Summertime is the perfect time to appreciate the outdoors. There's barbecuing, celebrating holidays and simply enjoying the weekend or occasional evening outside. If your patio was ignored over the winter, you can whip it into summer shape in just one day. Done on a Saturday, you'll have all Sunday to enjoy it. Give your patio some TLC with these quick and easy pick-me-ups.
From the ground up
Your outdoor space starts with a patio or deck, itself. That may be a simple slab at the back door or a balcony. For drab patio slabs or plain wood decks, toss down an indoor-outdoor rug to create some visual interest. If you don't have a defined patio, draw out a design in the grass, outline with bender board, then clear grass away, lay down landscape fabric, then add decomposed granite (an inexpensive landscaping material that resembles a fine gravel and comes in many colors) and tamp down. For something faster, put down large pavers or replace decomposed granite with pea gravel. This will take you an afternoon, but you'll have all summer to enjoy it.
Many patios lack anything that creates a balance of the horizontal plane of the patio with something tall. An easy way to create vertical interest is to add a grouping of high planters or urns filled with a tall plant. You can also build a privacy screen that will work as a backdrop for your patio while giving you a sense of seclusion and adding height. If you have a pergola over your patio, add two or three strings of patio lights to dress it up. Looking for something simpler? Anchor a tall wood or metal post inside a planter. Add dirt and fill with plants, then string lights to your post.
Survey for seating
Look at designing your patio area the same way you would a room. Create a seating area that includes lighting, a table to hold drinks, plus garden stools that can double as a cocktail table and extra seating. A ceramic planter with a wooden top also makes a nice outdoor stand-in for a table and has a rustic appeal. If you plan to use your patio for dining, add a table and seating -- and look for a good spot to anchor the grill.
Go the extra mile
It's the little touches that will bring your patio update together. Add lush plants to give the patio a nice fragrance, and consider also adding container plants with some herbs to use in cooking. Add a console table to hold drinks or ice or to serve food. A hurricane candle in the center of the table and some tall candle lanterns will add a romantic glow on warm evenings. Throw in a water feature made from a tall urn, and the sound of bubbling water will be as soothing as crickets. Be sure to look for some small outdoor accents, too. Those small items will round out your patio's decor.