Getting your garden ready for Spring

This weekend the spring bug has most definitely bitten us here at Lazy Susan. The sun is shining, the temperature is rising and the clocks have gone forward. Saying that, this winter has not been has bad as the last, but all the same its nice to start thinking about and implementing our spring plans for the Lazy Susan showroom garden. Here’s our list of important to-do’s for getting your outdoor living space ready for the great weather that’s hopefully going to come this summer. There may be more or less depending on your outdoor space, but these are our main tips for getting your patio/outdoor space ready and spring is the perfect time of year to tackle them:

Power wash the patio surface

It gets all the winter muck off, but be careful… Pressure washers are pretty powerful devices. Always wear safely goggles and gloves and ensure all connections are tight before turning on the water and power. Ensure any extension cables are lifted high into the air and protected from the water. Good preparation is key to successfully cleaning your patio. Remove all furniture. Pressure washers are powerful, and can easily crack an old table or strip timber. Pull up all weeds. If they remain when you start to pressure wash, you’ll blow them out and they will mark your newly clean patio. Remove any loose stones as a pressure washer can easily turn them into dangerous projectiles. Start the cleaning process by turning on your pressure washer and letting run it for a few seconds just to make sure it is fully powered up and running correctly. Hold it a couple of feet away from your starting point and clean a small area. Remove the hose and inspect the area; if it is fully clean you have found the optimum distance. If it’s not experiment with various distances from the surface. Stop regularly if water builds up and brush it away with a hard bristle brush. After you’ve finished, allow the patio to dry and then sweep away any left over dirt. Finally, re-grout the concrete or add more sharp sand if needed. Always plan where you’re going to start and where you’re going to finish and that way if you’ve left any dirt you won’t keep spreading it around the cleaner parts.

Gloria 8 Seater Oval Garden Table

Scrub your patio furniture cushions

No matter how you store them, they usually need to be freshened up or replaced. If your cushions are fairly new or they’ve been well taken care of, then you will only have to do a little gentle basic cleaning. At least once a year, you need to give your cushions a basic clean to help retain their appearance. If your cushions are zipped as per the type we retail at Lazy Susan or a velcro fastening, then remove them and place them in the washing machine using a low cycle and a mild detergent. To preserve the life of your patio furniture cushions, do not to wash the foam insert. If you saturate the foam inner, you run the risk of causing mildew or mold growth. If your foam inserts do get wet or you can’t remove the covers and therefore you have to wash together, then make sure you dry them completely before replacing the cover. Best way to do this is place between two towels, walk on the cushions to squeeze any moisture out and leave to dry against a radiator or in an airing cupboard if you’ve got one. Do not tumble dry the foam or covers!

In order to reduce the amount of cleaning you will have to do on your patio furniture cushions (and prevent the need to replace them), it’s a good idea to be proactive. For example, consider spraying the cushions with Scotchgard™ Outdoor Fabric Protector before using them. This forms an invisible barrier which repels water-based liquid such as rain, wine and coffee and helps protect against stains, making them easier to clean in the future. Another way to cut down on cleaning time is to properly store the cushions during the winter. Consider using airtight containers to store your cushions. Please, whatever you do, don’t wrap your cushions in plastic or store them in bin bags, because mold and mildew will grow rapidly if air is trapped inside the plastic. At Lazy Susan we always advise our customers to store in an airtight container with a few Cedar Balls in the container alongside your cushions. This is the most effective way to prevent spiders/bugs etc (especially if you’re storing in a shed), it will give a long-lasting fresh fragrance to your cushions and prevent build-up of mustiness and mildew.

Uncover your patio furniture or take it out of storage

They are definitely one of the most frequently overlooked accessories when buying furniture for outdoor use. You can get some basic covers from your local DIY store or garden centre for next to nothing, and they’ll save you a significant amount of money in the long run. A garden furniture cover is the perfect way to keep wooden, metal and rattan furniture sets clean from debris and protected from the elements. Fold and store your furniture covers and store them away safely in your garage or shed. You can even leave them outside if you don’t have the storage space, just make sure they are tied or weighted down as a strong wind will move them!

Clean your patio furniture

Scrub with an environmentally friendly cleaner. If you don’t have aluminum furniture or if your aluminum furniture has parts made of other metals, touching up the weathered or rusty parts with Rust Oleum will keep everything in good shape. If you have teak furniture or furniture made from another type of wood, you can clean and oil wood surfaces.

  • Aluminum Furniture
    Aluminium furniture does not rust and then come either painted or powder coated. If they’re not coated or painted, then you really need to paint or coat the aluminim frames with acrylic powder. Regularly clean the frames with water and mild soap. Preventation is the best form of defence so apply annualy a coat of car wax and this will help to prevent pitting and allow for easy cleaning in the future.
  • Wrought Iron
    Apply wax or naval jelly to protect the frames from corroding or rusting. Wrought iron needs to be painted annually to prevent rust. Regularly with water and mild soap.
  • Steel Furniture
    As with iron, apply a car wax to protect the frames from corroding or rusting. Touch paint any scratches as soon as you get the chance to prevent rusting and if rust is present, sand the rust down and paint to avoid further damage to the furniture. Regularly with water and mild soap.
  • Wooden Outdoor Furniture
    If coated with an exterior-grade varnish can be cleaned with water and mild soap. Thoroughly rinse the furniture with clean water. Wooden garden furniture should always be stored indoors during the winter with the exception of teak and cedar furniture. Teak and cedar furniture can also benefit from not being exposed to the elements during winter, but it will stand up better than most other types of timber used in the construction of modern garden furniture. If you have teak furniture, the you need to re-apply varnish annually to preserve the look. And this goes for all other types of wood too, as they will all look better and last longer if coated annually with a wood sealer.
  • Resin Outdoor Furniture
    To be honest resin garden furniture probably requires the least amount of care and attention, however, it does need periodic care, especially if you plan to leave it outside all year round. Spray off with clean water and allow to air dry. Use a gentle abrasive to remove any scuff marks. Remove mildew use a solution of two cups of detergent and one cup of bleach in one gallon of water.
  • Synthetic Wicker & Rattan Outdoor Furniture
    Again, rattan garden furniture is largely immune to the elements. However, it will look better and last longer is it is coated a few times a year with a protective finish such as a weatherproof plastic coating.
  • Natural Wicker & Rattan Outdoor Furniture
    Clean using a hose or pressure washer (set low) to remove dirt and stains. If very dirty use a sponge, mild soap and cold water to wash. Leave the furniture to dry and wax the frame. Try not to wash natural wicker an rattan too often, as leaving it will help enhance its lifetime.
  • PVC/Plastic Patio Furniture
    Apply mild detergent to plastic and allow to soak. Scrub with a stiff brush and hose to wash clean. Add a few drops of oil or silicon to any moving metal parts and protect from sun if not being used for any long period of time, as ovr exposure to the sun will fade or yellow plastic furniture.

Clean any timber decking

If your deck has only just been installed then you really should start by sealing it. However, it is vital you wait a couple of weeks before you actually do this. After it has been successfully sealed you should then reseal it once a year. Another annual job is to check for any loose boards and screws/nails. You should also make sure to clean the deck at least once a year too. To clean the deck properly you should first remove all furniture, planting etc away from the decking. Sweep the deck to ensure that there are no large pieces of debris in the way. Once it is swept clean you will then be able to check for loose nails and broken wood. If you do see any problems it is important to fix them before you continue to clean the deck. It is not always essential but at this point I would always hose down the deck before using a cleaning solution, just to remove the dirt that builds up. Read the instructions on the cleaning products that you have purchased to see what they require. Failing to follow these instructions could potentially cause damage to the deck, so it’s worth 5 mins before you get started!

As you will be using cleaning chemicals/detergent, please make sure that you take care of surrounding grass and plants. Once you have sprayed the solution onto the deck it will likely take some time to work. Again, read the instructions and see just how long you need to leave the product on the decking. Once that time has elapsed, make sure that you rinse it off thoroughly. If you’ve got pressure washer (or you’re reading this to see what you need) then use it. They’re expensive, but to be honest they’re the best thing to remove any ingrained dirt/stains. Just be careful that you don’t use too much pressure as believe it or not these things are pretty powerful and you can easily damage the wood. In our opinion, these are the main steps that you should take once a year to maintain a wooden deck. It would also be a good idea to clear up any spills that occur on the deck straight away so that they have less chance of staining the wood and if you follow this advice your wooden decking area should last a very long time.

Put your outdoor rugs back down

If you have stored away your outdoor rugs, now is the time to bring them out before you place the furniture. If your rugs have been outside all winter, a good cleaning (or even pressure washing depending on how sturdy the fibers are) will make it shine for spring.

Check your outdoor lighting

Check all of your outdoor/landscape lighting to see if any repairs are needed or bulbs changed. To be honest you should always check your low voltage outdoor landscape lighting on a regular basis, at least every other month, not just in spring. One problem is that plants outgrow their original shape and form and you will need to re-aim the lighting again to suit. The neighbour’s cat or dog may also knock your lighting over if it is loosely installed. The preferred light fittings used to create outdoor landscape lighting, are low voltage, weather resistant fixtures. The low voltage part reduces the risk of electrocution if live wiring or terminals are touched. Also if power supply transformers are used to reduce the voltage, then they also isolate the low voltage system from the mains voltage which increases safety further. The low voltage lighting that’s used in outdoor systems does not heat up as much as the larger sized lamps used inside the home. The risk of burning anyone is reduced. Also the risk of burning and damaging plants by the direct light is also greatly reduced.

Pull out and scrub your stored flowerpots

The best way is to use just warm water, if you can, don’t use any soap or any chemicals that will contaminate the soil when you next use them. A mild washing up liquid works well if you need to remove staining, but make sure you rinse thoroughly. Cleaning flower pots is a chore all gardeners must do at one time or another. It is important to clean your pots to ensure that fungi and bacteria are not passed on to new plants. Other times they just need a clean to make them look a little less scruffy.

Brush off any dirt or debris that is on the pot with a stiff bristled brush for clay and a plastic scrubber for plastic. If they are really stained and dirty, then try soaking the pots in nine parts hot water and one part bleach for an hour or so. Rinse the pots off with lots warm water. Then wash the pots a little mild washing up liquid and awrm water. You may need to scrub them a little more. Then soak clay pots in clean cold water for another hour, while plastic pots can just be rinsed off. Allow the pots to dry completely and they should be ready to use again.

Don’t forget the BBQ

Give your grill a good spring-cleaning and tune up. Warm barbecues are easier to clean than cold ones, so if you have a gas BBQ, start it up for a short time first then turn it off and disconnect the gas before dismantling the entire barbecue to wash all the parts one by one. The grills can be spread out on some newspaper and scraped clean with a grill scraper, which is normally specially shaped to fit around the grill bars. You can also purchase a grill stone. These man-made stone blocks are soft enough to grind to the shape of the grill as you use them, removing grease and burnt-on food as you go. This is a great tool as it moulds to the shape of your grill. Spray on some cooking oil before scrubbing the grill clean with warm water and soap mixed with white vinegar to remove any residue. Once dry, spray on a little more oil and spread it with a paper towel or cloth. Make sure that the soap mixture is well cleaned off. If you have ceramic flame-tamers or cooking grids these should be cleaned with soapy water and a brass wire barbecue brush. Soak in hot soapy water for a good hour or so first off to loosen.

If you’re like me and you have a charcoal BBQ that has not been cleaned for a good period of time, then cleaning a charcoal grill takes a little more time, especially if it has sat for the winter without being cleaned, but a clean grill will make food taste better and is basic hygiene really. Start by removing the grates and anything else from inside the grill and clean out the ash and old coals in the bottom. Be sure that the grill is cold and the embers are out to prevent anything from catching on fire. Take a small shovel or scoop, remove the ash and throw it away. Clean out the inside of the grill with a thick rag, paper towels or newspaper, and water or a cleaning solution. A water hose is a good way to give the inside of a grill a good rinse. It is not necessary to get the inside of the grill spotless, but cleaning it up will make it look better and getting rid of some of the grime can prevent the grime from burning and negatively affecting the taste of food.

Place the grates of the grill on newspaper, spray them with oven cleaner and let them sit for a few hours. This will help remove the grime and build-up on the grates and reduce the amount of elbow grease it takes to get them clean. Scrub the grates with a damp cloth or sponge, then make sure you thoroughly rinse the grates after you clean them off and let them dry before placing them back into the grill. The best thing you can do to be honest is use preventative measures and good cleaning habits through the summer to keep the grill from building up too much grease and grime, makes things much easier in the long run. Wipe the grill down after using it, keep the old charcoal and ash cleaned out and use a wire brush or sponge to clean the grates after each cooking. And please make sure the grill is cool before you start cleaning as they can stay hot for a considerable time.

A little TLC for your trees and shrubs

Trim any shrubs or stray branches that may have grown over your patio or pathways. Be careful not to prune any of your spring bloomers. In March, you should start pruning to thin out old, overgrown shrubs. Consider deep root fertilizer and start treating for chewing insects. Spring is also the ideal time to conduct any necessary repair work or trimming for any trees damaged by winter snow/frost. Plant new trees around April and take care to select the proper location and choose a tree that meets the site requirements of said location. Is the soil dry or sandy? How is drainage? How much sun or shade does the location get? Choosing the right location will affect your success rate and your shrub or tree’s overall health. For event better results, purchase native species that are accustomed to the regional climate. One of the most common problems with planting is putting plants too deep, which can stress the tree and suffocate the roots. Be sure that the top of the root collar is even or just above the soil. Do not over mulch.

Get some mulch down

Fresh mulch in your flowerbeds and landscaped areas dress up your space and give your plants and shrubs spring protection against fluctuating temperatures and last minute spring storms. Mulching is one of the most important ways to protect and maintain healthy landscaped plants, shrubs and flowers. It prevents weeds from coming through and adds to the nutrient base of the soil making the soil richer. Mulch also helps to hold water and moisture in your plants and gardens, therefore you don’t have to water as much, it helps the roots maintain an even temperature and protects your soil from erosion.

When applying mulch you want to put a layer of it 2 – 4 inches as close to the roots as possible. Remember to replace the mulch as needed if using organic materials. Make sure you don’t use too much as too much of it will be a bad thing possible causing the roots to suffocate. You also want to make sure you keep any mulch away from tree trunks. Organic mulches are very beneficial but they can wind up being a habitat for insects. Most of these insects will not harm your plants but they may become a nuisance for you. Keep this in mind when using organic mulch close to your house. Pavement ants are known to love bark mulch. If put too close to your house you may have unwanted guests. Some people like to spread out a layer of plastic underneath before they apply mulch. This isn’t a good idea because it dries out the soil underneath defeating the purpose of maintaining proper moisture for the root system. The best time to apply mulch is in late Spring once the ground starts to warm up.

Take a good look at your flowerbeds

Be sure to really inspect your flowerbeds or landscaped areas for stray garbage or other foreign objects that winter storms may have washed into your garden. Remove winter mulches and straw mulches from perennial flower beds and dispose of them. Work around any flower shoots coming up, taking care not to disturb them as you remove the mulch. Weed annual beds, and throw away weeds that have seed heads, as composting these may leave weed seeds in your compost that will later get spread in your flower beds. Place a 3-inch layer of fresh compost on all the flower beds. Till the compost into the beds with a hoe or hand held cultivator, taking care not to disturb roots and bulbs of perennial flowers. Work the soil to a 8-inch depth in annual beds and a 5-inch depth in perennial beds. Fertilize each bed. Use a balanced fertilizer on annual and most perennial beds, following label instructions for exact application amount. Apply a phosphate-rich fertilizer or specially formulated bulb fertilizer for bulb beds. Apply a fresh 3-inch layer of new mulch to the flower beds once the soil begins to warm up in mid- to late-spring. Use wood chips or other organic mulches on the beds. Transplant annual flowers outside once the all danger of frost has passed or when specified on the plant tag for specific varieties.

Spring lawncare is vital

Treat your lawn and garden for late winter weeds and pre-emergent to keep weeds manageable throughout the spring. A beautiful lawn complements your home and makes the entire garden look fantastic. And spring is most definitely the season to spend a little time and effort getting it into tip top shape – cutting the grass, feeding with a a good organic lawn fertiliser and dealing with any bare patches, ugly weeds and moss. A simple lawn care programme will give you grass to be proud of, keep it in perfect condition and make friends and neighbours green with envy. Nothing complicated, the Lazy Susan top tips to achieving a great looking lawn are as follows:

  • Raking and controlling thatch
  • Regular and correct cutting
  • Feeding with an organic spring and summer lawn fertiliser
  • Treating weeds and moss before they get out of control
  • Dealing with bare patches

And finally, why not hit the shops or internet for a little retail therapy!

Freshen up your outdoor living space by getting some new garden furniture (cough), getting some new plants, outdoor accessories or by adding new lighting, patio cushions, hanging baskets, containers etc. Maybe you could even treat yourself to a Lazy Susan garden room? At the very least, this little lot should keep us all busy for the next few weekends!

About Lazy Susan

About Lazy Susan

Lazy Susan is a small family business that specialise exclusively in wicker, rattan and metal garden furniture, specifically cast aluminium. Visit www.lazysusanfurniture.co.uk to find out more and view our complete product range.

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