8 Ways to Improve the Ambience of Your Outdoor Space for Less Than $50

You know those people who love summer and want to spend every waking minute of it outside? I am not one of those people. I hate being in the sun and the closest I ever get to a tan is when my freckles start to close in on each other. Even worse, mosquitoes find me irresistible. But since the pandemic has forced me to embrace outdoor entertaining, I’ve tried to make my deck feel like an extension of my home.

Just like with an indoor space, the secret to a great outdoor space is creating an inviting ambience, whether you’re working with a deck, porch, or tiny patch of lawn. This means the right lighting for when sun goes down, cozy-enough seats, soothing sounds, and (ideally) no mosquitoes. Luckily, this can all be achieved without a lighting designer, landscaping budget, or new patio furniture.

Here are eight items that can instantly improve the ambiance of any outdoor space. You might already have some of them in a closet. If not, everything I’ve included costs less than $50, though many of the items come in at under $25.

String lights

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Lighting is everything. And the easiest and most cost-effective way to improve your backyard ambiance is to hang string lights. These affordable options from two of Target’s house brands are zig-zagged in my garage, hung across my front porch, strung across my backyard, and draped on my deck. The

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