Pointers for prepping your deck and backyard for summer fun

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Posted: Wednesday, March 28, 2012 8:00 pm

(ARA) - Warm weather is here to stay, which means people everywhere are spending more time outdoors. If the sunshine, gentle breeze and chirping birds are calling your family outside to enjoy some fresh air, it's time to get your outdoor space ready for fun activities. With some smart home improvements, you can easily prep your patio and deck for a full season of enjoyment.

1: Tricks for properly cleaning patio furniture

Today's patio furniture can be as comfortable and stylish as indoor options, and similarly, it needs to be periodically cleaned. Resin, resin wicker or metal furniture can typically be cleaned with mild soap, water and a sponge or nonabrasive brush. Metal pieces can be polished with a light coat of car wax to bring back shine and protect it from rusting. Insider tip: If you live in an area with a lot of pollen, you may want to wait to clean outdoor furniture until it is done dropping.

Wood pieces can benefit from a quick cleaning also. For finished wood, use an oil-based soap and a soft brush or cloth. If you have a treated wood deck, picnic table or Adirondack chairs, use a pressure washer and deck cleaner to remove dirt. Remember to use the low-pressure tip so you don't damage the wood. If you have questions, visit www.lowescreativeideas.com for educational articles, videos and additional tips.

2: Get the grill ready for a season of tasty treats

Every warm day is better when you enjoy the succulent flavors of food cooked on the grill, but to keep the food tasting its best, the grill needs to be kept clean. At the start of the season, it's wise to do a thorough, deep cleaning on your grill. If you have a gas grill, remove the propane tank, flame guards and disconnect the igniter wires, removing the igniters. Move the grill over a drop cloth and clean the inside with dish soap, water and a scrub brush. Grates may need to soak in a bucket before getting scrubbed. Once dry, reassemble and get cooking.

In addition to the deep cleaning, remember each time you cook to scrape the grates to get rid of any food residue from previous uses. Simply light the grill and after a few minutes, the heat will have loosened the residue and you can do a quick scraping with a wire brush before putting on your tasty meats and vegetables.

3. Prep the deck in half the time

Staining and sealing your deck is an important maintenance step so its beauty and integrity last for many years, but it's also something most homeowners dread because it can be a lot of work. The good news is there are some new innovations that are making the process much easier.

Before you start this project, look for new products that both stain and seal at the same time, simplifying the project and saving you a lot of time. Staining and sealing simultaneously waterproofs, protects and beautifies your wood. Plus, if you do encounter unplanned precipitation in the middle of the project, your deck is still protected.

4. How to grow beautiful plants to enhance your space

With your deck prepped and your patio furniture and grill clean, now it's time to dress the area up with some plants. You can easily incorporate splashes of color by adding containers full of your favorite varieties. Why not make it a family activity and visit your local Lowe's nursery to pick out plants and supplies together? When shopping, keep in mind the color of your deck and furniture and pick plants in a complementary color scheme. You might also want to plant some fruits, vegetables or herbs for your own family garden. Ask a Lowe's garden specialist for advice on what varieties thrive in a container environment.

Once home, spread out your supplies and let your entire family's green thumb come alive. After your plants are nestled into pots and containers, place around your outdoor living space in clusters which provide a better visual look than a single plant standing alone. Remember to water regularly and monitor sun exposure so the plants aren't getting too much or too little.

These few steps can help get your deck or patio ready and beautiful for months of enjoyment. From playing outdoor games to grilling traditional summer fare to relaxing as the sun sets, you'll get a lot of use out of your outdoor space.

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