When the weather is a little grey and dreary, thoughts of summer punch and BBQs can bring an easy simile to one’s face. Now is the time to take a good look at your yard and see what is missing. Larger projects need planning and lead in time so best to start doing all the legwork early in the year.


Decks are such a great place to hang out and relax. A deck feels like an extension of the home and adds more living space. If a deck feels enticing, there will be more incentive to sit and eat outside and make the most of summer weather. Is your deck big enough to accommodate friends and family with ease? Do you have enough room for an eating area, shade and some decorative accessories? There is always a demand for an attractive deck. Wood adds warmth and natural appeal but just remember that it will need to be properly maintained to keep it looking its best.


To my husband, and I think many men, cooking equals barbecuing. When it’s his turn to cook, he always chooses to throw something on on the grill. A more permanent grilling station, rather than one on wheels, turns your patio into an outdoor kitchen. Create prep areas and a bar so that you can do all your entertaining outdoors.


Even in Southern California, summer soirees can be chilly. On so many occasions we have been forced back indoors on a beautiful evening because it has been just too cold to remain sitting outside. Firepits are cosy and an obvious place for people to gather around. Add a couple of blankets, a wee dram and you can cosily remain outside till bedtime.


If your outdoor furniture is starting to look a little shabby, it may be time for an upgrade. Your furniture may be revamped by a good clean and maybe some new cushions. Check to see whether your cushion covers can be removed for cleaning. If not, a bar of Fels-Naptha soap and a soft bristle brush will help remove tough stains. If you are in the market for new furniture, consider what your outdoor space is used most for. Do you need a better outdoor table and chairs? Or are you lacking areas to relax and unwind? Think of adding cheerful colors but make sure all fabrics are UV resistant or they will fade quickly. In Southern California, particularly near the ocean, look for a high UV rating of 5.


The sound of water is peaceful and soothing. Think of adding a water feature near your sitting areas to add ambience and aid relaxation. Fountains create a beautiful focal point and also attract the birds. Making your own is a very doable DIY project with fountain kits starting at less than $30. Look for a pot or container that inspires you.