Ten Steps to Create an Outside Oasis

Stacy Davis
by Stacy Davis
4 Materials
1 Hour

When we moved into our house 2 years ago, there were problems with our pool equipment. We tried to have it fixed and after a month of paying a weekly pool service company and still having a green pool, we decided to call another pool company and just have it professionally closed. It sat that way for two years. I would see it, sort of, because it was directly in front of where we parked our cars. But, I had no idea how bad it was until I went in to begin weeding in May. I knew weeds had moved in and taken over but I just chose to not think about it. So, this is a simplified approach to how I tackled our eyesore. You see, decorating an inside room has alwAys been easy for me. The color scheme is already pretty defined by things you already own. Our outdoor living areas were blank slates and it should have been easy but it wasn’t.

Step 1. Clean up the area. Get rid of trash, weeds and sweep if necessary. Ok, this one doesn’t cost a thing but sweat equity. It was brutal and there were times that I wanted to pay someone to do this for me but I wanted new furniture out there and I couldn’t have it both ways.

Step 2. Add fresh mulch. Somehow landscaping almost always looks better when you put down new mulch. After buying several bags and realizing that I was going to need ALOT of bags, we had it delivered. This is what 15 yards of mulch looks like and it takes up about two parking spaces.

Step 3. Prepare for the unexpected. This can happen at any point in your project. Ours was an 80 foot tree falling on our driveway after some vicious storms rolled through. Luckily, two cars were home and two were on the other side of the tree so we weren’t trapped. We did have to crawl through the tree branches to get in and out. My son did it at one in the morning and he posted it to his Instastory. It was hilarious. FedEx showed up and they were trying to deliver large boxes of patio furniture while the tree guys were cutting up the tree and were unable to get down the driveway. Luckily, they called our cell number and asked what to do and we had them delay the shipment one day. FYI... It also costs a fortune to have trees cut up. There were several trees that this large tree took out. So there were quite a few trees that were cut up and pushed to the sides of the driveway.

This how far three bags of mulch went for me. Do you see all those weeds? Most of them are a wild morning glory. It winds around everything, plants, the black fence poles and it is the devil to remove. Any tips for me on destroying it? I should add that I don’t use Roundup and this area is close to the pool so I worry about rain runoff carrying chemicals into the pool water.

Step 4. Evaluate what the space will be used for, how much space you have and what type of furniture is needed. I wanted two lounge chairs with pads for my daughter and her best friend and in a separate area, I wanted two chairs, a small table and an umbrella. I thought to myself, “This is a breeze. I know exactly what I want. Easy peasy.” I became very overwhelmed with all the choices, colors, styles and was I getting a good deal? It was far from easy. I was so nervous after I ordered and when it was delivered, I waited a few days to assemble everything because I was so worried that I would hate it.

Step 5. Shop for your furniture, either on line or in stores. I bought all my furniture online and had it delivered for free. Be forewarned, some of the boxes will be very heavy and assembling it can be challenging. These swivel chairs did not come assembled and ready to use. And one bolt would not go in right and I was beyond frustrated through most of the process. But, they are together now and I love them. Word of advice, either don’t do the assembling in the heat of the day or do it under an umbrella.

Step 6. Add an umbrella if needed. In most cases, this will make your outside space more enjoyable. The umbrella was a hard decision for me. Striped or solid, round or rectangular and also regular or cantilever? Above is one style of umbrella. For this dining set, I struggled between a rectangle umbrella or a round one since the table is a rectangle shape. At Tuesday Morning where I was umbrella shopping, the rectangle one only came in tan and I wanted color. I was concerned opening it the first time and but I needn’t have been because the shape works perfectly, it didn’t matter that it wasn't the same shape as the table. But, if you can see your umbrella from inside your house, take that into consideration.

I actually see this umbrella more from the inside looking out than the other way around. I feel that a solid color would have been a better choice with these window treatments. But, live and learn.

For the pool area, we ended up choosing a cantilever umbrella. This was definitely a nail biter purchase for me. I do love it and I am very happy with it. I felt that the assembly was easier than the swivel rockers. I did it by myself and I had to add a 50 lb bag of sand to the base and then fill the rest of the base with water for optimum safety.

Step 7. Add color and interest with plants and flowers, either potted or in the ground. At our house, the previous owners had left pots around the pool area. So, all I had to do was fill the planters that they left. I went to the discount area of Lowe’s and spent about $40 on 2 hibiscus, a hydrangea and the potted mixture shown above. That is my favorite place to buy plants. They almost always just need some water and a little attention to thrive.

Step 8. Add small tables. I bought a table with the two loungers but I really love having these contrasting tables that aren’t rattan to add some interest. Too much of the same thing, even though it matches, doesn’t always appeal to eye. Sometimes you need contrasting elements. I like the metal with the rattan. I think I should keep the white garden stool between the two chairs and move the blue table somewhere else. What do you think?

Step 9. Add the final decor layer, with pillows, lanterns, citronella candles. Whatever you enjoy.

Step 10. I haven’t received it yet so I can’t show you a picture. It is an indoor/outdoor misting fan. How did I not know that these are affordable enough for us homeowners to have and enjoy? According to the reviews, these will make your outside more enjoyable. Is that why I chose it? Well sort of... one of the biggest problems that we face here, when it comes to enjoying the outside, is a four letter word. B-u-g-s, most often the biting kind. I was considering Thermacell and citronella candles and tiki torches with citronella oil but after researching it, it appeared that these things didn’t really help unless you were right next to them. Their suggestion? Get a fan, most annoying bugs can’t fly in wind. So when I receive my fan and try it out, I’ll let you know if that theory is correct or not.

Since most people already have furniture and don’t have to start from scratch, I’m going to only include the cost of the accessories in the cost of this project.

This project is hard one to gauge the time. If you are ordering furniture, it will likely take days to maybe a week or more but if you have your furniture and are just doing the final decor layerings, it should only take you an hour or two. The shopping for items is probably the most time consuming part.

I just learned a big lesson on my outdoor furniture cushions. They just became off kilter in the wind. When I went to straighten them, I realized in a few weeks they are no longer the same color. They have sun bleached really badly. So I will be keeping them out of the sun for the majority of the time and only put them out when entertaining.

Here is the finished area... Happy 4th of July!

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3 of 5 questions
  • GrannyL GrannyL on Aug 17, 2019

    Beautiful you did a great job. I have the same problem in my back yard. You have given me hope that I can do the same. Thanks!

    I would like to know where you got the purple lounge cushion. Love them! Would like to get some for my lounge chairs.

  • Mary mary Mary mary on Aug 17, 2019

    Have U heard this B4? Pee, ie urine, used straight kills plants & weeds. Diluted acts as a fertilizer. Bonus, free & none toxic.

  • Sue Ramsey Sue Ramsey on Aug 24, 2019

    Have you tried cider vinegar and salt? Mix and use in spray bottle or use a pump spray if you have a lot. 1/2 cup salt, 1 cup vinegar and 1/2 gallon of water.

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3 of 54 comments
  • Karena Stetson Karena Stetson on Aug 24, 2019

    Instead of removing that beautiful wild morning glory, embrace it. I too have that and it’s impossible to remove but it can be kept trimmed. Let it grow up your fence and create free privacy.

  • Kathleen Kathleen on Aug 24, 2019

    We live on the coast in NC. Mosquitos and noseeums are terrible. We use a Noskeeter. It runs on a propane tank. It is awesome. No bugs. The way we tell the propane tank needs to be filled is bugs start showing up. I highly recommend it.

    I love your outdoor space!!!

    • Jeanie Jeanie on Aug 24, 2019

      How big of an area dies your noskeeter cover?