Spring is on. The weather will be nice enough to start spending time outside! This makes right now the perfect time to start getting your backyard ready for entertaining or just relaxing and enjoying the fresh air.
Clean your patio furniture
If your patio furniture hung outside through the winter or was tucked away in the garage or storage shed, chances are high it needs a good cleaning before you start using it again.
- Wash plastic furniture and patio umbrellas with a vinegar/dish soap mixture (add 2 cups of white vinegar and 2 tablespoons of dish soap to a bucket of hot water), using a soft brush to get into the nooks and crannies on the furniture.
- Wash wrought iron or stainless steel with a dilute mixture of soap and water, using a brush or sponge to clean the surfaces.
- To clean wooden furniture use mild oil soap to gently remove dirt and grime. Avoid using your power washer, as tempting as it may be, as it can damage softer woods. After cleaning you can apply a coat of product-specific oil, stain, or polyurethane to protect the wood for the season.
There are many different ways to create a privacy wall or screen in your yard, and a great way to dampen noise from neighbors while thwarting wandering eyes. A common way to create some privacy is through the use of plants; they are extremely effective and can be configured in multiple ways to meet your needs while matching your style.
You can grow plants in the ground or in containers depending on if you have a yard to work with or not. Regardless of what they’re planted in, they can be grown unsupported or trained to climb up walls, trellises, or even decorative artwork to create privacy in your backyard.
When looking for plants to use, there are many options to choose from: flowering ornamentals, shrubs, vines, small trees, and even ornamental grasses. It’s best to look for plants that grow tall, or climb, obviously, and fill in thickly within a short amount of time. These options will create a nice, full privacy wall or screen quickly. Larger containers can be placed on rolling plant caddies to allow you to move them easily if they need to come indoors for the winter or if you want to quickly redesign or reconfigure your space.
Inexpensive strings of outdoor lights can be purchased in numerous colors and bulb shapes to accentuate your patio or yard, creating a soft atmosphere to enjoy after dark. If you’d rather not have something that needs to be plugged in, opt for solar-powered lights that recharge during the day or group candles in areas you tend to hang out in after dark.
Before your plants, shrubs, and trees start to grow and fill in with leaves, take the time to clear pathways of old leaves and other debris that has accumulated over the winter. Rake up the mess and either haul it away or add it to your compost bin. This is also a great time to widen pathways or replace boards, pavers, etc. that need attention.
Build a Compost Bin
Using a compost bin bracket set is a quick and easy way to build a backyard compost bin. In a matter of minutes, you can be on your way to reducing the yard and kitchen waste you send to the landfill. All you need is a set of four brackets, a few pre-cut boards, and some screws.
A wooden compost bin can be built from a naturally weather-resistant wood (like cedar) to withstand the rigors of the elements, extending its longevity. Stainless steel brackets are easy to care for and will last a lifetime. A bin built in this manner also allows you to tear the compost bin apart and rebuild it if needed, or change the size of the boards to make it larger or smaller.
Prep Containers for Planting
The first step in prepping for planting is to clean your containers really well. Empty out all of the old potting soil and scrub both the insides and the outsides with a stiff scrub brush and clean water to remove soil that has caked on the surfaces.
After the pots have been scrubbed clean, submerge them in a 10% bleach solution letting them soak for 10 minutes to disinfect them. Rinse plastic flower pots with plenty of water and allow them to dry in the sun; rinse terra cotta pots with clean water, allow them to soak in fresh water for another 10 minutes, and then set them in the sun to dry.
When pots are completely dry refill them with either new potting soil or previously used potting mix that you have sterilized and refreshed with new organic matter and fertilizer.