If your home is your winter castle, then think about making your backyard your summer haven. You don’t have to invest a lot of money or even hire help to create a sanctuary designed for warm-weather family fun and entertaining.
Devoting some time and following these ten backyard prep steps can result in a clean, safe, and beautiful yard in plenty of time for summer barbecues and other activities.
- Wash outdoor furniture. Whether your outdoor furnishings stayed outside all winter or were nestled in storage, you’ll want to make sure they are clean and ready for summer activities. Wipe down chairs and tables, wash and check cushions for holes, and make a list of what needs to be repaired or replaced. Remember, you can touch up rust spots or totally repaint both metal and wooden furniture. It’s always fun to try a bright new color this summer. Endless possibilities!
- Ensure playsets are safe and steady. Before the kids start spending all day outside on the swing set, thoroughly inspect your play structures for anything loose, rusty, fraying, or broken. Pay close attention to bolts, screws, hinges, ropes, and roofing, and tighten any loose items and replace or repair others. Consider power washing the entire play set to remove any build-up that can become a safety issue.
- Clean and repair screens. Screened porches are ideal for enjoying a bug-free summer evening. Check your screens for loose or saggy panels and any holes. You can tighten loose screens with a rolling tool and purchase extra screens for replacement panels and repair kits for small holes at your local hardware store. Once you’re sure all panels are secure, gently clean the screens and frames with warm water and an all-purpose cleaner.
- Prune bushes away from the house and play areas. Overgrown vegetation can attract pests like ticks, ants, rodents, and more to your yard. If an overrun bush or tree branch adjoins or overhangs your house, you could end up with bugs and even critters like squirrels venturing inside. Trimming your bushes and tree limbs in the spring not only helps to keep your house bug-free but also lessens the number of spots where mosquitos, ticks, and other insects can congregate. A pruned backyard also results in fewer play hazards.
- Make sure your grill is clean and ready to fire up. Before you put the first burger of the season on the grill, make sure you’ve inspected any grill hoses or tubes for cracks or leaks, checked the ignition parts, and thoroughly cleaned the interior. Use a spatula to scrape away any built-up grease, remove and clean the drip pan, and wash sear plates and cooking grids.
- Spruce up your flower beds. A pretty backyard adds to the ambiance you’re trying to achieve in your backyard haven. Weed and clean out perennial beds and consider adding annual beds or pots with seasonal flowers. There are even some plants that can help repel mosquitoes!
- Pressure wash your deck or patio. Remove stains and start summer with fresh surfaces. If your wooden deck is due to be resealed or painted, now is a perfect time. Note, most experts recommend resealing or repainting outdoor decks every two to three years.
- Confirm your outdoor and porch lights are working. Check switches and replace burnt-out bulbs. If necessary, call in an electrician for repairs. Now’s also the time to consider adding solar accent lights or even string lights for more ambiance.
- Get rid of standing water. Standing water can lead to mold, fungi, and other lawn problems, as well as provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Aerating your lawn, cutting overhanging limbs to eliminate shade, and adding more drainage can help excess water drain or evaporate.
- Plan to keep your grass short to help with tick prevention. Ticks do not like shorter vegetation because it tends to be drier and hotter with more sun exposure.
Also consider having a professional pest control company inspect your yard for ticks, mosquitoes, and stinging pests like wasps, hornets, and bees. A professional can identify potential problem areas as well and make suggestions that will help keep your yard a haven.