Outdoor decor is expensive. A pretty little bowl that might cost $20 in the home department automatically costs $40 when sold in the garden department, where it is also magically transformed into a flower pot. With price gouging like this, beautifying your outside area can be cost prohibitive for those who want more than just white plastic chairs.
The solution is to use that big, creative brain of yours to take things from inside and put them to work outside. Most of the time only minor adjustments can turn them into hardy outdoor residents, and it will give your patio or garden a unique look that can only come from thinking outside the garden department.
Any concave object can become a planter or flower pot, so have fun with it. Large bowls of any material (although metal and ceramic hold up best) are typical, but why be typical? Use old buckets and wash tubs to house larger plants, or situate a tub in the seat-frame of an old chair. As the plant blooms, the carved rails of the chair back lend a downright cottage-y feel, and the upright rails provide support for vines and climbing plants.
plants in pots
Don’t forget about drainage – most plants are susceptible to root rot unless there is a way for excess water to leave the system. A drill with a 1/2-inch bit takes care of this fairly quickly – drill one hole for every four inches of surface area. Keep the holes about a half-inch wide though, or they can become clogged with dirt and debris.
Most indoor furniture can be successfully used outside, with a few modifications and considerations. A completely-upholstered piece probably won’t fare well, but wood or wicker pieces with upholstered cushions will be fine, especially in covered areas. Wood, plastic and metal furniture work great and are very weather-resistant, but become even more charming and picturesque as the material weathers.
To make sure your furniture lasts outside, take a few precautions: cover all upholstered areas with outdoor fabric that resists moisture, mildew and mold. This fabric isn’t necessarily plastic, either – it’s sold under several brands, but they all feel like canvas or a heavy cotton duck, and they are available in a rainbow of colors and prints.
Give all wood furniture a coat of varnish, or rub bare wood with tung oil to help protect against moisture. Metal that’s already powder coated will be fine, but keep bare metal well-oiled to prevent rust. Plastic furniture will be fine.
Before you discard old, stale decor that you’re tired of looking at, give it a go in the garden. Large wall mirrors look great propped up against a fence and left to weather, especially if the surrounding plants begin to obscure part of it. Your daughter may have outgrown all of her fairy figurines, but they’re adorable when placed throughout the garden, hiding halfway under tomato plants.
Even mass-produced bargain-bin sculptural art takes on a whole new life when given a place of honor amidst the impatiens and azaleas. The key is to be selective, and place items carefully. Don’t clutter up your yard – you should not be able to see every single piece from any one vantage point.
Random things from around the house can turn into gorgeous works of craft pretty easily. Hammer some old silverware flat and turn it into wind chimes (these things cost upwards of $50 at specialty stores). Have a collection of random wood boxes that seem to be perpetually empty? Stand them on their sides and prop the door open – voila – instant bird house. Starting a vegetable plot? That drawer full of bamboo chopsticks from the Chinese takeout place make excellent plant markers – glue a square of balsa wood to the top for an even larger writing surface.
See? You didn’t even realize you had all this stuff just hanging around. And with just the smallest bit of work, you now have the most adorable little yard on the block.