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Outdoor Living: Get your Backyard Summer-Ready

Summer is just around the corner, which translates to long days and late nights spent outside with your family and friends.

To get your backyard and outdoor spaces ready for summer entertaining, we’ve turned to local experts to share their best tips and tricks—including how to maintain your outdoor furniture, trim your trees, spruce up your plants, and more.


Keep it Clean
Jim Singer, product manager at Terra Outdoor Living ( in Rocklin, sums up his tips in three little words. “Clean, clean, clean!” he urges. “Wash any cushions with a mild detergent and a soft brush to clean off any dirt or grime left over from last season. After washing and letting the cushion dry, you can apply a coat of fabric protector to help keep your cushions clean and moisture-resistant. If cushions look old and worn, try replacing them with a new color for a fresh new look.”

For teak wood furniture, Singer suggests applying a sealer after cleaning to prevent the wood from turning grey from the sun’s UV rays. “If you don’t mind the beautiful patina look, then just keep the wood clean with soap and water,” he suggests.

Singer also recommends hosing down metal and wicker frames and washing with a mild detergent. He says you should “check all furniture frames for any issues, such as paint scratches or missing hardware glides (feet). [And don’t forget to] tighten bolts that may have loosened over time.”

To revamp the look, you can spruce up your area by adding colorful new throw pillows or a snappy new area rug. Add fun lighting with rechargeable colorful LED lanterns or add a fire table to your space for some warmth and ambiance during cool summer evenings.


Tend to the Trees
To get your trees ready for the season, Marianne Waindle, Arborist at Acorn Arboricultural Services ( in Roseville, says it’s common for many of us to put tree maintenance last on the list as we rush to plant flowering annuals and vegetables. She says getting ready for the season includes having trees pruned to allow more filtered light into your vegetable patches and pools. “Now is the time to remove older fruit so late season harvest diseases are not present when the new fruit develops. Keeping fruit on our trees is one way to store these orbs of joy until needed, but often our trees start to look like a movable garbage site.”

Waindle suggests homeowners consider working with a professional tree care company that can keep trees and shrubs looking their best during the prime time of spring and summer. “Sales arborists that are certified by the International Society of Arboriculture are proficient in pruning your trees for continued healthy growth,” she says. “Sometimes poorly trained tree climbers will work close to the trunk and prune out all the small limbs and foliage for a dramatic visual effect. This weight displacement towards the ends of the branches puts undo pressure where the limb attaches to the main stem.” This practice contributes to “sudden limb drop” and customers are confused because they had their tree pruned, Waindle says. It may be more expensive to engage a professional tree care company, but in the long run, it will save you money and preserve the natural shape of the tree.


Beautify Naturally
Kellie Natoli, a garden guru at Green Acres Nursery & Supply ( in Folsom, shared how to freshen up your empty pots and containers with new plants and flowers. She says each container should have a thriller (center plant), filler (filler plants), and spiller (cascading plants). And that adding evergreen plants as the ‘thriller’ is smart. “If the thriller keeps its leaves all year, then simply replace the ‘filler’ and ‘spiller’ plants each spring and fall,” she recommends.

For cleaning up, you’ll need to prune and deadhead. “Large hedges or bushes might be due for a haircut. This simple task could dramatically open up your entertaining space!” says Natoli. Shrubs like Azaleas, Rhododendrons, Peonies, and Lavender need to be deadheaded. Get out your pruners and clip or pull off old flowers.

Next, look at hanging plants, which add a burst of color to any space. Natoli suggests placing plants in a location with appropriate sun exposure. Adding that hanging baskets generally need more watering than a plant in the ground.

If you’re wondering how to bring your ho-hum plants back to life, Natoli asks, “When is the last time you fertilized? Many plants perk up with a little fertilizer and TLC. We like all products from E.B. Stone with a favorite at the nursery being Organics Fish Emulsion.” She also let us in on her best kept watering secret. “Is it time to water? Test with your finger to a depth of two inches. If the soil is dry, it’s time to water! If not, give it another day,” she says.

So where and how will you begin your backyard revival? Whatever you do, make sure it’s a fun, safe, and inviting space for you and your people to enjoy the weather and each other’s company.

by Kourtney Jason