Ask UfYH

Ask UfYH: Are You Cookout Ready?

It’s nearly May, and in my part of the world, at least, that means that summer is (theoretically) around the corner, bringing with it time spent outside, cookouts with friends, and the sinking realization that your outdoor spaces are a mess and not fit to be seen by anyone. Don’t let it get you down: you can spruce up your outdoor space and have it company-worthy much more easily than you may think. Follow these steps and you’ll be ready to host an outdoor shindig in no time.

  • First, take some pictures. You never have to show them to anyone, but it’s sometimes easier to see what needs work when you’re not right in the middle of it.
  • No matter what the space is, I can guarantee it needs a good sweeping. You’ll probably need to sweep at least once more before this process is over, but at this stage, we’re looking to remove dead leaves, various winter debris, and whatever else has settled that shouldn’t have. Sweep up and dispose of what you find in the appropriate manner. (We have to bag all of our yard waste and put it out on the curb. Not gonna lie; it’s a huge pain in the ass for someone who grew up surrounded by woods and would just haul all that crap past the treeline.)
  • Gather up anything that’s been put outside so you don’t have to deal with it and deal with it. (This is more common than you think, but the backyard is not a graveyard for unwanted household items. Either find a home for them or get rid of them.)
  • Get out your outdoor furniture. Now is the time to spruce it up. Give it a good cleaning, oil up your wood furniture, or throw a fresh coat of paint on mismatched or dingy pieces.
  • Check that your grill, if you have one, is clean and in working order and that you’re stocked up on propane or charcoal or the fire-making material of your choice.
  • Check out any plants you may have. Do you like the pots they’re in? If not, now’s the perfect time to repot them. No plants? Consider getting some hardy ones that don’t require too much attention. They can make an outdoor space seem much more put together with very little effort.
  • Do a once-over for anything that requires repairs, like loose nails, splintered wood, and such. The last thing you need is an injury when you’re trying to kick back with a drink or dinner.
  • How’s your lighting and bug-fighting situations? Get all that squared away early while the stores are still fully stocked and before you’ve been eaten alive by horrible tiny vampires mosquitoes.
  • Take a look at the pictures you took in the beginning. Have all of the problem areas been dealt with? If something is still out of place, go ahead and take care of it.
  • Have a mat leading back in from outside so you don’t have outdoor dust and dirt tracked inside every time you run in to top off the mojitos.
  • Invite some friends over, kick back, and remember that anyone who is going to judge you after you did all of this work does not deserve your burgers and beer.

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3 replies on “Ask UfYH: Are You Cookout Ready?”

I have no outdoor space to clean or prepare, but I do get my backpacking stuff ready when the weather is nice. Spring is for updating my first aid kit, making sure everything is in good condition, and maybe buying a new camping toy with my REI dividend (I always have one). I even go shopping for shelf-stable backpacking foods so I can hit the road if the weather gets extra nice one weekend.

We rented a pressure washer for our back patio/ugly concrete pad and it was LEGENDARY! I mean, I think half the crap I pressure washed off ended up on me, but it was awesome and so satisfying! If I had the space to store one, I would totally buy one, and every time I’m feeling pissy, I would go pressure watch something :)

(Also, I don’t understand the concrete pad. The previous owners put much effort and money into making the rest of the backyard beautiful, and left this awful, ugly concrete pad. I’m assuming that getting rid of it would have been ridonkulously expensive, but still…)

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