How to Prepare Your Outdoor Living Space for Summer

Elizabeth Marglin

by | Updated: June 14th, 2023 | Read time: 4 minutes

Summer means spending as much time as possible outside. If your outdoor living area isn’t inviting, now is the time to incorporate elevated updates. With a little planning and effort, you can transform a meh outdoor space into a marvelous sanctuary. Here’s how.

Example of Outdoor Living Spaces During Summer with Patio Chair, Plants and Candles on a Deck

Choose your objective

The first step when considering your outdoor space is to visualize the use you will enjoy the most. Is it a quiet place to watch the sunrise or sunset, an outdoor yoga studio, a reading nook, a place for happy hour, or lunches with friends? Instead of cramming in all the elements you think belong in outdoor spaces, think about how you’ll actually use the space. If you crave calm mornings reading the newspaper with a cup of coffee, invest in a luxurious lounge chair with a side table, even if it takes up a lot of real estate. On the other hand, if entertaining is more your speed, opt for an outdoor dining table or generous seating area to ensure that you are maximizing your space for company.

Pick a theme

Are you a nautical lover, a Zen afficionado, a minimalist, cottage core fan or bohemian enthusiast? Whatever your jam, it’s best to pick a theme and run with it. Elegance will rule if you practice discernment and stay true to a particular aesthetic. If your dream outdoor space conjures the English countryside, for example, aim for a cottage garden lined with drifts of colorful perennials, trellised vines, tall vertical blooms and seating areas of weathered wood.

Highlight the charm

Look for the power spot—the place with best view, shade or charm. Once you determine your focal point, work to make it a natural gathering place. Cozy seating, soft lighting, greenery, privacy and shade will all add inviting elements. Structures like pergolas, gazebos or awnings are critical for providing needed shade. These functional additions also add visual interest to your outdoor space. Customize them with climbing plants or curtains for added privacy. For the coup de grâce, consider incorporating a water feature, such as a fountain or pond, to amplify the tranquil atmosphere.

Make it consistent

Think of your outdoor space should be an extension of your interior. You don’t want the inside and outside of your space to feel disconnected or random. Try to keep at least one design element consistent, such as color, texture or theme. Style your outdoor space much like you would an interior room, by choosing the color palette, rug and furniture and then layering in the accessories such as throw blankets, pillows and striking accents. While you can take more risks with your outside space, the inside and outside spaces should still be in conversation with each other.

Pay attention to lighting

Options for lighting, both practical and decorative, run the gamut from candles to tiki lamps to string lights. Choose a combination of functional and decorative lighting styles. Install path lights to illuminate walkways, accent lights to highlight landscaping features, and lanterns to create a cozy vibe. Portable outdoor lamps, large candles in decorative hurricanes or lighting installed on the underside of an umbrella can also be inexpensive ways to provide festive light sources.

Add organic touches

Even with an abundant supply of natural greenery in your yard, adding splashes of plants in your sitting area makes a huge difference. Invest in plants and flowers, considering textures as much as colors. For added flair, seek out plants that have interesting foliage and delicate leaf structures. Think outside the horizon: If you have a small urban outdoor space, you could turn the wall of a tiny balcony into a lush vertical garden with hanging pocket planters.

Lead with comfort

When it comes to outside living, details matter. Keeping the area lush, tidy, bug-free and clean will make you want to linger longer. Here are a few nice touches to have on hand for keeping outdoor upkeep a breeze.

Bug repellent

Partner up with a strong, effective, essential oil-based repellant so you can relax amidst the elements. Try Brittanie’s Thyme Organic Essential Oil Bug Repellent Citronella & Deet Free, $8,

Brittanie's Thyme Organic Essential Oil Bug Repellent Citronella & Deet Free

Plant enhancer

A spray that protects & nourishes plants? Check. Try Organix South TheraNeem® Neem Oil for the Garden, $24,

Organix South TheraNeem® Neem Oil for the Garden

Heavy duty surface cleaner

Outdoor spaces require rugged cleaners that can hold their own against pet poop, frass (insect waste), mud, and more. Try Charlie’s Soap Indoor-Outdoor Surface Cleaner , $12,

Charlie's Soap Indoor-Outdoor Surface Cleaner

Grass saver

Who knew there was a thing for the yellow pee spots that dogs can make on your lawn? An enzyme supplement for dogs can reduce the yellowing. Try NaturVet GrassSaver Plus Enzymes for Dogs, $18,

NaturVet GrassSaver Plus Enzymes for Dogs

A final note: An outdoor area is ever-evolving, just like your home. Allow the time that it takes, rather than pushing for it to get done all at once.