Outdoor Decor: Interior Design for the Outside

Don’t let your Homeowners Association fool you; landscaping is as much of an art as interior design. More and more people are deciding that a lawn of flat grass is a tired tradition, and are increasingly embracing the blending of indoor/outdoor spaces. That means alternative lawns, more extensive outdoor decor and fixtures, and more thought is going in to decorating outdoor spaces. Here are some starter ways to personalize your lawn to truly enjoy the great summer weather.

Make Some Noise

Seahorse Wind Chime, 30486 by SPI Home

The delicate sound of a wind chime can make a windy day outright inviting, and break an uncanny silence if you live in an isolated area. Better still, there are a huge range to choose from in terms of size, style, and the type and level of sound. It isn’t difficult to find one you’ll really enjoy, even if you dislike the sound of traditional chimes. As with any outdoor decor that makes noise, check with any close neighbors to make sure your wind chimes are appreciated and not a nuisance. When owning a home, we can pick our place but not our neighbors, so it’s better to not unintentionally make an enemy out of next-door.

For the Birds

Frog Diver Trio Birdbath / Bir, 34801 by SPI Home

If you want more ambient noise in your yard, but don’t want to introduce it through wind chimes, consider a bird bath. Birds are delightful little creatures that make your lawn feel more alive, and will prey on local pests as payment for this flight stop. If you’re incredibly lucky, you may even attract pollinator species like hummingbirds that will enrich your garden. There have been a lot of issues with bird feeders and baths the past few years due to contamination from a contagious bird-only flu. But keeping one clean and safe is surprisingly easy; Audubon officially recommends 9 parts water to 1 part vinegar when doing a deep scrub, and to refill the water every other day to keep it fresh. Do not use dish soap!

Make it Rain

Rocky Mountain Splash Bear Fountain, KY1015 by Toscano

Unlike artificial ponds and other still water designs, fountains don’t allow the water to get stagnant. The longer water goes undisturbed, the higher the likelihood it becomes a breeding ground for everyone’s most hated enemy: mosquitoes. But with active fountains of any size, you won’t have to worry about a pest problem. Instead, you’ll just get a lovely bit of background sound. If you’re in an area with a lot of traffic or construction, a fountain can drown it out! And while outdoor fountains also come in a wide range of sizes and styles to suit your space, that isn’t the only benefit. As water splashes and evaporates it will also mildly cool down the area surrounding it.

Light it Up

You don’t need as many lights outside as you do inside; don’t go overboard and illuminate your whole lawn

While it certainly doesn’t get as dark as fast outside in the summer, the creeping night can be a deterrent for spending time outside. Adding a little light – from fairy lights to path lights, built-in fixtures to fire features – will help extend the amount of time you spend outside when the weather is nice. A little light can go a long way, too; it doesn’t take much to turn your back yard into a twilight wonderland. Bonus: if you have a nighttime pest problem, some lights are engineered to attract and zap any bugs that get close.

Form AND Function

Cast Iron Gothic Revival Flower Box, SP925 by Toscano

If you’re looking for outdoor decor that has a strong, practical purpose, look no further than ornamental planters. These range hugely in terms of style and size, but are a great, functional way to introduce a little stylistic flair into your outdoor space – whether you’re channeling an English garden, something more Mediterranean, or otherwise. Similarly, placing decorative benches in strategic or picturesque spots will not only look great, but give you a nice place to sit, rest, and enjoy the weather. In a covered area, this is especially great after rain, so that you don’t soak yourself through just trying to take a breather while gardening!

Just for Fun

The Halfpence Bridge, NG30290 by Toscano

As the kids say nowadays, “Cringe is dead.” If you want garden gnomes, lawn flamingos, or any other fun decor typically banned from classic suburbia, now is the time for a yard revolution! I noticed recently that a lot of neighbors are getting into the tiny bridge trend in particular. However, they all have wooden bridges, which I’m hesitant to endorse. As someone who had a wooden tiny bridge years ago, they require staining and maintenance just like a wooden deck, or they will rot. Stone and plaster alternatives weather a lot better over the years with less care, and even afford to get delightfully mossy without the plant eating the structure.

While lots of garden decor has somewhat of a bad reputation, there are lots of pieces that bring an excellent blend of functionality and whimsy. And, if you want to spend lots of time outside, entertain, or lean into having hybrid indoor/outdoor spaces, a few pieces of garden decor can really help cement a sense of style in the space.

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