Five Ways to Freshen Your Outdoor Space

Give your outdoor spaces a boost with one of these easy and inexpensive projects.

Welcome to our ultimate guide to quickly, easily, and inexpensively refreshing your outdoor spaces for spring!  From creating a stunning vertical garden to sprucing up your front door and porch; from easy ways to illuminate your outdoor space to perking up your patio and outdoor furniture, we've got you covered. 

In this article, we'll provide you with step-by-step instructions, handy tips, and plenty of inspiration to transform your outdoor areas into inviting and beautiful spaces where you can relax, entertain, and enjoy the fresh air. Best of all, most of the tips here are quick, easy projects that you can do with things you may already even have on hand.

So let's dive in and get ready to elevate your outdoor living experience to a whole new level!

Create a Vertical Garden

Vertical gardens are an excellent way to add some greenery to your home or yard, and they're perfect for people who have limited outdoor space. There are many different ways to create a vertical garden, and the best method will depend on your specific needs and preferences.

If you're looking for an easy and inexpensive way to create a vertical garden, simply hanging planters at a variety of heights is a great option. You can purchase hanging planters in a variety of sizes and materials, including plastic, metal, and wicker—you can also combine materials for different effects. (For example, a jute or rope hanger with a metal pot for a rustic farmhouse look).

Keep in mind the amount of sunlight your chosen area receives, and select plants that are either full sun, partial sun, shade, or partial shade, depending. Basil, for example, does very well in containers—but does not like blazing sun and high temperatures, so it might not be the best choice for a front door herb garden in full sun. (But oregano or chamomile might, however).

If you're interested in a more DIY approach, you can create a vertical garden using a trellis.

To do this, start by attaching the trellis to a wall or fence using screws or nails. Then, attach small pots or planters to the trellis using S-hooks. You can purchase S-hooks at any hardware or home improvement store. 

Fill the pots with soil and add your favorite plants. The key to this look is SMALL pots—once filled with soil and then watered, pots can quickly become too heavy to be supported by s-hooks on a trellis. You can do medium-sized puts, but make sure to anchor your trellis well, and use stronger/larger hooks. 

Remember, for both of these types of gardens, potted plants, especially hanging potted plants, may need more moisture than in-ground plants do, so be sure to water frequently.

If you're interested in a more creative and unique way to create a vertical garden, consider repurposing an old pallet. 

To do this, start by checking the stamp on the pallet to see how the wood has been treated. This is especially important if you will be planting anything edible, like a herbs. Heat-treated wood that is safe to use will include either the letters IPPC or EPAL, plus HT. Most pallets will be safe, but avoid pallets with MB on them, which indicates that it has been treated with the toxic pesticide methyl bromide.

Next, sand down the pallet and remove any nails or screws. 

Then, make your “boxes” that will hold the plants. Start by removing the upper board, and every other board after that. Move those boards and re-attach them below the remaining boards so your boxes are two boards deep. This will give your plants room to grow. (You can also use donor boards from another pallet, and you could elect to make fewer boxes, but taller ones. Whatever works for your garden!)

Next up, give it a coat of paint if you like. The paint will help preserve it from the elements, and can match your décor. You could even do a section of chalkboard paint on the front for easy labelling.

Once the paint has dried, it’s time to make your pockets/boxes! You’ll need heavy duty landscape fabric and a staple gun. The fabric will help with drainage and is easy to remove and reattach should it become worn. 

Cut swaths of fabric that are a bit longer and wider than the bottom of the planting section and attach the fabric to the back of the pallet using staples. If you have extra material, double it up and tack down.

Finally… add potting soil to the pallet and plant your favorite herbs, flowers, or vegetables. Remember—stuff will get bigger as it matures, so be sure to leave enough room for the plants to grow.

Check out these additional resources on how to make vertical or small-space gardens:

How to Create a Vertical Garden (Better Homes & Gardens) 

Freshen Up Your Front Door and Porch

You may have heard that windows are the soul of your home (of course, we ARE biased), and we agree—a fenestrational freshen-up is an excellent way to change the look of your home! But when it comes to fast fixups, making an impression, and boosting curb appeal, don’t forget about your front door and entryway.

Often overlooked in favor of more expansive projects like new siding or windows, sprucing up your front entryway can have a major impact—with minimal effort! 

Want instant eye-catching entry appeal…with a minimal amount of effort? You would be surprised how much porch panache a new set of house numbers can bring. It seems like a small change, but the effect can be large. House numbers can be a striking standout accent, or a subtle complement to the design theme. decorating and landscaping tips, will up your home's curb appeal for a more inviting appearance.

Want to try a vintage/throwback look? Swap house numbers for letters, spelling out your address if space allows. It’s elegant and classic and really lets you showcase a favorite font.

Pro tip: Make sure your numbers are at least 4 inches tall so you can see them from the street. 

If you’re not afraid of color, and want to try something a little more permanent than accent pieces, give that old front door new life with a coat of paint (or three). Painting a front door is not difficult to do—although you should be sure to follow all of the steps in the process to ensure the best results…the cleaning and prep, the necessary number of coats with appropriate dry time, and the working when temperatures are in the appropriate window. Check out Real Simple’s guide for tips on how to get started.

Which color to choose? Neutrals are timeless—shades of black, white, grey, brown, or navy can be found for virtually any home style. But if you feel adventurous… a bright paint color can make the whole front of your home pop, while a darker shade can help the exterior feel elegant and sophisticated.

Finally…and we know this is a bit more of an investment—but it’s one that can pay dividends. Probably the most surefire way to dramatically change the look of the front of your home is with a new front door. Make a bold statement with solid wood; let the view go both ways with an all-glass door; make it modern, rustic, or traditional by changing the detailing. 

Open up your front entry with full-length windows called sidelights on one or both sides of your door. It makes your front door pop, and will bring additional light into your home, making your entry seem larger. Use grille styles to underscore your design style.

Want more ideas on freshening up your front porch and front door area? Check out these resources:
Front Door Fixup (atHome/Renewal by Andersen) 
Boost Curb Appeal (This Old House) 

Invest in Outdoor Lighting

Another big impact with small effort? Outdoor lighting elements can be the workhorses of your springtime perk-up. Not only can you use the fixtures as décor elements, they can also enhance convenience and safety. 

Motion-sensing lights near the front door are an energy-conscious way to add a bit of security. Use low-voltage solar lights to illuminate pathways without impacting your energy bill—they come in myriad styles, colors, and designs to match just about any look.

String lights are another popular trend in exterior lighting—they can mark walkways or add a bit of welcoming warmth to a front porch seating area. Not only is it trending, it’s a great way to repurpose some of those holiday lights (or use the ones you picked up on clearance in January).

Use string lights to transform your yard and garden space into an enchanting oasis. Bring parties outdoors under warm, intimate lighting by stringing lights above your patio, around trees, or along the fence line. Draping strands over a pool will create a reflective appearance and adds a little glam--without a lot of glare. 

Create a relaxation station for enjoying those warm summer nights by hanging up string lights around your hammock or fire pit area (safely away from flames, of course).

Mini-lanterns look great underneath patio umbrellas. Plus, because they are relatively sheltered, some of the more decorative (outdoor-approved) lights will hold up better. 

If your backyard has any secondary structures—such as a shed, chuppah, or gazebo—string lights are great for calling attention to them, as well as to your garden. It's a nice way to light up the area for guests—but not make it too bright to ruin the mood. Try outdoor-suitable rope lighting as a way to illuminate landscape edging. Tuck it up against the bricks or plastic edging, hold in place with garden stakes, and set on a timer, and you can highlight your garden AND create a defined walkway. Check out this article from The Garden Glove on how to do it—as well as several other fun and funky back yard projects. 

Shed some light on a darkened path through the backyard to the shed by stringing a guide of lights. This will create an illuminated path that is bright enough to avoid obstacles but subdued enough not to be blinding (to you or the neighbors). Set them on a motion sensor, and you will never need to carry a flashlight. (Tip: this is also a great idea for basement stairwells!)

For more inspiration on outdoor lighting, check out these articles:
Decorating With String Lights (atHome/Renewal by Andersen)
Landscape Lighting Ideas (DIY Network) 
Outdoor Lighting Ideas (Good Housekeeping) 

Refresh Your Deck and Outdoor Furniture

Raise a hand if you've ever been surprised by an abrupt and snowy end to autumn? Or perhaps SWORE there was going to be "just one more" outdoor meal or evening on the deck playing cards 

BUT when it comes to your deck or patio area, a few quick chores now will go a long way making amends from fall's forgotten foliage transgressions. before winter hit. Or, heck, we're not judging...maybe you just left the patio furniture outside or didn't clean up the leaves in the corners of the porch for no other reason than it seemed like the thing to do. (And when I say we're not judging...we are not. Lest the Finger of Judgement point right back at us...)

Get started cleaning up with power tools (who doesn’t love power tools?). After testing in an inconspicuous spot, pressure wash your siding, patio pavers, deck floor and posts, and sidewalk to blast away stubborn dirt, leaves, cobwebs, or muck. If you don’t own a pressure washer, you can rent one at most home improvement stores. You’ll be surprised at the difference a little power from the pressure washer makes (and how fun it is to use!). 

When it comes to your furniture, plastic, vinyl, and simulated wood/wicker are easily maintained with some soapy water and a garden hose (and in many cases, that same pressure washer). However, metal and natural materials like wood, wicker, and rattan will have more specific maintenance requirements. 

To do some future-proofing for your furniture…If it’s made of wood, sand it down and apply a fresh coat of paint or sealant. If it's made of metal, use rust-resistant spray paint to give it a new look. This will make it not only look nice now, but help keep it in good condition and provide some protection from the elements.

After the spruce up, replace any worn or torn cushions with new ones, (be sure to choose cushions that are made for outdoor use and are resistant to water and mildew.), and then add some colorful outdoor pillows or a throw blanket to your furniture to make it more inviting.

Finally, consider adding some shade to your outdoor space with a canopy or umbrella. This will not only protect your furniture from the sun but also make your space more comfortable and enjoyable.

Want some more tips on perking up your patio? Check out a few of these resources:
8 Tips for Choosing Patio Furniture (Better Homes & Gardens) 

Clean Your Windows

Your windows are the heart and soul of your home (we may be biased, of course), so you want to make sure they shine so you can see that great outdoors you’ve been tidying up, right? And contrary to what you might think, you don’t need fancy supplies to get a flawless clean!

Let in that summer sunlight by getting squeaky windows and insect screens with the cleaning tips below.

To clean the glass surface:
• Gather supplies—microfiber or other soft cloth (2-3); mild cleaning solution; squeegee.
• Wipe loose dirt and grime from the glass with a soft, dry cloth or duster.
• Apply a cleaning solution, such as mild soapy water, a white vinegar and water solution, or a liquid window cleaner to the glass.
• Wipe with a soft cloth in a circular motion, beginning at the top of the window.
• Immediately remove the cleaning solution with a squeegee or a clean, lint-free cloth. Use a cloth to wipe the squeegee dry after each swipe.
• To minimize glass-cleaner residue on the glass, do not clean in direct sunlight. Instead, try cleaning windows on cloudy, but dry days. 
• ALWAYS AVOID solvents, abrasive solutions, or razor blades in order to avoid damage to the glass.
• Enjoy beautiful, streak-free views!

To clean your insect screens:

Cleaning your window screens is also an important task, as dirty screens can block airflow and prevent your home from getting adequate ventilation. How to best clean your screens depends on what type you have. 

For standard aluminum insect screens: remove insect screens and give them a spray with a garden hose or swish in a kiddie pool for a quick clean. To give them an extra shine, use a mild (think gentle dish detergent) soap and water solution and scrub them gently with a soft fiber brush, then rinse with a hose. Be sure to do one at time and rinse thoroughly to avoid buildup.

For those of you with the Andersen exclusive TruScene® insect screens: less is more! DO NOT use a gardening hose. Instead, remove the screen and simply use a feather duster to clean your screen. Easy peasy!

Want more information on window and insect screen care and mainenance? Check out this video for a visual guide on cleaning your window insect screens or follow the links below:
Get Ready for Spring Cleaning (atHome/Renewal by Andersen)
Window Care and Maintenance (Renewal by Andersen)

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