No Outdoor Space? 10 Good Alternatives


outdoor alternativesNot having private outdoor space has its perks. You don't have to feel guilty that you missed the early planting window for crocuses, then tulips, then finally tomatoes. You never have to think about buying mulch or cutting the grass. And outdoor furniture is one expense you never need to consider. And who wants to invest in all that sunblock, bug spray and charcoal?

But sometimes, on those weekend mornings when the sun is shining and the birds are singing, it's impossible not think to oneself, "It sure would be nice to take my morning paper and a cup of joe and retire to the outside world with my thoughts."

Well, here are 10 ways to forget that you don't have an outdoor oasis, patio, backyard or a porch and appreciate what you do have:

1. Start a garden
There are many websites dedicated to teaching you how to create a thriving garden in a windowbox. RentedSpaces has even covered the topic in forms of window and vertical gardening. You can also learn how to use plant lights and other tools to make things grow if you are not in a direct line of sunlight.

2. Enjoy the morning in the fresh air
Open all your windows, even take out your screens to really get the "great outdoors" vibe, then turn on a fan. Move your kitchen table or a favorite chair over by a window, and drink your coffee while reading the "Life and Style" section as you listen to the sounds of the great outdoors (or some great music if your soundscape is mostly traffic).

3. Set up your living room in a park
Go to a quiet park and set up a temporary living room. Blow-up rafts make excellent lounges, or if you can, borrow a friend's patio chairs. Go prepared to spend the day with food, drink and plenty of games, books and entertainment. Don't forget the sunscreen and bug spray!

4. House-sit for the weekend
Are any friends with outdoor space planning summer-weekend getaways? Offer to water plants, walk dogs, feed cats or anything else they might need while they are away. Then, use their outdoor space for the weekend as if it were your very own.

5. Have a front stoop dinner
Borrow a grill or invest in a small one and set it up on your front stoop. Then enjoy the day grilling and getting to know your neighbors.

6. Host a rooftop dance party
If you have a finished roof (and permission from the landlord), organize a night of dancing and hanging out up there with friends. Or take a tip out of the rom/com playbook and decorate with Christmas lights, then invite a sweetie up for a romantic dinner and dancing to the stylings of whatever will play on your boombox.

7. Borrow someone else's roof for a date night
If you don't have a finished roof of your own, borrow someone else's. While it might be tough to host an actual party, you might have a friend or two who would let you use theirs for a special date night. Bring up some takeout and sit under the stars. If you play your cards right, your friends might even let you use their bathroom.

8. Host an indoor-outdoor barbecue
First, buy a noise machine or nature CD and crank the sounds of the great outdoors. Open the windows, turn on a few fans and only use natural light. After it's dark, break out some flashlights for your guests. Cook sausages and burgers on your George Foreman. If you are feeling extra motivated, break out sleeping bags and make it a "campout!" But if you do that, don't forget the s'mores.

9. Be barefoot in the grass
In your living room, lay a roll of synthetic turf (Home Depot sells a 15-square-foot roll for around $50.) Then take off your shoes, and roll around in your own little yard. Once you've had your fill, roll it back up. Or consider making grass-like carpets part of your everyday decor.

10. Start your own greenhouse
Buy a bunch of plants to hang and set up around your place. Use plant lights if you don't get much sun and don't forget to water and feed them. Even if you haven't had much luck with plants in the past, it can't hurt to try again. Once you succeed, you'll be amazed what a little green on your eyes can do for your soul.


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