The weather is getting warmer. It’s light out even longer. All signs are here that we’re heading into spring, and you know what that means. It’s patio time.

If you have a small piece of real estate in the form of a patio, you’re going to get your best use in the springand summer. But in order to actually want to hang out there, you want to furnish it so you enjoy it. Here’s how to furnish your patio on a budget.

1. Look for free items

Before you go spending tons of money on anything, check out free items on Craigslist and Next Door. Many people post items on Craigslist or Next Door when moving or when they simply want to get rid of items. Though you might have to look hard for something worthwhile, there can be some great gems to uncover for no cost on these sites. Going this route first can ensure you’re checking out the lowest cost option first to furnish your patio.

Since your patio is outside and will likely weather the elements anyway, having something that is used isn’t as bad as furniture you buy for your home. Check out these sites for free items like chairs, tables, barbeques, plants and more.

2. Go to the dollar store

I have a small patio that comes with my apartment. I love to go out there and drink coffee or drink wine with friends. It’s a great place to be outside but also feel like I’m in the comfort of my home.

I bought some great items for my patio from the 99 cent store. I bought cute signs, nice plants, and decorations for the patio. Honestly, it was less than $10 to decorate my patio. These small decorations add so much homeyness and comfort to my place, so I can enjoy my patio without breaking the bank.

3. Use coupon codes

Though I decorated the patio for less than $10, I did spend about $100 on two chairs and a table for the patio. I bought the set online at Target.com with a discount code.

Before shopping anywhere, look for coupon codes for free shipping, for discounts, etc. Using Coupon Chief, you can easily check for any discounts or coupon codes to use for your purchases.

4. Get something you can maintain

Patios can be nice — if you can maintain them properly. If it’s a lot of work to maintain, you either won’t go out there or will spend a fortune to enjoy it. You don’t want to spend a ton of money just to enjoy a small piece of space outside your home.

As such, consider furnishing your patio with something you can maintain. For example, I know that I kill plants. It’s never my intention, but I don’t have a green thumb, and I end up forgetting to water plants causing them to die.

So, I’ve decided to pursue a desert motif. I can buy little cactuses, desert flowers, and succulents (all of which need very little care.) For me, this works so that I can maintain my patio and enjoy it, without spending money replacing things every few months.

5. Use your patio productively

Another way to use your patio is to create a mini herb garden to help you save money. You can plant basil, mint, rosemary, and more. Trader Joe’s has some great herb plants that you can buy on the cheap and put on your patio.

That way you don’t have to keep buying new herbs, but you have fresh ones that literally come from your patio. Utilizing your space in this way can help you save money but also be a productive use of your patio.

6. Shop off-season

Spring and summer are official patio seasons. If you really want to save money on your patio furnishings, wait until off-season. Come winter and fall, patio gear will be sold at a discount at stores. Shopping off-season for all things, including patio furniture can score you some big savings.

7. Repurpose items

I have a friend who has repurposed free items she has found on the street to make them something fresh. She added a fresh layer of paint or some wallpaper and it was like brand new. You can do the the same thing with any thing that you find that is free or any older items you find at a thrift store like Goodwill.

You can also take something from your home that you may not love for indoors anymore but could be a better fit outdoors. If you have a rusty table or a faded piece of art, it could do better on your patio than inside your home. Don’t be afraid to repurpose what is already available to you to save money.

8. Use your patio

Another way to save money on your patio is to actually use it! Your patio can be a great tool to invite friends over for a frugal coffee date or a frugal wine night without going out. Instead of spending $5-$20 on breakfast or $20-$60 on happy hour, host at your home and hang out on your patio.

I employ this strategy when I want to save money and don’t want to go out. Inviting people over to hang on my patio is still fun and different and can help me save money in the long run. Use your patio to maximize its cost-per-use.

Bottom line

It doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a legto furnish your patio and enjoy it. Making the most out of it can boost your happiness and help you be more frugal in the long run. Be sure to check free items, use coupon codes, and find something that you can maintain. Doing so can help you get the most when furnishing your patio.

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