Planning out your deck space can make the outdoor area another room the whole family can enjoy.Warmer months are coming and that means more time outside. Whether you love to garden, grill or swim in a pool, our yards and decks can become extra “rooms” in our homes. Is your deck ready for the season?

Pressure Wash

Pressure washing your deck early in the season gives you an opportunity to assess your deck. Is it still sturdy? Are the railings secure? Does the deck need a new coat of paint or finish? Pressure wash, give the deck or day or two to dry, then go back and take a close look. Then seize the opportunity to do repairs before prime outdoor time.

Get the Grill Ready!

If you like to cook out, but the colder temperatures kept you from your grill, this is the time to get it ready! Make sure the grill is clean. Clean out any leaves or bits of foliage that may have made it in the grill. Then fire it up! Heating up the grill is a great way to make sure it is working properly and also to clean and season the grates.

Need to clean off the grates? Here’s a quick cheat for you: wad heavy duty aluminum foil into a ball, then using long tongs, rub the foil along hot grates. This will help remove food and dirt particles.

Once the grill is clean, cook something on it! Ribs or chicken wings are a great way to get the season started and help season your grill.

Furniture

Many people keep plastic furniture on their decks year round. If you do this, you may want to consider hitting the furniture with the pressure washer when you’re cleaning the deck. If your furniture cannot withstand pressure washing, it’s time to break out the scrub brush. Use warm water and a mild cleanser. Use bleach on mildew and tough spots if bleach will not hurt the furniture. (The manufacturer will provide this information.) Once you have the furniture clean, consider tipping the chairs – leaning them so that the back of the chair leans against the table – to keep the seats free of pollen. You don’t want to do a big cleaning every time you decide to sit outside with a cup of coffee.

Plan the Space

If you grill so much that your deck is an extension of your kitchen, arrange it that way! Make sure the grill is convenient to the tools and access the cook will need to the house. An extra work table makes a great staging area for food about to placed on the grill, or just coming off the grill. Do you like to cook with fresh herbs? Consider a small container garden with your go-to herbs – but make sure they are out of the path of the smoke, you don’t want to dry out your plants.

If you have children, an area for their toys is a great idea. Make sure they are safely away from the grill, and if your deck is raised, make sure the railings are secure. It’s great to have little riding toys and maybe even a sandbox, but stay away from things like swing sets that need to be anchored in to the ground. A fun compromise? Build a slide down to the yard!

Sometimes people with elevated decks like to make use of the space below. The most common use is storage. But some people make that lower deck a bonus space. It can be a club house for the kids, an extension of the basement room, some people even screen in the area under their decks to get an outdoor room they can even enjoy in the rain.

Atmosphere

Add candles, torches and twinkle lights to make your deck a fun spot for the evenings. Bird feeders can bring colorful visitors to your yard. Want to keep mosquitos at bay? Citronella candles and plants like lemon grass can help. Finally, do you have a pet? Adding a little bed and a bowl of water lets them know they’re welcome to enjoy the outdoors with you.

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