How to Make a Hospitable Outdoor Space In Less Than a Day

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If you’re fortunate enough to live in a home with some outdoor space, you probably should use it. Whether you have acres of land, a compact backyard, or an apartment balcony, it’s entirely possible to create a dedicated, hospitable area where you can sit and enjoy being outside—even if you don’t have the budget, time, or skills necessary to build a fancy patio.

Here are a few things you can do over the course of a day to make a serviceable outdoor space that is definitely better than nothing.

Pick and clear out the area

Full disclosure: This part could take longer than a day, depending on the condition of your backyard or balcony.

First, figure out where you’d like to create your outdoor space (if that decision hasn’t already been made for you). In many cases, it makes the most sense to position it around a back door—for the sake of convenience—but that’s not a rule.

Once you have a rough outline of your soon-to-be outdoor seating area, clear out any weeds, junk, random backyard tidbits, and anything else that’s in your way.

Put a border around it

Even if you have the remnants of a patio or a concrete slab, you’ll probably want to put some sort of border around the area to set it apart from the rest of your yard. This is even more important if you’re transforming an open section of your yard into a dedicated space for (comfortably) enjoying the outdoors.

The border can be as simple or complicated as you’d like to make it. Some options include:

  • Rocks (better yet if they’re already on your property, aka free)
  • Bricks (see above)
  • Cinder blocks (painting them is an option)
  • A few large planters around the perimeter
  • Wooden crates or sections of pallets (which can often be found for free)
  • A collection of pieces salvaged from your yard/garage/attic or purchased at a thrift store or salvage shop

Cover the ground (if you want to)

If you’re going to cover the ground of your space, now’s the time to do it. Although you can certainly keep whatever is already there—like grass, concrete, or gravel—you can also make the area feel more cohesive (and homey) by adding something to cover the ground. This could be a thin layer of gravel, a piece of artificial turf, or a large outdoor area rug.

Add somewhere to sit

Next, add some seating and a piece that can function as a table. Again, if you’re working with a low-budget, you can use whatever you have on hand, even if it doesn’t match. There are also several DIY options for outdoor seating.

Customize the space

Technically, you could stop there (and if you’re limiting your project to one day, you may have to). But once you’ve created a dedicated outdoor seating area, you can add some personal touches to make it more comfortable.

For example, if the space isn’t in the shade (at least part of the day), you may want to consider putting up some type of shelter from the sun—even if it’s two sturdy poles holding up a canopy cloth. You may also want to add some containers with flowers and/or plants (real or artificial), a string of lights, or other pieces of decor to make it more feel more inviting.

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