By Fix Editors
Updated August 17, 2015
Credit: Courtesy of

This piece originally appeared on

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.


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
  • Gravel
  • 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


To make a Mason jar knotted lantern, you will need the following items:

  • Mason jars
  • Twine
  • Scissors
  • Tea lights
  • Pebbles

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


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.