Patio Decorating Tips

7 Tips For Decorating Your Outdoor Spaces on a Budget

When we aren’t working on the inside of our house, you can find us outside.

We love to fire up the grill and watch our kids run around in the backyard. When friends come over, we typically head outside to relax and hang out. For us, having a well-decorated space outside is essential. We want our friends and family to feel comfortable and welcome when they come over.

Decorating an outdoor space can get expensive. Especially when you want to use quality items that won’t be destroyed after one season. But, that doesn’t mean you have to break the bank just to have a “pretty” deck or patio.

Here’s our list of some easy, budget-friendly ways to spruce up your outdoor spaces.

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Pink Flowers In Planter
Photo courtesy of Pexels

Potted Plants

One of my favorite ways to decorate our outdoor spaces is with plants and flowers. I typically keep potted ferns near my front door. I like to hang baskets overflowing with petunias on my porch. For my sunny spaces like our back deck and patio, I’ll choose a full-sun flower that’s in season.

Flowers are a great way to add seasonal color to your outdoor living spaces. If you prefer potted plants over flowers, you can buy planters that are colorful instead. Or, you can save some money by spray painting the planters you already use.

If you struggle to keep your plants alive in containers, I want to share a little secret with you…buy faux greenery! You’ll never have to worry about them dying out or turning brown.


The summer here in NC is brutal. The sun combined with the high humidity makes being outdoors down-right miserable. To take the edge off the heat, we use umbrellas on our patio. They are a great way to add shade and come in a variety of colors and styles. Some umbrellas are meant to be used with patio tables. Others are free-standing and can be used anywhere you need them.

My favorite function in an outdoor umbrella is the tilt. The sun is always changing, so these types of umbrellas allow you to move them with the sun.

Outdoor String Lights
Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

Outdoor Lighting

When the sun goes down, that doesn’t mean you have to go inside. You can still enjoy the outdoors at night by giving your space a little light. Solar powered lanterns are fun to place on steps and in front of patio end tables. You can use garden spotlights to shine some light on your walkways.

Did you know that most outdoor umbrellas have tiny Velcro flaps around the edges? Attach solar-powered string lights to these Velcro tabs for extra outdoor lighting. String lights can also be hung from a pergola or poles to overhead lighting.

Outdoor Rugs

A rug…outside? You might think I’m crazy, but outdoor rugs are a fun décor option for your outdoor spaces. Like I said before about the pillows, make sure it’s meant to be outdoors. Otherwise, you’ll have a rug that’s covered in mold and mildew.

You might worry about rugs if you have any combination of pets, children, and mud in your backyard. But, you shouldn’t be worried. You can clean it with a standard garden hose and a scrubbing brush.

Patio With Colorful Pillows And Wine
Photo courtesy of Pexels

Outdoor Pillows and Cushions

Let’s be honest. Most patio furniture isn’t all that comfy. That’s why it helps to add throw pillows and cushions to your outdoor furniture. Just make sure the ones you use are waterproof and fade-resistant.

I’ve made the mistake of using indoor couch pillows in my front porch rocking chairs. I had to throw them out after a few weeks because they were covered in mildew. I haven’t had that problem since switching to waterproof outdoor pillows.

Patio Furniture

You can’t have a patio or deck without some type of table. Where else will your guests eat during barbeques or sit their drinks while hanging out. When choosing a table for your patio or deck, it’s ok to think outside the box.

Flip an over-sized planter upside down to make an end table. Wooden pallets and crates can be stacked together to create a coffee table. You can even buy an old metal table from the thrift store and give it new life with a fresh coat of spray paint.

Don’t forget about chairs and couches. You don’t have to spend a fortune for comfortable outdoor seating. You can find great deals on furniture by shopping places like thrift stores, Craigslist, and Facebook.

Patio At Night
The patio at our previous house.

Privacy Screens

If you’re like me, you like having privacy in your backyard. The house we lived in before the Dogwood House was anything but private. There were at least 10 different houses that could see into our backyard. It felt creepy, and we rarely spent time out there because of it. That was until we added a little privacy to the space.

If you have a pergola on your deck or patio, you can hang curtains to create privacy from your neighbors. One idea for cheap outdoor curtains is to use painters drop cloth. Spray the fabric with a waterproofing spray like Rust-Oleum NeverWet to prevent mildew. The drop cloth can be a little heavy, but it’s a durable option for outdoor curtains.

Potted plants can also be used in the same way. One of the best plants to use for privacy is bamboo. It grows really fast and really tall. If you need to block your entire yard from your neighbor’s view, plant a row of hedges along your property line. Evergreen trees such as an Arborvitae or Leyland Cypress make a great hedge.

Our outdoor living spaces are an extension of our home. Sometimes, we spend more time outside than we do inside. What about you? What’s your favorite way to decorate your patio or deck?

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  • Sandra Patterson

    Thank you for the tip about being sure that you find a rug that is meant for being outdoors if you get one. I love the idea of a rug and pillows and things to make outdoors relaxing and cozy. I think in addition to that I would want a fountain or water feature of some sort to complete the picture.

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