attracted to fires... it's the moth inside all of us or something. Fires bring warmth when it starts to cool off in the evening, and people like to gather around them. Parties can last well into the evening hours when everyone is sitting around a fire, chatting. Or roast some hot dogs and marshmallows with your fam when you camp in your backyard because mom is terrified of camping in bear country and you live in bear country (oh, does that one just apply to me?).



You can always purchase a fancy fire bowl or a chiminea, but there are also lots of instructions for making affordable fire pits yourself online. Just make sure to check your local ordinances regarding fire pits beforehand!

4. Add landscaping. You don't need to break the bank and have a backyard worthy of a magazine spread to make it an inviting space to spend time in, but a few basic ideas will help. Keep the space tidy, the lawn mowed, and remove any trash or dead plants. If you don't like to maintain a full garden, consider adding plants in containers around your porch for color and texture.

If you have a small backyard space, maybe you live someplace urban and it's mostly patio, take advantage of vertical spaces like fences and add climbing plants or flowers, or create vertical plantings.


Another landscaping idea is to add paths or walkways to different areas; people like to follow paths, and it will get people moving around and taking advantage of all your outdoor space has to offer.  Gravel paths can look beautiful and I love the look of pavers set apart at wide spaces in the grass. Flagstones can get expensive, so get creative and use recycled concrete that's been broken up to mimic the look.



5. Bring in some fun details. Now that you've got all the basics covered, you can start getting creative and letting your personality really shine through in your space with details. I'm partial to backyard chickens running around myself right now, and they can certainly be an effective conversation starter! Lots of people enjoy water features -- and if a larger project like that is in your budget, they can certainly add to the atmosphere in an outdoor space. I want to convert my back door to a brightly colored dutch door, which will also bring some charm to my backyard space.


What are some of your favorite details in an outdoor space?
Do you have any tips to keep mosquitoes away? 
What are your outdoor plans for 2012?

3 comments:

  1. We are moving come May, and where we are moving to, we plan on building a covered veranda on the south side of the house, and eventually wrapping it around on the west side. We have already discussed plans such as garden doors, wrought iron chandeliers, 'twinkle' lites (Christmas mini lights) and using wood like 1x2s or 1x4s for the ceiling. Also what kind of furniture to put out there. I can hardly wait!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. i love the glass jars hanging in the tree=)

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  3. I love the flower pots on the fence. Now I need to get a fence...

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