prepare your outdoor space for summer


Do you entertain friends and family all Summer long?  Or is your space more “zen-like”, and a peaceful retreat throughout the season?   Preparing your outdoor space for Summer is the first step to getting ready for the season!

Whichever ways you utilize your outdoor space, you’ll want it to be set up for a whole season of Summer fun!  I’m going to give you lots of tips and great information for creating a living space that’s set up for success. 

I’ve also created an Outdoor Furniture Care & Maintenance Guide PDF to help you get ready for the new season ahead.

outdoor furniture care and maintenance guide

It’s got a full section dedicated to taking special care of your teak wood furniture too!  It needs a little more TLC, especially when you’re dealing with bird droppings or scratches.  I think it will make your outdoor space prep a little easier this year!

I’ll tell you how to get your own copy a little later in this article.  Now, let’s start with how I approach my outdoor spaces and decor.



Most of us don’t live in homes that have “resort hotel” outdoor spaces…

So I’m not writing an article filled with zillion-dollar homes that have expansive outdoor living areas rivaling a resort hotel.  Nor will you be reading how to furnish and decorate your outside space with $20,000. worth of furniture and decor either.  I’ll leave that to those fabulous shiny-paged magazines.

This article is for people who live real lives, in regular houses.  Our homes are well-maintained and quite lovely, but don’t  possess a spectacular “resort worthy” outdoor space.  Or, the space to put one!  (We live on the side of a mountain with no yard.)

preparing your outdoor space for summer

Don’t get me wrong, I love using magazines, Pinterest and home decor website photos for inspiration!  Why, I couldn’t live without my design and fashion mags every month! 

But, I always keep in mind, those pics are my inspiration, not my aspiration!  So let’s get started – there’s lots to do before Memorial Day gets here!


ASSESS YOUR OUTDOOR SPACE – Look at your area with “fresh eyes”

Before preparing your outdoor space for Summer, first take a look at the area with a set of  “fresh eyes”. 

Do you have any nooks, corners, narrow spaces or walls that can be crafted into a useful or decorative area?  preparing your outdoor space for Summer

  • A narrow space can be fitted with hooks to hang pool towels, spa robes or BBQ utensils
  • Install a floating shelf to become your new outdoor buffet or beverage station (or add some stools and make it a “bar”)
  • An unused corner is perfect for a small (self-contained) water feature
  • The dead space that’s always a little damp? Turn it into a peaceful Zen rock garden (pretty, and keeps the moisture at bay)
  • Any sunny corner spaces can be used for multi-level plant stands or a container vegetable garden  
  • That ugly expanse of fence?  Plant a creeping vine along the bottom to cover it with “greenery” (a slow, but steady process!)
  • What to do with an unsightly concrete wall? Make a display of potted plants with a purchased pot support frame or braces
  • That long area of grass against your fence?  Anyone for Croquet or Lawn Bowling?



You’ll want to make sure that the areas you choose to use for seating, dining or cooking have a stable, flat surface to start with.  If your space isn’t on a concrete pad, like a patio, consider installing a “floor” before setting up the furniture and grill. 

preparing your outdoor space for SummerHere’s some great natural outdoor “flooring” choices:

  • Natural stone 
  • Wood or composite decking material
  • Concrete
  • Brick pavers
  • Sunken timbers
  • Paving stones
  • Gravel or Pea rocks

Most of these choices are fairly economical, unless, of course, you’re working with large surface areas.  Let both your style and pocketbook help determine your final choices.



Create “outdoor rooms” for dining, relaxing and communing with nature and friends.

Earlier in this post I shared with you a picture of our upper deck.  Notice that it’s set up with a grill/kitchen station at the far end, dining room, and conversation area.

I’ve also included the black table with a shelf to serve as a buffet for serving meals in the dining area.

Our lower deck has a hot tub and accompanying seating area on one endThe other side is set up with a game table and a pair of lounges for relaxing.  The spaces are unified by matching outdoor area rugs with a beverage station between to serve both rooms.


As you can see, I’ve created a number of different outdoor “rooms” to give us 2 very different entertaining spacesbut with unified colors and vibe.

Both areas use the same color scheme, combining a coordinating floral pattern, stripe and solid with a neutral beige base.

The spa area seating is done in a solid rust tone, with accent pillows  in the floral pattern. 

Both the lounge cushions and game table cushions are in the coordinating floral pattern that I just love surrounding me.

I added the same striped accent pillows to the lounges that are in the upper deck conversation area.

I purchased all outdoor furniture cushions from Ballard’s.  Since I was designing both decks simultaneously, it was fairly simple to find a color scheme and the appropriate cushions I needed. 

If you aren’t purchasing your outdoor soft-goods from a single retailer, you’ll need to spend a little more time hunting down what you want.  That also applies to anyone wanting to “add” some new patterns or styles to their current outdoor decor.


OR, MAYBE IT’S TIME FOR A “REFRESH” – How about a new color scheme this season?

When you’re preparing your outdoor space for Summer, it gives you a bright, sunny kind of feeling, doesn’t it?

Do your outdoor preparing your outdoor space for summerfurniture cushions and pillows give you that same “happy” feeling?  If not, you might be tired of “the same-old, same-old”.

Why not take a cruise around the web and see what’s new out there this Summer?  There’s bound to be something that will catch your eye! 

Check out this season’s newest colors/patterns from The Company Store.  Aren’t they fabulous?

Make sure you purchase weather-resistant fabrics, unless you intend to take them inside during inclement weather.

Here’s a few ideas of where to start your hunt for doing a “refresh” for this Summer’s enjoyment.

  • Wayfair
  • Overstock.com
  • Lowe’s or Home Depot
  • Ballard Designs
  • Pier One
  • Big Lots
  • Wal Mart
  • cushionsxpress.com
  • Target
  • cushionsource.com

NAN’S TIP: Don’t forget, you’ll need to store them off-season!  Purchase a storage container or “cushion storage bag” to keep them clean and ready for next season.

I’ve created our outdoor spaces with exactly my style of entertaining and Summer activities in mind.  Now it’s your turn!



preparing your outdoor space for SummerStart by answering some questions about how you’ve used the space in the past.

Then play a little “make-believe”, and imagine what types of things you’d like to do in your outdoor space(s) this Summer.

You’ll be doing this step after having already taken a “fresh” look to see what untapped spaces you can also utilize in your “make-believe” game. 

That means that you need to suspend “reality” for just a few minutes, while you tap into your secret desires for this Summer’s plans and activities.

Begin with these sample questions to get you started!

  • Has the layout served all the purposes they’ve been used for?  What didn’t work?  Could a different “floor plan” have worked better? Separating areas?  Joining areas?
  • Could you really have used a bar with stools or cocktail seating area?  What space could you alot for that purpose?
  • Do you regularly cook and serve food outdoors?  Are there defined spaces for both cooking and dining?   How has it worked for you in the past?  What would work better from past experiences you’ve had?  Are they too far away from each other?
  • Have you been using part of your yard for outdoor games?  Can you have a seasonal “court” for playing your favorite backyard game instead?  We had horseshoe pits in our backyard before we moved to the mountain.
  • Do you spend evenings outdoors watching the sunsets or stars?  Maybe a fire pit is something you want to consider.
  • Does your outdoor space need to be shared with a flower or vegetable garden?  Can you combine functions in some unique way? Perhaps growing some vegetables and herbs in an attractive set of pots in a sunny seating area? 

If a container garden is something you’d like to add when preparing your outdoor space for Summer, click here to read my post on How to Start A Container Garden – Grow Your Own Salad Bowl Ingredients.



If you live in Sunny, dry California like my sister, you probably don’t need to worry too much about rain.  No, the problem she has is too much sun!

At 4500 feet, on top of a mountain in Western North Carolina, I’ve got to take plenty of rainy days into consideration.  preparing your outdoor space for Summer

Maybe you’re in South Florida, where it rains every Spring afternoon around 3:oopm.  Or in the desert enjoying plenty of sunny days each season. 

One way or the other, everyone needs to decide how to cover some of their outdoor living spaces, be it from rain or sun.  Here’s some ways to consider covering your outdoor areas:

  • Pergola
  • Patio awning (retractable or not)
  • Shade umbrellas
  • Shade sails
  • Seasonal canopy structure (with or without curtains)
  • Outdoor deck/patio curtains

And what about when the evenings get a little nippy?  You may want to consider buying a mobile patio heater to keep your space and guests comfortable late into the evening.

We were fortunate to have two heaters come with the purchase of our mountain home.  One for each deck!

The choices are many, and are available at most of the large retailers listed in the outdoor cushion section of this post.

I’ve got a set of Sunbrella fabric lime green curtains that I need to figure out how to hang on our upper deck.  The living room area gets the afternoon sun and can roast us alive if we don’t plan our cocktail hours accordingly. 

I’ve been scouring the internet for help in designing some type of system to get them hung.  We get a ton of high winds at this altitude, so I need to take that into account also.  Looks like I’ve got my work cut out for me!



preparing your outdoor space for SummerIf you’ll be slinging burgers and dogs this Summer, make sure you plan your “kitchen” area for maximum efficiency.

Some of you are lucky enough to have a fabulous outdoor kitchen with built-in grill, bar and seating area.  Outdoor kitchens can get really elaborate, with full utilities, warming drawers and refrigerators…

Really, the sky’s the limit.  Or rather, our pocketbooks are the limit!

Even if you’re just working with a grill and side-burner like me, you’ll still want to get set up for making fabulous grilled meals all Summer long.  It’s never stopped me!

So when preparing your outdoor space for Summer, you’ll want your “kitchen” to have these basics. 

Provide yourself with a sanitary work surface and a landing area for plates, utensils and food.

Include a storage cabinet or container that can hold your grill and BBQ supplies too.  Can you hang any of your supplies in a covered and protected area near the grill?  Get creative with your space!  

I have a cedar cabinet for storage, and add a cutting board on top to give myself a work surface while cooking outdoors.  On the other half of the cabinet’s top I place 2 large cork trivets to safely handle hot plates and pots.  Add a garbage container to keep the area tidy.


FURNISHING YOUR OUTDOOR SPACES – Consider purpose, style and comfort 

If you’ll be purchasing any new outdoor furniture this season, make sure you first consider it’s purpose and location.  You don’t want to buy metal furniture that will rust from the dripping drainpipe.  And you don’t want to buy loungers for your conversation area. 

preparing your outdoor space for summerMake sure that the furniture fits the purpose it’s intended for when preparing your outdoor space for Summer.

Style and comfort go hand in hand for me.  I prefer a simple, casual, yet classy outdoor entertaining style.

And that really lends itself to allow for some simple change-ups to create a themed party or temporary holiday decor.

As for the comfort part, if H.H. doesn’t like the cushions, then I’m not buying them!

He doesn’t actually get a say in the colors, but rather the thickness and quality.  He does not like to sink into the cushions!  Can you blame him?

Here’s a list of the types of outdoor furniture you should consider when purchasing new pieces when preparing your outdoor space for Summer.

  • Teak
  • Resin Wicker
  • Rope
  • Metal
  • Plastic
  • Treated wood

Don’t forget to download the Outdoor Furniture Care & Maintenance Guide to help you take good care of your furniture this season!  Just click on the image at the beginning of this post to download the free guide.


LIGHTING YOUR SPACE  – Now that you know WHAT you’ll be doing & WHERE you’ll be doing it

I love how the magazines always tell you to start with the lighting first.  How on earth are you going to know where you need or want lighting before you’ve got your “floor plan” done?  That’s exactly why you’re just reading about the lighting now my fab friends.

You’ve finished preparing your outdoor space plan of action on paper, and now you know where you’ll need lighting

If you love to grill at night, you need a spot light located nearby.  What about the path leading to the fire pit below the garden?  It’ll need some stake lighting. 

Go through your entire site plan and decide what types of lighting you’ll need for each space’s intended purpose

fairies in the forest twilight soiree

  • Task lighting
  • Ambient or mood lighting
  • Large area lighting
  • Overhead/Uplights/Ground lighting
  • Solar light sources for remote areas

Don’t forget that most Summer gatherings begin in daylight, but end in the dimly lit or dark evening.



Dining al fresco is one of my favorite things about Summer! 

It doesn’t matter if it’s a casual lunch or a themed End-of-Summer party, like my Fairies in the Forest Twilight Soiree, pictured here. 

I adore getting out the melamine plates, pitchers, platters and glasses that I’ve had stashed away all winter.  It’s time to have fun “girls” lunches and after-golf cocktails on the deck!

Our mountain comes alive in May when the seasonal “snow birds” arrive from their warm-location respites.  It gets a bit lonely here during Winter, no wonder I get so excited about Spring’s arrival!

I’m a party animal, and love having guests over for drinks and a nibble after a round of golf.

There’s just something completely “civil” about having friends relaxing on your deck late on a Saturday afternoon.  I can’t think of a better way to enjoy Summer.

Sipping Amaretto Sours and laughing about that “birdie” H.H. shot on the 6th hole, all while taking in the view from our outdoor sanctuary.  Now that’s how I do Summer!

Take inventory of what Summer entertaining supplies you’ve already got, and then hit the the stores or internet to round out this season’s needs. 

Now take a look at this list of Summer entertaining items to give you an idea of what you might still need to pick up.  

  • Glass or plastic plates in dinner and salad sizes (you can mix and match like you do for your indoor tablesettings too)
  • Plastic or glass platters for serving grilled foods, side dishes and salads
  • Glass or plastic pitchers; matching beverage glasses  (buying a set will give your table a “pulled together” look)
  • Plastic or glass serving bowls and serving utensils
  • Flatware caddy for silverware and napkins 
  • Tablecloths and napkins to match your outdoor decor


NAN’S TIP:  If you don’t haunt the Dollar Store type of shops, you’ll be amazed at what you can find on a good day!  I’ve found a few nice quality outdoor pieces there.


DECORATING YOUR OUTDOOR SPACE – Seasonal Selections & Special Occasion Add-Ins

When it comes to preparing your outdoor space for Summer, you can’t forget about adding some special touches!  That’s what personalizes your space and allows you to create a Summer respite that’s totally your style and suits your personality.preparing your outdoor space for Summer

Now here’s where you’ll want to be especially careful with your budgetI’ve been known to drop some major “coin” after getting a bit too excited with my Summer planning.  Watching snow falling in mid-April can do that to you!

What kinds of things can you use to add some style, personality or function when preparing your outdoor space for Summer?

  • Ceiling fans
  • Fire pit with seating area
  • Thrift store finds
  • Chimera 
  • Water feature
  • Unusual pottery pieces
  • Outdoor lamps
  • Metal wall art
  • Lawn art  (try not to get too “kitchy”, I know it’s hard!)
  • Outdoor rugs
  • Solar or candle lanterns
  • Outdoor statues/pillars/urns
  • Citronella candles
  • String lighting
  • Floor cushions for extra seating
  • Drum tables
  • Outdoor curtains/drapery
  • Potted plants and trees
  • Lawn ornaments



I hope the information I’ve shared today will make preparing your outdoor space for Summer a little easier this year!

I’ve given you the whole scoop for what you’ll need to start preparing your outdoor space for Summer. Maybe you’ll be using the lovely furniture you already own, buying new, or perhaps just going for a “refresh”.

Whatever your plans are for your Summer, now you’ve got the tools you need to make this season’s outdoor living spaces a roaring success!




Want your own SUMMER FURNITURE CARE & MAINTENANCE GUIDE, but you’re not on our list yet?  Why not join in on the fun!

outdoor furniture care guideFill out the form below and I’ll send you a copy as a thank you for joining the IFAFL Email Subscriber List.

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What are you waiting for?  You don’t want to miss out on anything fabulous, do you? 

There’s always something fabulous happening here at Ingredients For A Fabulous Life, don’t you want to stay in the loop?  

And while you’re at it, come join the gang in our Facebook group and get in on the gabfest at, The Fab Life!  That’s where we show off our triumphs and share our pursuit of “the good life” with each other all week long.  

UPDATED 5/8/2021





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