The Outdoor Room


Summer has finally arrived! I have the weeds well in hand here, and everything is planted, fertilized, caged and staked. The deck- my outdoor room– is all set up and decorated, so finally the garden feels like home to me. It must be pretty inviting out there- that’s where all of my guests want to hang out.

With all of the garden ornaments, wide variety of furnishings, decorative items and plant containers available in the stores, markets and on the curb (my favorite place to shop) it is easy to furnish a deck or patio to create that outdoor gathering space. I have been collecting a lot of items for many years, so it’s a simple thing to arrange and re-arrange the seating and decor to create an inviting look, and provide a lovely view of the garden (or in my case- the lawn and trees).

Setting up the outdoor room boils down to one word- VIEW – the room needs to be inviting from the inside of the house, and once out there seated, there should be something pleasant to look at both close up- mixed planters, small gardens, trellises covered with flowering vines, decor, etc, and a distant view. In my outdoor room, I have positioned most of the seating to view my neighbor’s yard with stately maple trees, ancient lilacs, and an expanse of lawn with the sunset through the trees. My other views are the parking area of the driveway with my car parked in it, or my other neighbors overgrown and neglected yard with poison ivy thriving along the chain link fence and a rusted out truck (not a pleasant view at all). Easy choice for me there. I picked my car, and the stately trees and sunset for the long view, and arranged the furnishings to take advantage of it.

Once the bones of the set up is completed, then the close up views- decor, mixed planters, vertical elements like arches, trellises and shepherd’s hooks can be included to frame views or mask unpleasant ones. It is very much like decorating interior spaces, except that instead of art on the walls, and windows to the outside, you frame pleasant natural views, and create walls of structures to support plants to appreciate. You can even add a bit of softness in the form of cushions and pillows, tablecloths and napkins for special gatherings. I store all of these items in a large plastic deck box to keep them handy.

We’ve worked hard on our gardens, enjoy the process of discovering new plants, finding just the right spot for them, and maintaining them, so why not go to the next level and create a space to relax and enjoy our hard work? Invite your guests out to appreciate what you do, create a room to relax in and enjoy this all too brief Michigan summer. Ready, set, decorate!

See you in the garden!

Ellen Leigh

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