Spring patio prep – 5 steps for a beautiful backyard

Follow these five spring patio prep steps to ensure your outside sitting areas are safe and looking their best before summer

A patio with an outdoor fireplace and modern built in log store
(Image credit: Davide Lovatti / Future)

As soon as the sun starts to return after winter, our attention is naturally drawn to our patios and outdoor spaces. But after months of wet, cold weather, they are often left looking a little worse for wear. 

Luckily, it is rarely something a little backyard cleaning and spring home maintenance can’t fix to ensure your outdoor space looks its best and is safe for use in the warmer months ahead. 

These are the five simple spring patio prep steps you need to take to get your deck in top shape. 

Spring patio prep

Spring patio prep is the simplest way to ensure your patio impresses guests and leaves you feeling revitalized when spending time outside in summer. There is nothing worse than trying to relax in the sun and not being able to take your eyes off of a rotting leaf pile blown into a far corner, or worrying about slippery decking and wobbly tiles. 

These are the five steps to a perfect patio you should see through by the end of spring. 

1. Start with a deep clean

patio with outside table and chairs next to swimming pool

(Image credit: Jane Beiles/Georgia Zikas Designs)

‘Even with regular maintenance, the effects of winter and the generally cold, damp conditions often leave our outdoor spaces looking undesirable,’ begins Andy McLaughlin, a paving specialist at RF Paving

Before you start cleaning, he recommends asking yourself two questions to avoid some common patio cleaning mistakes – what are you cleaning off of your patio? And what are the patio materials? This can help you determine the best products and approaches to use. ‘Using the wrong solutions unknowingly, could result in the paving being damaged, and in some circumstances, this could be irreversible,’ he warns. 

If your patio is going green and has signs of moss growth (the most common patio concern after winter) a simple spray solution such as Green Gobbler, available at Walmart, is usually enough to bring your patio back to life in time for summer without the need to scrub. Brushing debris away from the surface before you start and working on a dry wind-free day will ensure quick and easy results. Just be sure to check the solution you use is suitable for your patio surface.  

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This pump-action pressure spray bottle is perfect for spraying weed killer, cleaning solutions, and plant food.

Pressure washing is a good chemical-free alternative, but it needs to be used with caution to prevent damage, Andy adds: 

‘If using high-pressure water cleaner, then avoid spraying directly onto the joints. If the pressure is too high, and/or sprayed directly at the joint, this could result in dislodging the jointing compound.' 

General advice for pressure washing is to direct the nozzle at a 45-degree angle to the paving and maintain a suitable distance (at least 12 inches). 

2. Repair any winter damage

modern wood dining set on a patio

(Image credit: Kate Anne Designs / Jeffrey Brian Riemer)

A common patio mistake is laying it one year and neglecting to maintain it in the years following. Even the best-laid patio will develop the occasional wear and tear or loose paver occasionally, not to mention wooden patios may begin to rot. Annual maintenance is a must if you want it to stand the test of time, says Jeff Palla, President of Mr. Handyman, a Neighborly Company. 

Start by checking for loose joints, nails, splinters, cracked wood and stones, and general wear. Many minor issues can be fixed yourself as a DIY project, but a contractor can help with issues regarding structural integrity, helping to check patio foundations, frames, and railings to ensure safety.  

3. Stain and protect wooden decking

split level deck and patio space with sail shade and pergola

(Image credit: Promised Path Landscaping)

Unlike stone paved patios, wooden patios and decking need some extra care steps to prevent them from rotting or going moldy outside. 

The simplest way to preserve decking besides keeping it clean is to stain it yearly to help waterproof the wood and protect it from the elements, says Gabriella Dyson, Solved section editor at Homes & Gardens

Staining a deck is the quickest way to protect the wood and enhance your deck’s appearance. Pick a stain that complements your deck's wood and is suitable for your local weather conditions,’ she recommends. ‘Start by cleaning and inspecting for damage and finish with staining, working on a dry, warm day (usually around late spring) for the best results.’  

4. Improve your patio lighting

lights illuminating steps to a patio

(Image credit: Lighting for Gardens)

Patio lighting is another aspect to check before summer. Not only to keep your deck looking its best but to keep the area safe for use on warm summer nights – it can also help improve home security, explains Shawna Guevara of Landmark Structural Builders.

Check that your patio lighting is all in working order. It might be that over winter pests have chewed through wires or bad weather has damaged even the best waterproof outdoor lighting. Replacing or repairing broken lights is a quick fix that will instantly elevate the space.  

5. Plan improvement projects

cottage patio dining table under pagoda

(Image credit: Zinc Textiles)

A patio or deck is one of the best backyard improvements that add value, but that doesn't mean you should stop at simply installing one. Spring is the best time to plan further upgrades and additions ready for summer hosting, suggests Joe Raboine, VP of design at Oldcastle APG:

‘With the start of warmer temperatures, homeowners are reminded of how they can spend time outdoors, making springtime a popular season for taking on outdoor renovations. This is great timing because, depending on the project, you can have your space to its fullest potential by summer. 

‘Consider how your household uses your outdoor space – would you enjoy a fire pit, which could be utilized throughout the year and add warmth and light to an outdoor space during summer and fall evenings? Retaining walls are a great option for those looking to maximize their spaces and create additional functional flat areas for play. 

‘The sky is truly the limit with outdoor renovations and adding a patio, outdoor kitchen or fireplace can make a significant difference in how a family enjoys and utilizes their space.’


How often should you maintain an outdoor patio?

It is a good rule of thumb to carry out patio maintenance at least once a year in the transition from winter to spring, carrying out cleaning tasks and repairs as needed. That being said, it can be helpful to revisit small maintenance tasks in the fall to ensure your patio is well protected in bad weather. You may even want to add a cover for winter to keep your patio looking its best and improve its lifespan.  

How often do you need to seal a patio?

Patios need sealing to protect them from the weather. This process is usually repeated every three to five years, depending on your patio material, the sealant used, and the climate in your area.

Some common signs you need to consider resealing a patio include visibly flaky sealant, damage to the decking material, and extreme discoloration. 

Taking the time to invest in the upkeep of your patio in springtime is the best way to ensure your outdoor spaces are summer-ready, no matter if you are hosting friends and family for al fresco dinners, or spending some quiet time outside alone to recharge and relax.  

Chiana Dickson

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for a year, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.