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Renew outdoor spaces when weather warms

The brilliant colors of spring and summer remind us that it’s time to look outdoors and spruce up our spaces in anticipation of warmer weather. Even if you have the smallest balcony or deck, it’s all you need for a delightful open-air experience. In fact, the smaller your space, the more important it is to get the furniture and décor just right.

Take a look at the area and make an honest assessment. Is it clean? Is it attractive? Or, is it a hodgepodge of plants left over from holidays long forgotten?

One trick that will help get things shipshape is providing symmetry with plant containers. They don’t have to all be the same size — in fact, varying sizes is more appealing — but they should all be the same type and color. Also, grouping pots in arrangements of three or five is most pleasant to the eye.

For the boldest and most dramatic affect, your smallest pot should be 8 inches in diameter. Anything less lacks impact. Also, too-small pots won’t provide plants with the space they need to flourish.

Veteran gardeners know that you must pull out blooming plants seasonally and the same holds true for container gardening. Talk with the experts at your local garden center about how to enrich soil before repotting. Good fertilization will ensure beautiful blooming plants throughout the warm-weather months.

Another benefit of lots of color outside your windows is that it adds enjoyment inside your home and appears to expand the space.

Keeping your gardening equipment tidy and well-organized can also be a challenge when working with limited space. The cedar hutch shown here from Smith and Hawken offers compact storage. At just 36 by 28 by 74 inches, it’s the perfect place to stash away your tools. A potting bench makes another good storage option.

Replacing or updating worn deck chairs, loungers, cushions and umbrellas doesn’t have to be expensive. Clearance outlets like Big Lots offer patio furniture at low prices, and deals can be found at consignment shops and discount retailers.

But, before you go buy something new, get what you have out of storage. Perhaps all it needs is a touch-up of paint to refresh it, or new, matching cushions.

Another way to add color to your seating group is with throw pillows. You can buy inexpensive and brightly colored pillows that can be tossed at the end of the season. Just don’t spend much for these accent pieces and you won’t mind losing them to the elements.

Dreamy lighting is fun and can be accomplished with either clear twinkle Christmas tree lights or citronella candles available from sources like Smith and Hawken, Home Depot, Lowe’s or discount retailers like TJ Maxx or Marshall’s.

These sources also have fun wall hangings and garden sculpture that add some panache to your exterior. I’ve hung old iron gates on my wooden fence as ornamentation, as well as wrought-iron fragments that the morning glory loves to attach itself to as the summer passes.

Christine Brun is a San Diego-based interior designer and the author of “Big Ideas for Small Spaces.” Send questions and comments to her by e-mail at cbaintdes@hotmail.com or to Copley News Service, P.O. Box 120190, San Diego, CA 92112.

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