This week it's time to take an honest look at your outdoor spaces to be sure they are in great condition for your Masters guests. Begin by looking at your seating areas. Is your grill in excellent shape? Do you need to order replacement parts and give it a good cleaning? How are your cushions, chairs, pillows? We launder our outdoor throw pillows and respray them with water repellent. Cushions can be cleaned with a mixture of dishwashing solution and water and left to dry on a sunny day. Many outdoor items can be cleaned with a pressure washer. (Be very careful not to jet your cushions as it pulls the fibers apart.) We repaint our metal tables and chairs in our seating area with spray paint. We also use painter's tape to cover the metal of our stacking chairs and spray paint the webbing.
It's a good time to rake out your beds and add new pine straw or mulch. Cut back things that have died over the winter or just need pruning. If you've blown your leaves and pine straw to the edges of your yard all season, it's now time to rake all of that up and tote it away. How are your hoses? Is your watering system working? If you have window boxes and planters, do they need fresh potting soil? Check your walkways. If they are brick, like ours, you may need to reseat any bricks that have popped up during cold spells.
What is your garden plan for early April? Plan to have bursts of color at the front door and near your seating area. Your annuals should go in about two weeks before Masters so that they are established before you leave, but not so early that they could be prone to frost.
Think about the use of your space. Our renters live outside. We have a good grill, a dining table, and plenty of additional seating adjacent to our kitchen. Deeper in the yard, we have a fire pit with a dozen chairs. The pool area includes an outdoor ping pong table with spectator seating and a rolling cooler. Not every home needs an extravagant set up, but should include a grill, table and chairs and a conversation area. Access to a hose and/or fire extinguisher, nighttime lighting, ash trays, tables for drinks, a cooler, and even outdoor plasticware go a long way to creating a welcoming outdoor space. Do you have a portable music player they could take outside? An iphone ready player will help them to entertain in style.
Use the warm days we often have in February to clean and prep your outdoor space. Many a homeowner has faced a March of rainy weekends which did not allow furniture to dry or beds to be raked and cleaned out. Get ahead of the curve and enjoy your gorgeous yard.
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Need help with your rental? Laurie Easterlin is a home stager and professional Masters preparation specialist. She is available for in home visits, or if you are a DIY style renter, purchase the book at