With warmer weather comes the chance to spend more time outdoors but how much time you actually spend enjoying outdoor living spaces often depends on what winter has left behind. If you don't like what you see, don't shut the door on your exterior. Make spring cleaning an al fresco affair and transform your patio and yard into your go-to space for both relaxation and entertaining.
It's usually around mid-March when most of us step outside to breathe in air full of spring's imminent arrival that we see the toll winter has taken on everything from lawns to outdoor appliances. Taking it all in at once, exterior clean up can look like an overwhelming job – especially when you've only just thrown open the windows.
But there's a good reason to tackle outdoor living spaces before anything else. Your home's interior will seem fresher and cleaner the moment you let in a bit of light and air, but outdoor living spaces need to be clean and above all, safe before they can be used to their full potential. Here are five ways to make sure your garden, yard, and patio are ready for your first springtime fete.
1. Make debris history
A quick pass with the rake can only do so much and your landscaper's first scheduled appearance may not be for another month. Taking the time to remove dead leaves, branches, mulch, stones, and other debris from lawns, garden beds, and pathways is about more than aesthetics, however. Clearing outdoor living spaces restores utility to your home's exterior, prevents injuries, and can even prevent damage to new plant growth and flooding.
2. Inspect and repair outdoor appliances
The gas and electrical connections that have turned your outdoor living spaces into a destination can sustain damage over the winter from ice, snow, and freezing temperatures. Make sure that wiring is intact, outlets are free of debris, and gas lines are undamaged. Once these vital hookup points are confirmed safe and operational, move on to the appliances themselves. Clean out barbecue grates, refill tanks, check outdoor sinks for rust and other damage, sweep chimneys, and inspect outdoor fireplaces.
3. Make surfaces beautiful again
The cold winter and the moist conditions that come with a spring thaw can damage stone and tile surfaces. Scrubbing these surfaces can restore their good looks temporarily but to ensure they're protected from April showers, they need to be restored with a fresh coat of sealant and a professional polish.
4. Update outdoor furniture
If you took the time to properly winterize your outdoor living spaces this past fall, chances are that your furnishings, rugs, and throw cushions look just as good as they did last spring. But if life got in the way and these items spent a cold winter heaped in a shed or garage, they may not look their best when pulled out of storage. Wipe or even power wash outdoor furniture and rugs, and try cleaning spotty or faded cushions. Replace whatever can't be brought back to life with gentle cleansing and vow to do better next fall.
5. Add entertainment
Now is the time to schedule your pool opening appointment if you have one, though pools and spas aren't the only things that can keep you and your family busy in the warmer months. Look for opportunities to add activity areas like a chess table, a bocce court, or even a tennis court to your backyard. Make this the year you finally install all-weather outdoor speakers so you don't have to jury rig a sound setup at your next party.
It is a not inconsequential amount of work to make your outdoor living spaces summer ready but the returns are manifold. The best reward for all of your hard work might just be this, however…while your neighbors are still clearing out a winter's worth of indoor clutter, you'll be outdoors enjoying nature's earliest springtime beauty, already ready to grill, play, or simply sit in front of the fire. If you need some inspiration for creating your own outdoor living spaces, check out our step-by-step guide.