After a few false starts toward the warmth of the season, we finally have the right conditions to step outside and stay for a while.

Here are some tips from a recent event called The Great Outdoors at Michigan Design Center in Troy that featured a presentation by Pat Seibel, who designs, plants and maintains the display garden at Four Star Greenhouse Inc. in Carleton, Michigan, and an outdoor room by Paul Feiten, interior designer and owner of Paul Feiten Design in Bloomfield Hills.

Seibel, who also works with Proven Winners as a landscape designer and gardener, suggests fertilizing for optimal growth. Because water is an essential part of plant success, he also recommends irrigation systems.

“Too much water is more often the problem than too little, especially with sprinkler systems,” he says.

For outdoor living spaces, Seibel goes by the following guide: site, light, height, bright, excite and sight.

In order to create the best conditions for your site, you should start with quality material.

Make sure you have proper light for plants that require sun. Add height with tall annuals like King Tut Cyperus or Purple Fountain Grass.

“Height can also come from a container,” says Seibel, who suggests filling one with the brightness of sweet potato vine.

Color combinations are endless, whether you choose fuchsia and light purple for a soothing look or select something more vivid like a trio of orange, blue and green. Monochromatic varieties like white can also make a statement.

For visual excitement, Seibel suggests using containers to create a focal point or window boxes that let you bring your garden close to the house.

Check the view from near and far and don’t forget about nightscaping. Create more definition and privacy in your outdoor rooms by adding lattice and plants as walls, such as arborvitae.

When planning your outdoor spaces, include ways to enter, exit and pause.

Paul Feiten shared tips for creating an outdoor space that feels like home.

His vignette paired an outdoor sofa covered in a linen-like outdoor fabric with wicker chairs and a large cocktail table for serving casual meals. An Asian porcelain garden seat could function as an end table or a stool for extra seating. A tall sculpture added a decorative element to the outdoor space.

Here are a few of Feiten’s suggestions:

Set the mood. Hang unique chandeliers outside for some sparkle and added light.

Try a pergola to define an outdoor space and provide shade.

Install a vertical fireplace to create a focal point. It will become your favorite gathering spot.

A fountain will add a peaceful, Zen-like feeling and will help conceal traffic noise.

Add monogram toss pillows and colorful accessories to make your outdoor space your own.

After trying some tips from the experts, all that’s left to do is sit back, relax and enjoy the view.

For information, contact Pat Seibel at 734-654-7517 or go to Contact Paul Feiten at 248-258-9200 or go to

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at

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