At Home Now: It’s Time and You Know it: the Spring Spruce Up


It’s May.

It’s finally seasonally warm and we are all, at last, thinking of being out more than in. 

There is nothing more delicious than opening windows, watching the pets sunbathe in the backyard, and exposing your ankles to the elements.  I’ll even welcome (in a way) that sluggish black ant in my kitchen, and that opinionated dandelion forcing its way between my bluestone slabs.  I mean, we have to make our sacrifices, right?  Because it’s all part of the greater good that leads us to one undeniable conclusion: spring is here.

But after that initial blissful celebration, it may be time to consider giving your outdoor spaces a little bit of attention.  You’ve got a fabulous summer ahead so get yourself set up properly.

I’m speaking of attention that amounts to maintenance, though.  Many of us visionaries have lofty goals for our outdoor spaces, and although I applaud that, I also recognize that those exciting projects come with a hefty price tag and a whole lot of disruption.  So, this spring, maybe you scale it back and think a little smaller.  Sometimes, when we only focus on that one long range goal, we can lose motivation for the types of improvements that can impact our here and now.

So, before you drag the lawn furniture out of the shed and plop it down in the exact same location as you did last year, I encourage you to take a pause to assess your outdoor space while it’s empty.  Which is a creative way to say that you should clean the heck out of it and repair where needed.  It’s just one of those necessary evils and there is no better time to do it than right now, so take a deep breath and get it done.

But there is one silver lining to this task, and it goes by the name of The Pressure Washer.  Pressure washing takes care of so much unsavory stuff – like spider eggs and crevice mold, last year’s spilled margarita, and the ground-in dirt on your patio slate. 

For me the real beauty is that I can do all that without actually touching any of it myself.  Because I’m manning the tool.  I am the great and the powerful.  It’s just so rewarding.

Proceed with caution here, however.  Even the light-duty pressure washers can pack a punch that your cat won’t want to get in the way of.  And if you’re not careful you can damage delicate furniture and wall surfaces.  But if you choose your sites wisely, you can accomplish a lot.  I recommend doing it on a sunny day so you can sit back and watch it dry up, because then you have your (oh so clean) blank canvas right there in front of you.  What do you want to do with it this year?

While you’re thinking about that, drag out your furniture and accessories to see what’s what.  Eliminate mildewed pillows, chipped planters and get rid of the stuff you just don’t like. (Life is just too short.)  I always keep one hairy eyeball out towards elimination, because I think about the maintenance that I’m not going to want to do later on in the summer.  In August, I don’t want to have too many things out there that I have to clean around or wipe down or dump collected water out of.  The beauty of outdoor living is its expansiveness and its simplicity, so don’t over-accessorize.

What do you want your space to be this year?  Well, start by thinking about last year.  Did you have a table set up that nobody sat at because you were always sitting around the fire pit instead?  Or perhaps the opposite is true.  Did you curse the location of your gas grill because it wafted smoke into your kitchen?  Or did you swear you’d install a designated gas line after the propane ran out in the middle of your last party?

I don’t know, you do you.  But there is no reason that everything has to go back just the way it was, just because that’s the way it was.  Keep what’s working, and tweak the rest.  I’m such a geek about this stuff, that I actually take notes in the fall.  Nothing formal, just something I stick in my phone.  But I find the reminder to be helpful in the spring.

So, I’m here to encourage you to try something new.  Some shade on the back deck so you can work outside, or a ceiling fan for your front porch to discourage mosquitos.  Each spring I tend to allow for one or two capital investments.  Nothing too overwhelming, but enough to keep my space feeling fresh and appropriate to my changing needs.  I’ll allow you the same, so go figure out what it’s going to be this year.

And early spring? It’s the perfect time to get it done.  We are sort of like our New England gardens.  In June they look so lush and fresh and manicured and loved.  That’s us right now, scurrying about with our shed doors propped open and our beloved pressure washers in hand.  Our summer is looming large and it’s filled with promise.

But in the dog days of July and August, our gardens can show the wear from water bans, unrelenting sun, and busy vacation schedules. And the same goes for us.  On those 90-degree days, who wants to be repairing outdoor furniture and tweaking their seating arrangements?  Not me.  Just pour me a beverage, give the kids a popsicle, and order out for pizza.  I’ll meet you on my porch, where I won’t be doing a thing.


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