Garden and Patio Decorations For Great Outdoor Living

Think about garden and patio decorations just as you would if you were designing a room in your home. We always hear of interior decorating, so now think about exterior decorating! A well-decorated patio can have sitting areas, dining areas, and center pieces. Because you’re outdoors, garden and patio decorations let you become creative in really fun ways.

The garden decor you select will give your outdoor “rooms” style and character… so go with what appeals to you. Are you formal and elegant, or informal and casual? Whatever approach you take, keep in mind that too many garden and patio decorations will give you a crowded look. Plants and flowers should play just as big a role in your decor as structures and furnishings… let them compliment each other.

Visualize Key Furnishings

First, envision your patio, deck or garden area. Plan out a few different layouts for the main, larger decor items that will need to fit within your space. These would be chairs, benches, tables, and grilling or cooking stations. If you work at home, you can even design an outdoor “work station” for your laptop and office work.

Weather-proofed wicker, wrought iron, cedar, or teak garden furniture are excellent choices for patio and garden furnishings. Functionality is important, but go for comfort and style, too!

There are some great designs in outdoor patio furniture, guaranteed to fit your personal style. Make sure what you buy is very durable and weatherproof, since your furniture will be exposed to sun, wind and rain. Be patient and shop for the most attractive furniture that meets these standards and you’ll save money in the end.

Outdoor Lighting Sets the Mood

Once you identify your main furniture pieces, add even more atmosphere to your garden and patio with outdoor lighting. Lighting arrangements can change the entire feel of your outdoor area. You can go for festive, subdued, ornamental, warm, or bright!

Outdoor patio lights are made to endure all the elements, and feature insulated and weather-resistant components. There are quite a few styles you can choose from. The possibilities include freestanding lamps, table lamps, shaded and globe lamps, lanterns, umbrella lights, BBQ lights, string lights, and ground lights. Shop around for what appeals to you, as well as what’s practical for your purpose.

Choose Your Accents

There are no rules to garden and patio decorations… and lots of choices! Here are some great accents that will add life and charm to any yard:

Garden Benches: Have you ever noticed a rustic bench placed “just right” in a garden? It’s a very inviting sight. It doesn’t need to be fancy… just a spot to sit down and relax.

Decorative Planters: To create a pleasing focal point, set out a few planters filled with beautiful flowers in different areas of your garden. You can move them around, and replant them with different flowers as the season goes by. These are perfect for the patio, too.

Don’t forget, an old container you have lying around can easily be tuned into a planter – perhaps an old watering can or a pickle barrel. All they need is some form of drainage. Try one or two planters and see the difference they make!

Garden Fountains: Fountains add a great deal of atmosphere to any garden setting. The varieties range from grand fountains made of stone or bronze, to modest and charming garden fountain kits. Garden fountains have such a pleasant, tranquil sound that their beautiful effect is immediate and captivating.

Garden Sculptures: Garden statuary is usually made of bronze, marble, stone, wood, or resin. Choose themes from cherubs and saints to deer, rabbits and frogs. Garden sculptures can really develop your garden theme, and are great fun to design with! Tuck them into a corner, or display them openly as a main focal point.

Sundials: This ancient device has brought beauty and charm to thousands of gardens. Sundials are terrific accent pieces and come in different designs, such as tabletop and pedestal. Some sundials double as birdbaths!

Garden and patio decorations can be as elaborate or quaint as you wish. Simply keep in mind it’s just like fixing up a room in your home – when you like what you see, you’ve added your own personal signature to your outdoor living place!

Copyright 2006 Robert Mosse

The Fine Art of Bonsai: Beautiful and Unique Decor

The bonsai is a very delicate plant; bonsai can be shaped and molded into any for you want, most people use wire and gently let the tree grow and shape itself according to the will of the gardener. Bonsai are a rare and stunning addition to any home, patio, garden or yard. And the bonsai can be long lasting if it is well cared for.

If you are looking for a new gift idea, one that no one else is likely to have–check out the many kinds of bonsai trees available on the market. Especially for a housewarming present or any other present–and of course, as a gift for yourself if you want this elegant look that only bonsai can create in your own home.

The art of bonsai originated in Asia many centuries ago, the literal translation of the Japanese, means “tray planting”. As most gardening, growing bonsai is a truly artistic endeavor, there must be a similarity, or striking appropriateness of the pot in which you plant your bonsai. The tree must compliment the pot as the pot compliments the tree. Of course, as I mentioned before, the tree is then shaped. In fact, the tree, if not shaped by the gardener, will not live long and will grow, surprisingly enough, looking unlike a tree. Each branch and limb of a bonsai tree is shaped or clipped and molded into the perfect design.

Bonsai is the fine art of dwarfing trees and other kinds of plants to create a picturesque shape, when trained using the proper growing methods.

A successfully well-designed and well-maintained bonsai is a delicacy among the gardening arts. It is an ancient horticultural phenomenon and a perfect gift for any dedicated gardener you may know. And the bonsai make a lovely addition to any home, garden, patio, yard, office etc. It will be an impressive part of the overall look of your d├ęcor, as well as a unique touch that is certain to draw the eye and be the center of attention.

Deck and Patio Lighting Thoughts

One of the primary motivators for the homeowner in considering a patio or deck area as an add-on to their home is its entertainment value. Cruise the neighborhood during the day and you will more than likely see only a few people using the patio or deck. However, as evening approaches the story changes. When parent(s) come home from work or when it’s the right time to plan a party for friends and relatives, the patio or deck is frequently used as the center of festivities that often last well into the night.

During the planning stages, it’s important to include a lighting plan to make sure that the patio and deck area are not only well-lighted but that the lighting design creates a magical effect for its visitors.

Starting with the most elegant (and usually the most expensive) deck and patio lighting we can take a look at lights that are built-in to the foundation elements of the patio or deck. These lights provide a soft uplight glow that can mark a pathway or just provide a non-functional source of beauty. The lights are generally installed by contractors during the patio and deck construction and are generally not a project that the average DIY should consider tackling. I’ve seen this type of lighting done in a variety of colors and have even seen systems that automatically change the colors during the course of the evening, providing a mood-altering effect.

Dimmers are also a worthwhile investment for ground level lighting, allowing the host to increase or decrease the intensity of the lighting depending on the mood desired. Ground lighting is very safe since the lights themselves are never in contact with the visitors. Contractors will make sure that the process for changing the bulbs is simple and straightforward.

Speaking of dimmers, it’s generally a good idea to keep your entire deck and patio lighting system under dimmer control. Bright moonlight can allow you to turn the lighting down a bit while dark moonless nights can prompt you to boost the light up a bit.

Ground level lighting can also be used to frame the patio or deck area particularly if you’ve planted shrubbery or other low plantings around the area.

Down lighting is another type of deck and patio lighting. As the name implies, this is lighting from above and can be used to simulate moonlight. Besides being a natural lighting source, down lighting also enhances the security of the area because a lighted deck or patio usually leaves the impression the there’s someone at home.

A creative way to use this as a security feature is to have your doorbell circuit tied into a switch that at least temporarily turns the down lights on.

Most down lighting is accomplished by the use of either or both floodlights and spotlights. The floodlight will provide more ambient lighting by illuminating the entire deck or patio area while spotlights can be used as task lighting to highlight such areas as stairways and entryways. Spotlights can also be used to accent special features such as fountains, plantings or cooking and eating areas.

Many deck and patio lighting is installed at the waist level to keep any glare away from the face and to provide an elegant touch. Some lighting can also be installed at the top of posts that are at the top of stairways or other areas that separate one part of the deck or patio from another.

Some homeowners use strip or rope lights to highlight the porch or deck railing or other areas that need special attention such as stair risers or seating areas. If you live in an area where you can use a deck or patio during the winter holiday season, give some thought to decorating the area with lighting that can be used year-round.

Have fun with your lighting plan for your deck or patio. Most of the lighting is relatively inexpensive and can be removed or modified relatively easily. You may want to divide your plan into lights, which need to be permanently installed, and lights that are movable and optional.

Please don’t get carried away with deck and patio lighting plans. This type of lighting is best understated although some decorative lighting such as hurricane lamps or tiki torches (used in moderation) are OK.

Bugs are often a problem at night and several manufactures offer lights that discourage or repel flying pests. Sometimes a bright light, strategically placed in a tree a bit away from the patio or deck will help keep these insects occupied elsewhere rather than with your guests.

Above all, keep in mind that you want to create a magic environment that will encourage visitors to congregate and socialize late into the evening.