Spruce Up Your Outdoor Spaces

In May 2020, Stuff by Raleigh MagazineLeave a Comment

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If you’re feeling claustrophobic, sick of your home’s four walls, you’re not alone. Logan’s Garden Shop landscape architect Mike Riha says the Raleigh store’s sales are up over the last year. 

“People are sitting around, staring at their backyards, thinking, ‘I can create a better space,’” Riha says. He calls it crisis gardening. “Most people are buying plants— ornamental or vegetable.” Riha squashes the notion that it takes a “green thumb” to grow veggies; in fact, he says, as far as gardening goes, it’s almost no fail. 

“Growing herbs or tomatoes is easier with prefabricated boxes,” says Riha. “It controls Mother Nature.”

So, whether you want to upgrade with a fun water feature or create the perfect area to chill out outside, there are lots of ways to make your outdoor living space a hangout spot you can enjoy long after the quarantine is over. Here are some ideas to get you outside and gardening or refreshing your patio or back yard.

Outdoor rug from Furnish NC
Outdoor rug from Furnish NC

An Outdoor Rug
Need something to jazz up your patio space without big renovations? Consider a large outdoor rug! Not only is this a good way to include color in your backyard, it’s also an inexpensive way to change up a space without having to go through the process of painting or staining a deck.

Plant Flowers
When it comes to simple backyard ideas on a budget, you can never go wrong with planting flowers, an ideal way to add a natural pop of color to your landscape. Plant hydrangea bushes or tulip bulbs along the fence if you have a major green thumb. Or go to your local plant nursery and buy a few pots to fill with your favorite blossoms.

A Fire Pit
The best backyard designs are the ones that include a fire pit. There are kits and great YouTube videos with step-by-step instructions for building your own but it may not be an ideal endeavor for the casual DIY-er. “This project requires a higher aptitude for building to be successful,” says Riha. If you decide to buy instead of building, your biggest decision is to go with a pit that burns either wood or gas—consider someone will be chopping or collecting all the wood to burn. And make sure you include ample seating around your fire pit—you don’t want to be too cramped when you’re roasting marshmallows!

Mood Lighting
If you’re looking to have one of the most beautiful backyards on the block, invest in outdoor lighting. Drape string lights down across your outdoor living space to give it a starry night feel. You can also line any patio or garden path with torches and lanterns for soft lighting.

Mosquito Service
Mosquitoes are a major problem in warm weather. If you don’t want to spray on smelly repellents every time you go outdoors, consider a mosquito control service. Rich Cohen, owner of Raleigh-based Mosquito Joe, says his company was starting to see an uptick even before the official stay at home orders were announced. “The driving force is that people are staying home and they really want to spend as much time outside as possible,” says Cohen. He offers three options: A synthetic barrier spray that lasts three weeks, a botanical barrier spray that also lasts three weeks and an all-natural spray that lasts two weeks. The cost varies depending on your yard’s size but the company is offering discounts for first time customers due to the outbreak.

Photo courtesy of Pretty Handy Girl

Create a Stone Path
You don’t need a garden; just create a clear path from your house to the hammock or backyard fire pit. “You only need 10-15 stones and stone dust,” explains Riha. “It’s an easy, low-budget, do-it-yourself project.” You can also add a little flair to your pathway by adding yard decorations like glow in the dark rocks or garden stakes.

A hammock is a fun backyard fixture that everyone will appreciate. Suspend a hammock between two trees and fasten the ropes with either industrial hooks or tree straps. Affordable hammocks with stands are also an option if a sturdy tree isn’t available.

A Portable Bar
Say goodbye to making multiple trips inside with a bar cart on wheels. Load your cart up with glasses, small appetizer plates, a pitcher for lemonade or water and an array of snacks for a convenient outdoor fueling station. And if it starts to rain, you can easily transport your cart back inside to keep the party going.

A Fountain
Need some ideas for a small yard? Invest in a fountain! Fountains are a great way to add a water feature to your outdoor space without costing too much or taking up lots of room. Riha says adding a fountain is another ideal do-it-yourself project—as long as you can lift the weight and dig the hole.

Plants and a renovated backyard won’t cure the coronavirus but they can certainly improve your mood—and your mental health should be a top priority if you’re cooped up with the kids, the dogs and a spouse. So take some time to get outside!

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