Summer is prime time for your outdoor spaces. Whether the kids are running through the sprinklers or adults are jumping into the pool, playtime, entertaining, and celebrations are probably taking place outside. As homeowners begin to hold get-togethers once again, they’re looking for ways to optimize safety, so outdoor parties simply make sense. Make sure your outdoor spaces look and function their best with these maintenance and upkeep tips.
Summer lawn care
One of the biggest mistakes homeowners make is cutting the grass too short in order to extend the time between mowing. That makes it more likely that your lawn will burn in the hot summer sun. For best results, know what type of grass you have, and mow to the optimal length for that type, never cutting more than ⅓ of a blade length at once.
In addition, enlist the kids in helping to keep toys picked up and put away when they’re not in use. You know how much damage a kiddie pool can do, but other toys and sports equipment can also kill the grass in spots all over the lawn. Discourage children from riding bikes and toy vehicles through the grass to keep it looking its best.
There are many annual plants that bloom all summer long, including petunias, impatiens, geraniums and marigolds. Trim dried blooms frequently to make way for new growth. In addition, don’t forget to leave a planting bed open for a summertime kitchen garden. Grow easy-to-manage herbs, tomatoes, and pepper plants to enjoy all summer long.
Decks and terraces
Summertime is the busiest time for decks and terraces of all types. In many homes, they serve as an additional living room, home office, or playroom, especially during this age of work-from-home. If you haven’t already, make sure to power wash to remove mold, mildew, moss, and built-up dirt, then seal or paint as required.
During the dry summer months, inspect the deck for wood rot, loose nails, and other needed repairs or wood replacement. Make a thorough inspection of the framing that attaches the deck to the home, and check metal hardware for rust. If you keep a large number of container plants on the deck or porch, check for water damage on the surface beneath, and, if possible, rotate containers so that each area has a chance to dry out.
Most outdoor furniture is made of highly durable materials that can withstand a variety of weather conditions. Keep furniture properly dusted and cleaned regularly with a mild soap and water solution. Use this same solution for scrubbing outdoor upholstery, and leave in the sun to air dry. Don’t be tempted to machine wash cushion covers as this may interfere with their weather resistance.
Whether you have an underground sprinkler system or a sprinkler head attached to your garden hose, watering your lawn correctly will save you time, water, and money. Here are some guidelines to follow:
- Water in the morning, preferably before 10 a.m., to give the roots time to soak up moisture in the cooler part of the day. If you wait and water in the evening, the moisture remaining on the blades of grass can introduce disease to your lawn, undermining your lawn care efforts.
- You generally only need about one to one and a half inches of water per week. It is more effective to thoroughly soak the lawn twice a week than to water it lightly every day.
- Consider letting your lawn go dormant for a few weeks during the hottest part of the summer. Most well-established lawns will easily recover once rain returns in the fall.
Grilling and outdoor kitchens
You may get into the habit of assuming that leftover food or fat will burn off when you preheat your grill before each use. In reality, however, you need to regularly scrape the grill grates and clean the gas burners to keep it operating at maximum efficiency. If your outdoor kitchen includes solid-surface countertops, be sure to clean, seal, and maintain them properly just as you do the counters in your indoor kitchen.
Pools and spas
Whether you have a pool service or take care of maintenance yourself, it’s important to keep track of the appropriate PH levels on a regular basis and correct them as needed. Don’t let debris stay in the pool for days at a time, and skim and empty filter baskets frequently. Make sure your vacuum is operating properly, and scrape down the pool or spa walls to prevent build-up.
Consider additions to optimize your outdoor spaces
If you find yourself using your outdoor spaces less than you’d like, determine whether one of the following elements needs to be changed or improved:
Install additional lighting fixtures to make your outdoor spaces more user-friendly on those long summer evenings. Choose solar-powered path lights and hanging lanterns to keep costs and maintenance low.
Installing an overhead fan may make all the difference in how comfortable your outdoor seating and dining space will be. For areas with warm days and chilly nights, consider installing a firepit or an outdoor heater to keep everyone comfortable after dinner.
Natural pest control
There are many ways to protect your outdoor spaces against summertime pests while still being kind to the environment. Plant flowers like chrysanthemums and marigolds or herbs like lemongrass, mint, and bay to deter a variety of creepy crawlies. Pour salt across outdoor entranceways to deter ants. Many essential oils act as pest-deterrents as well and can be easily sprayed on outdoor surfaces.
Additional furniture and accessories
Decorate your outdoor living space the same way you would indoors. Include plenty of end tables to hold books and drinks. Add outdoor area rugs to make the surface more comfortable and inviting, and add footstools for extra seating. Add a sideboard or extra counterspace to enhance the outdoor dining area and make alfresco buffets more convenient.