Cross these items off your to-do list ASAP.

By Katie Holdefehr
April 30, 2021
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Maybe you consider your patio your outdoor living room, or perhaps your deck doubles so your outdoor office—if you're lucky enough to have outdoor space, you're probably eager to use it as soon as the weather warms up. To get ready for a summer spent outside, follow these steps to clean and prep your deck, porch, or patio. Begin by decluttering items you no longer need, then roll up your sleeves for the deep-cleaning and weeding. The entire process will take a few evenings after work or one weekend dedicated to the task, but once you've crossed these to-dos off your list, you'll be ready for many leisurely summer afternoons outdoors.

Declutter what you don't need.

Similar to cleaning any space, it helps to start by decluttering. Look around your backyard for any items you no longer need. Some prime candidates: broken outdoor furniture you have no plans to fix, rusty garden tools you haven't touched in years, scrap wood you've let rot outside. Consider donating any old patio furniture or yard toys your kids have outgrown that are still in good condition.

Rent a pressure washer.

If you have a concrete patio or stone pavers, a deep-cleaning with a pressure washer can remove years' worth of dirt and grime in just a few minutes. For those who don't own a pressure washer, you can likely rent one from your local hardware store.

Be careful: Never point the pressure washer at yourself or others, and make sure pets are safe inside before you get started. Then ask someone to film the process from a safe distance, because you will definitely want to document this impressive before-and-after. 

Wash your outdoor furniture.

Even if your patio furniture has been protected underneath weatherproof covers all winter long, you'll at least want to clean away the cobwebs. For most pieces, a scrub with a nylon brush dipped in warm, soapy water and followed by a rinse with the garden hose will do the trick. To remove stubborn stains from canvas cushions, follow this guide

Clean the grill.

Before you fire up the grill for the season, give it a deep cleaning following these steps. If you already tackled all the dirty work, such as emptying the drip pan, at the end of last summer, shine the exterior of the grill using stainless steel polish. 

Dust off the pool toys and lawn games.

Break out the inflatable rafts, cornhole set, or giant Jenga pieces. For most of these, a rinse with a garden hose will remove any dirt or cobwebs that have collected. For stuck-on grime, dip a soft sponge in soapy water. Be sure the rafts are deflated before you start scrubbing. Lay these items in the sun to dry to help prevent mildew. 

Rake and mow the lawn.

Collect any branches that have fallen in your yard over the winter, then rake away dead leaves. Not only will raking the leaves make your yard look neater, but it will allow the grass to breathe, helping it recover from a winter of hibernation.

Bonus points: mulch! OK, mulching isn't technically cleaning, but adding a fresh layer of mulch to the garden beds never fails to make a backyard or patio appear instantly more put-together. Plus, some garden pros swear by mulching before they plant, so they don't have to carefully avoid blooming flowers later.