Warm weather is upon us, and it’s time to take the party outside. From Cinco de Mayo to Mother’s Day to Memorial Day, spring’s signature celebrations deserve a festive and welcoming outdoor space. But what if your patio feels a little plain, a little bare, or a little less-than-inspiring for the party of your dreams?
Dreams can become reality if you have the right plan. And we can prove it. We will show you how to take a winter-worn patio and make it bloom into a versatile foundation for hosting three spring parties, from setting up the perfect base space to perfecting every minor detail, down to the apps and napkins.
With the advice from our design and party experts, and the dramatic before and after photos of our patio designs, you are sure to find the inspiration to transform your patio into a party destination all season long.
Build a Beautiful Base
Before running off to purchase celebration decorations, take the time to build a versatile, functional outdoor living base for your family, whether you are entertaining or not. Most patios need the following basic elements:
- A table and set of chairs
- Planters and greenery
- A source of shade
Of course, don’t forget the grill—the official cooking tool of spring and summer.
Click on the arrows to see the patio transformation:
Spruce up the area
After the dreary winter months, your backyard oasis might look a little rough around the edges. Shrubbery can have dead or uneven growth, and leaves and branches litter the ground. In general, your greenery may need a little TLC. Pay attention to the plants and lawn around your patio by trimming, checking for disease or damage, and fertilizing all greenery. Setting up your lawn and garden for success means that they’ll reward you with beauty all season long.
Don’t forget the patio itself. Concrete is the most common patio surface, and since it is semi-porous, it can hold general grime as well as stains from plant matter. Use a pressure washer to bring back its sparkle (while you’re at it, extend the cleaning to the exterior of the house as well). Pressure-washing can prolong the life of your surfaces (mold and mildew naturally cause decay), and the results are immediate!
Once the surface is clean, add potted planters filled with seasonal, colorful flowers to help blend the patio with its surrounding environment.
Choose your investment pieces
Plastic Adirondack chairs are great for a casual get together. But when you’re ready to transform your outdoor space into an entertaining area suitable for the whole family, you’ll need comfortable, attractive seating, some shade and a table fit for all the great food coming off the grill.
“The elements are going to take their toll, so it’s important to invest in quality,” says KariAnne Wood, a blogger, lifestyle expert and creator of Thistlewood Farms in Paducah, Kentucky. “Look for pieces that are a good scale for your size patio, and when you invest in furniture, make sure that you get furniture protectors so you can protect it from the elements in the off season.”
A neutral table and chair set is a great base (especially if you add a little texture with a rug below it). From there, says Wood, it’s time to add some shade. Consider an umbrella or pergola: “It extends the life of the patio, and helps define and add purpose to the space.”
Umbrellas come in a huge range of styles, from traditional table-anchored options to bigger, more modern cantilever styles.
Finally, the easiest way to “fire up” a party is to add a grill to your outdoor setting. By taking the cooking outside, you’ll get to spend time with your guests, keep the house cool in the heat of summer and show off your cooking chops to the neighborhood. Gas and charcoal are both excellent choices, and some grills include both, so you can leave your options open.
Your base patio is set! Now, building a specific party setting is a snap, which Jacqueline Lawrence of inventivENVIRONMENTS in Charleston, South Carolina, illustrates with the following seasonal soirees.
“I love a challenge like this!” says Lawrence. “It’s really all about creating a plan and then layering the look with texture, color and fabric.”
Party One: Cinco de Mayo
Cinco de Mayo is rising in popularity as a celebration in the US, but don’t fear that you’re stuck with plastic margarita glasses, a piñata and sombreros. Go beyond cliché to celebrate the vibrancy of Mexico and its rich heritage.
Lawrence explains her elegant approach: “We want something cool and inviting for Cinco de Mayo, so we evoke the colors and textures of the high Mexico desert. Cool sage greens, a woven runner, citrus and succulents provide inspiration, and the last two do double duty on the table-scape: The citrus can be a great beverage garnish, and the potted succulents a thoughtful takeaway gift for the evening’s guests.”
Click on the arrows to see the Cinco de Mayo patio transformation:
Additionally, since Cinco de Mayo is often more of an evening affair, Lawrence also includes a glint of copper to catch the setting rays of the sun, and uses the space under the umbrella as a party “ceiling” from which to hang decorative elements. In this case, copper lanterns accented by a fresh flower garland woven throughout look even better when there’s a soft glow from the lanterns’ candles.
Our menu highlights the culture of Mexico:
Party Two: Mother’s Day
Small details, pale petals, tinkling glass and delicate treats—Mother’s Day is all about making the women in your life feel special, so it makes sense that traditional feminine details lead the way in this design. Seersucker fabric is fresh and full of spring promise, beautiful glassware makes the day sparkle and you can never have enough flowers for Mom.
“The amount of flowers for this scene might feel over the top, but really, it’s very doable!” says Lawrence. “Purchase some potted plants in bloom for the planters, and then layer flowers for the table. Buy simple cut flowers to arrange for a centerpiece, and then add flower heads to each place setting—and even the ice cubes! Different varieties, colors and sizes really provide the illusion of an abundance of petals.”
Click on the arrows to see the Mother’s Day patio transformation:
Below the petal explosion are the fresh stripes of seersucker—Lawrence used the iconic breathable fabric as a runner, complemented by delicate napkins and even more floral motifs on fabric pillows, which creates a luxurious feel and makes the scene one-of-a-kind. Maybe mom always told you to “dot your i’s and cross your t’s”—this design does all that in the details.
Our garden-inspired Mother’s Day menu features fresh and light fare:
Party Three: Memorial Day
For Memorial Day, take your color cue from the American flag to plan a patriotic party. Red, white and blue used in equal proportions create a bold backdrop for a casual cookout.
Kerrie Kelly of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab in Sacramento, California, uses the patriotic trio to great effect.
“Nothing says ‘all-American’ quite like a decorative grouping of pots and planters full of red geraniums, while vibrant outdoor pillows in hues of red, white and blue set the tone of your celebration,” says Kelly, adding, “Don’t forget the miniature flags!”
Click on the arrows to see the Memorial Day patio transformation:
Lawrence follows this classic advice in setting the scene for our Memorial Day party, including swapping out the chairs’ seat cushions for a motif that fits the celebration. “A few styles of cushions can really extend the life of your furniture and make it feel fresh with a simple change. Why not a bright pop of red for Memorial Day or the Fourth of July?” she asks.
Additionally, Lawrence uses monofilament to hang paper stars and lanterns from the umbrella, extending the color from the table itself into the entire space.
The table and the grill are the stars of this show, and the table is set to create a buffet style service for the food. A few chairs are moved into a conversation area in the shade, providing easy table access for guests to fill their plates. Although cool desserts will help take minds off the heat, designer Kelly suggests being ready with an assortment of yard games.
“Activities like corn hole, croquet and ping-pong get the whole family involved, while a kid-approved activity like decorating bike baskets or making ice cream sundaes keep their focus on the fun of the long weekend,” suggests Kelly.
Once the food is finished, it’s easy to clear away the serving dishes and transform the table for crafts.
Our Memorial Day menu takes the standard cookout fare up a notch:
Starting with a neutral, comfortable base will ensure that your party goes as planned, no matter the occasion. From there, choose an inspiration for the decor and then take a cue from our professional designers by layering elements to make your spring party feel more professional and put together. Now all that’s left to do is celebrate!
Source: CB Blue Matter Blog
Add a touch of green to your home. Indoor plants brighten up any room and they can also help purify the air in your home. Here are five low maintenance houseplants and instructions on how to grow and take care of them—no green thumbs required!
1. English Ivy
Caring for ivy plants is easy and rewarding. English Ivy is known to grow effortlessly. It can even thrive under fluorescent light. Place your English Ivy on your bookshelf and let the vines grow for a dramatic effect.
2. Jade Plant
Jade is a popular succulent because it requires little care. It needs moderate lighting. You can water the plant when the top soil is dry to the touch. If you are feeling creative, try mixing up different kinds of succulents for a terrarium garden.
3. Air Plants
As the name suggests, these plants don’t even need soil to survive! Each leaf of an air plant absorbs water and nutrients. Air plants need bright indirect light and they need to be soaked in a bowl of water for 30 minutes once a week. Show off your air plants on a piece of driftwood for a rustic look or in a hanging terrarium for a minimalist look.
4. Areca Palm
Turn any room into a paradise with Areca Palms (aka Butterfly Palms). Areca Palm usually reaches a height of 6 feet when it is grown indoors. It requires bright indirect sunlight and it should be watered biweekly or when the soil dries out.
Photo credit: @almostmakesperfect
These fragrant herbs grow indoors just as well as they do outdoors. Just make sure they get plenty of sunlight and water them often. The best part of growing a basil plant is that you can eat it! Garnish your favorite pasta dish or make a delicious basil cucumber gin.
When you have your own home and are responsible for your lawn care, should you do it yourself? There are two sides to DIY, good and bad. On the bad side first, if you don’t know what you’re doing, there can be consequences. But you could consider it as a learning experience too, and it will save you money.
What pros and cons would a homeowner face in this consideration?
- You’ll save money with DIY lawn care, sometimes the extra cost of a professional can be expensive. If you’re on a tight budget, it might not be possible to hire one anyway. In fact, the average price for a single lawn mowing service is $43 per service, according to LawnStarter Lawn Care.
- Mowing grass is excellent exercise, and you’ll work up a sweat in no time; especially if you’re using a walk behind mower. Yes, the mower does do a lot of the work, but you still have to hold on to it and guide it. Plus, you have the troublesome spots on the unlevel areas. But it gives you a great workout!
- Many homeowners take pride in caring for their lawn themselves. They know where each patch of crabgrass is and where the last dandelion is hiding. They take pride in the beauty of their green yards and interesting gardens that add so much beauty.
- It encourages interaction with your neighbors as you discuss the best fertilizer and lawn care products. Plus, saying can you help with my brown spot and do you have moles too?
- You will notice more easily things that need your attention. You will find that hole behind a bush that the dog dug trying to escape. Or, whether it’s time to dethatch the lawn or can it wait another week.
- If your lawn is thick, it will need dethatching to permit the grass to breathe. Instead of racking your back though you can rent or buy a power dethatcher. This you can do yourself with very little help except for the raking up of the debris.
- You have more control over how high you want your to be grass mowed. When the temperature starts to rise, the height of your lawn should too. When you mow too low, then you’re opening up the possibility of weeds because weeds need light to sprout. If you have a kid from down the street mow your lawn, you can’t always control the grass height if it’s their lawn mower.
- There can be some drawbacks with DIY lawn care such as finding the correct lawn products. Since homeowners don’t usually have the skilled expertise that lawn care companies do or access to commercial grade products, they have to keep on buying different products until they figure out what works the best.
- The results of all your hard work may be mediocre as you struggle with crabgrass and dandelions. Or worse, you could have grubs, and without professional help, you may not be able to control them.
- There are hidden costs of taking care of the lawn yourself which you may not have factored into it. Without professional input, there are some things you could be missing or doing incorrectly. You could be using incorrect ratios when spreading or spraying your lawn. Or, perhaps misusing a pest control product which could harm the environment, your landscape, hardscape; or even your lawn.
- When you do your lawn care, you could have problems storing the containers of product you need for your lawn. You will have to secure weed, lawn, and disease treatments in a place which will be moisture proof and cold weather proof. Plus, if you have children, storing products safely and out of reach can be a big concern.
- You might not have the experience to know if the big brown spot if from Fred, your dog, or because you have some type of fungus growing which is slowing killing your grass. You may not be able to treat this without some kind of professional opinion given.
- If you really gouge your lawn, the professional that you hire to repair it is going to cost real money.
Whether you do your own lawn care or hire a professional, a great lawn is something everyone wants to have.
Jackie Greene is a blogger, gardener, and nutrition enthusiast. She enjoys creating organic meals for family and friends using the fresh ingredients she produces from her backyard homestead.
Which DIY projects have the biggest return on investment? Find out here.
Source: CB Blue Matter Blog