A rug can create an room simply by defining a space in the greater outdoors. This one is recycled plastic available from Mad Mats.

Image: Mad Mats

Like flowers in the garden, outdoor rugs can add color and punch to a patio, deck or backyard. They can transform a space into a place by defining a smaller area within the larger outdoors, complementing the vertical spatial definition created by the trees, shrubs and plants.

Outdoor rugs make a philosophical statement, too: this place is for people, not just weeds or worms!

Easy care rugs don’t have to be a neutral garden backdrop, either. Woven rugs made of recycled or other plastics (from old drinking straws to polypropylene, which is the same plastic that forms the tops of Tic Tac boxes) can be eye catching, comfortable and appealing in what will become your outdoor room. They’re also able to hold up to living permanently in the sunshine and rain, and can be washed simply with soap and a hose.

Check out the slide show sampling of boldly colorful, easy outdoor rugs. Most are available online at Viva Terra, Mariachi Imports’ Mad Mats, and/or Home Infatuation.

Locally, you can check out some of these outdoor rugs in person at Garden Fever – at 3433 NE 24th near NE Fremont. They have a really good selection of Mad Mats and some other indoor/outdoor carpet offerings. Any ideas on other local sources? Please let me know. I’d love to publish a definitive list if possible!