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The onset of fall means the holiday season isn’t far behind, and it also presents a great opportunity to get your backyard and patio areas in shape for the inevitable onslaught of visitors. Before you host your friends and loved ones, however, you’ll want to make sure your outdoor spaces are up to snuff. Here’s a closer look at how to get the outside of your home ready for the holiday season and the company that so often comes with it.

Step 1: Trim Back Trees and Bushes

Trimming back overgrown trees or bushes is great for aesthetics, but it’s also important for safety. Some cities have ordinances about how low tree branches are allowed to hang over sidewalks or driveways, so it is wise to look into whether any exist where you live and then cut back on your branches accordingly. It’s also generally more enjoyable to do such tasks when the weather is pleasant, so get the job done now and free up more time for planning a menu or that perfect dinner or white elephant party.

Step 2: Power-wash Your Patio + Decking

After undergoing considerable usage all summer, odds are, your deck and patio areas could use a little TLC. Power-washing is a great and effective way to rid these areas of the grit and grime that has built up over the last few months (or years, depending on your housekeeping routine) and make them look warm and inviting for visitors. Power-washers have become increasingly affordable in recent years, and professionals can also be hired to get the job done at reasonable rates.

Step 3: Clean Patio Furniture + Cushions

Cleaning your patio furniture and cushions is a relatively easy process that requires very little in terms of special materials. Simply mix one quart of warm water with one teaspoon of dish soap in a bucket (name brands sometimes perform better than generics in this regard), and then add in one tablespoon of borax. Then, using a sponge, use the solution to scrub the cushions top to bottom. Let it all sink in for about 15 or 20 minutes, and then rinse it off with a garden hose and you’re good to go.

Step 4: Spruce Up the Pool

Your pool is a primary focal point of your home and yard, even when it isn’t in use. Get it gleaming by acid-washing it, which involves emptying out the water and then treating its surfaces with acid. This removes any mineral buildup and makes your pool appear shiny and new to your guests. Another option for Arizona’s pool owners is glass bead tile-cleaning, which works to eliminate calcium deposits in a gentle, safe fashion. This is a great option for those who prefer not to apply harsh acids to their existing pool surfaces.

By taking these short, simple steps, you can dramatically improve the exterior of your home and provide a welcome, inviting outdoor space for your holiday guests.