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6 Tips to Get Your Patio or Deck Ready for Summer

Create a welcoming place for outdoor entertaining

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​If you haven’t touched your deck or patio since last summer, it’s time to take stock of what you need to do to make it that perfect place for outdoor entertaining. Winter weather, spring pollen and debris can all take a toll on both your surfaces and furniture.​

​The good news? It shouldn’t take too long to clean, repair and spruce up your space for the summer. Here’s how to get started.​ ​

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1. Start with an initial cleaning​ ​

We spring-clean the inside of our house, why not the outside too? ​ ​

Outdoor surfaces run the gamut from concrete or brick pavers to composite or wood decks. For most surfaces, all you need to start is a bucket and soapy water (just add a few squirts of dishwasher soap to your bucket). Move furniture aside and start with the surface.

Sweep away any leaves and other debris with a push broom. Scrub everything using a deck scrub brush and hose it down. This should apply to most surfaces but always consult your user manual if you have one. If your deck is old, it’s best to hire a professional to make sure it’s not beyond DIY repair.​

​If you have a lot of buildup or stains, you may want to use a power washer to do a deep clean especially if there is moss or other difficult-to-remove substances. You can hire someone to power wash your patio or deck, or you can rent one and do it yourself if you feel comfortable. ​

​Next, move on to your furniture. Uncover the tables, chairs or firepits you’ve covered with tarps for the winter and bring out anything, including furniture, that was stored elsewhere.​

​Those items are likely to be dusty or dirty. “Bugs tend to find things,” says Leslie Adkins, vice president at Trex, a composite decking company in Winchester, Virginia. ​ ​

Get rid of those bugs, the cobwebs and whatever else they leave, and wipe down the furniture thoroughly. ​ ​

Remove any cushions and clean them as well. Different materials will have different instructions so make sure to consult the tag, although many outdoor fabrics can be wiped down with dish soap and water. ​ ​

2. Assess any damage and repair​ ​

Once you’ve done the initial cleaning, inspect for damage. Remove ripped cushions and take wobbly chairs for repair or replacement.​ ​

Winter weather can do a number on patio surfaces, too, so look for cracks in patio pavement large enough that someone could trip on, as well as loose or protruding nails, warped wood or wobbly bricks in paver patios.​ ​

“Wood decks require more effort to prevent warping, drying out and other damage,” says Annie Thornton, a senior associate editor for Houzz, a platform for home model and design. “It’s also helpful to stain or reseal wood decks, fences, railings, trellises, pergolas and other outdoor structures every year or two to help them last longer.”​ ​

Since some damage — including uneven boards, splinters or nails that stick up — can be dangerous to both children and adults, you’ll want to make sure to take care of these things, either on your own or with a professional before congregating on your deck this summer.​ ​

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3. Take on smaller tasks​ ​

Once you do the initial cleaning and repair, you’ll want to tackle some of the smaller tasks that may take less time but make a big difference. ​ ​

Start with ridding your yard of any standing water as it’s the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. As it rains throughout the summer and standing water builds up, consider using mosquito pellets to eliminate mosquito larvae (and other pests like black flies and gnats). ​ ​

Clean any exterior windows — they get dirty and can make your outdoor space look less inviting. If windows are within reachable height, such as a patio sliding door or lower windows, simple glass cleaner and a microfiber cloth should do the trick. If your space has a lot of windows or they are hard to reach, you may want to consider hiring a professional.​ ​

Finally, if you haven’t already cleaned your grill for the season, you’ll want to do that too.​ ​

You aren’t exactly done there: It’s important to keep up with some light cleaning during the season as well. ​ ​

“Over the course of the week, especially during pollen season, keep tidying up as you go,” says Adkins, “wiping down tables, chairs, anything you are working with.”​ ​

4. Protect from the weather​ ​

Now you are ready to enjoy your outdoor space, but you’ll want some sun protection if your yard isn’t naturally shaded. ​ ​

“Invest in an umbrella; it’s not incredibly expensive,” says Adkins. This is especially important if your patio gets a lot of direct sunlight.

Inexpensive sun sail shades can also be rigged up to provide a break from rays. ​ ​

If you want to spend a little more, a pergola can offer additional shade and, depending on the size, protection from rain and wind as well. Privacy walls can also block out the wind and sun and offer some separation for those who might be in close quarters with their neighbors. ​ ​

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5. Liven up your space​ ​

Now comes the fun part: decorating and making a space feel welcoming. ​

Adding planters and greenery can be aesthetically pleasing but they can also serve a dual purpose. Planting things like basil, mint and rosemary can make your space smell nice, and you can use the herbs in cooking. You can even plant citronella, lemon balm, lavender or peppermint to help deter pesky mosquitoes and flies.​ ​

When it comes to furniture, designers recommend arranging seating in a U shape or in a semicircle with a coffee or fire pit as the central focus. That will "make the space feel like a cozy, inviting gathering place,” Thornton says. Put out some fun, weather-resistant throw pillows or find a vibrant tablecloth to add a pop of color.​ ​The right lighting also adds ambience, too, and it doesn’t have to come with a high price tag.​

String lights are inexpensive and easy to hang. If you want to invest a little more, some newer decks come with built-in lighting.

If you have bulb lighting, make sure to put in new bulbs for the season.​

Outdoor speakers are a nice touch and can block out surrounding noise. There are many portable options that can easily connect by Bluetooth to your mobile phone.

​ ​6. Prepare for next season​ ​

Nobody wants to wish summer away, but having a plan at the end of the season will help reduce the number of hours you spend cleaning and repairing. ​ ​

“A good time is when you do your end-of-season yard work,” Adkins says, “Pack away your lights, cover or put away furniture, organize and keep it all straight, and clean your grill.”​ ​

It’s also a good time to think about what furniture might need to be replaced. You can often find the best deals in the offseason. ​ ​

At the end of fall, when the pollen has disappeared and the leaves have fallen, it’s a good time to think about power washing your wood deck — composite decks don’t require as much upkeep. This is also the time to consider resealing or staining your wood deck if it's needed. ​ ​

When next season rolls around, your patio or deck will be ready to go.​

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