This year, the warm weather beat Opening Day to the punch with record breaking March highs all across the country. These unseasonably tropical temps have already inspired wine and cheese get-togethers on balconies, jazzy rooftop soirées, and rockin’ backyard BBQ’s (hooray!). But who are we kidding? April hasn’t even arrived yet – so you still have plenty of time to get your outdoor space in lounge and/or party mode this Spring, and Matter & Order is here to help. The following outdoor-living tips will set you in the right direction and have you saying prost! skál! or salute! under the sun in no time.
#1 Know Your Space: When shopping for outdoor furniture, make sure you write down the dimensions of the space before heading out the door. This will help avoid buying too large or too small of pieces for your space (for instance, remember that you’ll need between 40”-50” of spacing around a dining table to accommodate not only the chairs, but the space behind the chairs as well). Also, ask yourself what the primary use of this space will be. Will you frequently entertain family and friends? or will you only be using the space for leisurely afternoons in the sun? Knowing the parameters and purpose of your space will ultimately help determine the type and amount of furniture you will need.
#2 Buy Quality Furniture: Outdoor furniture is made from all sorts of materials and of varying quality. Wrought iron is probably the longest lasting, but it frequently needs to be repainted and in most cases does not work with a modern aesthetic (not to mention how heavy it is!). Wicker or wood furniture adds a bit of warmth, but is not always the most durable, fading and changing colors easily. Then there’s recycled plastic, which is long lasting, weather resistant, good for the environment, and made by several reputable manufacturers in a variety designs. If you go this route, Matter & Order is in love with Loll’s outdoor furniture and accessories line (Loll chair pictured above). It’s durable, hip, and comes in a number of different colors and styles for small and large spaces alike. Made in Duluth, Minnesota from 100% recycled HDPE (high density polyethylene, or the plastic used in milk jugs, detergent bottles, etc.), and 100% recyclable themselves, Loll’s products will not only add a splash of color and modern panache to your space, but you will feel good about helping the environment for years (or decades) to come. You can purchase Loll products at DWR, Room & Board, or directly from Loll Designs.
#3 Add Greenery: This is the key to completing any design, especially those outdoor spaces. Although it can seem daunting given the number of plants and the many purposes plants can serve – from ornamentals or flowering plants for color and aroma, to fruit, vegetable, and herb producing plants for those home cooked meals, to grasses, ivy, and trees for added privacy – Matter & Order suggests a few simple steps that will help you get started on the garden of your dreams.
Balconies & Rooftops: First and foremost, check to see if there are any building rules or restrictions to growing your rooftop or balcony garden. If you have the green light, the second thing to consider is the direction your elevated outdoor space faces as this will help determine which plants will fair best in all the varying conditions, like sun exposure and wind. The next step is deciding what kind of garden design you want. Just as Matter & Order enjoys mixing furniture styles to create an interesting space for our clients, we also like to mix it up in the garden to achieve the same effect. Try a hanging or stationary container with marigold flowers and tomato plants or eggplants (as seen above). Not only will the marigold flowers add a beautiful and rich pop of yellow-gold against the tomato’s reds and eggplant’s dark purples, but it will help fend off common insect pests that are attracted to these delectable fruits.
The final to-do before heading to the garden store is evaluate the outdoor space with the existing furniture to determine how many containers and planters to buy. If space is limited, you can always grow vertically with wall mounted or hanging trellises and panels. You can find these and all your other green thumb needs at Matter & Order’s two favorite gardening stores in Chicago: Sprout Home for modern gardening accessories (like the Boskke Planter pictured above, made from recycled polypropylene), and Jayson Home for the more traditional and classic designed garden accessories.
Backyards: For the fortunate who live in this great city and surrounding suburbs who can walk out the back door and step onto fertile soil, the sky is the limit for what you can do with your exterior space. We like to add architectural elements to backyard gardens. Start by choosing a linear plot of land, either along a new or existing pathway, or along a fence. If you have the space, try to incorporate curves and bends into the landscape. Plant perennials like Coral Bells and Hostas, and add some Shrub Roses around ornamental grasses like a Karl Foerster feather reed grass (pictured above). You’ll not only add dimension, and increase color and height variation to your garden, but you’ll be lulled to sleep watching and listening to your backyard sway gracefully in the summer breeze.
#4 Have fun: As the saying goes, gardening requires lots of water – most of it in the form of perspiration. But really it’s all about having fun and learning. If you’re willing to do this, then you’re already on your way to creating your very own Garden of Eden, regardless of the size of your outdoor space!
For more outdoor-living tips, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org