Maybe you’ve noticed, but your yard really takes a beating throughout the winter months. You don’t want to just roll out your patio furniture and—boom—start entertaining, because it will always look a little dingy and unkempt. But luckily if you hit all the items on this to-do list, it will take you all the way to a picture-perfect yard, ready for that first cookout!

Hit the Pressure Washer

When I worked at a luxury hotel, I noted that they pressure-washed their patio on a daily basis—all it was, essentially, was a daily hose-down, but the result was that it looked nothing short of immaculate all the time. Now, I’m not recommending you pressure wash daily, but starting the season with a good pressure washing can set the scene for a tidy yard. While you’re at it, you can hit your aluminum siding, driveway, flagstone, deck, and any other outdoor surface that can take the pressure (be sure to confirm with your owner’s manual which setting to use for more delicate surfaces like those with a layer of paint).

Clean Up the Beds

Even perennials—those flowers and plants that grow back every year without any help from you—need a little clean-up after a long winter. Clear away any dried leaves and stems, using pruning sheers if necessary, and trim any woody bushes that have gone super branchy. Enlist the help of any smaller gardeners in the house (with the dried leaf gathering, that is, not the shears!). And while you’re at it…

Make the Beds

What this means, is, after you’ve cleaned up the garden, you might find that it looks a little naked and depleted. To help these plants continue to grow, give them all a fresh new layer of soil or mulch and they will look as fresh as spring itself!

Look Into the Light

Your outdoor light fixtures will likely be dulled, covered in schmutz after a long winter. Be sure to give them a good cleaning. With the power off, disassemble as much as you can of the fixtures. Wash the removable pieces in hot soapy water; for those that aren’t removable, use a bucket of hot, soapy water and a rag (not one of your good microfiber cloths—this has the potential to be a super-dirty job) to wipe them down well. While you have them disassembled, replace the bulbs if necessary.

Assess the Furniture

Make sure your patio furniture is clean and in good shape. Turn that power washer on it if compatible, or otherwise give everything a hot, soapy wash and rinse with the hose—home carwash style. Consider applying a fresh coat of paint or stain to really distressed pieces. A fresh layer of paint can really bring old pieces of furniture back to life. In fact, last year, Chad painted some of our older patio furntiure a completely different color when he did a makeover on our backyard. The new color really added some summer vibrancy to the patio. Finally, spot-clean cushions or unzip cushion covers and machine-wash them (check their care labels first!).

Don’t Forget Other Yard Furniture

This is the time to make sure any playground equipment, garden gnomes, and of course the BBQ, are in good shape too. Scrub and hose down the former, and for the latter, check out this video!

Finishing Touches

This is my favorite one, since it’s easy, and yet the yard looks fresh in an instant! Change your doormats (front and back) and make sure any planters and/or hanging baskets are replenished with flowers! What will the color scheme be this year?

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