Francesca Stygar, advertising writer

Smart landscaping and garden planning can be the ideal method to turning a patio or poolside area into the perfect outdoor retreat. Carefully chosen and arranged plants add ambiance to the space as well as serve a function. Some plants will attract birds and butterflies while others will help convince pesky mosquitoes to avoid your hangout area. Here’s just a short list of some natural décor to consider:

CITRONELLA

If you’ve ever used a spray-on mosquito repellent, chances are you’ve seen ‘citronella’ listed somewhere with the ingredients. Citronella is a beautiful perennial clumping grass that emits a strong citrus-smelling aroma and masks other scents to keep mosquitoes at bay. It’s basically like having your own unfiltered repellent growing in your backyard without the added chemicals. Citronella is very easy to grow, and can even reach heights of 5 to 6 feet! You can keep this wild looking plant in pots and place them around a porch or patio, or you can plant it directly into your garden. Not only will it add some exotic fl air to your yard, but it’ll help make pest control easier.

MARIGOLDS

Similar to citronella, marigolds give off a unique aroma that many insects avoid. These bright little annuals are also used in repellents but grow to produce beautiful summer-colored flowers as well. If you’re looking to add a splash of vibrant orange or yellow to a deck, marigolds are a great option. They may be small, but they’re a very hardy plant and would make great additions to any established garden or planned poolside flowerpot.

BEE BALM

Now that we’ve listed two plants that help keep things away, here’s one that actually brings fauna into your yard! These beautiful tube-shaped blooms can grow up to 4 feet tall and are a favorite of hummingbirds and butterflies. They come in colors ranging from pinks and reds to purples and whites. Though they predominantly grow in the summer, bee balm will continue to bring beautiful birds by your patio well into the fall.

PETUNIAS

If hanging baskets full of flowers are your ideal outdoor decorations, petunias might be the perfect plant for you. Not only do they attract hummingbirds and butterflies, but they’re also another flower that blooms in a wide variety of colors. They’re annuals, which means you’ll be de-heading them before winter, but they make great décor in large planted pots, windowsill planters, and corner gardens. Line your patio or poolside patio with them, and you’ll have a backyard that’s optimal for admiring local fauna.

CALIBRACHOA MILLION BELLS

According to Rose Smith, Greenhouse and Floral Design Manager at Donzell’s in Akron, this dazzling little plant is a must have for anyone’s butterfly garden. These small perennials produce long, trailing stems that sprout beautiful flowers resembling miniature petunias.