This piece originally appeared on Fix.com.
Now that the warmer weather is here, I find myself sitting outside on my back patio at all times of the day. In the morning, I may drink coffee and skim magazines; in the afternoons, I often enjoy the outdoors while I work on my computer; at night after my daughter goes to bed, my husband and I play some gin rummy. This space is an extension of our home. I spend a lot of time there and enjoy it very much, but that doesn’t mean I want to break the bank while adding some special touches and design elements. Therefore, I came up with some DIY ideas to spruce up an outdoor space that are gentle on the pockets.
Improving your outdoor space essentially involves bringing your living room outside. You want it to be inviting, inspiring, and comfortable for you and your guests to have great conversation in a welcoming setting. Small changes, such as adding fresh flowers and potted plants, setting mood lighting, and incorporating accent pieces, can make a big difference in a small space like a patio, porch, or veranda.
Potted Plants and Flowers
The most well-designed rooms feature fresh flowers. Why not display them on your patio? I’m not talking about going to your local flower shop once a week and displaying a flashy bouquet. Instead, display a potted plant or succulent garden that with proper care will last a long time on your tabletops and side tables.
Succulent gardens are all the rage these days, which is fantastic because they are inexpensive and beautiful and they need minimal attention. You can purchase mini-succulents in grocery stores and flea markets for around $1–3 each.
Before you plant your succulent garden, you need a container. Check your local thrift store, garage sale, or Grandma’s house for unusual shallow glass vases or bowls, such as vintage milk glass, that will work for your project. You can also opt to make your own. Recycle a plastic whipped cream or butter tub to use as your garden container. Dress it up with some natural jute to make a rustic or nautical-inspired pot perfect for the outdoors. To make this pot, trim the plastic container with scissors so it is about 3–4 inches high. Using a paint brush, paint white glue or decoupage medium onto the outside of the container. Starting at the bottom, wrap twine, jute, or rope around the container until you reach the top, and secure the end of the rope with glue. Once it is dry, you are ready to plant your garden.
To make your own succulent garden, you will need the following items:
- 3-4 mini succulents
- A container
- Potting soil
- Gardening gloves
Mix a ratio of 50/50 of gravel and potting soil. It’s easiest to mix with your hands. Place a small amount of the mixture at the bottom of your container and transfer your succulents in the desired arrangement. Water your garden. Place a layer of gravel on top, covering any soil that may be showing. Succulents need to be watered once a week, and they can tolerate a lot of sun.
Set the Mood with Lighting
Lighting helps set the mood in any room. It is also a must for outdoor entertaining in the evenings. Hiring an electrician to install outdoor lighting can get pricey, not to mention the cost of the light fixtures themselves. Instead, keep your white Christmas lights up all year long on your back patio. That extra twinkle and sparkle is calming and relaxing. You can also place tea lights in some sand-filled Mason jars and place them all around your space, or you can even make your own Mason jar knotted lanterns.
To make a Mason jar knotted lantern, you will need the following items:
- Mason jars
- Tea lights
Recycled sauce jars are perfect for this project. Cut eight pieces of twine approximately 6–7 feet long. Lay them across one another in two bundles of four, keeping them even. Tie a lanyard knot in the center. Starting at the center, measure up two inches and tie a knot with each adjacent string. Continue tying knots. Insert your Mason jar. Tie a knot a few inches above the lip of the jar. Try hanging three to five lanterns over an outdoor coffee table or dining table. Fill each jar about three quarters of the way full with pebbles. Place the tea light on top. You want to hang the lanterns low enough that it is easy to replace and light the tea lights. Keep the lids of the Mason jars to cover the jars when they are not in use and to protect the tea lights from rain.
Accent Pieces Are a Must
Lastly, every outdoor space feels more like home with some throw pillows and curtains that add color and comfort. Make your own rustic chic throw pillows by upcycling a coffee bean sack, rice sack, or dish towel. Stencil them with your favorite words or designs. Curtains can not only add a dramatic look but also add privacy and shade you from the sun. Sometimes a simple shower tension rod will do to hang curtains. Making your own curtains is easy, even for the novice seamstress. DIY curtains are much more affordable than buying curtain panels, which are often sold separately. Numerous online retailers offer several options, styles, and designs. When making your own curtains, chose an outdoor fabric such as 100-percent polyester or drop cloths. These types of material are fade resistant, and they can easily be wiped down or hand washed. Measure your space. A typical panel is about 50” by 84”. You can use clip rings to attach them to your curtain rod. Don’t forget your tiebacks; rope can be an inexpensive alternative, offering a rustic or nautical feel.
As you can see, many easy DIY projects are out there to help you spruce up your outdoor space. Recycle and reuse things you already have to save money. Chances are that unused treasures are collecting dust in the back of your cupboard, waiting to be transformed into a succulent garden.