Have you ever found yourself on the first cold day of autumn lamenting that another warm season has come and gone without your having taken advantage of the opportunity to spend every moment outside?
For those of us lucky to have an outdoor space in the city, we benefit from easy access to the outside world. We also accept the challenge of how to maximize our (likely tiny) porch or yard. As you spring clean inside your home, dedicate some time to making your outdoors as inviting as your indoors.
Here are some tips for making the most of your outdoor space from a rural transplant learning to make due with a small garden.
Sweep Away Winter Blues
When spring faked us out in late February this year, I itched to get outside to begin to prepare my yard for summer. Opening the back door for the first time in a few months, I found detritus from the windy season. Dried leaves, seed pods from surrounding trees, dirt, trash that had blown in the from the city, and more. The clutter overwhelmed me and presented the space as small and uninviting.
So I picked up a broom and cleared the whole area. Working with a blank canvas, I began to envision my goals for the space. Even though spring rains will likely leave me sweeping again and again, I prioritize starting out each outdoor work session with this small task that makes a big difference.
Let There Be Light
Even a yard surrounded by office buildings can feel like summer heaven with some twinkle. Purchase inexpensive Christmas lights from big box stores or Goodwill any time of year to hang around your space. For entertaining, put tea lights in votives, mason jars, and glasses. You’ll feel like you are out in the country, surrounded by fireflies all summer long.
Grow Your Own Decor
No matter how small your porch, find space to add a little green. Try utilizing an empty corner or even hanging pots on the railing. Start small and easy, with herbs. Cilantro and parsley survive freezing weather so plant them in early spring. Transition to warmth-loving herbs like basil in late April or May. As we approach summer, shade from surrounding buildings creates a cooler environment for cold-loving plants like kale. Put fruiting plants like tomatoes in a sunny spot for optimal ripening. If flowers are more your thing, plant varieties that bloom on different schedules, so they will blossom all summer long.
Summer passes quickly, so prepare yourself in the spring by buying pots, soil, and seeds for the season. Purchase seedlings closer to the time you plan on planting them so they will be at their ideal size when they go in your pots or garden.
Set Your Style Free
Inspired by in local bars’ yard decor, smaller cafe-style table-chair sets create a relaxed, breezy vibe in my yard. Experiment in your outdoor space with style choices you might not be prepared to make inside. Hang up some (waterproof) decor you haven’t found a space for in the house, buy a brightly colored chair, or let the kids decorate. Make this space inviting, and you won’t find yourself fleeing to your air conditioned haven all season long.
What unique ways have you found to make your outdoor space the go-to spot, March through October?
Photo Credits: Death to Stock Photo, Kaboomopics, Unsplash