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15 tips for DIY outdoor living spaces
    Depending on size and shape, outdoor living spaces have the potential to serve many purposes when they function properly: dining room, lounge, home office, play room, exercise space and more. The key is making your personal space work for you and your lifestyle.
    1. Do the proper amount of preparation. Preparation is key to having a finished product that will look its best for a long time to come. From scraping and sanding surfaces that need to be painted to renting a tiller for garden preparation to tamping patio base using a plate compactor, putting in the effort up front will pay off in the long run.
    2. Check local requirements. Call before you dig and wait until markings of buried utilities have been made so you do not dig into an underground utility line. Additionally, make sure your project complies with city and municipality codes for your location.
    3. Consider maintenance required. When selecting materials and designs, consider the upkeep in the long run. Perhaps you enjoy caring for the materials or the patina developed over time, or you may be the type that would like minimal maintenance.
    4. Select plants appropriate to your climate and lifestyle. Start by checking to see what zone you live in and make sure you select plants appropriate for that zone. It is also important to choose plants based on how much sunlight the location gets, the soil you are planting into and the water requirements for each plant. Additionally, some plants, like citronella can have other benefits like deterring mosquitoes.
    5. Rent the proper equipment. Local rental stores often offer the same equipment used by professionals and can offer guidance on using the equipment for your project. Talking with the staff about your project may also lead to additional recommendations on tools and equipment to make the project easier. You can also check to see if they have any tools you are considering buying, even if it is just a hand tool. It may be cheaper and you won’t have another item to store.
    6. Think about privacy. Sit and stand in the current or planned outdoor living space, or use a ladder if you are planning to add a deck at a higher level. Consider what you can see and what your neighbors will be able to see, then determine your level of comfort. Privacy fences, a living wall, or a simple reconfiguration may give you the privacy you are after.
    7. Plan for shade. Will you want shade while using your space? If so, there are a lot of options, including structures, shades, umbrellas, and living shade, like climbing plants on a pergola or a tree that will grow to provide shade.
    8. Repair and maintain. Outdoor furniture and hardscape takes a beating and often repairs and maintenance can play a big role in extending their life. Also, by tackling repairs as you discover them, you can often prevent more serious damage. Renting a power washer can give new life to decks, fences sidewalks and siding, and can prepare surfaces for repair.
    9. Use color to your advantage. Whether you’d like your space to be soothing, vibrant, or somewhere inbetween, color can play a big role. If you’re including flowering plants, consider their color and when they will bloom. To ensure you have color year round, you’ll need to use a variety of plants or replace annual plants once they are done flowering. Paint, outdoor, accent pieces and rugs are all opportunities to use color.
    10. Get creative. Create unique furniture pieces with off-the shelf products. Upcycle items to make unique pieces for your space. Renting tools can give you the flexibility to create freely with more materials than you would normally have at home.
    11. Bring plants to new locations. There are so many ways to encoprorate plants you’re your outdoor living space in addition to planting in the ground. Containers, vertical planting, climbing plants, plants as shade, a living fence, and raised bed gardens can all be inspiring solutions to bring them into your space.
    12. Define your space. A row of potted plants, a retaining wall and a privacy fence can all create a sense of enclosure to help give it the feeling of an outdoor room.
    13. Consider safety. Safetly is important for all, but if you have children, you’ll want to be extra sure to keep safety in mind as you design your space.
    14. Take lighting into account. If you like to enjoy your outside space after the sun has set, lighting plays a big role in the ambiance. Lighting that offers a warm glow makes a space inviting and twinkling light can add a sense of magic.
    15. Create a budget. Once you know how much you are willing to spend on your space, you can make decisions on materials for your projects and additional items you will need. Consider investing in long-lasting materials that will wear well over time to make the most of your hard work.
    Whether you’re planning a simple weekend project or a major overhaul, taking the time to consider your specific outdoor space and how you plan to use it will be helpful in maximizing it’s functionality. Contact your local, ARA-affiliated, rental store for information on available rental products and services to meet your DIY project needs. To locate the rental store nearest you, use the Rental Store Quick Locator above. Related articles: 3 Ways to Enhance Your Wedding Space with Rentals 5 Outdoor Wedding Planning Tips Go Green at Home