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1. Make sure your patio or deck is large enough
Determine what you want to be able to do in your outdoor space, and then make sure you have enough room to do it. An outdoor eating area should not be smaller than 10′ x 10′. This will leave enough room for people to be able to pull out their chairs without feeling like they may fall off the deck.
If you also want a spot for relaxing, you will need enough room to have at least a couple of comfortable chairs and a side table. And if you’re like me, and have lots of outdoor seating, you will also need to factor in where all those cushions will be stored.
2. Use comfortable furniture
There are many kinds of outdoor furniture available now that are just as comfortable as your indoor sofa. And some of the dining chairs are even more comfortable than the ones most people have in their dining rooms. Buy the most comfortable outdoor furniture that you can afford.
3. Make sure there’s enough shade
If you are lucky enough to have trees providing shade for your seating area, you are ahead of the game. If you don’t, you will need to provide your own shade to make the area comfortable. You can do this using permanent structures such as gazebos, covered porches and awnings, or you can use less-permanent shade solutions such as umbrellas and shade sails (don’t be afraid to use more than one if one umbrella does not cover your area).
4. Use colors that you like
Both flowers and seating material can be used to provide color in your outdoor space. Pick colors that you like and you’ll automatically feel more comfortable in your space.
5. Pick plants that are right for your yard
Unless you really love trimming back bushes and pulling weeds, you’ll want to pick plants that provide the color you want without taking too much work to maintain. This means picking plants that are well-suited for the area of the country that you live in as well as the specifics of your particular yard and the amount of work you want to put in…take the following into account when picking your plants:
- moisture levels (dry vs wet),
- type of soil (clay vs. sand),
- high temperatures in the summer and low temperatures in the winter,
- how much sun that spot in your yard gets (2 hours or less is considered shade, 6 hours or more is considered full sun),
- the maintenance requirements of the plant and how much you like working in the garden (roses will need to be pruned and dead-headed regularly while hydrangeas require very little care)
6. Add landscape lighting
Lighting at night adds a magical feel to your yard. For the widest variety of lights, install low voltage wiring and buy lights to fit your lighting needs. If you don’t want to worry about installing wiring, today’s solar landscape lights are much better at providing lighting than they used to be, and can be easily placed wherever you need them (be aware that if they are located in a shady location, you may not get the same level of light for the same length of time as you would for the same light in a sunny location).