Millennials make up a large portion of the buying power in the market right now. And research shows they would gladly trade square footage for dreamy outdoor spaces.  A 2020 survey by The National Association of Landscape Professionals found that 79% of U.S. homebuyers considered the lawn, garden, and outdoor areas to be the most critical feature of their new home. Here are some easy and inexpensive ways to give your outdoor spaces a makeover.

Annual Plants

Seasonal flowers and plants add color and life to a space that little else can. If you’re playing the long game, plant annually blooming flowers and native trees. They will bloom more majestically every year. Some flowers that do well blooming annually, despite Wisconsin winters are:

  • Pansies
  • Dianthus
  • Dusty Miller
  • Snapdragons

If you’re planting trees, these native trees shed bright fall leaves every year:

  • Oaks- red and brown leaves
  • Birch- bright yellow
  • Dogwood- purple/red
  1. Poplar- golden yellow
  2. Maple- orange, red, and yellow

Seasonal Porch Plants

If you need to spruce your outdoor spaces quickly, you can buy porch plants for the season you’re in.

Summer Porch Plants:

Zinnia’s bloom long and bountifully. They provide a surge of color to any pot, garden, or planter. As a bonus, they make great food for butterflies. Mixing zinnia with milkweed is a surefire way to create an impromptu butterfly garden.

Waxy, durable, and bright pink, begonias are favorites in summertime planters. But be careful where you place your begonia pots. These beautiful buds are toxic to pets.

  1. Canna Lilies

Canna flowers give a lush, tropical look. Their flowers bloom in a variety of colors, from red, orange, yellow, and pink. These guys do best with moist soil and warm temperatures. You can even bring these buds inside during the colder months. They should grow well by a window.

Spring and Fall Porch Plants:

These flowers are multi-colored and beautiful. It’s possible that planting a garden of pansies is like the natural equivalent of a Jackson Pollock painting.  Explosions of color in every direction. Fun fact: pansies and violas are also edible! They make a beautiful garnish on salads or desserts.

These bright blue beauties are shade-tolerant look fantastic in window boxes. You can pair them with hostas and ferns to create a gorgeous variety box.

Cool-season herbs will do well in a mixed pot. Kale tends to grow wide and lush. The parsley, sage, and mint will emit a lovely herbal scent. If aromas are your thing, you can also throw in some lemon balm to zest up your fragrances

Winter Porch Plants:

Yew is a durable plant. It thrives in both full and partial sunlight. It endures drought and harsh Japanese winters, so it’s well suited for your Madison porch. It can live in a pot but can also grow up to 50 feet tall when planted in soil.

These guys are picturesque mini-Christmas trees. No shearing or pruning is necessary: they grow naturally in a conical fashion. As a bonus, they give off a swoon-worthy fir-spruce scent that so many air fresheners have tried to replicate. If you have any wildlife activity in your area, don’t fear. Their prickly pine needles aren’t appealing to deer or squirrels.

The thread branch cypress is an unusual type of conifer. Its needles aren’t so much “evergreen” as they are a bright, golden yellow. Their foliage tends to weep and pour over its pot, creating a nice texture variation. It’s slow-growing and requires minimal maintenance and pruning.

Boxwoods, like their name suggests, will grow in any type of box or planter. They usually grow about 3-4 feet high. They keep their green color year-round. They’ll add color to your winter home while making an excellent backdrop for your flowers in spring.

Add Ambiance

What’s your favorite restaurant? How have they set up their outdoor spaces? Is there dim lighting? Flickering candles? Try to incorporate “restaurant mode” into your outdoor space. Set up a few string lights. If it’s your style, you can even set up a few classic lamp posts that will make your yard look like a scene from Narnia. All this is available in solar, which is a score for your electricity bill. If you’re feeling extra festive, buy a few tiki torches. These are super inexpensive and you can even find them at your local dollar store. Outdoor candle votives are always a win. So are windchimes. Windchimes bring an ethereal type of calm into your outdoor space. Buy A, C, and E note windchimes so that when a breeze blows, it will create a perfect C chord.  

Keep It Tidy

Alright, this one is a no-brainer, but we have to mention it. Millennials indeed prefer yards with character rather than cookie-cutter HOA type spaces. The grass doesn’t need to be exactly ¾ of an inch, but don’t let it run wild either—weedwack your edges and trim your hedges. Make sure to sweep off your deck and patio spaces regularly. And of course, when the winter months strike, bust out that shovel!

Outdoor Art and Statement pieces

There is a whole new section of Homegoods dedicated to outdoor art! I’m not talking about lawn statues or pinwheels. They are now creating beautiful canvas paintings explicitly made to endure the weather. If you have the budget for outdoor furniture, great! If not, just throwing some bright pillows on to your old iron rods will do great. Draping a blanket over the sides will help too. Some of these Viking-inspired fur throws are incredibly dreamy.

But I Live in a Condo!

If you’re a downtown dweller without a patio or deck space, you can still use these tips to accentuate space. Draw attention to your windows and natural light. Add indoor potted plants. Visually stimulating social media outlets have propelled a plant-loving sub-culture like a supersonic boom. If a millennial touring your home notices a succulent or a variegated monstera thriving in your sunniest room, it can be a huge selling point. Flowers and plants are relatively inexpensive. Even if you don’t have a green thumb, they’ll last long enough to get your house sold! And then, after you close, if you’ve found a new love for your plants, you can bring them with you to your new space.

Share Your Ideas

Share your porch-sprucing ideas with us! We’d love to see some before-after photos of your space.