Home Improvement

9 ways to style a pocket of outdoor space

  • Ludivine Moure Creative Studio/Houzz

     (Ludivine Moure Creative Studio/Houzz)

  • Belle & Cosy/Houzz

     (Belle & Cosy/Houzz)

  • B&Q/Houzz


When you rent your home, sinking plants into the soil in its garden can feel counterintuitive: Establishing a garden is a long-term project, but you may only be in this home for a short while. Your rented home may have only a tiny pocket of outdoor space too, throwing up another set of challenges.

RELATED: Give Your Compact Patio Some Major Style

Fortunately, there are lots of ways to improve the outside area attached to your rented home, from simple styling to ingenious planting. These ideas won’t cost a ton, either, but will quickly bring color and personality to your patch.

1. Style it up. Take your approach to the interior of your home outside and style your space as you would a room. Choose pieces you can leave outdoors, or simply move indoor items out when needed.

2. Lay down an outdoor rug. Disguise a damaged deck or brighten a shady space with an outdoor rug. Woven from fibers that can withstand the weather, an outdoor rug is an easy and inexpensive way to bring color to a garden, and it feels good under bare feet too.

3. Get clever with pots. Potted plants are ideal in a rented garden: You can move them around and then take them with you when you leave. Rather than invest in planters, though, why not make your own with salvaged materials?

Use vibrant decorated tins, remove the labels from regular cans and spray-paint them, or leave them bare if you like metallic accents. Remember to punch a few holes in the bottom for drainage.

4. Build some seating. Use a simple row of wooden pallets, stacked a couple deep and topped with foam cushions, to make comfy, stylish outdoor seating. Then use an unadorned pallet as a coffee table. Minimal investment and very little time required!

RELATED: Small Garden Strategy: Built-In Seating

5. Bring out blankets and light candles. Even the most modest of outdoor spaces can look magical when lit by candles. Invest in hurricane lamps, or simply pop tea lights into jam jars and sprinkle them around.

To help you enjoy the outdoors late into the evening, layer seats with old blankets that you can snuggle into when the temperature drops.

6. Think vertically. OK, so your rented home has only a sliver of outdoor space or a micro-balcony. No problem. Capitalize on the available vertical space. Create layers of interest with bright cushions, potted plants on tables or attached to railings, art on walls and hanging lanterns.

7. Decorate with salvaged pieces. Scatter pretty salvaged finds around to ratchet up the character and charm. Ironwork, lanterns, old tools, picture frames, ceramics— anything goes.

8. Add some shine. A small piece of mirror decor will add sparkle and interesting reflections to a plain wall.

9. Make your own handles and latches. Personalize a shed or gate with homemade handles and latches, fashioned from old tools and other clever finds.