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Outdoor Design: 5 Tips for Your Garden or Patio

Outdoor design -- or patio design might be the way you think of it -- doesn't claim too much of a priority until summer, when suddenly you want a glass of lemonade and wonder what to rest it on.

Luckily the design community wants to help you, so here's a roundup of recent articles that will help you get that deck into tip-top shape:

  • From Apartment Therapy: Best Outdoor Dining Tables 2010. Twelve tables ranging in price from $149 to $1,899. Materials range from teak to tubular steel to plastic rattan (which I have to say, just keeps getting better and better from a design perspective; if you hated the first generation of plastic rattan it may be time for a revisit).
  • From Food Gear: How to Buy A Barbecue Grill. I have to be honest with you; when I bought my first grill, I researched it to death, walked into the barbecue grill specialty store, and then -- instead of walking out with the Weber grill I intended to buy -- walked out with an MHP grill which was fabulous and has lasted for years. So I'd definitely recommend finding a good retail store and talking to your local experts. This four-minute video does a nice job of preparing you for that conversation by delineating the major differences between gas, charcoal, and electric.
  • From the Cheap Vegetable Gardener: The Cheap Vegetable Gardener interviewed on NPR's Science Friday. This is sort of cheating because it's an aggregation post, but a good way to get to know this blogger's greatest hits, including "the most profitable plants in your vegetable garden" (cilantro is #1); "how to make your own upside-down planter" (because I know you're all mesmerized by those upside-down tomato commercials), and using coffee grounds in your garden compost.
  • From Design Sponge: Past and Present Porches + Outdoor Round-Up. A history of the porch, with lots of inspiring subsidiary images (planters, rustic birdhouses, etc.). Some of the images are older and don't click through to store links, but once you know you need, say, french bistro outdoor chairs, google can usually take it from there.
  • From Coastal Living 15 Quick Weekend Projects: Ways to freshen up your outdoor space, many of which are budget-friendly. With photos.