Winter has come to an end, now is the time to get your outdoor areas ready for the warmer months ahead. Alex Dalland shows us how

Get the Barbecue Ready!
Warmer weather means more outdoor cooking. Check your barbecue and its equipment are all in good working order before using them – and make sure to give your barbie an especially good clean if you haven’t fired her up all winter: Wash the grill, drip trau and flat plate using warm soapy water and white vinegar to get off tough-to-remove grime. Remember to check fat absorbent material under the barbecue as if this becomes overloaded it can cause fires.

New Season, New Look
If your outdoor area only gets used int he warmer seasons it might be time to update your outdoor design. Stained raised garden beds are a great new look that presents a tidy and formal style for any garden. Vintage modern furniture, which features modern twists on old styles, is also very popular at the moment.

Clean Outdoor Furniture
Many people are not aware that disused outdoor furniture will not take long to become grimy and even develop mould. The way you clean your outdoor furniture will depend on the material the furniture is made of. Plastic and wrought-iron furniture should be cleaned with a soft brush and oil-based soap. A combination of Borax and detergent mixed with warm water can be a great way to clean mould and mildew off outdoor cushions.

Keep the Heater Handy
While spring indicates that start of warmer weather, the unpredictable nature of weather means that cold days and nights may continue through the next season. Having a good quality outdoor heater or fire pit can help ensure year-round comfortable use of outdoor areas. Patio heaters are great for delivering heat efficiently and are available in convection models, to raise air temperature in a small outdoor space, and in radiant models for heating people and localised objects and areas. Fire pits and chimneys are also great conversation starters when entertaining guests.

Pool Care
Like outdoor furniture, even though your pool may not get much use over the winter it still requires year-round care. In particular, the heavy rain common in winter can dilute chemicals and help algae to bloom. Algae can be dislodged from pool walls using a brush and killed using an algaecide. Check the pH levels and alkalinity regularly and clean the skimmer basket, pump and filter.

Update Outdoor Lighting
Lighting adds ambience to any outdoor setting and can extend the use of a space well into the evening. String-style lights require little to no maintenance, are cheap and last forever – provided they are rated for outdoor use. Sconces and landscape lighting can also help to create a warm atmosphere across dark pathways and open spaces.