outdoor decorating, outdoor spaces

Creating an Outdoor Oasis on the Cheap!

I found this great article by Kathleen Wilson and wanted to share it with you.

We all should have a haven in the outdoors; it is soothing to the soul. It can be done with little money, little space, and just a bit of creativity. Check out these five great ideas for creating your own private hideaway.

1.Carve out a space, an outdoor room if you will. It can be a large patio or deck, a corner of the lawn, even a small porch or balcony. If you look hard enough, you can almost always locate a place to make your special room.

2.Treat your room as just that, a room. Create walls, seating area, and floor. No, I don’t mean a visit to the home improvement center, just place objects to suggest these boundaries, it offers the emotional comfort and security of a real room. Suggestions? Place planters to create walls, paint on your porch floor a faux rug, outline your area with found stones or brick form construction sites (always ask first!), pick up yard furniture from yard sales, create benches from a piece of lumber laid over concrete blocks, hang plants to offer partial privacy to your space, use your imagination, and think as you would decorating an indoor space.

3.Add container plants. As mentioned before, they can add structure to your outdoor room, but also add accent color, texture, scent, and charm. Buy inexpensive terra cotta pots at your local discount store, and paint them to add your distinctive touch. Using ordinary craft paint or leftover house paint, you can sponge, stamp, or stencil any design you like. Try choosing colors that will compliment your flowers. Or to pull together a “room” full of unlike planters and furniture, choose one beautiful color and paint all your items with that. My favorites are a vibrant periwinkle blue, or a pale lime green, but hunter green, terra cotta, and earth tones all look very natural in a planted setting. Also look for unusual containers at garage sales to add whimsy to your room like old cast iron pots (spray with a sealer to prevent rust), wooden boxes, even old boots can be converted to a new plant home.

4.Plants themselves can be quite costly, so here are a few ideas to fill those containers. Division or cuttings can propagate many plants quite easily. Most perennials actually prefer to be divided every few years. Ask your gardening friends if they have any divisions they might like to share with you, most gardeners love to pass on their passion. You might even have some in your own yard ready for dividing. A great site to learn more about plant propagation on the web is www.gardenweb.com. Or you can check out great books from your local library for free. Seeds are also very economical. Many dwarf varieties of your old favorites are available for pots, and some good choices might include zinnias, alyssum, marigolds, dwarf cosmos, basil (I love the purple varieties, very ornamental), nasturtiums and dwarf sunflowers. When you buy annual flowers, always buy them in the smallest possible size. They are much cheaper, and they grow so fast that a month after you buy them you wouldn’t know the difference between those bought in tiny pony packs, or those you paid extra for in big gallon containers. (Except the extra money in your bank account.)

5.Finally, use your space. Have your dessert there, read a book there, drink lemonade, play Monopoly. Or better yet, sneak out when the kids or hubby are occupied and spend a few minutes just remembering what a great gift the great outdoors is to us all.

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