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We have big plans this weekend here at Sanabria headquarters. It’s no exaggeration to say that we’ve been waiting for this weekend since January. It’s the best because it’s not sweltering hot yet in DC (but will be very soon) and the mosquitos are not out in full force (they will be). So we plan to cram in as many outdoor activities as possible this long weekend. One of which, is finally tackling some gardening on the patio (you can check out my patio before and after post here).

Built-in Seating Capitol Hill Patio

When we renovated our patio, there were a lot of things we did to make the most of the little bit of space that we had. Because many of you are shifting your attention to the outdoors this weekend, I thought that you might find these tips helpful. At the very least, you can scroll through some of the pretty patio photos for inspiration.

Apartment Patio Built-in Bench Black

1. Built-in Seating

Built-in seating on your patio probably costs a lot less than you think especially when you’re comparing it to the cost of outdoor furniture, which can be pricey. I love it as an option for small spaces because you can customize it to fit just right and also add storage underneath. I found that the dimensions of a lot of outdoor furniture were too bulky for our space so we had benches custom built that lift for storage and they fit perfectly.

Built-in Seating at Cafe Stella LA

Boho Chic Outdoor Built-in Seating

2. Shared Fence

This may not be an option for everyone, but if you’re a homeowner in a row house you may want to consider building a shared fence with your neighbor. It requires a little coordination, but it can be worth it because it means that you’re building the fence directly on the property line so that you both get the maximum square footage in your respective yards. We did this with our neighbor when we realized that we had 3 fences between us: his fence, a fence on the property line, then our fence next to that. We gained about 8″ on each side of our patio by building a single shared fence.

Row House Backyard Shared Fence

3. Ditch the Umbrella

I love the look of a bright pretty umbrella for shade, but the truth is, it takes up space. Admittedly, not that much space, but when you are counting the inches, every inch matters. And during the winter months, it just hangs out back there looking kind of sad. If it’s in your budget, opt for a shade sail or pergola with some greenery to block the sun.

Shade Sail + Built-in Bench Seating

Image Credit: Sortrature

Capitol Hill Washington DC Patio

4. Vertical Gardens

This is the one that I’m tackling this weekend: adding vertical gardens to soften up all the cedar fencing on our patio. I’m using Wollypockets and I’m hoping I can pull it off. I’ll need to take photos before I kill all the plants. Stay tuned for that.


I love container gardens, but I also don’t like to take up precious surface area with too many containers or create too many hazards / objects of interest for my toddler to destroy. Using your fence or wall or railing to create a vertical garden is such a beautiful way to create an inviting space with plants without taking up too much room on the floor. Feast your eye on some of these vertical gardens and tell me that you don’t want one.

Vertical Garden Butcher's Daughter

Vertical Garden Fixer Upper

5. Flexible Furniture

If your space needs to do double duty, opt for dining table or bench that folds for storage or a planter that’s on wheels so you can clear the space if you’re hosting a cocktail party or, in my case, a toddler pool party. We just fold up the table when we need more space and place it along the fence. Target has this great folding outdoor dining table right now but the inventory is super low so hurry if you want it! Is also has a coordinating folding bench.

Target Mantega Folding Table

And this little planter on wheels makes a great mobile veggie or herb garden that you can wheel out of the way as needed.

Rolling Planter Box

Any other ideas? I know that so many of you are very creative with your little outdoor spaces. I’d love to hear your tricks for making the most of your outdoor spaces so please share in the comments! Have a lovely long weekend, my friends!


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