04/03/09 — At home outside: durable, stylish lawn furniture

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At home outside: durable, stylish lawn furniture

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on April 3, 2009 1:46 PM

Warmer weather is on the horizon, and you will want to spend more time outside.

But if you don't have a porch or a deck to enjoy the sunny days on, don't worry.

You can create an outdoor living space in any grassy area of your yard or even on your apartment's terrace.

And if you want to make your outdoor space a little more permanent, you don't have to spend thousands of dollars to build a deck, Jesus Cruz, the lawn and garden manager at Goldsboro Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse, says.

You can simply build a patio by placing a canopy above a grassy area.

Or you can go one step further and build a small patio using patio stone.

"What you want to do is start with a 12-foot by 12-foot area. If you want to, you can get some patio stone and lay it out," Cruz said. "You can even make an area that's 12-foot by 14-foot."

That space is just the right amount for a handful of people to sit and enjoy the outdoors, he said.

With a couple of hundred dollars, some leveling sand to place underneath the stones and some gravel to place in between the stones, you can build a patio with very little difficulty and time, he said.

To make a more usable outdoor area, Cruz said he would add a pergola to help keep the area shaded during the summer and to keep your family and friends away from sprinkling rain.

Lowe's offers pergolas, canopies and trellises with covers for anywhere from a few hundred dollars to closer to one thousand dollars.

And they are very easy to assemble.

"I think it took us about 15 minutes to assemble (a particular) pergola," Cruz said. "And it gets easier every time. They aren't a big hassle."

If you don't want to invest in a pergola, canopy or trellis, though, he suggests at least looking into purchasing an umbrella, which Lowe's offers for anywhere from $80 to $300.

Once you have the area picked out, and a patio built if you are building one, then Cruz said you need to have a place for people to sit.

"A few chairs and a table is nice," he said. "You want people to be able to relax there."

Out from underneath the pergola, to the side, Cruz suggests placing your grill and other seating area.

At Lowe's, they have a wide variety of lawn and garden furniture, both for outside of a canopy or pergola and underneath it, including a wicker set with a love seat, two chairs and a table for less than $700.

The store also has wooden and metal chairs to choose from in many shapes, colors and price ranges.

They even have rocking chairs for a porch, small table and chair bistro sets for apartment terraces, wicker bar sets for people who entertain a lot and chaise lounges for those who just want to relax outside.

A new and unique item to the Lowe's lawn furniture showroom this year is a branch bench, Cruz said, and it has been very popular.

The bench looks like it is made of wood, but it is really made of a blend of rust-free cast iron and aluminum. The fabric on the cushion that comes with the bench is an added bonus - it's a fabric that doesn't fade from the sun's rays.

Those qualities are two that people want to look for when they are buying lawn and garden furniture, Cruz said - will it last and will it continue to look nice?

Aluminum is a good material of furniture to stick with because it won't rust, and the same goes with the ultraviolet-ray resistant and weatherproof fabrics.

He said that he knows people, this year especially, will be looking to purchase inexpensive items that will last a long time.

That won't be a problem at Lowe's.

He said that most of the prices on the lawn and garden furniture have remained about the same as last year.

Some items are even priced at less.

But consumers won't have to skimp on quality.

"They are making furniture a lot better now. They are giving you the quality and the value," he said.

And it doesn't cost much to make your outdoor space your own.

It's easy to add a little splash of color.

Cruz said it's really the easiest thing to do.

"You can add different cushions, whichever you like," he said. "You can add lights to your pergolas. They even have special lights for umbrellas that stick underneath.

"Lights are great for night time and for when you are eating."

He said you can also pick up some weatherproof decor that can be placed outside and won't deteriorate.

Another aesthetically pleasing alternative is purchasing an outdoor fire pit.

It gives the area a nice look and also provides warmth during the sometimes chilly summer nights.

Lowe's offers different fire pits, including wood-burning ones and gas ones.

And another easy way to spruce up your outdoor space is to add a few large pots with plants inside.

"You can even have silk plants," he said.

If you have a green thumb and want to make your trellis or canopy look more natural, you can start a climbing vine on it.

"Creeping roses are good," Cruz said. "Or Carolina honeysuckle -- it's like jasmine, but it has a stronger smell. Ivy is always good and grapevines."

He said they are easy to get started.

"Once you start them, they will grow up," he said. "That's the way they naturally grow."

An added bonus for outdoor spaces is a mosquito or citronella plant that you can find in the herb section at Lowe's.

"They keep away the mosquitos, and other bugs don't really like them either," he said.

You can plant them around the patio, and Cruz said they will grow outward, not upward -- or if you don't want to plant them, you can place them in containers by your outdoor space.

And if there is something that you would like to have in your outdoor space, Lowe's employees can help you, he said.

"We have indoor and outdoor plants, fruit trees, furniture, stone -- just about everything you need," he said.