How to make the most of your outdoor space

How to make the most of your outdoor space

Whether your outdoor space consists of a small balcony or sprawling acreage, there are many creative ways to make it more usable and enjoyable.

Outdoor space can be used for relaxing after a long day at work, hosting a weekend barbecue, playing with your kids, gardening, and so much more. No matter how you use your space, here are some ways to make sure it’s reaching its full potential:

Create a space to entertain

Seating. Seating is a staple of livable outdoor space. If you’re working with a small space, a bistro set or a bench can provide the perfect spot to enjoy your morning coffee or a late-night chat with a friend. If you have a larger space, consider creating a full outdoor living room. Adding an outdoor living space might feel like you’ve added square footage to your home (for “free!”). Make it homey by adding an area rug, sofa, and coffee table. If you’re working with a tight budget, look online for DIY patio furniture ideas.

Lighting. Outdoor space is often used in the evenings, so keep things cozy with dim lighting. String lights are a great, budget-friendly solution. Make sure to properly light outdoor steps, too.

Food. An outdoor dining space is great for meals with guests or messy kids—nothing beats an easy clean-up with the garden hose. And if you have the budget and the space, an outdoor kitchen can turn your yard into the ideal place for entertaining.

Feature. Consider adding a feature such as a swimming pool or fire pit. A fire pit is a popular budget-friendly option; you can buy or build a fire pit for under $100. If you build your own, be sure to keep it a safe distance from your house and use proper materials.

Add privacy

If your outdoor space lacks privacy, put your vertical space to use!

Building a tall feature wall can block close neighbors or busy streets, create a place for art or plants to hang, and even provide shade at certain times of the day. Building it can be as easy as a trip to the hardware store and an afternoon or two of labor.

Protect yourself from the elements

Whether you’re shielding yourself from the sun or the snow (or both), a roofed structure can make your space livable for a larger portion of the year.

If you’re protecting yourself from the sun, a simple sunshade or large umbrella will do the trick. If you’re hoping to use your outdoor space during cold winter months, your structure probably needs to be sturdier—and may come with a higher price tag. Consider a closed structure with heating capabilities if you plan to spend a lot of time in the space during cold months.


You don’t have to have a green thumb to improve the look of your yard. Weeding, clearing out overgrown brush, and adding decorations are easy ways to freshen it up. If you have the budget, adding a deck or patio can help define an entertaining space—and add value to your home. If you already have a deck or patio, try power washing or painting it to give it new life.

When it comes to landscaping, adding plants is one of the best ways to refresh your outdoor space. Plan out what size and type of plants will work best and set a budget. Plants are expensive and there’s no use buying ones that won’t survive in your space.

Last but not least, consider planting a garden to get the most bang for your buck. If you don’t have enough room for a full garden, choose a few foods that you can grow in small pots.

Extra tip:

If you’re lacking space in the front and back yards, look to your side yard! It may be the perfect spot for a small garden or bench.

The bottom line

Outdoor space can become a welcome extension of your home with creative and effective plans. All it takes is a little vision and hard work to create a space that you want to spend more time in.