skip to Main Content

11 budget-friendly ways to prep your outdoor space for summer

‘Tis the season to be outside. Fa la la la la, la la la la. Okay, so that’s not really how that song goes, but it is the season to be outside. And after a couple of years of being hunkered down at home because of the pandemic, we are so in the mood to celebrate summer like it’s the holidays… but outside.  

And this year it’s looking like we’ll be able to get outside more. We’ll want to get outside more. We can’t WAIT to get outside more.  

It doesn’t matter if you live in an apartment, townhome or house, you’ll want to get your outdoor space ready for entertaining your friends, family and neighbors. Here are 11 ways to help you do that on a budget.


1. table and chairs  

This is the most essential part of your outdoor space. Having a place to sit down, as well as a table to hold food and drinks, will give you more reasons (excuses) to eat outside. You can also play games or just hang out.  

Yes, furniture can usually be an expensive part of your outdoor space, but you can still find ways to get some on a budget. Check your local neighborhood website first. You could find used outdoor furniture for cheap or even free.

If that’s how you get your furniture, a simple update is to add a quick coat of paint. Check your local home improvement store for what we like to call “uh oh” paint. It’s paint someone had mixed at the store but decided they didn’t like the color. The store may offer it at a steep discount.  

Camp chairs make an inexpensive option for seating. Discount, home improvement and dollar stores usually put these on sale during the summer and you can even pick up extras for those times you have more guests. For a table, try an inexpensive folding table.  

Or if you’re handy, try the DIY way. There are plenty of options online using wooden pallets, cinder blocks and other inexpensive materials.

2. umbrella

You may not need or want an umbrella, but during the hottest days of the summer, you may wish you had one.

Daylight Saving Time means more hours of sunshine and an umbrella can help you avoid getting too much at once (ouch) or make it easier to stay outside longer. Plus, you might even avoid having to go inside if there’s a sudden rainstorm.

Other options include portable awnings or pop-up shelters.


3. outdoor rug  

An outdoor rug isn’t a must-have, but it can make your outdoor space feel more of an extension of your inside space. Some companies make weather-resistant rugs, but a lesser-expensive option is to get one made from synthetic fibers like polypropylene or acrylic. They’re generally mold- and mildew-resistant.  

Another fun option is to paint a fake rug on your deck or patio. Use painters tape to mark off the size of the rug you’d like and start painting. Go with a solid color or make a pattern with your tape to create your own custom design. 

This is also a great use for the “uh oh” paint we talked about earlier. Just make sure you get the outdoor kind.  

Oh, and if you’re renting, check with your landlord before you start painting.

4. decorative pillows

Decorative pillows can add an extra level of comfort to your outdoor seating, especially if you have wooden chairs or benches. Their usefulness doesn’t stop there though. They can also make your outdoor space feel more home-y.

Have a bigger crowd and short on chairs? Use a few pillows for floor seating (kids love this!).  

Neutral colors are always a safe choice, but don’t be afraid to try fun prints, bold patterns or bright colors.

If you want to make your own pillows, we found quite a few DIY plans online, even some that can be made without a sewing machine. Use old decorative pillows for their insides or pick up cheap filling at the discount or dollar store.

5. mirrors  

Mirrors can make an indoor space seem bigger and they can do the same for your outdoor space. 

Look for cheap mirrors at yard sales and thrift stores, then paint the frames. Yes, another use for that “uh oh” paint we keep talking about.   

 Hang a couple of larger mirrors or groups of smaller mirrors, depending on your space. Take a look at the way the sun hits your space before hanging them. You don’t want to have glaring reflections annoying your neighbors.

6. water feature or fountain

These can add calming sounds to your space, plus block out noise you don’t want to hear when you’re trying to relax outside. We say skip trying to find one that’s inexpensive and make your own.  
Search “DIY fountain” online for ideas and instructions. You may already have a usable container like terra cotta planter or piece of pottery that can serve as your base.

Some of the plans we saw use a solar-powered pump which we think is an awesome idea. And even though that might sound technical and expensive, it really isn’t.

7. footprint doormat  

A doormat is just a place to wipe your feet, right? Well, yeah, but why not take the average everyday (translation: boring) doormat and personalize it for you and your family?

The DIY footprint doormat here on our blog is easy to make, and it’ll add instant personality to your outdoor space. It’s also a great reminder for people to wipe their feet before going inside.   

Feeling more creative? You can make your own design using the same supplies from our DIY doormat. Get everything you need here.


8. string lights  

No need to head inside when the sun goes down. Most string lights provide just enough light so that you can see the people you’re hanging out with, but not so much that you feel like you’re on stage and in the spotlight.

String lights will make your space feel quaint and cozy too. And for you lovers out there, maybe even a bit romantic. Sounds much better than flipping on that back porch light that seems to attract every bug in the neighborhood, right?  

We’ve seen lots of fancy (and expensive) versions online and in stores, but guess what? If you already have holiday lights, you can use them if they’re rated for outdoors. If you want to add more lights later on, be on the lookout for those after-holiday clearance sales and pick some up super cheap.

9. tin can lanterns

No way to hang string lights at your place? Still want some sort of outside light for chillin’ in the evenings? It just so happens we already have a solution right here on our blog.

Our DIY tin can lanterns are easy and cheap to make, and you can customize the designs to fit your personality. Get the instructions here.

living things

10. plants  

Plants can make your outdoor space feel more connected to the beauty of the nature around you. We recommend those that won’t require a lot of maintenance or water, but what you choose is up to you. Some plants may not be safe for pets or kids, so check that out before you bring them home.   

Check for community plant sales or look for deals at local stores. Need planters? Hit up some yard sales or check your local neighborhood website for cheap or free options.   

 Enjoy cooking and have extra space? Consider planting some herbs and vegetables, too.

11. flowers

Who doesn’t love getting flowers? If you have them in your outdoor space it’s like you’re getting flowers every day. Starting from seeds is so much cheaper and kids will have fun watching them grow and get bigger every day. You can also check your local home improvement stores and garden center for already-growing plants.

Shop around for the best price. When you combine flowers with plants, you’ll have a one-two punch of natural beauty in your outdoor space.  

Don’t think you have a green thumb? Look for inexpensive fake flowers and plants at your local discount or dollar store.

let’s get this summer started  

There you have it, 11 budget-friendly ways to prep your outdoor space for summer. We hope you create a cozy, comfy and beautiful area for all that time you’ll be spending outside.  

One last thought: it may take time to get everything just the way you like. Where should you start? We suggest with the furniture, then add what you can.

Also, keep checking your local neighborhood website and yard sales throughout the summer. You may be able to pick up more of the things you want at a bargain price or free.  

Don’t feel like waiting? Head to to see what we have available. You can search “outdoor living” or use this link.  

Enjoy your summer!

Back To Top