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Boost the Beauty and Comfort of Your Outdoor Spaces

By Melinda Myers,
Photographs courtesy of

Add some comfort and beauty to your outdoor spaces this year. Look for options that fit your lifestyle, budget, and schedule. Even simple changes can make a positive impact on the time you spend relaxing and entertaining on your patio, deck, or other outdoor spaces.

Freshen up the look and comfort of these areas with some new furniture. Look for comfortable pieces made of durable materials guaranteed to provide years of enjoyment. If this is not within your budget, consider refurbishing something you already have, are gifted from a friend, or find in a thrift shop. Adding a bit of paint, new cushions, or even colorful pillows can transform older pieces into something special.

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Add some shade. A strategically placed umbrella can provide needed relief from the sun. Make sure it is stable and secure, especially in windy locations. Consider shade sails not only for the shade they provide but also for their aesthetic appeal. Make sure it is securely anchored and supported, properly managed during harsh weather, and made of fire-retardant fabric if this is a concern in your location. Pergolas are more permanent structures. Train deciduous vines up and over this structure for added shade in the summer. Then enjoy the warming sunlight when the vines drop their leaves during the cooler months of the year. 

Create some privacy with strategically placed plantings and containers. Tall grasses, narrow upright shrubs, and vine-covered trellises can help block unwanted views while creating a private space outdoors. Consider the views you want to keep and those you want to block. Screen unsightly views and areas where neighbors can see into your space. You may only need a vine-covered trellis, several hanging baskets, a couple of pots, or a section of fencing rather than a long hedge or length of fencing.

Soften the look of fencing with some wall-mounted planters, a few potted plants or shrubs, and in-ground plantings if space allows. Use a diverse selection of plants when creating a living screen. This provides more seasonal interest and makes it easier to replace that one failed plant in a mature hedge of evergreens like arborvitaes. 

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Fountains add serenity and noise-blocking sound to gardens and outdoor entertainment spaces.

Water is another way to add a bit of serenity to your space. A wall-mounted fountain, small container of water plants, or container fountain will add noise-blocking sound and a sense of calm to any space. 

To control pesky mosquitoes in water features (or in any standing water), add a mosquito control like Mosquito Dunks and Bits ( that contains a naturally occurring bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis to the water. This active ingredient kills mosquito larvae, preventing them from transforming into biting adults. Mosquito Bits quickly knock down the mosquito larval population, while the Mosquito Dunks provide 30 days of control. Both are safe for pets, fish, wildlife, and children.

Extend the time you can spend outdoors by adding a heat source for those chilly days and nights and a fan to keep air moving and the space cooler on hot days. Adding a fan also provides some relief from mosquitoes. These weak fliers can’t fight the breeze, which will keep you out of their reach and much more comfortable.

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Include lighting so you can enjoy your outdoor space in the evening. Consider a string of lights overhead, rail lights around the deck, or strategically placed illuminated plant containers. Create a more intimate experience with a few votive candles displayed in unique holders like old punch cups. 

Light a few citronella candles for a bit of ambiance and mosquito control when enjoying your outdoor space in the evening. Citronella oil and the scented candles have some mosquito-repelling properties. Scatter lots of candles throughout the space when entertaining. Position the candles within a few feet of yourself and your guests for some short-term relief from these pests.

Start with a list of improvements you want to make. Then get busy researching the various options so you will be ready to boost the comfort and enjoyment of your patio, deck and other outdoor spaces this year.

Melinda Myers has written more than 20 gardening books, including the recently released Midwest Gardener’s Handbook, 2nd Edition and Small Space Gardening. She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything” instant video and DVD series and the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment radio program. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine and was commissioned by Summit for her expertise to write this article. Myers’ website is

All articles are copyrighted and remain the property of the author.

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Photos and story by Monrovia Nursery Company

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