13 picks for sprucing up your outdoor space this spring

By Mimi O'Connor | April 9, 2018 - 9:00AM 

It may be worth it to spring for self-watering railing planters (these are just regular ones, as far as we can tell).


Who are we kidding? The calendar says spring, but given the weather lately, snow could be just around the corner. Still, warmer days must be ahead eventually, which means New Yorkers will be squeezing onto balconies, decks, and stoops soon. Hanging out outside is different in New York City. Outdoor furniture and accessories need to be small, easy to clean, simple to install, and in some cases, heavy enough to withstand strong wind. Also, being kind of stylish never hurts.

With those requirements in mind, we've rounded up some of our top picks for making your outdoor space in the city a little slice of paradise. 

Allsop Home and Garden solar lantern, $36

Solar lanterns are hard to beat for low-maintenance style. Nothing to plug in, they look nice, and they come on at dusk with no help from you. Go for a bohemian vibe with these lanterns from Amazon, or go with basic but attractive IKEA  globes. The Swedish chain also sells solar string lights in 12- and 24-light strands as well as assorted shades if you want to add some extra flair. 

IKEA Runnen outdoor decking, $30 per box 

Another IKEA find, but a really easy way to class up a patio or slab of pavement: Real wood square tiles that click together. These come nine to a box, covering about nine square feet. These will weather over time, or you can treat them to preserve the brown color. Note: IKEA says the tannins in these tiles can leak and discolor a subfloor, so don't use them on anything that needs to remain pristine. 

Gardener's Supply Company adjustable self-watering railing planter, $30

Sure, you could get a basic window box setup at the local hardware store for less, but these planters are worth the extra money for a couple of reasons. One: they're adjustable, so you can size them to your railing. Two: They're self-watering, which doesn't mean you never have to water your plants, but it does mean less chance of coming home to a desiccated mess after a scorcher. 

Hudson Valley Seed Co. organic basil bouquet seeds, $4

If you have sun, you can grow basil, and you should, so you can make your own fresh pesto. This mix includes several varieties, such as classic Genovese, Thai, and lemon. Plus it comes in this fancy art pack.

Target French cafe wicker patio chair, $59

Squint, and you're in Paris. This stylish chair is made of weather-resistant metal and all-weather wicker, and also comes in white. 

Target bucket chair, $79

A popular silhouette at pricier retailers, this modern seat is powdered-coated steel and resin, so it's resistant to the elements and easy to clean. 

Grand Patio steel coffee table, $35

One of these tables, also powdered-coated steel, would look great next to the bucket chair.

Abba Patio market umbrella, $79

There's nothing like baking in the sun to harsh your outdoor mellow. Patio umbrellas that tilt can be handy for precision blockage. 

CB2 Blox galvanized steel planters, $10 and up

For your succulents or tropical plants, these modern planters are galvanized steel, and come in charcoal gray as well. 

Pier 1 Chloe golden modern lanterns, $20 and up

For real or faux candles, these lanterns add a little glam to your patio. Available in three sizes.

Lowe's Boston fern hanging basket, $15

Got shade? Boston ferns are popular for hanging. Or if you prefer not to stretch to water them, get a tall, non-hanging container. 

scandinovia premium drinking glasses, $35

Do yourself a favor and get some acrylic glasses. You won't have to worry about breakage.

Better Homes & Gardens Aruba toss pillow, two for $20

Pillows covered in Sunbrellla fabric are treated for the elements, and there's a matching pouf!



Mimi O'Connor

Contributing Writer

Mimi O’Connor has written about New York City real estate for publications that include Brick Underground, Refinery29, and Thrillist. She is the recipient of two awards from the National Association of Real Estate Editors for interior design and service journalism. Her writing on New York City, parenting, events, and culture has also appeared in Parents, Red Tricycle, BizBash, and Time Out New York.

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