As the general public becomes more knowledgeable about pollution, climate change, and the ways they can personally make a difference, options for eco-friendly alternatives multiply every year. This is true for most industries, including outdoor decor and furniture. Are you convinced you can’t find eco-conscious furnishings and decorations for your outdoor spaces and must choose between conservation and style? Think again!
The foundation of eco-friendly decorating is creating a functional backyard or outdoor space that supports the local ecosystem and makes use of recycled materials. For a fun and fashionable outdoor area that also is great for the environment, try these easy eco-friendly decorating ideas.
Native Plants and Trees
A large part of your outdoor decor is your carefully-curated landscaping. Get your backyard off to an eco-friendly start by choosing native plants that thrive in your region. Take the guesswork out of your planting by using the National Wildlife Federation’s native plant finder tool.
Try to select herbs, flowers, and shrubs that attract bees. Plants that produce pollen and nectar provide bees a pesticide-free environment to help your area’s population thrive. Plus, many of these flowers naturally dazzle with deep, vivid pops of color, making beautiful natural “decorations” for your backyard.
You can get really into the project by building a bee house, also called a “bee hotel,” to further support your pollinator garden. A simply bee hotel can be built in an hour or two — check out this bee hotel guide from Modern Farmer.
Providing shelter and sustenance for furry, friendly creatures in your community extends the natural ecosystem into your backyard.
Basic inclusions are bird feeders and houses. Do a little bit of research online to choose the right bird house, as different designs attract different species of birds. You can paint any bird house you purchase to compliment or contrast the other decorations and design elements in your yard.
Birds are just the beginning — creating other animal havens will take care of certain pests and provide plenty of exciting moments when you’re sipping a cup of tea and marveling at wildlife just outside your window.
There are a few basic additions that will attract all kinds of critters to your yard. Pile several rocks in a sunny spot and plant shade-tolerant ground cover under trees to attract lizards, turtles, and frogs. Read up on wildlife habitat cultivation to learn about attracting squirrels, rabbits, butterflies, bats, and more to your yard.
Illuminate your yard without wiring and save a bundle on your energy bill in the process! Solar lights charge during the day while the sun is out, and emit a soft, gentle glow in the evening to keep your porch, balcony, or deck bright enough for the next round of cocktails or a nighttime movie screening.
As long as the area where you install a solar light receives a basic amount of direct sunlight during the day it can brighten up your yard all evening long. Many solar lights will use a single LED, while more expensive options will include both an LED and a small halogen flashlight bulb.
If you are a creative DIY type there are nearly endless decorative possibilities with solar lighting. You can place a solar light inside a jack-o-lantern, tiki torch, or hanging fixture to create mood lighting for any season. Hang solar lights along entryways, or burrow several solar lights in the underbrush of your garden for a magical look.
Rain Water Barrels
For backyard irrigation you can’t beat the environmental benefits of an old-fashioned rain barrel. These barrels don’t have to be an eyesore on your property — with the proper installation and barrel you can still have a breathtaking yard that benefits from drip irrigation.
Rain water barrels prevent soil erosion and allow less rain water to go to waste by ending up in the sewers. Keep rain water barrels on the side of your property and route them to your irrigation system to keep barrels out of sight, or embrace the rain barrel as a decorative element by painting your rain barrel or spending a little more on stylish rain water barrels that align with your home’s architecture and your sense of style.
The heart of outdoor eco-friendly decorating is choosing decorations, furniture pieces, and building materials that are fully recyclable or constructed with recycled material.
When searching for planters, choose pots and containers that are made from 100% recycled material so you can fill your deck, patio, or walkway with an array of potted plants. Installing a birdhouse, or erecting a sculpture along your wraparound porch to break up the space? Shop for materials like steel and polymers that are able to be repurposed later on.
Outdoor Furniture Options
Finding sturdy, all-weather outdoor furniture that doesn’t hurt the environment is much easier now compared to even 10 years ago. Many manufacturers design stylish and eco-friendly outdoor furniture pieces made with recycled materials that combat the effects of rain, heat, and salty sea air.
POLYWOOD outdoor furniture is constructed from recycled milk jugs. In fact, we recycle about 400,000 milk jugs per day. The milk jugs are used to make our high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic lumber that is extremely durable and weather-resistant.
Are you a visual learner? Check out each step of the process and learn how a milk jug becomes an Adirondack chair. HDPE lumber is just one of several furniture material options that are environmentally-friendly — you can also incorporate recycled steel, UV-resistant recycled vinyl, and sustainably-harvested eucalyptus or acacia wood. Do your research to learn if the brands you’re considering have truly done the work to go green.
Ditch the Wood Fire
Speaking of sustainable furniture, there’s another crucial element of your backyard that can be polluting the environment — your fire pit. Most backyards benefit from a roaring fire as a place to gather and relax after the sun goes down, but that communal space to swap stories and roast marshmallows also emits pollutants.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), smoke created from burning wood releases particulate matter that can impact the local environment and your health. Inhaling elevated levels of particulate matter can irritate your eyes and respiratory system, lead to bronchitis, and aggravate chronic conditions like heart or lung disease. Wood smoke also hurts your community — the Washington State Department of Ecology claims that 10% of winter air pollution comes from wood smoke.
What’s the solution? Ditch the wood! Switching to a propane- or ethanol-fueled fire pit table will prevent harmful wood smoke from clogging your lungs. This switch will also give you greater control over the flame height while requiring minimal maintenance.
A backyard gathering place like a 6-Piece Fire Pit Table Chat Set utilizes 100% recyclable material and avoids wood smoke while giving your family the ultimate evening hangout spot when night falls and the stars beckon.
By implementing any (or all) of these eco-friendly decorating ideas you can add personality and longevity to your outdoor spaces without worrying about the eventual environmental impact. What are your favorite eco-friendly decorating hacks for your porch, yard, balcony, or patio? Let us know in the comments!