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It's barbecue season! That means it's time to beautify your back patio and garden in preparation for leisurely al fresco dining and entertaining. Since I have such a meticulously maintained and aesthetically perfect back yard (insert cackling from friends who have been there or look of disgust from fastidious neighbors), I can give you the tips you need to make your dream outdoor space a reality... Okay, the description of my back yard isn't entirely accurate. It's not meticulously maintained and aesthetically perfect, but the part about having a back yard is totally true.
Luckily I happen to know a couple of design gurus in New York who create Better Homes and Gardens worthy environments for a living. I - with withering weeds and weathered patio furniture - need their help in a big way, and they have kindly agreed to share their insider tips on making outdoor spaces fabulous. I suspect even those of you with the greenest thumbs and most primped patios will pick up some great tips here.
I turned to New York interior designer Audi Martel of Space Outfit to get the scoop on how she created her oasis in the woods at her Upstate New York cabin. According to my kids, it's the coolest place they've ever been (they have good taste). It feels like an exclusive boutique B&B with a rustic opulence you see in travel magazines. But some of her outdoor decor comes cheaper than any discerning guest might guess.
Audi Martel's garden at her Upstate New York retreat, including near-death discount plants nursed back to life
"Plants and trees are very expensive, but they are so important to beautifying any space, indoor and out," says Audi. "My favorite thing to do with garden settings and patios is to save money (for my clients and myself) AND save a life! You can find great discounts in the sale sections of the nurseries at Home Depot or Lowe's. I will take the hydrangea, peonies, evergreens, or anything that literally has two green leaves left and buy it. Sometimes these plants are as cheap as $1. You'd think you need a green thumb or knack for gardening, but in actuality once you repot these babies in some good soil and water them, they thrive. Often they were just buried in a sea of plants and didn't get enough attention or water. They seem to be stronger once they take hold because they've been through rough times (like humans)."
A succulent replanted in gravel that Audi used as her outdoor dining area center piece
Lone Elm Lantern, $19.99 at TJ Maxx
If you can't afford a couple bucks for sale plants, you can also just buy the discounted pots and break off leaves from existing succulents and leave them outside. There is nothing to do after that. Full sun and Mother Nature does the maintenance from there. Though they do love well drained rocky soil. I've actually used gravel before."
The ultimate patio focal point: The Angara Grill Table
Rebecca Spinner, principal designer at Bespoke Styling & Interiors, is brimming with ideas to turn your patio into a cool retreat or the hotspot of your 'hood. Here are a few easy and irresistible ideas ones that will have your neighbors eyeing your outdoor decor with envy...
Channel a Beverly Hills Hotel poolside vibe in your own backyard
Palm Leaf Pillow from World Market, $34.99
Nearly Natural Silk Areca Palm with Bamboo Vase from Target, $54.99
Boho chic patio, posted by Fleamarketfab on Pinterest
Rebecca Spinner's patio oasis, with acrylic chairs and pillows from Target. Total cost: $50.
Boho Hammock from Etsy, $70