The Washington Post

House Calls: A plain patio gets pretty


It’s barbecue season, so we asked Steve Wlodarczyk of Botanical Decorators — the landscape architecture firm that designed the terrace of this year's DC Design House — to give this plain patio a makeover.


By establishing distinct areas for lounging and dining, and adding color with flowers and planters, Wlodarczyk creates a backyard retreat.

Expand the corner garden to allow for more flowers. The larger space will also help create two distinct spaces for people to sit in.

Add contrast with bright garden accessories. White urns with ferns stand out next to the brown house and stone patio.

Always consider scent when decorating an outdoor space. Korean spice viburnum is known for its strong aroma.

Install lights along walking areas for nighttime. LED path lights can define where the plant beds meet the patio (not drawn).

Emphasize the view. Face the lounge sofas and chairs out toward the lawn.

A dining area near the house makes carrying dishes more convenient.

Recessed lighting comes in handy for entertaining. Downlights on low-hanging trees lighten the patio (not shown).

Botanical Decorators (301-948-6625, is based in Olney.


Furniture: Seneca side chair ($375) and armchair ($445), both from

Lighting: zinc hurricane for candles ($80) and Knox lantern ($40) both from

Accessories: Anduze urns in antique white (prices vary by retailer,; Vega planter in bronze (prices vary by retailer,; Reactive dinnerware set ($32,; cushions for medium dining chair in lagoon ($75 each,; quadrant plant stand with four planters ($250), tangerine watering can ($30), Sunbrella Caliente outdoor pillow ($40), Sunbrella Valencia stripe outdoor pillow ($30), all from


Sag Harbor sectional in driftwood ($1,200 for left and right chairs, $1,300 for corner unit,

Melbourne dining table ($820 for 5-foot-6-inch rec-tangular table, www.

36-inch free-standing grill with ProSear burner and rotisserie ($6,720, www.lynx

. . . OR SAVE

Bali seven-piece Deep Seating Sectional ($3,600,

Alfresco rectangular dining table in gray ($480,

Summit S-470 natural gas grill (suggested retail price $2,050,

We’re looking for more outdoor spaces. Send photos of your patio, deck or screened porch, plus dimensions and contact information, to



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