7 Best Tips for Prepping Your Backyard and Patio for the Summer

Now that the weather has apologized for what it did to us last winter, it’s time to expand our living spaces outside. After all, the sun is shining, and the great outdoors are calling!

Whether you have a sprawling backyard or a chic downtown patio, there are several things you can do prep your backyard and patio for the summer.

Here are 7 tips to get you started!

1. Clean Surfaces

 

No matter what else you do to make your outdoor living space look nice, nothing will help if everything is dirty.

First, give all of the floor surfaces a good sweep. Once that’s done, it’s time to get in there and deep clean. 30-Seconds Outdoor Cleaner is great for cleaning large outdoor spaces, and it’s safe to use on lawns, plants, and fabrics. You can even attach the spray bottle right to a hose and douse all of the concrete, wood, siding, patio furniture, flower pots, and garden boxes if need be. Then just scrub with a brush and rinse.

Voilà! No more winter blahs.


2. Get Your Lawn Ready

 

Sprucing up the yard is more than just about mowing the grass – take your lawn to the next level with some extra TLC.

  • Aerate: Aeration helps the grass to breathe and also helps the water and nutrients reach the root system. You should aerate your lawn every 1 to 3 years, but high-traffic areas may require more attention. Here are some more aeration tips.
  • Rake: Debris that has accumulated over the winter can block sunlight and prevent water from reaching deep down to the roots of the grass.
  • Fertilize: Do a little research about what kind of grass you have, then fertilize accordingly.
  • Maintain: After checking your lawnmower for sharp blades, appropriate oil level, and properly inflated tires, mow the grass regularly, about once a week. Keep grass cut to a height of about 5 cm, except in the hottest part of the summer, when you should let it grow about 1 cm longer.
  • Water: Watering your lawn slowly allows water to get all the way down to the roots and avoids runoff, so choose a sprinkler that moves in smooth, sweeping motions. Don’t forget to check the water restrictions in your area, and water your yard at night or in the morning before the sun hits it so that the water doesn’t evaporate before it gets into the soil.


3. Prune Trees, Shrubs, and Potted Plants

 

Pruning dead and excess growth off trees, shrubs, or plants helps the plants grow, and gets rid of harmful insects and rot. Plus, it just looks nicer.

Make sure to also remove any branches hanging over driveways, sidewalks, or paths (these can be a major problem for anyone who has mobility limitations).

If you need a few tools to get started, you can grab heavy-duty pruning tools and protective gloves here. You got this!


4. Let Your Garden Grow

 

Choose a sunny corner of your yard or patio for a new flower bed, planter box, pot arrangement, or even a few containers for vegetables. Ask at the garden centre which varieties grow best in your region, then select your favourite variety of seasonals and perennials. It’s easier than you think!

Just remember to mind your watering — flowers don’t require as much moisture as vegetables.

If you’re short on space, check out this tutorial to make your own (adorable) shoe organizer herb garden! It works great even on a tiny outdoor balcony and you’ll have fresh, delicious herbs well into the fall.


5. Control Pests

 

Check your flowers, shrubs, and trees for any creepy crawlies. Remove any larger critters by hand or with a blast of the hose, and use natural pesticide for the rest. Not sure what works best? Here’s a handy guide to garden pests.

If you have some six-legged visitors in your yard that prefer to annoy people instead of plants, stock up on wasp, mosquito, or ant control products. While we share the outdoors with nature’s creatures, we don’t necessarily want any uninvited guests at our next backyard BBQ.


6. Ready, Set, Grill!

 

Speaking of BBQs, prepping yours is an essential part of preparing your yard for summer.

Luckily, modern grills are easy to clean. Turn your grill on for 10-15 minutes, then allow it to cool for a while before cleaning it with a heat-safe tool. (Wire brushes can be dangerous, so here are some alternative grill cleaning ideas.) And don’t forget to fill up your propane tank — nothing is worse than preparing delicious homemade burgers only to find out there’s not enough fuel to cook them.

We’ve got some great deals on grilling tools and BBQ essentials right here.


7. Sit Back and Relax

Now that you’ve done all the hard work of making your outdoor space beautiful, enjoy the fruits of your labour and relax. You’ve earned it!

Invest in some comfortable, sturdy, weather-resistant furniture to take full advantage of your backyard space.

If you’ve got the room, consider adding an entire dining set. If you have a smaller space, a bistro-sized table and chairs can make even the smallest patios fashionable and a joy to be on! You’ll be surprised how much time you and your family spend out there. Don’t forget to add a shady umbrella for the hot days, and some inviting mood lighting or a home fire-pit to really enjoy your outdoor experience well into the warm, summer evenings.

 

If your backyard or patio is in need of some upgrades, London Drugs has everything you need to improve and beautify your outdoor space.  Check out our Outdoor Living Guide or just stop by and talk to one of our experts about your unique needs. We’d love to see you!

 

How to Winterize Your Garden in 4 Simple Steps

When preparing for the chilly fall and winter months, winterizing your backyard or deck may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but it is an important step. Before you retreat indoors to cozy up in front of the fireplace with a mug of cocoa, remember that your home requires some fall maintenance. Here’s what you need to do to winterize your garden!

By following these outdoor tips, you’ll ensure that come springtime, your backyard, deck or garden will be ready to thrive.

1. Clean and compost

Winterize Your Garden - London Drugs Blog

Clear leaves and gutters

Even if you are short on time, or are heading on an early fall vacation, the one thing you can do to prepare for the season is to keep your deck, gutters, and lawn clear of fallen leaves. They may look beautiful at first, but if you leave them on the ground for too long—especially in wet weather—they can rot, cause mould and moss growth, and damage wooden decks. Clean out your gutters and downspouts as well, as clogged leaves can cause ice dams once the temperature drops. You may want to invest in a gutter screen just to be safe. If you do only one thing on this list, this should be it. 

Pick over and compost

If you have a garden and are keen to keep it in good shape for the spring, it’s incredibly important to pick over and pull out plants and flowers that are no longer productive. The same goes for any fruits or vegetables that aren’t in harvest or have been leftover from last season. Rake up all debris (this can easily be done while you’re clearing out leaves) and add to the compost bin. Don’t forget to trim dead tree branches and shrubs, and while you’re at it, clean your flowerbeds and mulch— you’ll need them in shape to help protect your next crop!

2. Inspect for damage

Fix up your garden for fall - London Drugs blog

Check for leaks and cracks

While you’re already up on the roof clearing out the gutters, take a look around and make sure there is no roof damage. The last thing you need this season is a dripping ceiling! Inspect for loose or missing shingles, and if you have a deck, make sure the gutter doesn’t empty onto its foundation. If you want to go the extra mile, inspect your driveway for cracks and seal them with driveway filler, and then check  your windows to make sure they don’t need extra caulking. Making sure your home is as snug as a bug in a rug will help you save $$ on heat and electricity. 

Repair and replace

Tighten any loose screws, replace nails, and fill any cracks or loose boards on the deck or patio. If your region is anticipating heavy rain or snowfall in the coming months, plan ahead and consider creating a rainscape below your gutters to redirect any overflow. Use rocks as a channel guard underneath to protect your flowerbeds, driveway or deck from damage.

3. Plant and protect

Flower pot planting bulbs in winter - London Drugs blog

Plant bulbs and trees

It may come as a surprise, but fall is actually one of the best times of year to plant spring-blooming bulbs in certain cold-weather areas. Simply plant them in containers just as you would do in the ground, in odd-numbered groups of 5-9. Choosing containers with good longevity (think ceramic or plastic) will protect your plants from freezing and moisture. Tulip bulbs are a favourite that can be transplanted around the garden in the spring. Trees and evergreen shrubs can also be planted during the cooler season, and you’ll have a great head start to the growing season when spring comes.

Protect plants and flowers

There are a number of measures you can take to protect your garden and plants over the winter months. This includes deadheading potted plants and making sure they get plenty of water before bringing them inside, as well as covering flowerbeds with mulch for protection against frost. You can also leave some seeds out for the birds to ensure your garden gets some attention over the winter, and to promote your next bloom.

4. Winterize the patio

Fall decor winterize garden - London Drugs blog

Care for patio furniture and equipment

The last thing you want when opening up your patio or deck in the spring is to find rusted or damaged patio furniture that you have to replace. If you plan ahead and store, cover, and clean all hard surfaces before the first frost, you’ll having nothing to worry about. Even if patio furniture is powder-coated, it can pay to take extra precaution by cleaning and covering aluminum metals with automotive wax. Plastic furniture and fabrics do need to be brought indoors, and while wood-based and wicker furniture will probably need oiling or painting touch-ups, covering with a tarp will protect them from most elements. The same goes for covering any exposed air conditioners, and other lawn equipment.

Decorate for the season

Don’t miss out on the most fun part of winterizing your deck—the decorating! Once you’ve cleaned, inspected and winterized the backyard and taken care of all the logistics, it’s time to get creative. Whether you string fairy lights around windows and doors, or display multi-coloured pumpkins, cornstalks, and pinecones along the staircase, there are endless patio designs available to inspire you. 

Entertaining in Your Outdoor Space Like an Expert

Ah, the season of sunshine. Spending more time outside in the summer months is treat enough! A couple of folding lawn chairs and patch of grass can be enough to enjoy the warmer weather, but if you want your backyard gatherings to become the talk of the neighbourhood, we’ve got some tips to help take your outdoor space from fine to SHINE!

Step One: Tidy Up

First thing’s first—you need to make sure your space is clean and tidy. Here are our tips for getting your yard into tip-top shape for the summer.

Then, decide what style speaks to you. Choose sleek and modern, bright and tropical, cute and cozy, or any vibe that fits your space and your taste, and then decorate accordingly. A consistent style will make your space more polished and sophisticated. Here’s some eye-catching inspiration in case you’re stuck on what style to choose.

Step Two: Choose the Furniture

When choosing furniture for outdoor use, you’ll need to make sure it can stand up to the elements. Keep an eye out for metal, rattan or weather-treated wood, and coverings and fabrics should be waterproof (or at least moisture-resistant if they’re under cover). We have a great selection of outdoor furniture and accessories to suit many different styles and spaces.

Outdoor Living Guide London Drugs

If you’re on a budget, there is power in a yard sale purchase, some spray cleaner, a can of paint, and a few cute accessories. Not sure if your new-to-you furniture is meant for outdoor use? Never fear, because you can DIY it to make sure it withstands whatever mother nature has to offer. Your local hardware store will have all kinds of paint for metal and plastic protection. Wood and fabric takes a little more work to fortify (here’s a handy guide) but a little elbow grease is worth it for a gorgeous outdoor sitting area.

Step Three: Find the Shade

Your outdoor space will most likely be used in the afternoon or evening, and sun at that time of day can still be pretty harsh. There’s nothing like a bunch of squinting and hand-on-forehead-eye-shading to ruin a backyard get together, so make sure your guests have ample shade. An umbrella is the obvious choice for providing shade in your yard, but there are other options. Strategically-planted trees can provide lovely, dappled shade, or a gazebo-style cover can take care of a larger area.

Step Four: Turn On the Lighting

Days are longer in the summer, but the sun does eventually go down—lighting is an important element if you want to entertain outside in the evening. String lights create a pretty atmosphere in any outdoor space, stake lights will brighten up dark pathways and gardens, and solar- or battery-powered lanterns can be hung in trees for a romantic feel. Speaking of romance, don’t forget the candles! Make sure they’re in holders or use flameless candles to avoid being snuffed out by summer breezes.

Outdoor Patio Backyard Lighting London Drugs

Step Five: Dining Design

Any dishes and glasses will do for outside dining, but a backyard makeover is your chance to embrace bright and colourful design that might not fit in with your interior. Why not branch out a little with some fun dishes and accessories?

Keep food casual for backyard meals to capture the classic summer feel – salads, fresh fruit, cold drinks, finger food. Elaborate courses and lots of cooking is impressive, but keeps you in the kitchen and missing all the fun.

Cold drinks are important on warm summer evenings, so make sure your guests are adequately hydrated. Coolers will keep bottles and cans cold without repeated trips to the kitchen, and if you’ve got the room and electricity spare, a drinks fridge is a good investment for serious outdoor entertaining. A lemonade or iced tea station on a side table will keep guests refreshed, or for larger parties, a rolling drinks cart stocked with a selection of beverages, glasses, ice and straws can easily move back and forth from the kitchen for repeated refills.

Step Six: Curate the Music

Everyone knows the perfect playlist can really make a summer party, so keep the music portable with a high-quality, weather-resistant Bluetooth speaker.

Small space? You can still entertain!

 

Yes, even your teeny, tiny apartment balcony can be warm and inviting for guests. You’re paying for that valuable square footage, so why not make the most of it?

  • Choose smaller, narrower furniture and arrange it around the perimeter – guests will have more standing room in a smaller rectangular space instead of having to navigate around large pieces. Two small couches facing each other take up a lot less room than a group of chairs.
  • Non-traditional furniture like a bar table can multi-task as an area for food prep, eating, and outdoor entertaining, all rolled into one.
  • If you have access to a shared space that you can’t take over full time, have some folding furniture on hand for spontaneous courtyard hangouts.

Check out the London Drugs Outdoor Living Guide for all your backyard entertaining needs. Make this summer the best one yet!