Cover story: ‘Decorating’ patio with simple, inexpensive ideas

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“Hanging baskets of flowers, herb pots and wall art created of greens all augment the outside, providing scents, color and sustenance,” Ms. Adams said.

Ms. Levin said she redefined the outdoor space in an old row house by cutting “windows” in the fence.

“The ‘windows’ let in air and rooftop views, and then I added greenery by hanging baskets of flowers in them,” Ms. Levin said. “This really opened up the narrow patio and felt lush.”

Mr. Hastings suggested adding a pergola over a deck or patio for shade and an extra space to hang baskets of plants. He also recommended placing potted plants around the perimeter of a deck or patio to soften the edge of the space.

“If there’s a garden fence or wall on which to hang a mirror, this makes a fantastic statement in your backyard,” Ms. Proxmire said.

Fire and water can add excitement to even a small outdoor space without the expense of building an outdoor fireplace or a waterfall.

“You can buy a prefabricated fire pit to add warmth to your patio and to use the space, even on cooler evenings,” Mr. Hastings said. “Another option is to buy a small wall-mounted or corner fountain. They start at $200 or so and are usually easy to install.”

Ms. Adams said a small tabletop fountain offers another option for adding a water feature.

“Candles help give off diffuse light for evening entertaining,” she said. “String lights are also attractive and distracting. You can use them to highlight elements you wish to attract attention to and use them to distract from areas you are trying to hide. Both candles and string lights add a festive air to your outdoors.”

Ms. Proxmire said colored candles in glass hurricane lamps liven up and change the tablescape in a backyard.

“You can also place a large lantern on the ground next to a casual seating area or on a small tabletop next to the chairs,” she said.

Ms. Levin suggested mixing votives and larger candles in the backyard along with strings of inexpensive globe lights.

Mr. Hastings also recommended using inexpensive lighting to add evening drama to your outdoor space.

“You can find solar post lanterns in different varieties and styles, including some that fit directly on your deck posts for $20 or $30 each,” Mr. Hastings said. “Low-voltage accent lighting is available online or at home improvement stores at a low cost and can give you a nice evening view of your yard, even when you are inside.”

While good lighting, water and perhaps a cozy fire are all good elements to have in an outdoor space, Ms. Levin also suggested adding outdoor speakers for your music. She said Brookstone has outdoor speakers with blue ambient light.

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