Renter-friendly Outdoor Space Ideas

Philly rental properties often come with outdoor spaces that have creative potential, including porches, backyards, terraces, and roof decks. But even if you have none of the above, there are still ways to integrate the outdoors into your rental apartment.

Before you embark on any project, whether it’s buying a fire pit for your backyard or merely installing window boxes, run it by your landlord or property manager first. In most cases, they will approve your request, view it as an improvement to their property and perhaps even offer to pay for the work to be completed. You may also want to run your plan past fellow renters if they too have access to the space or if your changes will impact them in any way. (ie. Smoke from your fire pit or grill enters their apartment.)

Fabulous Porches

Rental homes in many parts of the city boast porches that provide shade and beauty. If your porch already has attractive chairs and plants – great! But if it is cluttered with bikes, baby coaches, and furniture that is suspect – it’s time for a major clean-up. 

You can find retro porch chairs and gliders at thrift stores or new 1950s-style reproduction ones at Home Depot. If your porch needs a fresh coat of paint talk to your landlord. He may be happy to supply the paint if you supply the labor.

No matter what kind of light your porch receives, green plants will be a big improvement. Take a photo of your porch and have a consultation with the experts at Urban Jungle in South Philly, City Planter in Northern Liberties, or Plant and People in West Philly. For natives, check out Good Host Plants in Germantown. Rittenhouse Hardware at 2001 Pine St also has lots of lovely plants for sale right out front.

Rittenhouse Hardware. Image: Cara Stapleton for Solo Real Estate

Depending on your porch size, consider hanging plants, container gardens and window boxes. Other decorative touches to consider? Hang a bamboo wind chime, a dream catcher, or a flag. For houseplant ideas, you can also check out our Philly renter’s guide to houseplants or join us at a plant swap at the PHS pop-up on South Street to pick up a new plant for your home.

Beautiful Backyards

Even the smallest patch of dirt can be turned into an eye-catching garden. Take a photo of your yard and its measurements to a garden center to determine your options. Depending on the amount of light your yard receives, you may decide to plant perennials, evergreens, or even a tree! 

The yard at our listing on 1718 Catharine St is outfitted with a small garden, a table and chairs, umbrella, and a chaise lounge making it a great set up for relaxing and entertaining.

Don’t have access to soil in your yard? No problem. Create a rock garden, pebble garden, container garden, or vertical garden. A vertical garden can be as simple as placing green or flowing plants on a brightly painted stepladder or as complex as turning your yard into a veritable jungle.

A lovely landscaped backyard at 1207 Shackamaxon

Just about anything can be repurposed into a planter, from a metal bucket to a watering can. Our Solo recycling bins make great planters too! For a true conversation piece, turn a Victorian bathtub into a giant planter, brimming over with ivy.

While a small yard may only have room for two small deck chairs, a larger space may welcome a set of vintage Adirondack chairs with cushions, a hammock, and perhaps a fire pit. However, even the smallest of spaces offer plenty of opportunities to personalize and make it your own comfortable oasis.

A metal container garden adds color to the exterior of Kensington Yards

Make the Most of a Roof Deck or Terrace

Turn your roof deck into a 5-Star resort. If it’s small, add a container garden, a small end table and super-comfy, adjustable chaise lounges with cushions to be stored indoors. If it’s large, consider outfitting it for dinner parties with a sofa, cushioned chairs, a coffee table, and a big patio umbrella. Create privacy with vertical foliage or potted palms. Don’t forget to string lights for a festive touch. Depending on your deck’s surface, you may want to add an outdoor area rug.

Many Philly apartments come with a living room terrace with sliding glass doors. Make the most of it by adding a metal cafe table and folding chairs. Hang window boxes from your railing and place decorative container gardens on the terrace floor.

Make the Most of Windows

No yard, roof deck, or terrace? No problem! Start an herb garden in your kitchen window. Hang moisture-loving plants like Boston ferns in your bathroom. Start a cactus garden in your office. Place window boxes throughout your apartment or rental home, filling them with perennials in the warmer weather and ornamental kale and cabbage in colder months.

Adorn Your Front Door

Whether you rent a lavish townhouse or a humble row house, your front door is the first thing you and your guests see daily. If there’s room on the steps, add an ornamental container garden. If there’s no room on the steps, place the container beside the steps on the pavement.

Or, if you’re really game, follow the lead of imaginative Rittenhouse Square homeowners who, not only display container gardens but also put a French bistro table and chairs on the sidewalk. You can also ask your landlord if they would be willing to let you install floral window boxes as it improves the home’s curb appeal.

Floral window boxes in Center City. Image: Cara Stapleton for Solo Real Estate.

Remember, you don’t have to wait until you own a home to love where you live!

If you’re looking to make Philadelphia your home and are looking for a great rental, visit our rent page to view our current listings. Solo Real Estate manages 450+ units across the city and we are committed to finding the right tenants to settle in and become active members of their community.

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