Elements of Outdoor Living

After moving my potting operation to the side yard, I moved the grill to the side of the deck to make room for the two swivel rockers.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.

After moving my potting activities to the side yard, I moved the grill to the left side of the deck and moved the swivel rockers from the other deck to this one.

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.

Beyond the bistro table and two chairs, we have the chicken coop, a small water garden, and our herb garden with birdbath.

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 love watching my raised bed vegetable garden grow.

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.

With the swivel rockers moved to the other side, that left space for our new deck 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.

We love our new deck seating. The furniture is very comfortable.

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.

Tool and pot storage has been moved to the side yard, where I make compost and store rainwater.

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?

About Lou Murray, Ph.D.

I'm a professional writer/photographer, avid gardener, and active environmentalist living in southern California. I am retired from writing a weekly newspaper column on environmental topics in the Huntington Beach Independent, but I am still teaching at the Orange County Conservation Corps. This blog chronicles my efforts to live a green life growing as much food as possible for my husband and myself on a 4,500 sq ft yard that is covered mainly by house, garage, driveway, and sidewalks.
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5 Responses to Elements of Outdoor Living

  1. Turling says:

    I’ll be over with that bottle of wine in an hour.

    Very nice set up. I could sit there at watch the vegetables grow for a very long time.

  2. I could bring wine, but I think Turling will get there before me 😛 We’re further north than you, so maybe we don’t quite get year round outdoor living, we live outdoors as much as we can. I agree, you don’t a gazillion dollar grill to cook outdoors either. We’ve had the same charcoal Weber for 20 years, and it still works great (with chimney starter of course, hate the smell of lighter fluid). I love your patio set, it looks so comfy. Can the cushions stay out year round, or do you have find room to store them? I’m with you on watching the hens for entertainment. Ours are just uphill of the patio, and an endless source of amusement.

    • Hey, Clare, bring the wine and come on down!
      The cushions won’t hold up if I leave them in the rain, so I’ll be getting chair covers. Ug, more consumption of things from China. But I don’t want my cushions to rot, so I’ll cover them. The option is a deck storage unit, but there is no room left on our deck for a cushion storage box.

  3. The green aspect to furniture is here to stay. The other day a customer came into our store and asked for a luxury leather lounge with recycled wood!! Can you believe it? you had better!

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