Patio fever: Prepare your outdoor living space for warmer months ahead
The weather might be indecisive lately — tornadoes and a snowstorm in the same week — but spring is right around the corner, and once it warms up, you’ll probably want to be out on the patio. Before it arrives, local experts recommend a few patio preparation tips for maximum enjoyment.
First things first: get rid of that winter grime.
“Dirt, sludge, debris and leaves build up on your patio over the winter,” said Colin Waddick, landscape designer at Forever Green Landscaping in North Liberty.
If you don’t clean it off, he warned, it can stain your patio, or worse, corrode it.
Cleaning can be hired out to landscaping companies, or done on your own, but hiring a professional can save a lot of time and hassle, as well as prevent any mishaps.
“If you don’t do it right, you can screw it up,” Waddick warned.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t do it on your own. In fact, taking the DIY approach can save you quite a bit of cash if you’re careful.
Here’s the how-to:
— Declutter: move any furniture, grills, plants or other decorations from the patio’s surface.
— Weed: clear out any dead weeds or grasses that have grown between the patio tiles, or use a weed killer to prevent them from coming back.
— Sweep: use a stiff bristled broom to remove dirt, leaves and other debris from the surface of the patio.
— Rinse: hose down the patio to remove any remaining dirt — but steer clear of pressure washers, as they can damage the grout between bricks or even the bricks themselves, warned Brian Hughes, owner of Landscape by Design in Hiawatha.
— Deep clean: if your patio is stained or needs a deeper clean, you can use cleaning products, household soaps, vinegar or bleach for stain removal, depending on the patio’s material. Before applying a solution, be aware of how it will affect the stone. Also be sure to protect plants surrounding the patio, as some chemicals may damage or kill them if not protected properly.
Hughes recommended a product called Sure Klean, which can be found at Kings Material in Cedar Rapids. The product, diluted with water, should be sprayed 100 to 200 square feet at a time, allowed to soak for five to ten minutes and brushed with a natural bristled brush to loosen the stain, then hosed off, he said.
— Seal: sealant products help preserve your patio, keeps the colors from fading and even add a glossy finish that “gives it a little pop,” Waddick said.
After you’ve cleaned your patio, freshen it with new furniture, lighting or other add-ons to make it feel like new.
Updating your patio furniture is an easy and sometimes more affordable way to spruce up your outdoor living space, Waddick said.
Even a simple change, such as adding decorative pillows, an outdoor rug or other accessories can give a fresh feel. Other more elaborate features such as a sound system, lighting or perhaps a pergola for shade and style, can make the space even more inviting.
“People are trying to set up their patio as another room, or another section of their house,” said Ryan Novak, landscape designer at Culver’s Lawn & Landscape in Marion.
“Adding furniture allows you to actually enjoy the space,” said Tracy Bruner, operations manager of Landscape by Design, which has a showroom in Hiawatha full of customizable furniture options to consider.
As for what’s on trend? Modern, sleek furniture with deep cushioned seats and swivel chairs, Bruner said. Fire elements, such as fire tables, are also hot (pun intended) — they not only keep you warm on cooler evenings but also give the space a modern, contemporary feel. l Lighting
Being able to use your patio into the night is ideal for warm summer nights. And for some, night time is sometimes the only time to get out on the patio. To be able to enjoy a patio to the fullest at night, lighting is a must, and according to Hughes, tiki torches are out, LED lighting is in.
“LED lighting has come a long way,” he said, explaining that the once harsh, “blinding light,” now gives a “really soft, inviting glow” and provides safety and security for the space. Plus, LED bulbs generally last a long time, so you don’t have to worry about replacing bulbs regularly.