The great outdoors beckon now that the temperatures have risen. School will soon be out for the youngsters, and your backyard is the best and safest place for them to enjoy your favorite times.

Whether you’re breaking bread at a spontaneous gathering of your close neighbors, or hosting a family reunion, you’ll want to be able to sit back and relax to get the most out of the pleasurable features on your property.

So, what do you need to do to prepare your yard for the summer? Here are a few tips for you to get the most enjoyment out of the long days and warm nights ahead.

Gardening and Landscaping

Preparing your home receive guests does require a little planning and preparation. There are some basic things that make your backyard more inviting: Mow your lawn. Pull the weeds. Clear the pathways.

Perhaps you want to do some planting. According to B&B’s licensed landscape architect Mike Hartnett, prepping for the pool season is the perfect time to spruce up your yard with seasonal color. Selecting the right plants to be close to your swimming pool, will minimize your work, and maximize the “wow” factor! According to another B&B Landscape Architect Josh Hampton, “Potted annuals make pool landscaping easy. They look good from the day bring them home, and they’re easy to care for.”

Cleaning and Decorating Your Backyard

Put the toys away. Any hazards you might find on the property should be safely stored. No one wants a tripping hazard in the backyard. A simple clean up of loose items on the lawn and patio will make a big difference to the visual appeal and safety.

Prepare your outdoor cooking station. Is the grill ready to use? Do you have all the utensils you need? Clean all the counters and shelves. Air out your coolers. Wash the aprons and potholders.

You might also consider decorating specifically for a party with a specific theme. Let’s say you’re thinking about a tropical island, you might want to follow through with that idea as you design your menu and refreshments. Let your imagine soar.

Trimming and Pruning

Make your property more attractive by shaping the larger plants, and trees in your yard. Here in the northeast, with our seasonal changes, plants sprout robustly. The amount of sun and rain we get leads to lush growth once the season begins. Bushes and shrubs do well with a haircut. Carefully pruned trees beautifully adorn your yard. By removing the deadwood, you reduce the chances for branches breaking off during any summer storms.

Inspecting and Maintaining

Walk your entire property. Look for anything that is out of place. Are your sprinklers working? Are your hoses flexible and neatly coiled? How is your exterior lighting? Are your outdoor speakers working? Replace anything that needs replacing. Consider upgrading any of your old lamps with newer, more energy efficient LEDs.

Have your pool professionally opened and serviced. A certified pool technician is trained to examine your equipment, filters, and pumps. He or she knows what to look for and will make sure they are all working optimally. A good examination of your pool will reveal any issues that need to be addressed before your first guest arrives.

Debugging and Repelling

With all the concerns today about mosquito-borne diseases, you really want to take all the steps you can to eliminate the possibility of having insects disturb your parties. Get rid of any standing water, whether it’s in a birdbath or a watering can. Change the water daily because mosquitos only take a day to lay their eggs and another 7-10 days to mature. Without standing water, those pesky mosquitos can’t proliferate.

You don’t need to worry about your pool being a breeding ground so long as you keep it treated properly. The motion and chemicals will keep pests away. However, if you have an automatic pool cover, make sure no water pools on it, because a mosquito doesn’t require much water to reproduce.

Throughout your seating area, consider using citronella candles. Pests don’t like the smell and will stay away. You can use Tiki torches with citronella oil in them to give light and chase away the bugs. And of course have insect repellent available for anyone who wants more protection.

Shopping and Prepping

As you prepare for your party or parties, be sure to stock up on all the things you need. If you chose your theme already, you can probably find colorful plates and party decorations to complement the day. Get a variety of food and drink. Make sure you have plenty of ice. If you’re planning for children, make sure you have options for them as well.

Do you have the right pool toys? Could you use a new floatation chaise lounge? Do you have goggles for the swimmers, and “floaties” for the kids? Check your safety equipment. You should have a life preserver and a shepherd’s hook just in case someone needs help getting out of the water. Also, put together an emergency safety kit, including fully charged phone.

Is it time to get some new beach towels? Do you have drying racks by the pool? How’s your outdoor furniture. Do you need new pillows or umbrellas? 

Cooking and Grilling

Now that the shopping is done, is the grill ready to go? Do you have charcoal or propane? What would you like to eat at your party? Choose food that’s easy to serve. If you want to grill fish or vegetables, make sure you have the right accessory rack for your grill. Get the seasonings you like. Stock up on barbecue sauces and all the condiments you need. Fill your beverage selection up with drinks, plastic cups and straws.

Look up some interesting recipes. Try out a few new dishes before your guests arrive. Finger foods are a great way to serve your guests. You can allow them to graze at their leisure while they enjoy all the accouterments of your fabulous backyard party.