The lingering nights of summer are months away, but the time to prep the patio is now. Let the inspiration games begin with this leafy urban oasis.
Patio backyard retreat
Credit: Matthew Benson

It's called interior design, but this backyard retreat proves the same rules apply outdoors: Mix, don't match. Keep large pieces neutral (but go bold with pillows). Remember that plants always lift a space. And add a few surprises—yep, we're looking at you, stock-tank coffee table. Use these takeaways to create your very own outdoor oasis.

Patio inspiration
Credit: Matthew Benson

1. Add Greenery

Foliage-heavy containers, hanging air plants and trailing vines create a jungle vibe. Bonus: After the neighbors' petunias fade, your greenery will still look fab.

2. Define Zones

Just as they do indoors, carpets anchor furniture and define zones. For longevity, choose a UV-protected outdoor rug to resist fading and mildew.

Raised bed on patio
Credit: Matthew Benson

3. Create Functional Privacy

A raised bed filled with tomatoes and herbs brings an eye-level splash of color and aroma, and can create a textural privacy screen along one side of a patio.

4. Add Warmth

A space-saving chiminea tucks safely into a corner for campfire ambience. Nearby, pillar candles flicker in lanterns.

Mini lanterns
Credit: Matthew Benson

5. Set the Mood with Lighting

Dangle mini lanterns from tree branches for a magical mood. Flameless votive candles operated with a remote or set on a timer are the safest, easiest option.

6. Enlist Versatile Furniture

In lieu of a coffee table, cluster a few garden stools. If someone needs a seat (or a spot for a drink elsewhere), just swipe one from the pack.

Patio backyard retreat
Credit: Matthew Benson

7. Consider Reusable Dinnerware

Trade paper for cloth napkins and use real or melamine dishes. You'll help the planet and look good too. Lanterns anchor a runner in place of a tablecloth.

8. Cover Up with Outdoor Screening

Conceal an ugly wall or fence (in this case, chain-link) with bamboo or twig-like screening, available at home centers. Think of it as outdoor wallpaper.

9. Incorporate Surprises

Hack a low table by flipping over a galvanized stock tank and draping it with a patterned scarf. (Between parties, use the tank as a puppy or kiddie pool.)