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Lawn & Order: Get Organized Outdoors

Tidy up your deck and patio with these clutter busters

By Jan Soults Walker

Like any room inside the house, outdoor spaces can become littered with the things we use everyday. Implement these backyard, deck, and porch storage ideas to bring some "lawn and order" to your outdoor living areas.

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Classic Cabinet

A cabinet or armoire on the deck or patio lets you close the door on clutter. Select a model with adjustable shelves if possible. Locate the cabinet near outdoor seating or dining, and use it for stowing picnic supplies, seat cushions, or sports gear. Install a flip-down shelf inside the cabinet and use the surface for preparing meals, as a makeshift table for meals, or as a potting table—then tuck it away when not in use. Include hooks and wire baskets on the inside of the cabinet door to maximize storage capacity.

Check out some creative outdoor cooking and dining ideas.

Sensible Shed

Positioned near your outdoor living areas, a shed offers the storage convenience similar to an indoor closet. Line the shed with shelves—like a pantry—and add baskets and bins, hooks, and pegs. During the off-season, a shed serves as a locker for large items, such as patio furniture and the grill. Add a porch to the front of your shed for architectural interest and to create another spot for enjoying the outdoors.

Tineke Triggs

Down Under

An elevated deck offers a "basement" for storage. Conceal the under-deck space with skirting, panels, or lattice, and include a door for access. Outfit this hidden space with shelves and cabinets, and group belongings within each storage piece so you can easily locate what you need. If you must keep the area below deck open (to avoid blocking your home's windows or doors), consider enclosing the area beneath the deck stairs only to create an outdoor walk-in closet.

Bench Bonus

Kama Modular Table
EGO Paris

Built-in benches add beauty and additional seating to your deck or patio. To make them storage-rich, provide access to the inside of each bench base with a seat that lifts to reveal storage inside. Or, keep the seat stationary and install cabinet doors or drawers within the bench bases. Ready-made outdoor trunks are also available that double as seating.

Here are some ideas on how to make the most of your outdoor space.

Furniture Plus

Be on the lookout for other furniture pieces that double as storage. A weathered sideboard or dresser—picked up at a flea market for a few dollars—can provide a few years of use before succumbing to weather. Seal the wood with clear polyurethane to extend the life of the piece. Also watch for all-weather outdoor furnishings, such as a storage ottoman or side tables with shelves and drawers.

Clever Creations

Transform everyday items into storage for your deck or patio:

Hose hider. Cut a hole near the bottom of a large plant container. Coil the garden hose inside and thread the male end of the nozzle through the hole and connect the hose to the spigot. 

Pallet-able ideas. You can find pallets for free or a few dollars each and transform them into handy outdoor storage. Lean a pallet against the house or garage and use the sections between slats to store long-handled items, such as a pool net or garden hoe. Or use them for stowing toys or sporting goods.

Another option is to paint a pallet and hang it on the house exterior. Add hooks or baskets and use it as an outdoor shelving unit. 

Tires and toys. Repurpose tires to create an outdoor toy box: Paint a pair and stack them. Create a lid with a plywood round and a cabinet handle. 

Take a look at more kid-friendly storage solutions.  

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