Shopping for decor for the garden has become a lot like shopping for decor for the living room.
There are rugs for inside and rugs for out. Clocks for the mantel and clocks for the patio. Same with pillows, table linens, appliances, lamps and wall art.
Today, even some beds, flat-screen TVs and chandeliers are designed for outdoor living (see accompanying story).
The idea, of course, is to make your outdoor spaces as inviting, comforting and livable as your indoor ones. And, by the looks of some of the fashionable gardening/outdoor garb out there, to look good doing it.
Mary Gurtler, of Lockwood's Greenhouses in Hamburg, rattles off a list of what's popular for patios, porches, decks and gardens: nesting tables; candle stands, statuary that doubles as planters (female heads, for example); outdoor fireplace accessories, and much more.
"Shelves are a cool thing -- baker's racks, small potting sheds -- and we're seeing a lot of obelisks. They are both structural and functional," Gurtler said.
For outdoors, pots come in a mountain of materials, colors, glazes and sizes. And gorgeous pottery stands elevate plants and flowers off the ground and help them drain, she said.
Underfoot, beautiful outdoor rugs launder like blue jeans.
"You can toss them in the washing machine or hose them off," Gurtler said.
Some other trends to watch for as warm weather approaches:
* Black outdoor furniture: Furniture washed with black finishes has been a big look for indoors but, now, black -- particularly black all-weather wicker -- is showing up for outdoor spaces. Especially new-looking are the contemporary, modular configurations.
Ethan Allen, for one, has introduced a line of ebony-colored indoor/outdoor furniture crafted from a hand-woven weatherproof material that looks like wicker. Fabric options for outdoor-use cushions include solid khaki canvas and a stripe. The look is streamlined. No frills here.
* New fabrics: Outdoor fabrics keep getting better looking and more sophisticated. The newest all-weather fabrics mimic velvet, chenille, leather and more.
* Outdoor clocks: It's easy to lose track of time when you're up to your elbows in mulch, but lose track no more. Outdoor clocks -- sometimes doing double-duty as thermometers or entire weather stations -- serve as gentle reminders that time really does fly when you're having fun. Many require the protection offered by covered porches or patios.
* Lighter-weight tools: Gardening can be tough on backs, wrists, hands, knees, you name it. Now, a new generation of ergonomic tools is here to help.
As Garden Writer Tom Christopher, 52, writes in this month's issue of House & Garden: "I'm finding that lighter tools make for easier gardening and fewer subsequent aches and pains."
Radius garden tools are just one brand. Lightweight but with strong blades, the tools are designed to minimize hand and wrist stress. Check out www.radiusgarden.com for more information and retail information.
* Color: Earthy browns, copper finishes and soothing blues and greens reign when it comes to outdoor decor. But you don't have to look just to the flowers for pops of color. Color comes in the form of brightly hued Adirondack chairs, watering cans, flower pots, gardening gear, those flexible Trug Tub buckets, and more.
Telescope, makers of the popular sling collection of chairs, this season offers its Gardenella sling in lime green, plum, pink, aqua and tangerine (see www.telescopecasual.com for dealers and information).
And gardening clogs and gloves come in such vibrant colors, it's unlikely they will ever get lost in the dirt.