Olivia Newton John wasn’t lying when she sang, “Summer lovin’, happened so fast.” Summer will be here before you know it, and it’s time to get your backyard ready for barbecues and pool parties. Yard work may seem like a daunting task after winter has taken its toll, but don’t worry—follow these simple steps, and your yard will be ready for “oh, those summer nights.”
First Things First
Clean your outside windows, doors, light fixtures and patio furniture with a nontoxic cleaning solution. Mix equal parts vinegar, water and lemon juice to create a powerful and natural cleaning agent that won’t harm plants, pets or wildlife. If you have a large outdoor space, you may want to invest in a power washer. The high-pressure spray of water will cut through grime, rust, dead bugs and other grime without having to use harsh chemicals. You can even save the excess water to hydrate grass and potted plants.
Repairs and Safety Fixes
Make sure everything is in working order and safe for children and guests. We suggest:
- Check light fixtures for cracks and burned-out bulbs
- Repair any torn or broken patio furniture
- Check your hoses for cracks and punctures
- Peruse your fence for holes or broken pieces
- Check latches and hinges for rust or jagged pieces and replace as necessary
- Remove tree stumps and rocks that are in the middle of the yard
- Sand and seal wooden decks and furniture
- Lock up lawn equipment and chemicals
- Keep a first aid kit handy
Your pool, fountains and other water features should be clean and clear. Algae and other bacteria can make water features odorous and unsightly. The San Francisco Gate suggests cleaning your water features every two to three months, including during the off season. When you clean your fountain, take out the pump and all decorations and clean those separately. If possible, place water features in a shady spot, as algae grows better when exposed to light. Don’t add bleach or anything toxic to the water—it can harm plants and animals. Barley extract or barley balls are a natural solution that fight algae and bacteria growth.
Getting your pool ready for summer may be the biggest job in your backyard. Only empty your pool if it has structural damage or if it’s been uncovered and has too many leaves and debris at the bottom. According to Popular Mechanics, draining your pool in a high water table can actually result in your pool coming out of the ground, which would mean a complete replacement. Follow these steps to get your pool summer ready:
- Take out any debris, remove the plugs and clean the filters and baskets. When your pool is clean, top it off the water.
- Test your water and balance your chemicals. Your pH level should be between 7.2 and 7.4, alkalinity should be between 80 and 120, calcium hardness should be between 150 to 250 parts per million and chlorine should be from 1 to 3 parts per million.
- Don’t hesitate to have a professional test your water to be sure. You can take a water sample to any pool store to have it tested. Don’t use the pool until the water is clear.
- Maintain and clean your pool regularly throughout the summer. Check your filter weekly and keep it clean. Skim the pool and check the chemicals daily. Vacuum your pool weekly or use an automated pool cleaner to reduce the debris at the bottom. According to PoolProducts.com, side-suction cleaners are the most popular and economical choice of automated cleaners, because they can hook up to your existing skimmers and reduce the need for skimming and cleaning the bottom of the pool. There are also robotic and electronic automated cleaners that will do most of the work for you.
It is, of course, just as important to keep your outdoor space as organized as your indoor space. For yard and garden tools, use pegboards with customizable shelves and hooks to organize. Hanging everything up keeps it accessible while freeing up yard space. If you don’t want your unsightly tools visible, Better Homes and Gardens recommends hiding storage areas with DIY outdoor curtains.
For pool and outdoor toys, paint an old workbench or cabinet and cover the doors in a durable cloth that matches your outdoor decor. Hang decorative hooks by the back door, so the kids can hang up wet towels and swimming suits or dirty clothes without littering the yard or dirtying the house. With a clean and organized backyard, you’ll be ready for summer fun in no time.