Prep Your Patio for Grilling Season

Article Contributed by: Sarah Miller,

Smoky ribs. Juicy burgers. Corn on the cob, dripping butter. You can almost taste it. We’re coming up fast on grilling season, and food cooked outdoors is the best!

But you likely won’t be able to enjoy that delectable meal if you’re surrounded by weeds, dirt, bugs and peeling paint.

When lake season hits and you’re ready to crack a cold one with friends by the water and eat outside, make sure your patio or deck looks as good as your food.

Clean it Up

Chances are, your patio is covered in dirt, dust, mud and more from winter weather. A pressure washer is often the best way to remove the grime.

If you don’t own one, no need to worry: you can rent one from most home and garden stores.You can use this tool on all types of patios, including concrete, wood, and brick.

Make sure to remove all furniture, planters and other items before you start cleaning, and don’t forget to take necessary safety precautions, including donning your goggles, long pants and protective boots. Use a wide spray nozzle setting. It’s easy to cut or gouge your wood deck with a narrow setting.

Of course, there are alternatives to pressure washing that can still help spruce up your space before peak grilling season.

Using detergent or a bleach solution, take a stiff bristle broom or brush and scrub your outdoor entertainment areas. Take care as you clean the spots where planters or furniture sat during the winter as the moisture trapped underneath may have left mold behind. Rinse thoroughly and voila! Your structure will often look brand new with a little TLC.

Caring For Patio Furniture

Those brightly colored chairs that look so good on your patio can quickly lose their appeal if not property maintained. Furniture that stays outside year-round receives constant abuse from the elements, especially when storms whip dirt, pollen and lake water onto outdoor chairs and tables.

Cleaning them can transform your patio space, so try to do it as often as time allows, although once a year is better than never.

Depending on the types of furniture you’re cleaning, keep in mind that not all surfaces and materials can be cleaned with the same products.

For example, soap should never be used to clean wooden furniture or natural wicker. Just water and a soft brush should do the trick. Wood can benefit from a light coat of tungsten oil. It dries hard to the touch and returns the original luster.

Some brands of outdoor cushions like Sunbrella ™, can be cleaned with bleach without damaging the color or fabric. Check your labels to make sure you’re using the best cleaner for the job.

Also be sure to routinely check for damage to your furniture such as cracks in metal frames, rust and torn cushions. Outdoor furniture will last much longer with simple maintenance that prevents rain and insects from gaining entrance through cracks and tears.

Keep Pests Away

You’re reaching for a burger, fresh off the grill and SLAP! Again and again. Not much cools off a hot backyard party faster than mosquitoes.

If the wind keeps the water on your lake moving, mosquitoes might not be a concern, but if the water is still, there may be a problem. Not only are these pesky little nippers annoying to deal with, but they can also carry disease.

Prepping your patio to be pest-free this grilling season is easy. Eradicate any areas of standing water and try incorporating natural repellents — such as citronella, mint, lavender, and basil — as part of your landscaping.

Extract of eucalyptus in candle form is also helpful to have around, as are mosquito repelling patio lanterns.

If you need a more powerful solution, carbon dioxide mosquito traps can be an excellent investment. Foggers and sprays can be effective for short periods of time, but you must follow directions for application before your guests arrive.

Nothing spoils the appetite quite like the smell of fresh mosquito fogger!

Minor (or Major) Improvements

Go big or go home doesn’t always apply when it comes to enhancing your outdoor space, but even small modifications can make a BIG difference.

One such small improvement is planting flowers around the perimeter of your patio or deck. You can also extend your space by simply installing a hammock next to the seating area or by building a fire pit.

Another easy-to-install improvement is a stone pathway down to the waterline or creating multiple pathways to different parts of your property.

Also try brightening things up with outdoor lighting. Because there are many choices when it comes to outdoor lighting, be sure to give yourself some time to research and decide what will look best with your perfectly prepped patio.

The perfectly set table and centerpiece can make all the difference and set off the entire space with a pop of color. Search for great ideas online.

Adding small accent decor such as a drink serving set, platter or lake-themed throw pillows can pull it all together.

For larger patio improvement projects, First, decide on a budget and check with local specialists on projects that may require a level of expertise beyond yours.

A little time and elbow grease can deliver the perfect space for entertaining, time with family or just a quiet place to unwind. Spending a little time now can bring hours of enjoyment to your lake property this summer!

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