It’s a three day weekend, which means many of you will be breaking out the grills for the first time this season. So, I thought this would be a good opportunity to give some tips on kicking off the backyard barbecue season right!
Fire up that Grill!
The most important thing to have ready is your grill. If you haven’t done a full grill cleaning yet this season, take the time to do it right the first time.
- Soak the grates in soapy water. If you are looking for a more environmentally friendly method, you can surround the grates in sand, scrub it, then rinse!
- Remove the ash from around the burner on a gas grill, or, on a charcoal grill, clean the insides under the coal grate.
- Most grills come with a wire scrubber. Use this to scrub the inside of the grill, as well as the grate once it comes out of the soapy water.
- Coat the grates with cooking spray for an easier clean after you cook.
If you have some residue left in the bottom of the grill, no worries; it will burn away when you fire up the grill for the first time! Remember, a used grill is a happy grill:)
Ahh, the Smell of Freshly Cut Grass!
To get your yard ready for the first game of horseshoes, take a few lawn care tips into consideration:
- Go in for professional maintenance on your mower. Starting the season off with new oil and sharpened blades will keep your grass looking fresh and cut down on mowing time.
- Mow it dry and mow it high. Mowing your lawn when it is wet is more likely to cause a spread of grubs and fungus, and if your lawn is too short, your grass will scorch in the summer heat.
- To bag, or not to bag? If you don’t bag, follow a path so you go over your clippings and evenly disperse them across your lawn – clumps of clippings cause the grass underneath to die. It you do bag, great! The clippings make a fantastic mulch.
- Look cool on top of your mower. Image is everything.
Taking a Dip
If you happen to have a pool…thank you for the invitation. I’ll bring potato salad.
While many people use a professional for pool upkeep, there are things you can do to keep your pool clean between maintenance visits.
- You probably have a pool vacuum and brush. Use these on the pool floor and walls often, especially on areas that are prone to growing algae.
- Don’t neglect the pool stairs! The stairs see a lot of feet, and who knows where those feet have been.
- Get the kids involved! Grab your surface skimmer and tell them to have a field day. If they know they get to jump in after the leaves are gone, you’ll have clear water in no time.
Pop a Squat
Patio furniture comes in all shapes, sizes, and materials. Here are some ways to clean even the trickiest outdoor furniture…
- If you have wicker chairs, start by running a vacuum over it to get things like leaves and twigs that may be stuck between the weaves. Then, use a toothbrush and an ammonia/water solution to address the details.
- Hand wash your patio umbrellas with dish soap and warm water, and let it air dry on a sunny day.
- If you have wrought-iron furniture, clean it with water and dish soap. Purchase furniture covers to prevent the development of rust on rainy days.
It may seem mundane, but your guests will appreciate clean outdoor furniture to sit on (and so will the backs of their pants).
Fun for all Ages
Sometimes, kids make their own fun. Sometimes, they need a little nudge. Here are a few fun outdoor games for children of all ages!
- Organize a scavenger hunt in your backyard. You can either hide prizes in advance, or let them find things in nature (a red rock, a leaf shaped like an animal, a walking stick). You can play with one child or twenty!
- If the children are hyper, an active game like capture the flag or kick the can will be a blast (and they’ll sleep like babies!)
- If you have a driveway, fun can be as simple as a box of chalk. Younger children can draw pictures and write their name, while older kids can play a game of 4-Square or hopscotch.
- If your kids like to get messy, try something called bodypainting. While similar to fingerpainting, bodypainting let’s you use your whole body to make a painting! All you need is a long roll of paper, biodegradable finger paint and paint trays. Pour the paint into the trays, roll out a long stretch of paper, and let the kids paint a mural! Using their arms, feet, and legs to paint a picture will be good, old fashioned, silly fun. To clean off, let them run through sprinklers or spray them down with your garden hose – biodegradable paint won’t harm your lawn!
Whether you are throwing a suave soiree or a backyard barbecue, prepping for your outdoors party takes some work. Get started now and you’ll be ready for a summer of long nights on the porch!