How to get the most out of patio season

You’ve waited all winter. And so has the patio, under snow, moisture and debris. It may require a little TLC, but that’s a small price to pay for the hours you’ll spend enjoying it, especially over long holiday weekends. So in honor of our outdoor space, we pulled together some quick kick-off-to-summer primers and styling tips. Let’s get to it.

1) Start Fresh

If you haven’t gotten out here yet, you’ll want to start with the basics, like sweeping away leaves and debris and giving your patio or deck a good hose down. Clean outdoor furniture, decorative accessories and pots and sparkle up your windows. You’ll feel better already.

2) Create a Color Palette

Start with the colors you naturally gravitate toward or ones that evoke the mood you’re after (red or yellow for high energy, blues and violets for subdued relaxation, monochromatic greens for a natural, serene vibe) then mix them in with live plant material, fabrics, containers and accessories.

3) Plant What You Love

Start by freshening up your existing plants by removing dead leaves or blooms, watering well, even dressing with a little mulch or decorative moss.

For new containers or to fill in holes in your current pots left by early spring flowers that didn’t thrive, choose heat-tolerant plants that will take you well into summer with little care. Check out our Top 5 Heat-Tolerant Annuals to get you started. And here’s a quick guide to planting up interesting pots. One more thing. You can even plant to naturally repel mosquitos with plants like scented geraniums, basil, rosemary and lemongrass.

Want to make it even easier? Drop hanging baskets into your pots. Carefully remove the handle and you’re golden. Or hang them from your porch or patio in series of three (or any odd number) to evoke interest and movement.

Easier yet? Try our favorite fake-it-til-you-make-it option for containers that look freshly and expertly planted…in seconds. Grab & Go containers are seasonal combos pre-planted by designers in fiber pots fit for dropping directly into your containers. No mess and no one to tell if you take the credit.

4) Give your furniture a facelift

Brand new patio furniture is a treat, but we’re not in a position to buy new every season. That’s when weather resistant spray paint can save the day. There are finishes for virtually any surface (wood, metal, plastic) and they’ve come a long way since the black, neon and primary color days. Have a little fun and change your entire look, update one piece, or for a playful twist, do your chairs in different colors.

Or let go of the idea that everything needs to be new and improved and search out flea market finds that add some charm, like wire milk crates, distressed wooden tables and chairs or interesting accessories to double as doorstops or paperweights.

5) Layer on accessories

Outdoor fabric and indoor/outdoor rugs have come a long way. Decide on the vibe you’re going for and choose the colors, patterns and designs that fit. We like to toss in some fresh fade- and moisture-resistant pillows (a must unless you’re diligent about stowing them regularly), add an indoor/outdoor rug to cozy up a large space and give it boundaries, set up or borrow a table or tables you can use to hold serving dishes, a drink station or extra supplies, or add an interesting framed mirror to reflect your surroundings and expand a tiny space. You don’t even need to worry about hanging it, simply prop it against a ledge or wall.

6) Add some privacy

This could probably qualify as another accessory, but we love the idea so much, we thought it deserved its own mention. If you have any type of structure on or near your patio, we love the trend of bringing drapes or privacy panels outdoors. Suspend between pillars or from the covered porch. The fabric softens the space and adds an interesting, billowy touch.

You can also create a green screen or living wall by planting up a nearby landscape bed or another option we love is to plant tall, full trees and shrubs in large containers to give you the flexibility for shifting them around. Start here to create your green screen.

7) Pot up some herbs

They’re beautiful, you can use basil, oregano, mint and more in summer marinades and drinks and their fragrance only adds to the experience over dinner, drinks or relaxing with a book.

8) Use what you have

When you are using your patio for entertaining, don’t feel like you need to go to extremes to be company ready. Use your imagination and turn what you find in your yard into a centerpiece, individual place settings or tiny take-home bouquets. Use perennial blooms, flowering branches and interesting foliage and grasses to create something unique. We love the inspiration we found here and even here for ways to bring the comfort and design of the indoors, out.
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Throw in a grill of your choice, fresh food and drinks and just add family and friends. Enjoy your summer.