Outdoor Living Ideas: 11 Easy Tips for Pretty Patios & Gardens + Quotes

How is June treating you, friends? As long as I don’t watch the news, it is a lovely one here. Outdoor Living Ideas: 11 Easy Tips for Pretty Patios & Gardens brings simple summery yum as we turn our attention to garden inspiration, patios, decks, and porches. Since I live in Northern Illinois, it always takes time before our gardens are lush, and since I am still busy inside with projects, this post reflects our former courtyard. (My next courtyard will be just as private, and someday I’ll get to spruce it up!)

Knotty alder front door with speakeasy opens to a pea gravel courtyard - Hello Lovely Studio. #hellolovelystudio #entry #courtyard #frenchcountry #frenchfarmhouse #europeancountry #interiordesign
Outdoor living inspiration as well as easy ideas for patios and gardens.

Pssst. The quotes and poetry excerpts here mostly fall under an umbrella of ‘self-care’ (albeit ‘spiritual’ or ‘contemplative’ self-care quotes). I wonder if there are seeds of hope, discovery, or soulfulness planted here?

11 Easy Ideas for Pretty Patios, Gardens & Outdoor Living

I independently selected products in this post—if you buy from one of my links, I may earn a commission.

1. Rustic Stools & Side Tables

You can bet that all of my own outdoor living tips are going to be extra easy because as a more indoorsy soul, easy is what I know.

In my French country pea gravel courtyard, plates made from palm leaves look like wood and are a perfect choice for summer outdoor entertaining. I used them as mini individual cheese boards and dessert boards - Hello Lovely Studio. #easyentertaining #palmplates #disposableplates #tabledecor #summerentertaining
Farmhouse Stools can be used for seating or little accent tables.

If you’ll recall, our Frenchy former courtyard was kept ultra simple with rustic seating and a rotation of petite wooden side tables/stools for drinks.

Pretty purple annuals perched on a rustic wood stool in my pea gravel courtyard with pea gravel. #hellolovelystudio #frenchcountry #courtyard #summergarden #rusticstool

Whether used for extra seating or as a perch for flowers, herbs, citronella candles, or lanterns, they just make good sense.

Jeff Foster quote about darkness on Hello Lovely Studio. #spiritualityquotes #spiritualjourneyquotes

These particular stools from Wayfair come in a lovely unfinished, scrubbed state I left alone.

Savory snacks on a disposable plate made from palm leaves upon a rustic wood stool used as side table in our French inspired courtyard - Hello Lovely Studio. #hellolovelystudio #frenchcountry #courtyard #summergarden #rusticstool

However, you could paint or stain to your taste.

Self-care quote about people judging - Hello Lovely Studio. #personalgrowthquotes #selfcarequotes #selfkindnessquotes #encouragementquotes

I love how these look good in a variety of different spots.

Rustic farmhouse wood stool in the pea gravel courtyard garden with summer blooms - Hello Lovely Studio. #hellolovelystudio #gardenstool #rusticstool #summergarden #homedecor #outdoorstool
Self-care quote by Jeff Foster on Hello Lovely. #selfcarequotes #traumaquotes #healingquotes #depression

2. Small Space? Hang a Planter!

Here’s an easy way to make any outdoor space a little happier…a simple and organic hanging planter like this affordable one:

Isn’t it darling? I love the design of the branch-like hook so much and will be adding at least one to my own space:

Bronze metal planter hook is wall mounted and resembles a faux branch or twig.
Bronze Metal Wall Mounted Hook, Better Homes & Gardens

The ease and price are hard to beat!

Jeff Foster quote about joy on Hello Lovely Studio. #spiritualityquotes #spiritualjourneyquotes

3. Incorporate Galvanized Metal into a Casual Scheme

Whether you collect vintage galvanized watering cans and buckets as I do or buy inexpensive examples, these pieces weather well and match everything.

Charming French country inspired garden with pea gravel and boxwood. #hellolovelystudio #gardendecor #frenchfarmhouse #frenchcourtyard #peagravel #outdoordecor

The vintage examples are getting pricey these days, and many of them leak anyway! So there’s always an aged example that won’t leak:

I love collecting pieces for the garden that aren’t just sitting around lookin’ pretty but actually get used!

My Farmhouse French inspired courtyard in summer with pea gravel, ferns, galvanized buckets, and boxwood - Hello Lovely Studio.
Hello Lovely Studio…certainly rustic indeed.
Burnished Galvanized Gray Planter with Stand is designed with an attractive look perfect for complementing a wide variety of indoor and outdoor decor styles. The half-moon tub of this garden planter sits atop a sturdy metal black frame, Crafted of 100% iron, this set of two planters with stands can be used singly or together for your favorite houseplants, flowers, and more.
Galvanized Gray Metal Planter, Better Homes & Gardens

A few vintage watering cans on display will likely move to a shelf or bench. Find new galvanized watering cans here.

Yung Pueblo inspiring recovery quote poetry on Hello Lovely. #addictionquotes #yungpueblo #lovequotes #selfcare

4. Bring the Inside Out

Don’t be afraid to bring pieces that live inside out to the garden for entertaining. Something magical happens when you go to that extra effort!

Romantic, simple, French courtyard with pink accents for a tea party - Hello Lovely Studio.
Hello Lovely Studio

While there’s nothing fancy about schlepping a rustic indoor farm table outdoors for a special occasion (or an ordinary Tuesday!), it feels romantic and sweet.

Romantic, simple, French courtyard with pink accents for a tea party - Hello Lovely Studio.
Hello Lovely Studio

Even if the occasion is simply cupcakes and cocktails for a few pals, go to the extra trouble of creating a mood.

Romantic, simple, French courtyard with pink accents for a tea party - Hello Lovely Studio.
Hello Lovely Studio

I found the pretty runner and cloth napkins HERE.

Jeff Foster quote about neglected feelings on Hello Lovely Studio. #spiritualityquotes #spiritualjourneyquotes #contemplativequotes

5. Add a Firepit to Create Intimacy

So often we forget that the whole point of prettying a patio or outdoor project is for the everyday, not just for curb appeal or occasions.

Wood burning fire pit in our French country courtyard with pea gravel is the perfect little addition to enjoy roasted marshmallows and family time. #firepit #woodburningfirepit #outdoordecor #patiodecor #hellolovelystudio

Creating for the everyday means simply adding lovely opportunities to gather, relax, and enjoy nature.

In our former courtyard, even without a firepit, things felt intimate and cozy. But adding a simple fire bowl elevated it to a place to whisper stories as fireflies dance.

Wood burning fire pit in our French country courtyard with pea gravel is the perfect little addition to enjoy roasted marshmallows and family time. #firepit #woodburningfirepit #outdoordecor #patiodecor #hellolovelystudio

Pssst. No room for a firepit on your balcony or small patio?

Do you know about tabletop mini firepits? My exact one is below in this gift guide (top right), and you simply add isopropyl alcohol for a flameless, no mess fire for s’mores and ambiance:

6. French Farmhouse Charm

For a French inspired scheme, bistro sets are swell for small spaces, and they instantly create a peaceful pocket of sanctuary for reading and sipping.

Self-care quote by Jeff Foster on Hello Lovely. #selfcarequotes #traumaquotes #healingquotes #couragequotes

Vintage Bicycle With Basket as Planter

I snagged the rusty old white bicycle at a yard sale, and it adds to the Frenchy feel with its simple florals in the shabby basket.

Vintage bicycle with white roses in basket in our French country courtyard - Hello Lovely Studio. #frenchbicycle #bicyclebaskets #whiteroses

Sometimes you’ll have a corner in need of softening, and it’s okay to be lazy like me…add an old bike!

A curvy chair might also do the trick:

Jeff Foster quote about the present moment on Hello Lovely Studio. #spiritualityquotes #spiritualjourneyquotes

7. Perk Up Inexpensive Hand Me Down Furniture With Paint

My wood chairs and benches are yard sale finds painted in a 50/50 combination of these grey-whites: Farrow & Ball Cornforth White and Hardwick White.

French farmhouse inspired courtyard with pea gravel, wood furniture, and vintage galvanized buckets. #hellolovelystudio #gardens #courtyards #frenchfarmhouse #peagravel #outdoorfurniture #outdoordecor
Yung Pueblo inspiring life quote poetry on Hello Lovely. #yungpueblo #lovequotes #selfcare
Instead of sharing a big cheeseboard or sweets buffet, individual mini boards are a safe way to entertain during Covid-19. #hellolovelystudio #summerentertaining #easyentertaining #outdoorentertaining #minicheeseboard #appetizerideas

I like how the paint has weathered and the pieces have an aged look after a few years outside.

Jeff Foster quote and poetry about shadows and light - Hello Lovely Studio. #jefffosterquotes #jefffoster #strugglequotes
Find Jeff’s work HERE
My French farmhouse inspired courtyard in summer with pea gravel, ferns, galvanized buckets, and boxwood - Hello Lovely Studio.
Photo: Hello Lovely Studio…certainly rustic country indeed.
Self-care quote by Jeff Foster on Hello Lovely. #selfcarequotes #traumaquotes #healingquotes #restquotes
My French farmhouse inspired courtyard in summer with pea gravel, ferns, galvanized buckets, and boxwood - Hello Lovely Studio.
Photo: Hello Lovely Studio…certainly humble indeed.
Etty Hillesum life quote to inspire on Hello Lovely. #lifequote #lovequote #spiritualityquotes

8. Instant Garden Accent Gate

We wanted a custom wood garden gate for our former courtyard, but we were short on time with so many renovation projects going on inside.

My French farmhouse inspired courtyard in summer with pea gravel, ferns, galvanized buckets, and boxwood - Hello Lovely Studio.
Hello Lovely Studio…certainly peaceful indeed.

So we visited a local big box store and found a decorative gate that works just fine! You can find these inexpensive garden accent gates everywhere now.

My French farmhouse inspired courtyard in summer with pea gravel, ferns, galvanized buckets, and boxwood - Hello Lovely Studio.
Hello Lovely Studio – Farmhouse French Inspired Courtyard & Inexpensive Bistro Dining Sets As Well As Garden Finds. Rustic French inspired garden ideas and shopping…certainly lovely indeed.

Budget Friendly Wood Patio or Courtyard Furniture

5 piece conversational patio set with cushions
5 Piece Patio Set With Cushions…certainly affordable indeed.
Ram Dass 1970s hippie quote on Hello Lovely Studio. #70squotes #hippiequotes #ramdass

9. Bring in a Garden Accent Like My DIY French Poem Stenciled Mirror

Here’s the French stencil used to quickly create an etched look on an old beveled mirror we salvaged from a bathroom renovation:

My French farmhouse inspired courtyard in summer with pea gravel, ferns, galvanized buckets, and boxwood - Hello Lovely Studio.
Hello Lovely Studio…certainly simple and charming indeed.

It takes no time to stencil a mirror when the stencil is large like this one! It attracts the birds who love to admire themselves, and contrary to what you may think, they don’t crash into it.

My French farmhouse inspired courtyard in summer with pea gravel, ferns, galvanized buckets, and boxwood - Hello Lovely Studio.
Hello Lovely Studio – Farmhouse French Inspired Courtyard & Inexpensive Bistro Dining Sets As Well As Garden Finds. Rustic French inspired garden ideas and shopping…certainly lovely indeed.
Yung Pueblo inspiring life quote poetry on Hello Lovely. #yungpueblo #lovequotes #selfcare

10. Consider Pea Gravel

Think beyond mulch – I’m a huge fan of the look of pea gravel and how easy it is to live with.

My French farmhouse inspired courtyard in summer with pea gravel, ferns, galvanized buckets, and boxwood - Hello Lovely Studio.
Hello Lovely Studio…certainly a peaceful pea gravel courtyard indeed.

Here’s a close-up of the colors in the gravel:

pea gravel in my courtyard
Outdoor living inspiration and simple ideas for prettier patios and decks.

If you have a few hours on a weekend, you could have a heap of pea gravel delivered and place this on it for…BOOM…instant Frenchy moment:

Here’s a gorgeous idea when you want to inject color:

Monticello Bistro Set
Monticello Bistro Set…certainly charming indeed.

Ornate Metal Bistro Set Under $200

Ram Dass 1970s hippie quote on Hello Lovely Studio. #70squotes #hippiequotes #ramdass #listeningquotes

We Pause for an Inspiring French Garden

11. Invest in Planters That Will Serve You for Years

These planters have stood up to the elements and look just as nice as when I bought them!

My French farmhouse inspired courtyard in summer with pea gravel, ferns, galvanized buckets, and boxwood - Hello Lovely Studio.
Hello Lovely Studio…certainly handsome indeed.

You may recall we have moved on from this home, but the tall planters are on my new front porch, and one day soon I’ll show you!

Yung Pueblo inspiring life quote poetry on Hello Lovely. #yungpueblo #lovequotes #selfcare

Thanks so much for taking these ideas for a spin, and happy summer, friends!

Peace to you right where you are.

-michele

Shop for items you already intended to buy on Amazon RIGHT HERE, and also find home decor here to keep decor inspiration flowing on Hello Lovely!

Hello Lovely is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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Laurel Wreath Mirror
Round Farmhouse Dining Table
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Pardon My French Doormat
Stripe Turkish Towel Throw
Pamela Arm Chair
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French Country Wood Chandelier
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Gustavian Cabinet
French Farmhouse Dining Table
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Designer Favorite Wall Mirror
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Fireclay Farm Sink (Reinhard, 30″)
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18 Comments

    • Michele
      Author
      July 27, 2019 / 1:13 pm

      Well, then I’m so glad I included it! Peace to you. πŸ™‚

  1. July 27, 2019 / 7:51 am

    Good morning Michele!

    I have always enjoyed this sweet courtyard becauseI think it is a space that many can replicate. I love the pea gravel, the sitting area, the mirrors, watering cans, ok, I LOVe it all.

    There are a ton of great sales pieces for the garden at home goods, TJMAXX and Tuesday morning!

    Have a wonderful weekend friend.

    • Michele
      Author
      July 27, 2019 / 1:12 pm

      Thanks so much for the kind words, Elizabeth – I’m still working on it, but it delivers so much peace already. Off to catch up on your lovely blog and hoping you are enjoying a delicious bon weekend.

  2. Connie
    July 27, 2019 / 1:37 pm

    I would LOVE to have pea gravel in my courtyard….but it is not do-able since we must shovel and/or use a snowblower in winter in that area. {sigh}…. Love the idea of graveled courtyard. Lovely to see your photo!

    • Michele
      Author
      July 27, 2019 / 2:15 pm

      Ahhh. We get a ton of snow here in Northern Illinois but haven’t had an issue since there is a sidewalk path between the areas with gravel. Thanks, Connie!

  3. August 3, 2019 / 8:50 pm

    Michele,
    You are so welcome for the feature on TFT. Working in the garden is always so much work but so relaxing. Your courtyard is going to be so lovely when you are done. It looks great already.
    Hugs,
    Bev

    • Michele
      Author
      August 3, 2019 / 10:55 pm

      My trouble is just getting started – once I begin, then I enjoy it and want to keep going. Thanks, Bev! πŸ™‚

  4. August 7, 2019 / 9:19 pm

    Thank you for sharing at #ThursdayFavoriteThings. Pinned and shared.

    • Michele
      Author
      August 7, 2019 / 10:26 pm

      I appreciate the show of support, Marilyn – thank you so much. πŸ™‚

    • Michele
      Author
      August 8, 2019 / 12:17 pm

      Yippeee! I’ll be right over, Amber. Peace to you.

  5. Mumbai
    June 2, 2021 / 1:12 pm

    hello Michele….if this beautiful white painted house is yours on the pics, I had never seen before. Honestly, I don’t
    like pea gravel because it is difficult to clean when the leaves fall down, not comfy for shoes etc….Anyway, do everything in a calm spirit and don’t work too much…take care of your health.

    • Michele
      Author
      June 2, 2021 / 9:54 pm

      Hi there, friend. Yes – it’s our home, and it’s light grey but perhaps appears white in the images. I find it soooooo easy to care for the areas with pea gravel, and it’s doubtful you could have more fallen leaves than we do since we’re heavily wooded here. We use a blower to remove leaves just a couple times per year, and it takes just minutes. But I do understand not wanting to walk on it. I think the pea gravel needs to make sense aesthetically for the project as well. Since the tones in our gravel are my favorite colors, it works for me on multiple levels. Hope you are safe and enjoying late spring! πŸ™‚

  6. June 10, 2021 / 6:06 am

    Michele, you are always providing me with so much inspiration and appreciation for life and offering beautiful little pearls of wisdom to enjoy it to the fullest. I apologize I haven’t been able to get over and comment earlier, but I am here now and so grateful for your beautiful post. Thank you so much for always joining us at the TFT party. Thank you for your lovely comments each week, please forgive me if I don’t always get a chance to reply, I read them every time. I will be featuring you this week at the party. Blessings, dear lady.

    • Michele
      Author
      June 10, 2021 / 8:16 pm

      You’re so lovely, Theresa. I can’t wait to join you all today and so appreciate your support. We’re a sisterhood, yes?

  7. Lori Tally
    June 14, 2022 / 8:49 am

    Love the galvanized watering cans! This will be my new search at flea markets, antique stores, and Walmart! Ha! We just left a campsite (in our Airstream) with pea gravel and I loved it! Always enjoy the quotes!

    • Michele
      Author
      June 14, 2022 / 11:45 am

      Thanks so much for being here, Lori. The galvanized cans, like us, just get better with age. πŸ™‚ Enjoy your road trippin and all of the heavenly nature you must be experiencing. xox

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White Slipcovered Sofa
French Stripe Seagrass Basket Set
29″ Whitewashed Table Lamp Set of 2
White Matelasse Quilt on MY BED
THE BEST Energy Bars!
Trees White Wallpaper Mural
Round Farmhouse Table
Myla Slipcover Sofa
Deconstructed Wingback Bed
French Farmhouse Dining Table
Milagro Heart
Slipcovered Dining Chair
Rustic Farmhouse Stool
Edgecombe End Table
Parisian Style Iron Table Lamp  33.5″
Black or Bronze Accent Table
French Stripe Basket Set
White Cotton Crochet Bed Skirt
French Country Rattan Basket Set
Marble Subway Mosaic Tile
Rattan Basket With Lid
White Ruffle Bedding
Seagrass Basket Set
Schumacher Wild Things Wallpaper
Slipcovered Sofa
Linen Napkin Set
French Country Lamp Set
White Matelasse Quilt
Tree Mural Wallpaper
Faux Potted French Lavender
Shaw Daybed
Distressed White French Country Chandelier
French Country Headboard
Oval Back Counter Stool, Set of 2
Antique Brass Pharmacy Floor Lamp
Round French Tufted Ottoman
Kinston Wood Bench
Italian Candelabra Chandelier
Slipcovered Linen Chair
Warner Upholstered Bench
Rustic Country French Dresser
Laurel Wreath Mirror
Round Farmhouse Dining Table
Reclaimed Wood Dresser
Louis Upholstered Bench
Pardon My French Doormat
Stripe Turkish Towel Throw
Pamela Arm Chair
Sweater Weave Basket
French Carved Wood Chandelier
Terracotta Pots & Basket
French Country Wood Chandelier
French Linen Dining Chair
Gustavian Cabinet
French Farmhouse Dining Table
Bar Stool
Beachy White Slipcovered Sofa
Rattan Armchair
Diptyque Oyedo Candle
Cross Back Dining Chair
French Country Candle Holder
French Industrial Metal Chairs (4)
Designer Favorite Wall Mirror
Holborn Lantern Pendant
French Country 6-Light Chandelier
Tray Side Table
French Country Upholstered Arm Chair
Wicker Trunk Set
French Ticking Stripe Pillow
Jute Area Rug
Mohair Throw
Rustic Industrial Farmhouse Shelves
Belgian Linen Sofa
White Duvet & Bedding
Rustic Wood Candlestick Set
French Market Basket
Linen Modern Wing Chair
French Country Farmhouse Baskets
Concrete Pillar Table Lamp
Boheme Madera Bench
Belgian Style Lamp
Kendall Skirted Dining Chair
White Charleston Sofa
Scrubbed Wood 5-Light Chandelier
Arched Champagne Wall Mirror
Moravian Star 1-Light Pendant
Highback Armchair
Mini Pendant Light
White Vase Set
Round Woven Placemat Set
Cashmere Throw With Fringe
Black Bergamot Soy Candle
Fireclay Farm Sink (Reinhard, 30″)
White Waffle Coverlet
Light Grey Vienna Quilt
Boheme Madera Bench
Belgian Linen Duvet Set
Round Marble Side Table
Rustic Pedestal Farm Table
Rattan Hanging Chair Swing