Sweep, Weed and Seal
If your patio has been left to its own devices over the colder months, you probably have some cleanup to do. Start with the basics like sweeping and getting rid of any weeds that may have sprouted in or near your patio. If you finish this basic prep and find that your patio is looking a little worn, it's time to take action. You want to prevent cracks and wear as much as possible when dealing with stone or concrete, so this is a good opportunity to seal and improve your patio. Remember that sealants can take some time to fully set, so don't seal right before you are planning a patio party.
Clean Out the Grill
If you 'forgot' to do grill maintenance when putting the grill away from winter, now is the time to get out the gloves, steel wool and cleaning solutions, because you need to make your grill shine again. Clean out the ash tray, if necessary, and remove any grease drips that managed to escape. Take the grate inside for a more thorough soak and cleaning, and rinse out the drip tray thoroughly. Check all gas connections and ignition components for damage or misalignment.
Build Extra Seating
If you really want to make your patio a great hangout area, you need the right seating! There are plenty of options here: You can build a patio bench, buy new furniture, construction a built-in patio seat with weatherproof fabric and much more. Try to pick the most versatile seating possible, but make sure it doesn't get in the way of grilling or patio living playtime.
Photo: zhu difeng/Shutterstock
Add Shade With Canopies and Awnings
Sometimes that summer sun can get a little too warm, which is why building a canopy, awning or other type of shade is a great patio improvement project. These additions are affordable and easy to set up. Awnings and latticework, in particular, allow you to add more shade or remove shade based on the weather. Remember, shade over cooking and eating areas is most useful.
Plant that Herb Garden You Always Wanted
Whether you have a plot of earth beside your patio or you want to invest in a couple of pots or planters, make this year the time when you finally plant that herb garden. Basil, rosemary, sage, oregano, lavender and many other plants are ideal choices here. They will make your patio look more inviting and smell better—and give your cooking a new edge, too!
Find Attractive, Durable Outdoor Dinnerware
Ditch the paper plates and find something more fancy, durable and reusable. Acrylic, melamine and wooden dinnerware sets are available. We like the wood option because it's more organic and fits better with an outdoor theme, but consider all of your choices and needs before you buy.
Want to make a simple wooden cutting board? Check out the simple how-to steps for making one that doubles as a serving tray.
Photo: Juriah Mosin/Shutterstock
Set Up Some Subtle Outdoor Storage
Get a Versatile Above-Ground Fire Pit
Patios are generally safer and more suitable for fire pits than a wooden deck, so take advantage of your materials and look into an easy above-ground fire pit for added beauty and warmth (as long as you have the room). Keep in mind that it cannot be too close to your house because of smoke damage and fire hazards. If you want a non-wood option and have access to natural gas, consider installing a gas patio fireplace instead.
If you'd like a brink, in-ground fire pit in your yard, away from the patio, here's how to build it.
Add New Event Lighting
Are your lights restricted to flicking on the porch light? That's not very conducive to patio living. Install a few ground lights to highlight nearby ornamental additions, and consider string lights or lanterns up above for a more casual, friendly ambiance.
If you're new to outdoor lighting, check out these helpful tips.
Set Up a Combination Bar Outdoor Kitchen
This installation is a big one, but it's guaranteed to transform your patio into a place where people want to hang out. A dry bar is the easiest to plan for and setup, but if you can run lines out from your kitchen, you can create a full wet bar instead. Either way, consider installing a small built-in refrigeration unit in a shady corner for drinks and snacks. No one likes to keep running back inside for their favorite supplies!