Setting up a small Olympia Outdoor Room

This blog was written by our sales associate, Naomi Chan…

It’s not hard to set up an incredibly relaxing patio space, no matter what kind of living arrangement you have. Not everyone has room or accommodation for a barbecue or full patio table. With a little spare cash anyone can afford a beautiful and relaxing outdoor room. All you need is as little as a 5’x4’ spot that is outdoors.


Think you have to spend a grand on a patio set? No way! Today’s new finishes and innovations in design allow anyone to create a fun and interesting outdoor environment for the cost of paint or varnish. It’s simple to waterproof wood or wicker, and there’s plenty of indoor furniture that works outdoors as well, such as glass, metal or acrylic. Want upholstery? Not a problem. If you’ve got a little patience, there are literally tens of thousands of waterproof fabrics available worldwide online. Many upholstered seats can be wrapped in your choice of fabric and stapled in place.  

The key is making sure you’ve got a place to sit and surface to put your laptop or coffee when you’re ready to use the room. Just make sure it’s rain proof. The rest is all about plants…

Pots – Solutions for Concrete and Balconies

Small space with no soil? Try container gardening!

Get creative with your planters and they’ll reward you tenfold in return. Anything from tin pails, old boots and tires to student work from Evergreen’s pottery studio can be easily found at flea markets and thrift stores in Olympia especially at the end of school semesters. Collections add impact to design, so if you decide to go with tin pails, for example, get them for all of your plants. (Metal gets hot so keep it in shady spots only)

Plants for Olympia, Zone 7b

Olympia is a tiny pocket of zone 7b surrounded by a dense wall of zone 8b just outside of its borders. Check the map at find out what zone you’re in if you live outside the city limits. Zones are used to find out whether or not a plant will do well in your backyard.

For Dark Locations

Most small spaces in Washington state tend to be shaded. Even in the darkest and dankest of locations, like at the back of a tree-walled fenced  apartment patio can foster growth, as evidenced by the fact that even the darkest of Washington’s old growth forests are teeming with undergrowth.  You can get bright fluorescent greens and silver foliage to make the space seem less dreary.  For a modern look, try an old tire filled with a variety of mosses, and tall industrial cylinders with dramatic hostas emerging from the top. Or for a more romantic look, ferns and small shade loving blossoms can be placed in  anything rustic. If you need a bright splash of color on your containers, spray paint, as always, is your friend.

Shade loving plants are not as easy to find as their more colorful sun loving counterparts that fill the aisles at the local big box hardware store, but they’re readily available at any small specialty nursery.  I called all of the local nurseries in the Olympia area and found one, The Bark and Garden Center, that is locally owned and boasts a special section for shade loving plants. They’re also open seven days a week, from 9-5, which is a huge plus. They are located at 4004 Harrison Ave NW, Olympia. Their number is 360-352-2955.
For Sunny Locations

In our region, you can choose pretty much any sun loving plant you like, but for ease of maintenance, try to avoid ones that attract our local pests. I love marigolds, but slugs love them. I’m willing to buy and spread diatomaceous earth to grow them, and if you’re not, you may be disappointed to find all of your blooms beheaded by the little blobs.
Put your plants on stands of varying heights to add depth and interest. Vine trellises can add a cool spot in the summer and evergreen shrubs can contribute interesting foliage in the winter. 

Think about your space and what you need for your comfort and you’ll have an extra room to enjoy instead of a flat boring space to store the barbecue. 

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