Resolve to use your deck or patio for more than grilling this summer.
A couple of chairs, containers with plants, a string of Christmas lights and some colorful cushions can put you on your way to space you’ll delight in. And the transition doesn’t have to be expensive.
“I do a lot at Target, I do a lot at Wal-Mart,” said Mickey Cohlmia, owner of Petals and Porches by Mickey.
Her deck includes pillows she found on sale for $2 each, an old window frame that she turned into a trellis and wire shelving that became a plant stand for ferns.
Charolett Knapic, owner of Echo Landscapes, said one large plant container or three smaller ones grouped together can be color-coordinated with furniture.
Plant containers are like accessories for the deck, Cohlmia said, polishing a look. Choose a low-growing plant for your table, so you can see over it.
For a cooling effect, use blues, purples and lime greens for deck decor. Add a big Kimberly queen fern or a palm, Knapic said. For a spicier feel, go with oranges, yellows and reds. The hot pink flowers of an oleander pair well with the yellows of a Cape daisy.
Don’t have $300 for an artistic container? Consider other possibilities: Five-gallon buckets, old wheelbarrows, stacked cinder blocks or watering cans can hold plants, Knapic said.
And a can of spray paint gives a new look to something old, Cohlmia said, suggesting neon colors for summer.
Lighting sets the mood for evenings. A string of white Christmas lights along a deck rail or up a tree trunk, old hurricane lamps or lanterns, solar lights or even a chandelier are possibilities.
Take cushions and pillows in every night. If you do, “they last forever,” Cohlmia said.
Use wind screens to block hot summer wind. Old windows without glass, a section of lattice or a pallet on its edge can be a place for vines to grow or the backdrop for a cluster of plants. Vines can be trained to grow up a bamboo frame or a tripod made of branches, Knapic suggested. Grasses provide a “kind of singing to your ears” in the wind, Cohlmia said.
Big containers hold moisture better, regulate the soil temperature better and won’t go sailing in the wind. To lighten them, fill about one-third with recycled water bottles or old firewood before adding soil, Knapic said. The wood is better, because it will decompose, improving the soil.
Container plantings can feed you, too. Dwarf fruit trees (take them inside for winter), lettuce and parsley are among the possibilities, Knapic said. Many flowers, including nasturtiums and pansies, are edible.