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Get Your Backyard Ready for an Outdoor Party

Summer means fun al fresco, so make sure your landscape is picture perfect and tricked out before the guests arrive

Outdoor Party Prep

Photo by Dan Duchars/IPC Images

After a long winter and a messy spring, your backyard may not be ready to host guests. Don't panic! Here's what you can do to prepare for your next outdoor party.

Fix Lawn Problems

Photo by Courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden PlantFinder

The first thing arriving guests will notice is your lawn, so be sure to address any glaring issues before they walk the green carpet.

• How to Rejuvenate a Dying Lawn

• How to Deal With Common Lawn Problems

Get a Lush Lawn

Photo by Brad Wrobleski/ Masterfile

With proper care, your lawn will look great despite endless hours of barefoot traffic and blazing sun. Follow these tips from TOH landscape contractor Roger Cook on how to make your grass the greenest it can be:

• How to Mow a Lawn

• How to Fertilize a Lawn

• How to Maintain a Lawn Organically

Prune Shrubs and Flowers

Photo by Reena Bammi

Many homeowners neglect to prune their plants, but it's simpler than it seems and can do wonders for the health and appearance of your landscaping. Learn how to prune properly by reading Shrub Pruning Dos and Don'ts.

Decorate With Plants in Containers

Photo by Copyright Karen Bussolini, 2008. All rights reserved.

Planting in containers is a quick way to add color and variety to your outdoor space, even if you don't have a green thumb. For more ideas, see and Garden Beauty on a Budget.

Polish Up Driveway and Walkway Surfaces

Photo by Maurice van der Velden/E+/Getty

Hardscaping often looks unsightly after a season of salt and shoveling. Eliminate evidence of a harsh winter by cleaning paths and repairing crumbling surfaces.

• How to Powerwash a Walkway

• How to Renew Concrete Surfaces

• How to Resurface Worn Concrete

Light Walkways and Steps

Photo by Courtesy Progress Lighting

Install lights along dark walkways to brighten the area and take away tripping hazards. Solar- and battery-operated lights are convenient because they do not require wiring. See Exterior Lighting Right Where You Need It for a common sense approach to outdoor lighting.

Create Outdoor Mood Lighting

Photo by Amy Rosenfeld

A great party requires great ambiance. Use all-weather garden torches to achieve the perfect atmosphere.

Make Mason Jar Patio Lights

Photo by Wendell T. Webber

Impress your guests by telling them you made your own solar lanterns. These DIY lanterns are charming and cheery, and they'll brighten a drab dining table. See How to Make Mason Jar Patio Lights for full step-by-step instructions.

Update the Deck

Photo by Philip Harvey

Inspect your deck for signs of decaying wood, loose railings, or stained boards before you have a slew of people stomping on it. Once it's safe, give the deck a makeover by cleaning and restaining it.

• Deck SafetyCheck

• How to Spruce Up a Worn Out Deck

• How to Clean and Restain a Deck

Clean the Patio

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Moss and mildew can make a patio slippery, while debris can leave behind stains. Read about solutions for cleaning stained patio brick and keeping moss off a patio.

Get Your Grill Ready

Photo by Mark Lohman

If your grill has been idle, it's time for a checkup. See Get Your Grill Ready for Barbecue Season to find out the best ways to deep-clean your grill, inspect the tank, and more.

Set Up a Grilling Center

Photo by Tria Giovan

Add workspace for platters and storage for cooking tools by creating a grilling center. You can prepare meals and be around your guests with minimal time spent running back inside for plates, beverages, or tongs.

• How to Build a Rolling Grill Table

• How to Build a Grilling Station

• Use a Potting Bench as All-In-One Party Station

Create a Bar

Photo by David Prince

Serve drinks in style with an outdoor bar. It will provide a sturdy surface to prevent spills, and you'll be less likely to lose the bottle opener if there is a dedicated station for beverage necessities.

• How to Build an Outdoor Bar Cart

• How to Build a Fold-Down Murphy Bar

• How to Turn a Salvaged Sink Into an Outdoor Bar

Prep Outdoor Furniture

Photo by Matthew Septimus

Left outdoors in rain and shine, metal deck and patio furniture takes a beating. Frames accumulate unsightly nicks, scratches, and rust; vinyl straps discolor and loosen; mesh slings rip; fasteners pop out. Follow these tips and learn how to revive outdoor furniture like a pro.

Build a Picnic Table and Benches

Photo by Kolin Smith

Squeeze the whole family in at the summer barbecue by creating a classic American picnic table with benches. This staple of backyards and parks—with its elbow-to-elbow dining and climb-over seating—works in all terrains, so you can move off the deck and onto the grass. See How to Build a Picnic Table and Benches for full step-by-step instructions.

Make an Outdoor Bench From Dining Chairs

Photo by Wendell T. Webber

Harp-back chairs are frequent finds at used-furniture stores and flea markets ripe for a DIY reinvention. Transform a pair of vintage chairs into an outdoor bench that you and your guests will enjoy for years to come. See How to Build an Outdoor Bench From Dining Chairs for full step-by-step instructions.

Build a Fire Pit

On cool summer nights, kids and adults alike enjoy gathering by a fire and roasting marshmallows. Build a fire pit to give your guests a cozy place to lounge and stay warm.

Add Thrifty Touches

Photo by Laurey W. Glenn

Perk up a picnic or add drama to your deck by adding affordable accessories. See 25 Thrifty Ways to Create Outdoor Dining for creative design and repurposing ideas to transform the look of your outdoor space on a budget.