When you look out at your patio this winter, do you feel excited or underwhelmed? If you answered the latter, it might be time to refresh your patio. The first step is to start with a clean slate. Remove everything that is currently on your patio. Give the patio a good cleaning and then you can assess. Repair anything that needs it and clean, stain or paint any part of your deck or patio that needs to be fixed.
Now think about how you want to use your patio. Perhaps your children are now teens. The way you use your patio will be significantly different than when they were in preschool or grade school. Maybe you are an empty nester. Again, you may want to use your patio in a different way. Think about the mood you want to inspire. You may want your patio to be calm and comforting, a place to escape the world. Maybe you want to invite the world in, and you would like to use your patio for outdoor dining and entertaining.
This is also the time to evaluate your landscaping. The plantings around your patio should connect your patio to the rest of your landscape. It can be used to promote privacy or to screen undesirable features like the neighbor’s patio or the storage for trash cans. Most importantly, the landscaping on and around your patio will provide beauty and possibly an adventure with nature. Walking through an arbor covered by climbing roses is an experience for the senses. Being surrounded by trees and shrubs, as well as flowers, is a powerful way to elevate your mood. Here are some ways to refresh your patio.
- Furniture. You may not need to replace your patio furniture. It may just need a fresh coat of paint or stain. Consider replacing the cushions for a new look. If you want to change the function of your patio, you may need to invest in new furniture. Look for high-quality furniture that will hold up to the weather and last a long time. Allow for storage space to hold the cushions and pillows in inclement weather.
- Pergola or Arbor. If you have an open patio with no protection from the sun or weather, consider adding a pergola or arbor. Plant climbing roses or other vining flowers that will grow over these structures and add even more beauty. Some have the added bonus of a fabulous scent for as long as the plants are blooming.
- Fan or Heat. If your summers are uncomfortably hot, invest in an overhead fan to keep the air moving and to prevent the temperature or the humidity from being overpowering. If you want to use your patio in the evenings when it is cooler or in spring and fall, a heater is a good idea. These come in many different styles and are available as electric heat or propane.
- Lights. Your patio will be used into the night if you have adequate outdoor lighting. Add string lights to your pergola ceiling. Solar lights are an inexpensive way to feature the landscaping around your patio.
- Outdoor Carpet. Outdoor carpet has come a long way from plastic artificial grass. The new outdoor carpet will rival what you have in your home. Carpet will visually anchor your furniture and make it feel like a room. It will give your patio a finished look of comfort and style.
- Landscape. Use living plants to connect your patio to nature in your yard. Think about all seasons when planting near your patio. Use flowering trees and shrubs for interest in the spring. Choose plants that have good fall color. Include some evergreens to give structure to your garden space, especially in winter. If you don’t use your patio in the winter, you may think planting for winter interest is unimportant. Remember you have windows and probably a large patio door opening onto the patio. That is a lot of opportunity to see your patio area and it should be interesting. This is also a good time to consider care of your plants. All plants need water and plant fertilizer. You may want to add a watering system for your landscape plants. At the very least, you will want access to water.
- Herbs. If you want to cook and dine outdoors, plant an herb garden on your patio. Use vertical planters that attach to the wall or a free-standing planter for your favorite herbs. Of course, they can be planted right in the ground as close to the patio as possible. Your guests will be impressed when you cut fresh herbs from your garden to use when preparing dinner.
- Fire Table or Pit. For great evening entertainment, add a fire table or a fire pit to your patio. They both will add some heat, but also are very attractive at night. If you want a fire pit, they can be free-standing or built of stone and mortar. Fire pits can be small or very large to accommodate a large number of guests.
- Outdoor Kitchen. Your outdoor kitchen can be as simple as a grill with a side burner to a complete kitchen to rival the kitchen in your home. You could also add your unique fun and add a wood-fired pizza oven. Maybe for you, outdoor refrigeration is high priority.
- Decorative Touch. Lastly, finish off your newly refreshed patio with some seasonal decorations. A good way is by using potted plants. Have pots of houseplants on the tables or in the corners and then add some seasonal plants like chrysanthemums in the fall, zinnias in summer and pansies in the spring. When winter arrives, consider a table-size evergreen tree covered in white lights.
With a little planning, your patio will not only be refreshed, but improved to meet the needs of you and your family.