As I sit writing this post, I can hear the birds chirping and see my blooming azaleas out the window. I love how this time of year beckons us to slow down, relax, and be more mindful. Are you ready to spend some quality time outdoors with friends and family? I am! It’s time to unwind, wouldn’t you agree? Each year I send out a Facebook post “The Patio is Ready for Visitors!” But before said visitors arrive, there’s some prep work to be done. Here’s how you can clean and organize your outdoor living areas. Get ready to relax my friends!Are you ready to spend some quality time outdoors with friends and family? I am! It's time to unwind, wouldn't you agree? Click To Tweet
In The Garden
Give your plants a little TLC so they can grow to their most beautiful. First, rake out all the dead leaves from under shrubs. These dead leaves encourage pests. For years I did this the hard way-either by hand or by fighting with my regular rake. Until I discovered a tool just for this task exists! (Frustrated emojii face here!) These small head rakes can be found for as little as $10 at The Home Depot.
Next I fertilize all my plants. I use Holly-tone by Espoma for all my acid-loving plants such as hollies, azaleas, camellias, and dogwoods. My plants really thrive on it! I then turn to Jobes Organic Knock-Out Rose Food for my roses. Everything else gets fertilized with 10-10-10. After this initial fertilizing is done, I use Epsom Salts for fertilizing if a plant starts to look sad to me. It is inexpensive and natural. This article from Salt Works explains exactly how to use Epsom Salts for the various types of plants in your garden.
I also use Epsom Salts to fertilize my potted plants. Make sure to clean your pots before you use them. The build up of salts from the previous season’s fertilizing can be harmful to plants. If you had a diseased plant in the pot, submerge it in a solution of 9 parts water to 1 part bleach. Let it soak for a half an hour or so, rinse it thoroughly, then let dry. Other pots will do fine with a good scrub of bleach water.
Want to dress up your terra cotta pots? My post Pretty Painted Pots is one idea.
Then it’s time to head to the local garden center for some plants for those pots!
Storing Garden Tools
If you have the room, a potting bench is a lovely way to store your garden tools and have a work area that is better for your back. These can range in cost but look for one that has storage underneath to hide pots and space above to hang tools. I love this one by Leisure Season.
If you do not have the space for a potting bench, I recommend hanging pegboard in your garage or basement; somewhere accessible to the outdoors. Pegboard is easy to install, inexpensive, and can be painted for a fun look. Just look at this adorable idea from DIY & Crafts:
Alternatively, a garden tool bucket caddy is a very inexpensive,convenient way to store and use your tools. This one is from GardenHOME.
Consider keeping your potting soil in a plastic tub. This keeps critters and bugs out. For a list of must have tools for the garden, visit my post 7 Essential Tools for Before You Head Out into the Garden.
Cleaning Outdoor Furniture
I live in North Carolina and basements are not standard here. I am lucky enough to have a crawl space under my house that is large enough for me to walk in. So I store as much of my furniture there over the winter as I can. Nevertheless, not all of it can be stored so it must be cleaned in the spring.
- For wicker or teak furniture, use a soft scrub brush with a mixture of water and Murphy’s Oil Soap. Rinse.
- For aluminum or wrought iron furniture, wipe with a soapy cloth and rinse.
- For cushions, use a scrub brush and a mixture of water and Oxyclean. I let mine dry in the sun for a bit. When fully dry, seal with Scotch Guard. I also put away my cushions-each night-in a large tub to prevent mildew and stains.
Organize for Entertaining
With a little prep work you can be ready whenever friends drop by. You can host a party in a pinch. Luckily summer entertaining is all about casual.
First, let’s talk food. With a few key items on hand your friends will think entertaining is a breeze for you. I suggest:
- Cheese and crackers
- Pizza dough, jarred spaghetti sauce, shredded cheeses
- A variety of dips and some fancy chips
- Cookie dough
- Lemonade mix, wine, beer or whatever you like to drink
Now, I have people in my house who have mistakenly eaten something I intended for guests. Can you believe that?! So I have a bin in my pantry marked “guests.” Woe to anyone who goes into that basket! 🙂 If it’s a refrigerator item, I simply pop on a post-it note saying “guests.”
Next, decorating for outdoor entertaining. Well, there are whole websites devoted to that. I’m not an expert. I will say that I get lots of rave reviews when I bring my indoors to the outdoors.
- Bring out a side table and lamp on the deck on a nice evening.
- Use a washable linen table cloth on the outside table
- Unless there are children running about, consider using regular dishes instead of plastic ones. This goes for inexpensive wine glasses, beer mugs, and lemonade glasses as well.
- If it’s a little chilly, use a throw from inside to cozy up your guests outside.
There’s just something so charming about seeing indoor decor outside. It’ll really wow your guests.
Find some room to serve your guests outside. I have a bakers rack purchased at Hobby Lobby on my screened in porch. Here’s what it looks like most of the time. (See the ever so attractive bug zapper tennis racket on the bottom shelf? Lol!)
Yet when I entertain, I simply hide a few decor items and use the bakers rack to hold glasses and/or serve some food. Just another nice little touch. Here’s my bakers rack transformed when I hosted a simple al fresco supper club the other evening.
So, gather your troops and spend a little time organizing your outdoor life for a season of relaxing. You deserve it!
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