In coastal southern California, we enjoy outdoor living year round. Our houses are the size of dog kennels, but with our great bug-free weather, we spend a lot of time outdoors. What that means is that we tend to set up living space outside.
The major elements of today’s outdoor living are someplace to cook, someplace to eat, someplace to sit and relax, and something to do.
A charcoal or gas grill constitutes someplace to cook. Some people have multi-thousand $$$$ setups, but a simple Weber charcoal grill will suffice. If you use charcoal, be sure to use a chimney starter instead of a liquid petroleum product. The charcoal will smell better and you won’t be putting toxins into the environment and onto your food. We have a three-burner Kenmore grill on which I can grill meat and vegetables. I even bake on indirect heat on the center burner.
We put a bistro table and two chairs onto our concrete patio about three years ago. I also got an outdoor rug made of recycled plastic. Looks like fabric, but I clean it by hosing it down a couple of times a year. (Wish I could do that indoors too.) So we were set for a place to eat. We often have breakfast or lunch on the patio.
For us, something to do isn’t going to be a game of volleyball in the backyard. No space, and no interest. My idea of entertainment is watching my radishes sprout and listening to our hens as they go about their day in the coop. I figure that watching the wild birds come to the feeders and seeing a huge variety of butterflies and other insects flit about in my organic garden is plenty of entertainment.
I set up a small water garden in the back yard last winter, and it attracts dragonflies and provides a fresh water source for the birds as well.
Our yard is a certified National Wildlife Federation backyard habitat. All it takes to get certified is providing food, water, and cover for wildlife. With seed and hummingbird feeders, a bird waterbath as the focal point of our herb garden, and another one under the fruit trees, there are ample scenic spots where the eye can roam and rest, even in our baby’s playpen sized yard.
We have two 20-year-old vinyl strap swivel rockers where we could sip wine of an afternoon, and a fountain for ambiance. We were set for outdoor living. But our setup was adequate for only two people! With the hens and our lovely vegetable garden in raised beds now ready for show, we wanted to have people over to enjoy our yard. That meant that we needed more seating.
Today’s outdoor living spaces often feature more formal furniture than the old web strapped furniture of yesteryear. Modern outdoor seating has big comfy cushions and looks more like indoor furniture.
As an environmentalist, I do very little shopping. I’m not much of a consumer. We tend to make do and get by. But I decided to add a new outdoor patio set to upgrade the outdoor experience, and so we could have guests over to enjoy our farm in the city.
As I was looking at my two small decks and small concrete patio, I realized that somehow one of the decks had degenerated into a potting area and place for junk storage. Sometimes you just have to look around at your own space and take stock of what is going on. I got a small storage shed for the sideyard, and moved my tools and potting stuff back there out of sight.
I moved the swivel chairs over to the BBQ side, and set up the new furniture by the fountain. Now we can sit on the deck in style, listening to our hens talk to each other while we watch our tomatoes turn red. Where’s that bottle of wine?