1. Deep clean first. A little pressure washing can go a long way; if you don't own one, you can rent one for the day from places like Loews or Home Depot. It's amazing what a difference a pressure washer can make on anything - we pressure washed the deck, lower patio, trampoline and even any furniture that needed it. It takes a lot of time and strength and I won't lie, it kills your back... but the end result is SO worth it when you see that your deck looks brand new. The dirt and gunk that built up over the winter is naaaasty and pressure washing is by far the easiest to clean it off!
2. Make a trip to the store first. I so wish I thought of this before all the work on Saturday... Luckily we live five minutes from Home Depot, but I can't imagine if we lived any further! I have a feeling I'm not the only one who finds that you need a ton of things and always forget something - meaning another trip it is. Try to take inventory of what you have and need new of - things like wasp spray (learned the hard way... we had HUGE nests in the yard!), mulch, gravel, batteries, parts and pieces, etc. Instead of wasting time during your day of cleaning, make a list before and go shopping before hand.
3. Work on the gardens. My absolute favorite part of yard work is picking out flowers! I spent a ton of time trying to choose - Home Depot has such a great selection of flowers! I like making things really colorful and I don't think there's such thing as too many flowers so go ALL out! Get potters and plant in them, grab some hanging plants and more. We have flowers in the front and back yards, but I like having as many flowers as possible in the back yard especially. Sitting around with colorful flowers that smell beautiful is the best - this is also a great time to plant some veggies! We have tomatoes, zucchini and basil growing right now and there's nothing better than fresh tomatoes in the summer. When you pick out/buy your flowers, make sure you read the tags and even ask one of the employees for information about them - it's so important to know what each flower species needs in terms of sunlight and water so that they don't die right after you plant them.
4. Make your space inviting and add storage. I may not like change, but I do like switching up the layout of patio furniture (and indoor furniture, probably because I'm so indecisive)! From year to year, trying out new ways to display your furniture and store things is so much fun. After pressure washing the patio table and pool deck table, I windex-ed the glass like crazy (food goes there... no harm in being extra clean!) and played around with the layout of the furniture. Our lower-deck is an L-shape, so setting up a dining table with chairs and a sofa set for the fire pit can be challenging and doesn't leave many ways to arrange it. But small changes are fun, and so are storage solutions. I LOVE the idea of storage benches because they provide extra seating and hide away cords, toys, planting tools, etc. There's even outdoor storage ottomans that make for great seating/storage solutions! If you have a small space, these are really must haves.
5. Accessorize and add personal touches. My absolute favorite part!!! No matter how much you want to spend, new accessories are the best part. It's likely that some things are still good from last season - like cushions, etc. - but there's always new trends popping up. I love having tiki torches surrounding the decks and pool (they even help prevent bugs) and fun lanterns and string lights all over. Outdoor living can really be seen as another room of your home, so treat it like one! We spend SO much time outdoors in the summer and when your space is decorated and inviting, it's the absolute best. Bringing fun patterns in pillows helps add color - and you can even add in some lightweight throw blankets for night time festivities. Keeping a radio on hand in your storage unit is a great idea too.