Prep Your Midwestern Yard for a Summer of Entertaining

Article excerpt

Every Midwesterner knows that the summer entertaining season is short. Those planning on outdoor entertaining must seize the moment.

Whether a big bash is in the works or a small intimate gathering, having the outdoor spaces prepped and ready is key.

Rich Irwin of Hester Painting & Decorating and Scott Byron of landscape architectural firm Scott Byron & Co. are busy helping homeowners get their outdoor spaces in tiptop entertaining shape. They offer these tips for preparing a summer-perfect outdoor season:

* Examine the surfaces. WinterAEs freeze-thaw cycle is hard on homes. Look for signs of splitting or peeling on every horizontal surface u window sills, steps, fences, door frames. Seal and repaint.

* Clean, clean, clean. A low-power pressure washer attached to the garden hose is a miracle worker. A quick wash on outdoor furniture, fences and patios with the help of a scrub brush will remove the yearAEs dingy film. Siding is easily damaged, though, so consider hiring professionals to wash your exterior walls.

* Clear the gutters. Remove any stuck debris. Test the downspouts to be sure they are directing water at least 12 inches away from the foundation of the house. To make the exterior of the gutters look like new, especially white ones, take a tip from the experts: wipe them down with a household cleanser such as 409 or Fantastic. …