So I wrote this whole post about how our patio has been a really helpful during this pandemic and then I was linking to the last time I wrote about our small patio last year and our patio looks better in that post! And I am saying many of the same things. So I was going to scrap this whole post. But then I realized that I needed to be reminded of what to do outside and what works and doesn’t work as much as the next person. Even if I am repeating myself a year later. Also this post is written in May when things are just starting to bloom and last year’s post was later in the summer so the plants had filled in a lot more. Also I miss my hammock chair.
Things on our small patio that are getting me through… (and please don’t write to tell me that my patio is not small, size is all relative and two people can’t walk past each other without rubbing full bodies so that is considered small to me. BUT we are also extremely blessed to have ANY outdoor space in the city and we do not take it for granted. I measured to be exact and it is 70 sq/ft plus the stairs and the small garden area is bit more but not really ours to do what we want with).
Sprouting seedlings from seeds in our windowsill has been a nice distraction during isolating at home. Transplanting them into the garden and planters has been another activity to pass the time which has been surprisingly entertaining (mostly for me but also a bit for the kids). I’m loving learning which ones need more sun, or water or space. I’ve found myself heading out to our small patio to check on our plant babies more than ever before and it provides a sense of calm even in the middle of the city in these uncertain days.
It’s still the early days of spring and I’m looking forward to seeing how this little garden grows and changes this year. Last year was my first time really attempting to grow anything and there wasn’t much success but I am loving the process.
Use Your Vertical space
We’ve added more greenery to our patio by going vertical. A felt pocket wall planter hanging on a gate; that otherwise doesn’t provide privacy for our city patio; has been a great solution for adding plants without taking up any precious space. Also adding vines up walls is way to have a garden without taking up too much space. We’ve had success with clematis vines but I would recommend checking on the sunlight on your patio and choosing a vine that suits it. Also hanging planters, hanging baskets or railing planters are a great option for adding plants without losing square footage.
If there is anything I’ve learned over the years of having a small outdoor space with kids is to have seating but to keep it as narrow as possible. In the past we have had a table and chairs and a deep sofa, but what is currently working are our Solair Chairs which are surprisingly comfortable and a narrow bench with a cushion. I would love to have a comfy sectional but there wouldn’t be room for the kids to play or swing on the rope swing, which is really the priority right now.
Depending on your patio size it’s really helpful to have something age appropriate to play with. In the past we have had a tiny pool (24” diameter if I remember correctly), a makeshift mini diy water table, a mini trampoline and now a climbing rope. Our climbing rope is possible because of the concrete ceiling above part of our patio. Honestly, someone gets hurt on it every second day so I’m not saying you should get one. I’m just saying it works for us in this moment to get some energy out without taking up much space. A few other options would be gymnast rings or a pickler triangle.
A bubble machine has also been a great addition to our patio the last couple of years and especially during isolation. It doesn’t take up much room and provides quite a bit of entertainment, especially for Mae (sorry the one we have it currently sold out but would recommend looking for one with a plug in cord option). Beyond these special play items, sidewalk chalk, shovels and a bucket keeps the kids entertained most days.
I find a rug is helpful to keep one area clear and clean and soft underfoot. Ikea, Simons, Home Depot and Target seem to have the most affordable options.
A bit of storage is helpful. We currently have 2 of these storage benches from ikea to hold some gardening supplies, water hose and kids outdoor toys. Alternatively a small narrow cabinet like this can store some key items.
Don’t forget lighting so that you can use your patio on summer evenings. Whether it’s string lights or portable LED lights (like this favourite that can be used inside and out).
Ok now I feel like my isolation-self is really showing. My dad made us a bird feeder but only since isolation have I diligently filled it with birdseed and have been surprised at how lovely it is to have birds in the trees and bushes near our apartment. Feels like a bit of nature in the city. Wow things are getting real simple around here aren’t they!
Everything is a Season
I think it’s always important to remember that everything is a season, especially with kids. There was a summer or two where every plant I planted was unplanted. And a season where we blocked off the stairs because they were too risky. Now the stairs hold the majority of our planters. So take it as it comes and remember to make the most of whatever outdoor space you have. Our patio is quite big by city standards but tiny compared to suburban backyards. If I start to wish it was bigger or the kids could run around on it I remember that many city apartments don’t have any outdoor space. Or if someone pees in the bushes beside our patio I am grateful I have a hose to wash it down, ah city living…