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Summer is nearly here, and this will be unlike any summer that we have collectively ever experienced. As COVID-19 continues to remain a very real threat in large gatherings, we are encouraged to remain in our home and socially distant. This poses a problem for families with children, or individuals used to spending the summer jet setting, on a beach, or in the gym. Luckily, the backyard offers a summer’s worth of distractions, all within the safe confines of your home.
Prepare to Party
Even now the CDC is reevaluating the acceptable number of people that can congregate at one time, and the number is currently going up. There is no doubt that there will be many parties celebrating our return to normalcy, and the backyard is the place to do it. That makes now the perfect time to get your yard ready for company. You may feel a slight sense of anxiety at the prospect of all that needs to be done in order to have company over—getting the lawn healthy again, clearing the garden of weeds, purchasing outdoor decorations—but the catharsis you’ll feel as you check off items on your list will make the party that much sweeter.
First, take a look at the state of your greenery. Cutting your lawn is a given, but if you spot a lot of weeds breaking through while you’re mowing, it may be time for a spray. Buying grass sod a few weeks before the party is a smart move as well, as it will give the grass a chance to take root. How are your trees looking? Cutting back dead or overgrown branches is often overlooked, but can do a lot for the health of the tree and the beauty of your aesthetic.
Since the coronavirus really came into the public consciousness in late February/early March, you may have refuse leftover from autumn of last year still in your yard. This can accumulate especially in corners near the house, or in the crooks of the fence. Clearing this is not only advisable for the sake of your lawn’s looks, but it can also act as a fire hazard. Since so many people equate summer parties with fire pits, tiki torches, and outdoor fireplaces, getting rid of dried leaves and branches is a good move.
Where Have All the Flowers Gone?
Your next area of focus should be your flower beds. Before the season officially begins, now is a great time to cut down your flowers for the summer. Depending on the state of your plants, you may have to trim the leaves right down to the dirt. Otherwise, simply deadheading the flowers will suffice. Remember, deadheading is useful for any flower that is starting to wither. Simply pinch the flower underneath the failing bud, but above the rest of the leaves, pull and detach. It may seem counterintuitive to remove the head completely, but this will help your plants grow back beautiful and strong petals.
Since we’re checking the state of your beds, how is the soil doing? Laying down good fertilizer and keeping everything damp is a great way to ensure that your next batch of plants reaches its full potential. Now would be a good time to lay down that compost that you’ve been working on, too. If you are starting to feel like some plants are just requiring too much work, you certainly don’t have to stick with flowers that are slow to grow and require near-constant upkeep. There are plenty of low-maintenance plants that are cheap to invest in and easy to enjoy.
Finally, as you’re wrapping things up in the garden, are there pots or planters that need attention? Creating beautiful potted arrangements is an art form, but will surely draw the eye (and the conversation) during a party.
By this time your backyard should be nearly ready for guests. For these final chores, your garden hose will be your best friend. Focus on cleaning walking paths (don’t forget to spray into cracks to kill any weeds), and the side of your house. Of course, when it comes to cleaning your house, this doesn’t need to be extensive; this is mostly to clear away patches of dead insects that tend to congregate — insects like gnats, box elder bugs, or ants.
Last but not least, your attention should turn to your outdoor furniture. Couch and chair frames can be cleaned while their cushions are being washed, and you can begin to arrange areas for people to sit with food.
By following these simple steps, you are sure to have the best “welcome back bash” in the neighborhood, and you won’t care what gets posted online because everyone will be saying “that’s a lovely backyard!”