Lifestyle & Seasonal

Tip-Top Patio: Declutter your outdoor rooms

Don’t forget your patios and pool decks in your decluttering efforts

People are sweeping out their rooms as a home-organization trend sweeps the nation. Popular books like Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and the latest book in the trend, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta Magnusson, cover closets, bedrooms, kitchens, tchotchkes, and more. Every room and every category seems to be covered. But the unique challenges facing homeowners with outdoor rooms aren’t addressed.

Outdoor rooms can also collect off-season items like sports equipment and holiday decorations. Don’t simply stack this stuff in the gardening shed. (More on that in a minute.) Get your patio in top organizational shape now.

Organize by category, not space

Ms. Kondo advises us to gather all the similar possessions together. For example, if you have clothes in a bedroom closet, a hall closet, and in a cedar chest, you must gather all the garments into one room to sort through them, one-by-one. It’s easier to find duplicates this way and it also gives you a visual image of how many clothes you have.

Start with the grill and grub stuff


In your outdoor area, begin with grilling and eating accessories. Gather every picnic plate, every grill spatula, every tablecloth, and all the forks and utensils and whatever else you use to eat or drink or dine outside. You can include the grill and its fuel. Stack up any fire starters or coal bags or flavored wood chips. Once it is all together, Ms. Kondo advises that you pick up each item and either decide if it “brings you joy” or if you want to thank it for its service and place it in the bin. We suggest you decide whether or not it will weather another season.

Have a sit-down with your seating

Next check cushions and seating for all the chairs. This includes patio sets and pool loungers. Gather all the chairs in one place. Look for rips or stains in the fabric. Check the frames for rust or loose screws. Decide if you will spend the time repairing the items or if will you donate or toss them. Then do it. Don’t put the ripped cushions back in the garage. Take them inside and call a tailor or launder and stitch them yourself.

Dig through the garden gear

Tools, supplies for gardening and landscape maintenance are next. You may have to totally empty out your garden shed. Although they’re meant to store garden tools, garden sheds turn into catch-alls for seasonal accessories. Set aside anything that isn’t associated with lawn and landscape maintenance. Gather any more garden items that may be in the house or in the garage. Look over each item for rust or other signs of wear and tear. Test the hoses. Sharpen the shears. Donate any duplicates. It’s rare you will need any more than two of any garden tool or accessory.

Keep going through the categories

Toys can be next. Pool accessories can be their own category. Be honest about the floaties, the pool noodles and the inflatable drink bar.

Keep only the things you use frequently and with satisfaction. The rest won’t be missed. You may think an item is “nice to have” but a tidy and calm outdoor space is much nicer to have.

It will take time. Start now.

Take the next few weekends to conquer a category. By the time summer comes, your patio will be in tip-top shape and ready to entertain.

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