The first day of spring isn’t until March 20, but if you have a garden, yard or any kind of outside living area, it’s time to start thinking about transitioning outdoors. Whether you use your outdoor space as a place to meditate, escape or entertain, you probably invest as much time and energy into it as you invest in your interiors. It takes a gardening guru and warmer weather to cultivate a plant paradise, but Mecox can definitely help in the outdoor décor department. Here are a few tips that you may want to take into account as you arrange the ultimate exterior extension of your home.

1. Don’t forget the comfort factor.  Unless the purpose of your garden furniture is to serve as a focal point, it would be remiss to ignore the comfort factor.  Fortunately, several manufacturers make outdoor furniture featuring slipcovers and comfortable components made of waterproof and mildew-resistant fabrics. This outdoor sofa at Mecox is cleverly designed to allow moisture to drain off, and this outdoor sofa is made of flexible, yet durable foam. While slipcovers made of special fabrics work well, it also can’t hurt to have a canopy like this outdoor daybed.

2. Take the “work” out of woodwork.  If you love the look of wood, but don’t want to worry about the maintenance—for example, wet conditions can make for slimy wood—try “faux bois.” Faux bois is French for false wood, and faux bois furniture (like this arbor bench and this concrete side table) is an easy way to incorporate earthiness without the mess.

3. Yes, you can do contemporary.  While the art of garden furniture dates back to Ancient Rome, by no means does this mean that you’re limited to pre-modern pieces. If the décor inside your home is contemporary, your outdoor décor can be a continuation. I.e. you don’t have to feel like you’re stepping back in time when you step outside. Consider this modern concrete dining table and this modern Corbu fiber cement armchair if your style is more 2015 than 150 A.D.

4. Enlarge and enlighten.  Mirrors aren’t the first things that come to mind when you think outdoor décor, but because they do such a great job of reflecting light and brightening up a space they shouldn’t be overlooked. Plus, mirrors make more room—or at last give off the illusion that you’re working with more square footage. Want your garden to look twice as big? Invest in a backsplash mirror. If you want something subtler, invest in a smaller piece (or pieces) like this faux wood outdoor mirror that has a water resistant frame.

5. Keep it cordless.  While nothing is as impressive as natural light, the most effective way to illuminate a garden and successfully entertain outdoors on a moonless night is through artificial lighting. For a safe light source with a sense of personality, use lamps like this cordless Kena outdoor floor lamp. In addition to not having to worry about dealing with electrical outlets, you won’t have to worry about hiding unsightly extension cords.

6. Animals are welcome.  Few things go together as well as flora and fauna. Sure, you probably don’t want wildlife trimming your plants or leaving presents for you on your patio, but a few carefully selected creatures can add a lot of character. Consider these aluminum alligators if you’re looking for the scarecrow effect. It can also be fun to incorporate the animal print trend via pieces such as this snakeskin ceramic stool or this zebra ceramic garden lamp.

7. For feathered friends, safety first.  Birdbaths are a surefire way to attract your feathered friends, but it’s important to make sure your birdbath isn’t a hazard. Birdbaths shouldn’t be more than a few inches deep (yes, birds have been known to drown in them) and try to set your birdbath up under some sort of canopy—a tree works well. If your birdbath is too exposed, it may attract birds of prey and other unwanted predators. Also, don’t forget to change the water and clean your birdbath frequently. (White vinegar works well as a nontoxic cleaning agent.)