Your Deck and Patio

Deck and patio space is often at a premium, so you'll want to be careful about how you arrange the space. You'll want to make sure that any furniture you select is not too large for the existing space, and if you often have guests, you'll want to be able to add seating should the need arise.

Invest in high-quality furniture because deck furniture will be exposed to the elements (even if you store it inside during the winters). Try to buy top-quality items at the end of the season when they're all on sale, or at outlet stores from manufacturers you trust.

If you visit an outlet store at the end of the season, you could save as much as 70 percent on your purchase. You'll get quality furniture that will last for years to come, but you'll pay a fraction of the original cost.

Comfortable and attractive patio furniture can add a room to your home.

Also, think in terms of comfort. If you love to sit outside and read or you'll be spending hours out there watching your kids, you'll never regret purchasing a chair that is as comfortable as your inside furniture. Many stores sell deck chairs with ottomans that have large, durable, washable weatherproof cushions that wear well over time. Investing in high-quality cushions will let you kick back and enjoy the outdoors.

You'll want to bring cushions in to store them for the winter, but make sure that they have been cleaned and completely dried before you tuck them away. Otherwise, stains will set and mold might even intrude, making the cushions unusable. Also, be sure to store cushions in an area that is free from mold and humidity.

One of the best ways to keep your deck and patio uncluttered is to store any items that you aren't currently using. Frequently purge items the moment they lose their value — cracked pots need not be fixed, bent rakes will do you no good in the fall. Take a ruthless approach to keeping broken things out of your yard, and you'll be better able to appreciate the beauty that thrives there.

When plants die (as they inevitably will), take care of them promptly instead of watching their slow disintegration on your porch. This can be depressing for you and can compromise the beauty and freshness of your outdoor space.

Bins provide extra storage on the patio.

Be sure to keep lawn implements in a shed or garage instead of right on the limited patio/porch space. Also, if space is tight, you might use window boxes or plant boxes along the perimeter of the porch so that you don't use up valuable space on your porch.

Consider purchasing hardy wood furnishings (benches and the like) that can provide storage on your deck. These can often be found with wheels on the bottom, which will dramatically increase their function — should you have company over, you can easily rearrange these items to make your guests comfortable.

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