3 Ways to Perk Up Your Outdoor Areas

Whimsical wind chimes add a soothing musical touch to your garden.
Whimsical wind chimes add a soothing musical touch to your garden.

Nothing's more relaxing than soaking up the soothing sights and sounds of your yard. By adding some simple touches, you can bring some of your home's comfort outside with you. These special projects will make every outdoor occasion one to remember.

1. Proper Lighting is Key

Landscape designers say that when lighting an outdoor conversation area, it is best to try to mimic natural sources of light. This light is both flattering and reduces eyestrain. While placing a large spotlight in a tree might be a project for a professional, here are some other options you can do on your own.

To add soft lighting to an outdoor seating area, use strands of twinkling lights, which mimic the stars. Multicolored light strands say holidays, so use them appropriately, but white lights can be used any time of year to create an intimate setting.

There is no more natural light than fire, so for an impromptu gathering have some candles ready to take outside with you. If bugs are a problem, keep a citronella candle handy to scare them off.

For an outdoor area that sees a lot of entertaining, it is worth considering permanent light fixtures. Solar powered lights are easy to install because they need no wiring. There are many beautiful designs and easy to use options, so consult with a lighting retailer.

2. Decorative Floor Mat

A painted canvas floor cloth is a durable way to add a splash of color and your own creativity to an outdoor seating area. Using stencils or painting freehand, floor mats can be seasonal, or represent a special occasion. What better welcoming gesture to a large cookout than a colorful floor cloth saying "Thanks for coming!" along with the date of your soiree?

MATERIALS

  • Pre-primed artist's floor canvas slightly larger than the space you would like to cover
  • Latex paint
  • Brushes
  • Heavy-duty fabric glue
  • Non-yellowing polyurethane

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Fold under all of the canvas edges 1-1/4 inches and glue in place with fabric glue. Cut away excess at corners so it will lie flat.
  2. Paint the background of your design. You may want to use two coats
  3. Paint the designs of the rest of your floor cloth, including any stencil work.
  4. Cover the completed work with at least two coats of non-yellowing polyurethane to protect from damage. Apply to both sides.

You can get creative with your canvas. Try dying it to match your décor and attaching dowel rods to create a colorful, new hammock. Hang it from the porch ceiling or between two trees to make a beautiful place to relax.

3. Whimsical Wind Chimes

One of the great sounds of summer, along with baseball on the radio, is the melodic tinkling of wind chimes. They alert you to a cooling breeze or incoming weather. Here is a fun and easy project that the whole family can participate in.

MATERIALS

  • 6 2-1/2" clay pots
  • Acrylic paint
  • 12 round wooden beads, larger than the holes in bottom of the pots
  • 10 yd. spool of plastic cord
  • Paintbrush
  • A favorite postcard or picture

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Have each member of the family paint a pot before assembling and let dry. Remember, one pot will be completely visible while the others will be partially obscured by the pot above it.
  2. Fold cord in half and tie a knot, leaving a loop to hang the wind chime. Thread the two ends through a bead.
  3. Thread the ends of the cord through the upside down clay pot you want on top.
  4. Thread another bead on, inside the pot. This will secure the pot. Make five knots below the bead. Beads and knots keep the pots apart.
  5. Repeat the above step until all pots are threaded together.
  6. Finish the cord by punching a hole in the postcard and threading the cord through.