Color Residential Design

Start a Little Portland Garden Magic

The Garden Magic

Since spring is just around the corner – peeking her light and bright face every now and then through the overcast Oregon sky – we here at the office have garden patios on the brain. You know the kind: sipping tea by lantern-light under a blanket just as the weather starts to release its hold on winter, planting new flowers and vegetables, or just watching a heavy spring downpour fall on your healthy garden from the comfort of your very own covered patio. Who would not love such a space at their disposal?! We ask you that. Just imagine yourself in one of these spaces below, experiencing a bit of Garden Magic.

Source: The Berry
Source: The Berry
Source: Pinterest
Source: Pinterest

Creating Your Garden Oasis

These idyllic but totally accessible scenes are actually the perfect jumping off point for our first point of discussion here. Did you notice how well defined the spaces are, without losing any of their outdoor tranquility and laid-back mood? In other words, these garden spaces have a specific function and mood. So your first step, along those same lines is to decide on what purpose your garden patio will serve. How will you use it? At what times of day? If it already was everything you wanted, what would it look like? Envision your outdoor oasis.

Another important and very relevant point to help begin imagining your outdoor oasis: the size of your garden area should not hold you back. It may seem too tiny to do much for you, or even too spacious to get that delicious cozy feel. We have to stop thinking that way right off the bat. A small space can rise to the occasion, and a large one can be groomed into the sweetest of spaces. Let your imagination go to work! It may require a bit more creativity or ingenuity to create a patio as functional as it is beautiful, but it can be done, believe you me. Let’s get started with the nuts and bolts.

The Plants

One of the first things that is overlooked, oddly enough, are the plants in your garden. When planning a perfect outdoor sitting area, we often go right to the patio furniture, the garden boxes, or even pillows. But let’s not forget to pick the plants that will set the tone. This is, after all, a garden patio. When picking your plants, consider your climate, how much space you have, and how much time and desire you have to dedicate toward keeping your plants healthy.

If you’re a low maintenance kinda person, pick some plants that won’t keel over at having to wait an extra day or two to get water. And if you live in a cold climate, think seriously about any plants you would have to bring indoors when it starts to frost. From there, pick your mood, and make sure to remember: your plants don’t have to just be green. They can be a statement of real impressive beauty all their own.

Source: Better Homes and Gardens via Pinterest
Source: Pinterest via Better Homes and Gardens
Source: SalvaLopez.com
Source: SalvaLopez.com

Herbs

Let’s talk for a minute about a specific kind of plant life common to backyard patios the world around: herbs. Whether for cooking, tea-making, or for the black thumbs among us, the novelty of trying to grow something useful should not be ignored. The likes of basil, mint, and oregano hold a special place in our hearts (and our stomachs!). They should also hold a special place in our gardens. Of course any plant will need it’s proper degree of sunlight, and this aspect of things will help to dictate where your herbs might grow best. But if you can help it, consider the following:

  1. The nearly universal shortage of time
  2. A tendency towards laziness in all of us
  3. The out-of-sight-out-of-mind phenomenon.

If any of those three things (or more, you might think of others) affect you, you’ll want varieties of herbs as close at hand as possible when you’re mid stir-fry. Unless, that is, you’d like to grow herbs that either die or take over your garden for lack of use…like me. Don’t be like me. Take good care of your herbs and put them to good use.

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Furnishings

Okay, moving on from plants, let’s take a look at filling out this garden patio for human use. You may be ready to hop in the car and go splurge on that lovely garden set with the fire pit in the middle and those comfy cushions. Or, you may already have some furniture that you’d really rather not have to replace. Either way, a few things to consider about outdoor furniture are durability, mold or mildew resistance, and comfort. If you are going to go for some outdoor upholstery, make sure to consider whether or not those cushions and textiles can be kept outside during the off season. If not, they’ll need a place to winter over. Do you have such a space?

If you’d rather not fuss with upholstery we love the idea of treating and/or painting existing or thrift store furniture in some bright, surprising colors. What an inviting, happy place to visit with friends, and a possibly inexpensive way to add dynamic splashes of color.

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Rugs

Speaking of color, another way to pull some in is through a lovely outdoor rug. At first the concept of a nice rug outside seemed sort of counter-intuitive to me. How are supposed to maintain a rug outdoors no matter how qualified it may think itself? I then learned about the recycled plastic option: what a great idea! While a good rinse never hurts and can keep these beauties looking new, these rugs are built to be stain and mildew proof. There are so many patterns to suit nearly every taste and style!

Source: www.vivaterra.com
Source: www.vivaterra.com
Source: www.vivaterra.com
Source: www.vivaterra.com

Space Planning

The last thing we’ll talk about here is the physical layout of a garden patio. Whether you have a great deal of real estate or think your bedroom closet is bigger than your outdoor space you’ll need to make some decisions about where things will be. Carving out different areas, nooks and crannies, or even hidden meadows can transform a garden patio into a magical garden patio.

Try to give your space some definition: the sitting area here, the badminton/frisbee/croquet area there, the garden beds and planters here. Much like the interior of a home, the exterior living spaces need a clear purpose. Thus, a space that is otherwise chaotic and confusing to use, becomes a sanctuary and refuge that you and your guests will relish being in.

To get between these areas, regardless if they are highly defined or more ambiguous, you’ll want to think about a path. I don’t necessarily mean a trail, requiring a machete or a dump truck’s worth of gravel. Though perhaps you have a backyard wilderness that warrants these things!

For most of us a path could be as simple as one or two stepping stones delicately placed or a lightly graveled area between your trees and grassy knoll. It may even just be a cleared way from the kitchen table to the herb patch. By incorporating some kind of path, a line of travel to help users engage with certain vistas or worlds within your garden, you can help it to become something more than a place to sit. Sitting is nice but a space that requests engagement provides more opportunity for enjoyment. Such a space becomes a living space.

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Farewell

For now, we will sign off with the hope we have given you some good starting points on your path to garden magic. Good luck with your own garden patios and when they’re ready for sunshine and guests, send us a photo or two; we’d love to see what your garden oasis looks like! Don’t worry if you decide that you need some assistance with your patio, or an indoor refurbishment to match; we are here to help! Give us a call at 503-688-9499!

Thanks for reading!

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