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Weekly Gardening Tips for Your Area


Planning Your Patio

Suzanne Oliver
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Martha Stewart Living Cedar Island 5-Piece All-Weather Wicker Patio Dining Set


Your patio may be covered in snow now, but we’re willing to bet you’re already dreaming of spring, days when you can wander outside, fire up the grill and snooze on the chaise. Now is the perfect time to begin planning, so you can turn those vivid daydreams into reality.

The front yard may be for show, but the back yard is all yours — a refuge, if you will. And the patio is its hub. What will define your retreat? Are you envisioning a cozy hideaway with a plush sofa or a party palace with plenty of seating? Look there, you’ve already completed step one and that is to access your needs. What will you do on your patio? This especially comes into play when picking furniture. Entertainers may want the seven-piece dining set with a table and six chairs, while someone seeking peace and quiet might opt for the three-piece bistro set. Then there are countless combinations for the majority that falls somewhere in the middle.

Kingman Bayside All-Weather Wicker 3-Piece Bistro Set


Next, you should consider your space. A large patio with a sprawling back yard calls for more décor than a small balcony. Seems obvious enough. But consider a balcony and how a railing might block your great view if you’re seated at the normal height. In this instance, a high-top table and chairs would be the best solution. On the other hand, if you have small children, the standard height would be better.

Do yourself a favor and check the regulations (city, HOA, landlord, complex) before you build or buy anything of consequence. Maybe they don’t allow a fire pit. Maybe that privacy fence can only be so tall. Best to check first.

Before you buy any furniture, make a sketch and decide where everything will go. Place the patio set first and pepper in the add-ons such as a grill, storage box/bench, outdoor speakers, lights and so forth.

Now for the fun part — shopping. It’s time to pick your materials, whether it’s aluminum, steel, wicker, wrought iron or wood. Did you know that aluminum furniture works best in a rainy, coastal state like Florida because it’s rustproof? And that an area with high winds like Chicago should steer toward heavy steel?

Next, add a little color and comfort to the mix and select your cushions. You can match any color/pattern with any patio set. Our brands, including exclusives Hampton Bay and Martha Stewart Living, stand up in tough weather. Many fabric options also feature resistance to mildew and UV rays. Online, The Home Depot sells Sunbrella, a high-end line of cushions and umbrellas that resist fading, and Quick Dry ones that dry in 50 percent less time than normal.

This year’s coordinated designs are vibrant and inviting. And there are special pillows associated with specific areas of the country (although everything is offered on the website). For example, Texans can purchase the star pillow while Hawaiians and beachcombers can opt for the sea turtle print in their local stores.

Hampton Bay Star Pillow

Hampton Bay Sea Turtle Pillow










Need help finding just the right match? Use our Cushions, Pillows & Umbrellas Finder. First select your style, then your color/pattern. The product pops up and you can add it your cart right there. You can also shop for matching items in the collection.

Then again, if you live in a particularly rainy climate like the Northwest, you may not want cushions at all. Strap and slide chairs (pictured below) are your best option.

Strap Patio Dining Chair

Sling Patio Chair











Finally, add your plants, whether it’s hanging baskets, container plants or a flowerbed along the edge. Work these into your sketch, so you’ll know exactly how many to buy.

Your plan is complete. Now all you have to do is hope for good weather!

Got questions about this article or any other garden topic? Go here now to post your gardening ideas, questions, kudos or complaints. We have gardening experts standing by to help you!