With Memorial Day quickly looming on the horizon, I took a quick look around the patios out here yesterday and had a small minor freak out. Like the sticky note on the fridge reminding me to take my vitamins daily, I had been ignoring our outdoor living spaces. Upon closer inspection, I realized there was a lot of work to do before we had people over this summer. Also, nothing will kick you into go mode faster than committing to entertaining people at your home. So instead of continuing to ignore my surroundings and watching animal videos on Tik Tok, I sat down and made a list of all the things we need to do this weekend to get ready outside so we can actually relax and enjoy our time outside with guests on the patio.
First things first, put on some sunscreen, and a good playlist. Whether Taylor Swift or Yacht Rock is your jam, turn it up. Whatever motivates you. Dig out a broom, hose, blower, cleaners, and a trash bin. I noticed we had a lot of dead in the plants surrounding the spaces so I need to find my hand pruners, and a rake.
Start At The Top
I read somewhere once that when you clean, you should start at the top and work down. Makes sense. So looking up, we have old bird nests and cobwebs in the rafters of the pergolas. Those will have to come down, as well as a few broken bulbs in the cafe lights that will need to get replaced. Don’t forget if you have an outdoor fan to clean the blades, and switch the direction back if you changed it over the colder months. The patio heater is also a bit dirty so that will need to get wiped down as well.
I am that person who buys large boxes of microfiber rags and uses them for everything inside and out. Use, wash, repeat. With all the cleaners on the market, everyone has a favorite. I find that Windex Vinegar works on a multitude of surfaces without damaging them. I need to wipe down all of the furniture, and flat countertop surfaces. The teak chairs need a little more love this season. We have used this teak oil and so far so good. Anything greasy or stubborn I come across gets cleaned with the Pink Stuff. Just be careful to surface test it out first, she is strong. The furniture cushions and pillows always need a good spot cleaning. I have found that this spray for outdoor fabrics specifically gets everything refreshed and looks like I actually put it away over the winter. Shhhh…
Moving on, I opened the grill and promptly shut it again. While I’d like to think I could clean it with an onion like I’ve seen trending, it’s going to require something a bit stronger. I have heard horror stories about metal grill scrapers leaving pieces of metal behind in food, so for Father’s Day I am going to buy one of these Grill Rescue Brushes to try out. Surprise, Happy Father’s Day Dave! While you are in the grill space, make sure you clear those cobwebs out underneath and see if any critters moved in over the winter. Also don’t forget to check the hoses and gas connections and the propane tank fill level. If you are using a smoker, brick oven, or pellet grill you will need to sweep out any ashes and debris, and refill the wood and/or the pellets. Don’t forget the fridge if you have one. Ours always has something that has spilled or leaked in it. Is your fridge a cooler? I recommend bleach. Coolers can get moldy and gross and never seem to dry out properly before being stored over Winter. If you are anti bleach, that’s your prerogative. My mom was a Nurse who went to a Catholic Boarding School. I use bleach.
Now that we are down on the ground it is time to address the patio situation. One of the main reasons we love outdoor tile is that it impervious to stains. Any grime or spills to the surface can easily be wiped or hosed off. The pavers or stone surfaces are a different story. They need a little bit more TLC to clean. Start with sweeping or blowing off any dirt and debris that has built up in the corners or on the surface. Side note, don’t use a pressure washer to clean a paver patio. You will quickly dislodge the jointing material, be it permeable or poly sanded, and risk damaging the surface. That being said, any cracks that need to be filled should probably be filled and addressed as well. Techniseal makes good cleaners for pavers. Make sure to choose something specific for your dilemma, ie. grease, dirt, efflorescence, and use a light hand while scrubbing. Natural stone like granite or sandstone needs a gentler option. While there are many commercial cleaners on the market, a little bit of diluted Dawn or vinegar water solution gets the job done too.
If you have a fire pit or fireplace, portable or built in, now is the time to get it cleaned up too. Similar to the grill, check your hoses and connections, and or propane tank. If it’s wood burning, make sure it’s nice and tidy clean as well. Not technically a fire feature, but give your tiki torches, and outdoor candles a once over too. Tracking down any lighters, ignition keys, and marshmallow roasting utensils now and getting them clean, saves time looking for them when you actually need them. Because looking for those three items in the dark is damn near impossible. Not to mention they are almost always never where they should be. Same goes for a bottle or wine opener.
I’m a huge fan of annual color pots on the patio, hanging baskets with trailing vines, and all that jazz. I can do some major monetary damage at a greenhouse or nursery before getting it all back to the house and realizing I have to plant it all, and then keep it alive. This year I was actually a responsible adult and laid everything out that I had grabbed like a toddler in the cereal aisle at the garden center on a random empty table and planned everything plant by container. To no one’s surprise I put back about 1/2 of the plants that weren’t going to fit into what I currently have pots for. I also grabbed a few tomato and jalapeño plants, and some herbs like basil, cilantro, and mint. These will go in a planter box next to the brick oven that we make pizza in since they are common ingredients we like to have on hand. Don’t worry, the mint is not for pizza. It’s for my mojito that I will be sipping while I watch Dave make the pizza. Also, make sure you put the mint in a pot. Do not under any circumstances put it into the ground directly. I do need to clean up and prune all of the shrubs and perennials beds around the patio and re-mulch them. It’s my least favorite but most satisfying task. Do you know where your hose or watering implement is? Good, me either! We are fortunate to have most of our landscaping plants on drip irrigation, but I still like to water my annual pots by hand. Call me old fashioned, or just a control freak. (Ok, maybe both).
Our water feature happens to be a whole swimming pool. I’m not going to give advice on how to clean out your swimming pool or hot tub, since that is pretty specific to the unit. Same goes for putting pumps back into water features with or without ponds, and getting them cleaned and started up. However, if you have any pool toys, floats, or other inflatables, get them out and give them the once over. I like to keep towels on hand in an outside cabinet after I wash them. Those will all need to be shaken out because it’s moth season. Nothing will freak you out more than grabbing a towel while you are soaking wet and moths come flying at your face. If you aren’t blessed with the great Miller Moth Migration where you are at, well then bless you.
A beautiful bowl in the center of a table full of farmers market goods, or a pretty tablecloth, can make a simple table charming. Get out those special pieces you have “been saving” and use them. If there was one thing the Pandemic taught us, it was to not wait for a special occasion, and to embrace life in the here and now. If you have something you love, use it. Because I have kids, and those kids have friends who come over, I like to keep a basket full of disposable plates, silverware, and napkins on hand as well. I know that sounds counterintuitive to what I just mentioned about using the good stuff, but sometimes, a Chinet plate, is a necessity when your house is the party house. Dishes can pile up pretty quick when children are involved. If you are lucky enough to have a nice dinner on the patio with someone who doesn’t require goldfish crackers while swimming, then by all means get out the pretty stuff. A trash can with a lid stashed nearby is a good thing to have on hand too to keep smells and flying bugs at bay. If you need extra tables or folding chairs to set up for large parties, make sure they are clean and ready to go.
Fun & Games
Like the key for the fire pit, no one can ever find the needle for the volleyball. Perhaps a leg has broken on the corn hole game, or the stakes for the slip and slide are gone. Repair it, Reorder it, or Recycle it. Every time I turn around someone has invented a new game to play outdoors. I can’t keep up. Regardless, I am an advocate of anything that will keep my kids off their phones and engaged for longer than 5 minutes. Pick something you all like and get everyone involved. We alternate between Washers and Kubb. Both pack down pretty small and are portable too.
While this list is likely going to take me all weekend to accomplish, I am looking forward to having the patio and outdoor living spaces cleaned up and ready to go for the season.
Don’t forget, if you would like help creating an outdoor living space you will absolutely love, we can help! High maintenance, low maintenance, small or large, we are here for you. Contact us today, there are still spaces available this summer.
Cheers and enjoy the long weekend!