Not Your Average Lawn chair
Before you gasp at some of these prices, think about it. Good outdoor furniture will stay with you for the long haul and works as well indoors as out.Emu's outdoor loveseat features a powder-coated steel base and Teflon-coated cushions. Easy translation: the base won't rust or break and the cushions will repel water and stains. The manufacturers feel so strongly about this that they offer a five-year warranty - lengthy for outdoor furniture (1, UpCountry Garden, 16 Eastern, 416-367-3906, $1,169). This hand-crafted Indonesian chair and coffee table are durable enough for outside use all summer long and will be a welcome addition to any interior once winter hits (2 and 3, both from Kuda, 388 Carlaw, 416-463-4805, $595 and $875).Hot Stuff
A compact outdoor fireplace (4, Canadian Tire, call 1-800-387-8803 for the nearest location, $99.99) is a hot addition to any back yard or deck. But before you spark 'er up, check with Toronto Fire Services fire prevention (416-338-9050) to find out how your neighbourhood is zoned. Unsafe fire practice could land you a nasty fine. Also know that if your neighbours complain about your billowing smoke, they're in the right and will always win. And, hey, don't torch the place: use a protective patio grill pad (5, Canadian Tire, $26.99) to control the spark situation. Burn candles, lanterns and torches in a controlled environment, away from flammables.Go Martha
Crafty much? If you can work a sewing machine, then whipping up your own outdoor pillows and ottoman (in Waverly's Country Club ticking stripes) should be a snap. I swear, it's easier than it looks and way cheaper. Foam for outdoor or boating use comes in a variety of densities: the denser, the more water-resistant. So if you're obsessive about colour coordination, have some time on your hands and like saving cash, home-sewn is the way to go. Outdoor fabrics come in a variety of finishes, from femme chintzes to plastic-coated acrylics and even vinyls (6, Designer Fabrics, 1360 Queen West, 416-531-2810, $8.99 a yard; Foam Rubber Sales, 1494 Danforth, 416-463-9880).Citronella candles and oil lantern will help keep you in a mosquito-free zone (7 and 8, Canadian Tire, $2.99/$5.69 and $15.99), depending, say some researchers (so take note), on where you're sitting in relation to the candle. The patina on this iron frog will only get better with age (9, Moss, 544 Danforth, 416-462-9898, and others, $16). Mosquito netting: looks good, keeps bugs out (10, Rona Home and Garden, www.rona.ca for locations, $29.95). This matte black porcelain planter makes the perfect centrepiece (11, Moss, $39).Magic Carpet
Tired of small things - pens, jewellery, joints - falling through the cracks in your deck? Solve the problem with outdoor carpeting. Forget about Astroturf. Indoor/outdoor Needlebond looks and feels like the real thing but is formulated to resist moisture, fading and UV damage. When it rains, a carpet gets wet. But these rugs won't stay that way, decompose or wear out. Look for Needlebond in a variety of bright and neutral shades (12, Carpet Mill, 459 Carlaw, 416-462-9006, 66 cents/square foot).
Give your green thumb a workout by planting herbs (13) all around your patio. Grow them everywhere you can - in window boxes, along railings, on end tables or freestanding. Keep edible herbs near the kitchen for easy access. Lavender provides instant aromatherapy at your fingertips. Botanicals with skeeter-fighting properties include catnip, lemon thyme, lemon grass, citronella, basil, lavender and neem, among others.While plant fragrances alone may not be enough to keep the mosquitos away, their oil will. To release it, just crush the leaves and rub onto your skin. Reapply often. These remedies won't protect you for as long as DEET (N,N diethyl-m-toluamide) will, but you won't be drenching yourself with toxic chemicals either. Make sure to do a test patch first; you may have an allergic reaction. For a large selection of herbs and plants, check out Canadian Tire's newly expanded midtown store (839 Yonge, 416-925-9592).
Patio built by 2 Handy 4 Hire (14, 416-303-3470).All decked out
Perfect for a small apartment balcony, this Swirl Bistro set comes with two chairs and has the Old World weight of wrought iron but folds up for easy storage (1, Moss, $389). Reinforce your privacy with sturdy iron-wired bamboo fencing (2, UpCountry Garden, 5 feet/$199). Better than terra cotta, these stone-look planters are made from foam, so they're lightweight and won't crack (3, Canadian Tire, in many styles, $14.99-$39.99). In the world of citronella, oil burners are the new candles. These porcelain numbers look pretty, and not only at night (4, Moss, small $8/large $16). Feel free to recycle your old furniture - think armoires, dressers, night stands and chairs - and mix it in with your newer patio pieces. Slap on outdoor paint or watch it peel - either way, rustic furnishings add charm to your deck. Not unlike us, they've been cooped up in storage for a long time. Let 'em out and enjoy.