An Outdoor Kitchen Is Worth It, and Here’s Why

man using outdoor kitchen

One of the first questions anyone interested in getting an outdoor kitchen will have is simple: is an outdoor kitchen worth it?

Outdoor kitchens are very popular right now and not just due to the pandemic. Increased interest in outdoor living spaces predates our recently turbulent times.

Once viewed as a lavish feature that was typically found in luxury homes, outdoor kitchens now have much more mainstream appeal. More homes are being renovated to add outdoor cooking and living spaces. Architects and interior designers are making them a higher priority for their new building projects as well.

Get all the facts about why an outdoor kitchen is worth investing in.

6 reasons an outdoor kitchen is worth it

Outdoor kitchen additions are one of the most popular home renovations right now for many reasons. Here’s a brief overview of the reasons why an outdoor kitchen is worth it:

  1. Outdoor kitchens expand a home’s living space. An outdoor kitchen is its own entire room. This adds to a home’s livable square footage and improves its functionality.
  2. Homes with upgraded backyards are more family-friendly. In non-pandemic times, it can be difficult getting everyone together at home for some quality family time. Having a nice outdoor living space the whole family enjoys using makes it easier to gather with everyone more frequently.
  3. Better home comfort helps with self-care. The importance of making our homes as comfortable as possible to nurture our mental well-being is front of mind these days. A multi-purpose backyard living area improves a family’s living quality by providing an ideal space to relax and recharge.
  4. Outdoor kitchens are tailor-made for entertaining. If you enjoy regularly hosting get-togethers, adding or upgrading an outdoor living space is one of the smartest lifestyle investments a homeowner can make. What could be better than having a beautiful backyard space that is specifically designed for maximum fun and enjoyment with your friends and family?
  5. An outdoor kitchen boosts curb appeal. Curb appeal isn’t limited to merely the front and side of a home’s exterior – it includes the backyard, too. A well-designed outdoor kitchen adds decorative appeal and complements the exterior features of a house.
  6. Outdoor kitchens add value to homes. For all of the reasons listed above, an outdoor kitchen adds undeniable value to a home. Outdoor kitchen additions have a solid return on investment that you’ll benefit from whenever you decide to move.

Let’s dig a little deeper into why outdoor kitchens are so popular right now, how they improve a living space, why they appeal to homebuyers, and how much you can expect to pay for one.

l-shaped outdoor kitchen

Why are outdoor kitchens so popular?

Consumer interest in outdoor living improvements exploded during the pandemic as homeowners looked for ways to optimize their living spaces.

HomeStars’ 2021 Reno Report found that 94% of the Canadian homeowners they surveyed had completed at least one indoor renovation during the pandemic. 66% of the respondents invested in outdoor home renovations. Resort-style backyards with deluxe outdoor kitchens were the most desired “fantasy feature” for Canadian homeowners in both the 2021 and 2022 Reno Reports. 

These additional statistics show the popularity of outdoor living spaces and how much the pandemic influenced home renovation trends:

  • 67% of men and 54% of women said a backyard retreat was their most desirable home feature. (2022 Zolo Homebuyers Survey of 3,300 Canadian new homeowners and potential first-time buyers)
  • Outdoor improvements were the fourth-most popular project homeowners would undertake if given $10,000. (2021 Research Institute for Cooking & Kitchen Intelligence Quarterly Tracking Study)
  • Only 32% of surveyed homeowners who renovated during the pandemic were motivated to tackle their projects because of their extra time spent at home. (HomeStars 2021 Reno Report)
  • 68% of the homeowners who did a pandemic renovation were primarily motivated by the desire to refresh the aesthetic and atmosphere of their living spaces. (HomeStars 2021 Reno Report)
  • 56% of the home design experts surveyed by Fixr.com believed homeowners put a high priority on making their outdoor living spaces look and feel more like their interior spaces. (Fixr.com 2022 Outdoor Living Trends Report)

Backyard retreats are one of the most-wanted home features (infographic from 2022 Zolo Homebuyers Survey)

A trend with staying power

Backyard upgrade projects may be trendy right now, but they’re a trend with staying power.

It took a pandemic for a lot of homeowners to notice the amazing design potential sitting right in their own backyards.

The fundamental shift in how we view and utilize our homes has left very clear writing on the wall: there will always be value and practicality in expanding the functionality and comfort level of our homes. And creating multifunctional outdoor living spaces that are bigger and better is the perfect way to make that happen.

Low-interest rates were another factor that contributed to the home reno boom of the past few years. Rising interest rates and higher material costs have slowed things down a little, but the home renovation market is expected to remain strong for the foreseeable future.  

How outdoor kitchens create a more complete living space

Another reason an outdoor kitchen is worth investing in is the simple fact that outdoor kitchens double a home’s cooking space.

Traditional kitchens are considered the heart of most homes and one of their hardest working rooms. Supplementing this vital part of the house with even more room to cook is extremely practical and makes a home a more useful and complete living space.

From a strictly cooking point of view, outdoor kitchens allow you to:

  • take a break from using your indoor kitchen
  • eat healthier because grilling is better for you than frying and broiling your food
  • enjoy the unique, delicious taste of home-cooked flame-grilled food more often
  • expand your summer menu options by trying new grilling recipes

Outdoor kitchens come in all shapes and sizes

A basic outdoor kitchen can consist of a built-in grill, a small counter area, and a few cabinets for storage. On the higher end, an outdoor kitchen can be designed for maximum functionality by including:

  • a large premium grill
  • ample counter space
  • a sink
  • lots of cabinets for cutlery, dishes, glassware, and cooking tools
  • enough appliances to handle anyone’s cooking needs

Add a dining area, stylish outdoor furniture, a bar, and an outdoor living room with a fire pit and a home’s footprint expands even wider. Covering an outdoor kitchen and living area with a pergola, gazebo, awning, or roof extension maximizes the amount of time you can use the backyard.

It stands to reason that a house that’s been designed to be a more complete living space makes a house more marketable when it’s being sold.

summer grilling ideas

A well-designed outdoor kitchen impresses guests, neighbours, and future homebuyers.

What is an outdoor kitchen’s return on investment?

You might think homeowners would put a higher priority on the short-term and medium-term impact a renovation has on the quality of their family’s daily life, rather than how it can financially benefit them years from now.

In fact, most homeowners take the future into account when they’re planning a remodel. RE/MAX’s 2021 Renovation Investment Report found that 59% of Canadians consider how a renovation’s return on investment will impact the market value of their home.

Return on investment (ROI) measures how effectively a renovation adds to a home’s value, relative to the renovation’s cost. For example, a kitchen remodel that costs $10,000 and adds an estimated $8,000 of value to a home when it’s sold would have an 80% ROI.

Finding reliable outdoor kitchen ROI figures online can be confusing because the estimates vary quite widely. At the lowest end, you’ll find estimates of 55-60%, which is considered a modest ROI. A lot of real estate professionals attach a 70-100% ROI for an outdoor kitchen addition. You’ll even find some estimates that go as high as a 175% ROI.

The truth is somewhere in between these wide-ranging estimates, which means outdoor kitchens undoubtedly boost your home’s resale value and make it more attractive to potential buyers.

Determining a renovation’s ROI is clearly an inexact science, but the estimates of contractors and real estate pros do provide some useful guidance about which projects deliver a better bang for your buck.

Remember that the value an outdoor kitchen retains will be impacted by the quality of its materials, how well the space is maintained, whether or not the kitchen is covered, and other factors.

modern outdoor kitchen

Most homes don’t have an outdoor kitchen and dining space that looks this nice. That’s something future homebuyers will definitely notice.

Homebuyers notice outdoor living upgrades

Most backyards don’t have a professionally designed and installed outdoor kitchen. The homes that do have nicer outdoor living spaces immediately stand out to potential buyers.

In addition to improving a home’s overall livability, a backyard with a stylish, high-end look shows you care about your property and impresses guests, neighbours, and future homebuyers.

Certain renovations like adding a home theatre or pool cater to a very specific homebuyer. Most Canadian homeowners enjoy grilling outdoors, which broadens the appeal of an outdoor kitchen.  

Real estate marketplace Zillow analyzed the sales of 4.6 million U.S. homes a few years ago and found that houses with upgraded outdoor features sold for 24.5% more than listings without exterior home upgrades.

How much is an outdoor kitchen?

Hopefully, we’ve made a good case for why an outdoor kitchen is worth it, which brings us to one of the final questions you probably have: how much do outdoor kitchens cost?

Small outdoor kitchens with a basic level of functionality can start at around $5,000. Large, fully-loaded outdoor kitchens with high-end appliances and premium materials can cost $30,000 and higher.

Many factors will determine the cost of an outdoor kitchen, including:

  • the size of the kitchen
  • the complexity and scale of the kitchen’s design
  • the quality of products and materials used
  • costs for having the kitchen professionally designed and installed
  • permit costs
  • utility costs to hook up natural gas, water, and electricity
  • whether or not it’s being covered with a roof

Whatever your budget is for an outdoor kitchen building project, prioritize buying high-quality, durable products with weather-resistant materials that will last and work reliably for many years. Shown below are the most popular outdoor kitchen features.

Infographic from Fixr.com

Discover why an outdoor kitchen is so worth it!

If you’re still on the fence about whether or not an outdoor kitchen addition is worth it, try viewing it as an investment, not an expense. You’re investing in creating years of great memories with your family and friends and improving your quality of life.

An outdoor kitchen will become an essential part of your home that elevates your outdoor living experience and proves to be a valuable asset whenever you sell your house.

Are you ready to unlock the full potential of your backyard? If so, schedule a free design consultation with Outeriors to get started on your dream kitchen design.

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Should You Cover an Outdoor Kitchen?

covered outdoor kitchen

An outdoor kitchen is a significant investment that will provide years of enjoyment for your family. To protect that investment, you may be wondering if you should cover an outdoor kitchen.

Most items in an outdoor kitchen say that they’re made with durable, weatherproof materials. This implies that they’ll be fine with being exposed to the elements for a long time.

While that’s true to a certain degree, numerous factors are going to determine how fast or slow things in an outdoor kitchen will last.

To make matters a little more convoluted, if you Google “should you cover an outdoor kitchen”, you’ll get search results that are mostly related to overhead coverings for outdoor kitchens like roofs and gazebos. Also mixed in, however, are articles and product links related to coverings for individual parts of an outdoor kitchen like covers for grills and other appliances.

Whichever topic you’re looking for some help with (and maybe it’s both), we’ve got you covered with a complete guide to covering an outdoor kitchen.

Everything you need to know about covering an outdoor kitchen

A new, uncovered outdoor kitchen with high-quality cabinets, countertops, and appliances should last you for years before things need to be repaired or replaced because of exposure to the elements.

High-quality outdoor kitchen products are made with resilient materials that have a high resistance to corrosion, colour fading, and damage from extreme temperatures. Cheap outdoor kitchen products won’t be nearly as reliable and long-lasting, naturally.

Some outdoor kitchen appliances should be covered during the cooking season, while others don’t have to be (read more on that below). Typically, cabinets and countertops are left uncovered during the months an outdoor kitchen is in use and are covered for the winter in Ontario.

Additional factors that affect how long things in covered and uncovered outdoor kitchens will last is the climate where you live, how much sun exposure the kitchen gets, the frequency of kitchen use, and whether or not the kitchen components were properly installed.

Benefits of permanent outdoor kitchen covers

It’s recommended to add an overhead covering to an outdoor kitchen for numerous reasons:

  • roof protection eliminates or reduces an outdoor kitchen’s direct exposure to rain, snow, and the sun
  • items in a covered outdoor kitchen will last longer compared to the same items in an uncovered kitchen
  • you can use covered outdoor kitchens more comfortably when it’s raining and on extremely hot, sunny days
  • roofing keeps an outdoor kitchen’s deck or patio cleaner by protecting it from the elements (plus bird droppings and tree debris like leaves, falling branches, and sap)
  • a deck or patio roof enhances the architecture of a home’s exterior and an outdoor kitchen’s décor
  • a backyard roof structure makes it easier to add overhead features to the kitchen like lighting and ceiling fans

As you can see, life becomes a little easier if you have a permanent outdoor kitchen cover. You’re able to maximize your opportunities to use the kitchen when the weather won’t cooperate, including grilling during the winter.

Having an entire outdoor kitchen covered also means you won’t have to worry as much about covering up individual kitchen parts during the grilling season. If you forget to cover the barbecue after using it one day, for example, it’s less of a concern if it rains.

Even covered outdoor kitchens aren’t immune to some impact from the weather, mind you. They still have to deal with humidity, extreme hot and cold temperatures, strong winds, and a little moisture from blowing rain and snow. An overhead covering significantly reduces the impact of all these weather-related effects, however.

outdoor kitchen and living space with cover

Covering an outdoor living space lets you enjoy your backyard more and extends the lives of your outdoor products.

Types of permanent outdoor kitchen covers

If you’re looking for options to cover an outdoor kitchen, there are plenty of types of coverings to choose from. They include the following:

Canopy: The least expensive option to cover an outdoor kitchen is a canopy. Canopies can be used as standalone structures or sturdier structures like pergolas and gazebos sometimes use a canopy for the roof.

Awning: This backyard covering solution comes in fixed and retractable forms. Retractable awnings are better since they give you the option to leave decks and patios uncovered when the weather is nice. Awnings are operated manually with a hand crank or are motorized. Higher-end retractable awnings can be operated with a smartphone app and have wind sensors that will automatically retract the awning in high winds.

Pergola: This type of deck and patio cover has a semi-open design. The slatted roof lets you enjoy the sun while providing some shade covering. The downside of pergolas, of course, is that there’s no protection from the rain.

Gazebo and pavilion: These similar freestanding structures with coverings are commonly confused with one another, but have a few differences. Gazebos usually come in oval, octagonal, and hexagonal shapes and sometimes have surrounding rails. Pavilions are typically square or rectangular and are open on the sides.

Roof extension: The other way to cover an outdoor kitchen is to extend the roof of a house over a deck or patio. This creates a more seamless extension of a home’s living space. In comparison, an outdoor kitchen beneath a pergola, gazebo, or pavilion that is further away from the house creates a more separate, defined backyard living area.

Another thing to consider when you’re deciding which roof option to get is drainage. An outdoor kitchen roof needs a good drainage system so flooding doesn’t damage the deck or patio foundation or the bottoms of your kitchen cabinets.

outdoor kitchen pergola

A pergola is one of several types of outdoor kitchen coverings available.

Use ventilation if you cover a backyard kitchen

If your outdoor kitchen is covered with a roof, it’s a good idea to install a ventilation system. More enclosed kitchen designs have a greater need for ventilation. Adding a grill vent hood is wise even if you have a fairly open kitchen layout or a partial overhead covering. Here’s why grill vent hoods are so useful:

  • grill smoke is quickly removed from the kitchen, resulting in less eye, nose, and throat irritation for everyone in the area
  • cooked food smells exit the kitchen faster
  • there’s less smoke stain and residue build-up on kitchen surfaces
  • grill heat is dispersed more efficiently, which is helpful on hot days

Should you cover a grill?

The grill in an outdoor kitchen should always be covered when it’s not in use, even if the kitchen has a roof over it.

Grills that have less exposure to the elements will simply last longer, require less maintenance, and function more reliably. Covering a grill also prevents critters like birds, mice, and squirrels from using the appliance as a home.

It’s fairly common for a grill to occasionally be left uncovered overnight or even for a few days because it was left to cool off and someone forgot to cover it. Grills that range in quality from average to high shouldn’t have any issues if this happens on occasion, even if they get directly rained on. Cheap grills won’t fare as well in these situations, however.

The only downside of covering a grill is that a cheap grill cover that doesn’t breathe well or a wet grill cover can trap moisture, which will accelerate how fast the grill starts to corrode.

Outdoor grill and cabinetry on deck in winter

Which outdoor kitchen appliances should you cover?

Some other outdoor kitchen appliances will benefit from being covered when they’re not in use during the cooking season.

Regularly covering appliances like side burners, flattop grills, and an outdoor oven will extend their life and reduce the time needed to clean and maintain them. If you cook outside several times a week and use all your appliances regularly, covering them is less necessary if they’re in a covered space.

The only outdoor kitchen appliances you shouldn’t ever cover are refrigerators and ice makers, even during the winter. The reason is that these appliances are more likely to accumulate moisture. Even though their electrical components are designed for outdoor use, trapping moisture beneath a cover can still cause damage.

Before winter arrives, refrigerators, ice makers, and other outdoor appliances that use water (like a beverage dispenser and dishwasher) should have their water lines drained. The fridge interior should be cleaned and dried before it’s retired for the winter.

Covering outdoor cabinets is optional

Outdoor kitchen cabinets on a deck or patio with or without a roof don’t need to be covered during the grilling season. Whether or not you should cover them for the winter largely depends on their quality.

Premium cabinets from manufacturers like Brown Jordan and Danver are constructed with the highest-quality steel and typically have powder-coated finishes. This type of finish protects against corrosion and discolouration, so covering them during the winter isn’t necessary.

Brown Jordan says their cabinets are “engineered to remain durable when exposed to all types of weather with minimal maintenance”. Covering them for the winter “can reduce maintenance and offer extra protection for peace of mind”. Danver says in this blog post, “although powder-coated stainless steel can be left uncovered in the winter months, covering adds extra protection which can never hurt.”

Covering countertops and the sink

Outdoor kitchen countertops don’t need to be covered at any time of the year. The materials they’re made with are extremely resilient and will last for years if they’re well-maintained.

Certain types of countertop materials need to be resealed at least once a year to prevent stains and other surface damage. This includes countertops made with:

  • granite
  • concrete
  • quartzite
  • slate

Outdoor sinks should be covered during the winter and during the grilling season if they’re in an uncovered kitchen near a lot of trees.

When you’re covering up for the winter, use a snug cover that is specifically made for your sink model. The cover will protect the sink from filling up with rain water and snow and prevent debris like branches and leaves from clogging the drain.

outdoor kitchen on patio

Outdoor kitchen countertops need occasional maintenance, but don’t have to be covered.

What to look for when buying outdoor kitchen covers

As we’ve mentioned, it’s important to use high-quality covers for anything that is being individually covered in an outdoor kitchen. Using a cheap cover that traps moisture against an appliance can actually do more harm than if you left the appliance uncovered.

Just because an outdoor cover is heavy doesn’t mean it’s effective. The key is proper ventilation. Make sure the covers you use have a design that allows some airflow to let moisture and humidity escape. Covers that have retention hooks will ensure they stay anchored in high wind conditions.

Add a beautiful outdoor kitchen to your backyard

If you’re planning to build a new backyard kitchen or are looking to upgrade an existing outdoor cooking space, now you have all the facts about whether or not you should cover an outdoor kitchen.

If you’re ever in doubt about whether or not something in an outdoor kitchen should be covered, consult with the product manufacturer.

Get your outdoor kitchen project started by scheduling a free design consultation with Outeriors today.

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Cottage Outdoor Kitchen Ideas That Will Inspire You

cottage outdoor kitchen

Your cottage’s interior has been upgraded and remodelled to provide most of the modern conveniences of your GTA-area home.

There’s a state-of-the-art kitchen, contemporary bathrooms, central air conditioning and heating, major appliances, and maybe even a wine cellar. 

Outside your cottage is a finished deck or patio, a newly rebuilt dock and boathouse, and a beachfront and property that is beautifully manicured. So what improvements remain to be done so your dream cottage will finally be complete?

Adding a cottage outdoor kitchen or, better yet, an outdoor kitchen and living space is the perfect way to complete your home away from home.

An outdoor kitchen and cottage life go hand in hand

Year after year, RE/MAX’s annual Cabin and Cottage Trends Across Canada survey shows that the biggest reason anyone owns a cottage is to have a place where they can relax and spend time with family and friends.

We can’t think of many better ways to enhance the experience of escaping the city for some R & R and hosting weekend get-togethers than by adding a cottage outdoor kitchen and living space.

An increasing number of suburban homeowners have recognized the benefits of adding an outdoor living space to their backyards or upgrading their existing deck or patio area. These additions enhance the functionality of a home and increase its amount of livable square footage.

Cottage country’s “design renaissance”

Cottage owners are following suit. More cottagers are upgrading the exterior of their second home with a nicer cooking space and adding other features that boost their comfort level.

As the National Post writes, “Cottage country is undergoing a design renaissance. Cottage owners want meaningful amenities along with the great outdoors. They want to indulge in the simple pleasures they are too busy to enjoy in the city.”

Most Ontarians would agree that our summers are way too short. That’s why building a cottage that allows you to get as much enjoyment as possible from it during the warmest months of the year should be a high priority for any cottager.

Having a well-rounded cottage outdoor space for cooking, dining, and relaxing will make it even more of a valued summer getaway place you can’t wait to get to and will hate to leave.

Why a cottage outdoor kitchen is a great investment

10% of Canadians own a cottage. Owning recreational properties in popular Ontario cottage country areas like Muskoka, the Kawarthas, and Haliburton has never been more desirable.

Even before the pandemic, there had been big demand and little supply for cottages in the province, especially for waterfront properties. The pandemic only made cottages more of a hot commodity, resulting in the current record-low levels of cottage inventory. 

The cottage market will eventually stabilize, but a well-located, remodelled Ontario cottage property will be in-demand for years to come. A big reason is that although Ontario may be a large province geographically, there are only a finite amount of easily accessible waterfront properties that are viable to build on.

Any major upgrades that can be done, such as adding a cottage outdoor kitchen, adds to the home’s value and makes it that much more of an attractive property.

More often than not, luxury cottages that are newly built or that have been upgraded from a smaller cottage structure lack an outdoor cooking area befitting of the rest of their home. A well-appointed outdoor kitchen with space for dining and lounging is the perfect way to complete a high-end cottage building project.

Keep it in the family

Of course, a lot of cottage owners have no intention of ever selling their property and maintain the family tradition of passing it on from one generation to the next.

A long-term cottage ownership commitment makes investing in impactful upgrades that may cost a little more very practical. A new cottage outdoor kitchen and living space will be enjoyed right now, in your retirement years, and maybe even by your kids and grandkids years from now.

outdoor kitchen on wood deck

Ontario cottages are more in-demand than ever before. Investing in upgrades like an outdoor kitchen boosts a cottage’s value.

Additional outdoor kitchen benefits

A kitchen is called the heart of the home and cottage kitchens are no different. Doubling up on the amount of high-activity space your summer home has can only be a positive thing.

If you’re still not convinced about why you should get a cottage outdoor kitchen, here are a few more outdoor kitchen benefits to consider:

  • an outdoor kitchen gives you more cottage cooking options
  • you can enjoy the natural beauty surrounding your cottage more
  • spending more time outside is good for your physical and mental health
  • cooking outdoors makes it easier to socialize with guests
  • grilling is one of the best ways to cook healthier meals

8 outdoor kitchen design principles

Any outdoor kitchen being built in Ontario should follow these design principles to create a cooking space with both form and function:

  1. Design the kitchen to suit your lifestyle and how the space will be used. For example, if you plan to entertain a lot, a design that allows you to easily socialize with guests while preparing meals is ideal.
  2. Choose durable, weather-resistant outdoor kitchen materials that won’t rust or warp quickly, will retain their colours for a long time, and are low-maintenance.
  3. Anchor the cottage outdoor kitchen with a built-in premium grill that cooks more reliably than a cheaper grill. Customize the size of the grill’s cooking surface to accommodate how you will entertain.
  4. Outfit the kitchen with enough cabinetry to take care of all your storage needs and cut down on the number of trips that need to be made into the cottage.
  5. Add slightly more countertop space than you think you’ll need so there’s always enough room on the work surface for preparing meals, setting down cooked foods, etc.
  6. Incorporate cooling appliances for easily accessible food and beverage storage. Extra appliances like side burners and warming drawers are also helpful amenities to have.
  7. Consider adding a sink for added convenience if it’s feasible with your cottage’s plumbing infrastructure.
  8. Take advantage of the wealth of styles, finishes, and colours available with your outdoor kitchen products to complement the exterior features of your cottage.

Unique design considerations for cottage outdoor kitchens

In addition to following these outdoor kitchen design principles, a cottage outdoor kitchen design gives you a few more things to consider.

The location and size of your cottage’s deck or patio will largely determine how the kitchen design will come together. If you’re lucky enough to own a cottage with a lakefront view, try to have your designer situate the outdoor living area where you can take full advantage of your scenic surroundings. Also factor in the position of the sun and the amount of wind that will affect the cooking and lounging areas.

Raised decks tend to be more common on cottage properties than residential ones, so deck support upgrades may be needed to handle the added weight of a kitchen.

Outdoor kitchens in traditional homes typically use a connection to a residential natural gas line to power their grills and fire pits or outdoor fireplaces. That option won’t be available in most rural locations. Relying on several regular-sized propane tanks for your outdoor cooking needs isn’t very practical, either.

The best solution is to get a large refillable natural gas or propane tank to fuel your outdoor kitchen and the inside of your cottage if needed.

Why cook inside on a beautiful day at the cottage when you can make your meals while enjoying your natural surroundings?

Go big or go small

Outdoor kitchens come in all sizes and levels of design complexity. Cooking enthusiasts who love trying new recipes and having all the amenities of an interior kitchen can have a larger, fully-outfitted kitchen created so they can cook to their heart’s content.

On the other hand, perhaps a small, simple outdoor kitchen design is more practical because you and your family are only casual grillers or your cottage’s exterior has space limitations. A cottage outdoor kitchen design with a built-in grill, a little counter space, and a few storage cabinets beats a standalone grill and a rickety side table any day.

Expanding a smaller outdoor kitchen design, later on, is another option. Ask your designer to come up with a design that makes it easier to add on in the future if the need arises. It’s always nice to have options, right?

Cottage outdoor living space ideas

The only thing nicer than having an outdoor kitchen at the cottage is having a kitchen that is accompanied by a bar, dining area, and outdoor living room.

A complete outdoor living space takes care of all of your cottage hosting needs as an evening on the lake unfolds. Your gathering of friends and family can move from pre-dinner mingling to dining al fresco with freshly grilled food, then ease effortlessly into the relaxation and entertainment portion of the evening in a comfy outdoor living room.

An outdoor bar or beverage station is tailor-made for entertaining at the cottage and keeping your guests happy with a cold beverage. Add some high-quality outdoor furniture to your cottage deck or patio to create a dining area where your grilled meals can be enjoyed in the great outdoors.

Enjoy the comforts of indoors outside

Cottage outdoor lounging areas have evolved well beyond setting up a few fold-up chairs and some chaise lounges. Modern outdoor living rooms bring all the comfort of an interior living room out to your cottage deck or patio with furniture like couches, love seats, and recliners that are made for outdoor use. An ottoman and side and coffee tables can be added to round out your furniture arrangement and make the space feel like more of a living room.

Adding some Adirondack or Muskoka chairs (a cottage staple) and lounging furniture like a porch swing, rocking chair, or hanging chair fit will right in on a cottage deck or patio.

Another way to make any outdoor living space feel cozier while making a decorative statement is to add outdoor rugs and throw cushions for the furniture. Switch up the look of the area by occasionally changing the cushions and rugs (double-sided outdoor rugs are perfect for this).

outdoor living space

An outdoor kitchen and dining space is tailor-made for the cottage lifestyle.

Set up a cottage outdoor entertainment space

Some people like to escape to cottage country to reconnect with nature and disconnect a little from the things that contribute to the hustle and bustle of everyday life, such as modern tech. Others like to spend some of their time at the cottage enjoying the same entertainment options they’re used to having at their primary home.

Enjoying things like movies, televised sports events, video games, and music nowadays makes it impossible to fully disentangle ourselves from the tech that powers our lives.

Setting up an outdoor entertainment space at the cottage is fairly simple. All you need is an outdoor television that is built with specialized components and parts that allows it to operate in damp and humid conditions. Outdoor TVs can also function in a wider range of temperatures than normal TVs, which makes them ideal for cottage use.

Boost the TV’s sound quality with a wireless surround sound system or a high-quality sound bar. Now you’re ready to enjoy the ball game or one of the latest Hollywood blockbusters in 4K with excellent audio quality.

Let the music play!

And we can’t forget about music! Enjoying great summer tunes while lounging outdoors at the cottage is as much a part of the Ontario cottage experience as waterskiing or catching some rays on the dock. WiFi or Bluetooth wireless portable speakers let you bring your music anywhere around the cottage area.

Another option is to get a wireless audio system installed at your cottage. Weatherproof, low-profile wireless speakers with great sound can be strategically positioned to provide complete sound coverage on your cottage property.

How to stay connected while you’re at the cottage

A good WiFi signal will be required to use most of the aforementioned tech, which can be an issue for remotely located cottages. Some luxury grills have smart tech that requires a WiFi signal. Having internet access at the cottage is also useful so you can spend more time at your family retreat by working remotely.

If your cottage is unable to get a “traditional” internet connection via land-based cable, phone, and fibre optic network systems, here are a few solutions to get online while you’re at the cottage:

  1. Set up a WiFi hotspot via a smartphone’s cellular data connection. Using a tablet or laptop with a SIM card will work, too. If your cellular signal is weak, a cell signal booster will help.
  2. Use a wireless internet service that is tailor-made for rural areas. This method works by using a small antenna installed outside a cottage which connects to a wireless network.
  3. Get a satellite internet system like SpaceX’s Starlink, which uses a satellite dish to receive a signal from space that provides you with high-speed internet access.

Keep in mind that the first two cottage internet solutions (especially the WiFi hotspot method) won’t give you the kind of ultra-fast internet speeds you’re used to in the city and suburbs. They can still provide enough functionality to serve most of your online needs at the cottage.

Keep things cool, dry, and (almost) bug-free

Cottagers like to be outdoors as much as possible, but a rainy day can spoil the fun. An overhead covering for a cottage outdoor kitchen and living area comes in very handy when you want to stay dry or stay cool on a hot, sunny day.

Nothing says “I’m at the cottage” more than the strong smell of bug repellant and having to constantly swat away mosquitoes, horseflies, and other pests.

A screened-in deck or patio is an effective and less intrusive way to reduce the number of insects around a cottage deck or patio. You won’t have to hear the constant sound of bugs being fried by a bug zapper or take in the aroma of burning citronella candles or coils. Get a screen enclosure system that can be rolled up or retracted during the day.

A fire pit helps extend your cottage season

An outdoor living room at the cottage provides a comfortable place to relax and wind down after a sun-filled day of water activities. A natural gas or propane fire pit adds to your outdoor living enjoyment and is perfect for the laid-back, cottage lifestyle.

Fire pits boost the ambiance in any outdoor setting. Natural gas and propane fire pits are easier and safer to use than wood-burning fire pits (which may not even be allowed in some cottage areas).

Another benefit of having a fire pit is that it can help extend your cottage season. They provide a steady, controllable level of heat that can take the chill off a deck or patio in the early spring and late fall.

“Today, more than ever before, cottage buyers are using their properties year-round, making them even more valuable,” said John O’Rourke, a Royal LePage Lakes of Muskoka broker.

fire pit with two chairs

A fire pit adds warmth and comfort as you relax on your cottage deck or patio.

Savour life outdoors at your cottage

Outeriors doesn’t just create amazing outdoor kitchens in Toronto and its surrounding area – we also design cottage outdoor kitchen and living spaces.

Work with us to create a personalized cottage outdoor kitchen and living space that will make your home away from home an in-demand summer destination for friends and family. We take care of everything. Our full-service approach is designed to make your project stress-free.

Schedule a free design consultation with us to get your outdoor kitchen and living space project started.

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Outdoor Countertop Materials: Which Type Is Right for You?

outdoor countertop materials hero

An outdoor kitchen design includes many different elements, not least of which is the countertop.

The grill is often the focal point of an outdoor kitchen. Because the countertops significantly affect the overall aesthetic of an outdoor cooking space and provide some of its structural makeup, they can also be the centre of attention.

Indoor kitchen countertops offer plenty of different materials and designs to choose from and so do their outdoor counterparts (excuse the unintentional pun).

With so many outdoor countertop materials to choose from, it can get overwhelming trying to choose the best one for your backyard.

Some material types require a lot less maintenance than others. Maybe you have a specific look in mind that only one or two countertop materials can provide. Budget limitations will also naturally affect your range of choices, as prices can vary widely from one type of material to another.

This article will provide some clarity about what the numerous types of outdoor countertop materials offer. Keep reading to learn more about which countertop types are worth buying, which ones you should think twice about choosing, and the types to steer clear of.

Why your outdoor countertop material is so important

Perhaps the hardest working part of a backyard kitchen is the countertop, even more than the grill. A backyard food preparation work surface deals with all sorts of things that test its durability. That includes everything from encountering spills and food and drink stains, to handling hot temperatures, to having sharp cutting tools being used on it.

The functionality of countertops doesn’t stop there if you have a larger outdoor kitchen design that incorporates a bar and dining space. The countertops in a multi-functional outdoor living space are a magnet for activity. They’ll be used to dine on, mix drinks, as a resting spot for drinks, and even just as a surface for people to lean on while conversing with others.

Outdoor countertops don’t only need to be strong enough to handle the rigorous use that’s demanded from them, they need to contend with the harsh Canadian weather, too.

As important as the looks of any countertop are, durability has to be an even bigger priority with outdoor countertops.

With that in mind, here are the features and qualities (excluding looks) to prioritize for the outdoor countertops you buy:

  • overall weatherproofing performance
  • ease of maintenance
  • high-strength construction
  • abrasion and impact resistance
  • non-porous
  • UV-resistance
  • colour stability (meaning how effectively the colours are retained)
  • resistance to high temperatures
outdoor countertop

As important as an outdoor countertop’s looks are, it matters even more how well it stands up in an exterior setting.

The best outdoor countertop materials

It only makes sense to start our look at outdoor countertop materials with the most popular types that you’re most likely to find in any backyard with an outdoor kitchen.

There is no shortage of great countertop options to choose from. Here are the best countertop materials for outdoor usage, in no particular order.

Granite

One of the most popular outdoor countertop materials is granite, which has an appealing combination of durability, looks, and fairly easy maintenance.

Granite countertops come in many different colours and finishes. This gives homeowners more options to create a dynamic, unique outdoor kitchen design.

The toughness of granite lets it stand up well in an outdoor setting. It can tolerate high temperatures and resists scratching, abrasions, and stains. With an effective seal, granite surfaces won’t fade from prolonged sun exposure and will last longer.

Most outdoor granite countertops need to be resealed periodically (typically once a year) to maintain a non-porous surface that protects against stains, mould, and mildew. Higher-grade granite surfaces have a higher density, which makes them less porous. That means they can go longer without needing to be resealed.

Granite does have one drawback – its cost. It is on the more expensive side compared to other outdoor countertop materials.

Dekton

Dekton is a relative newcomer to the outdoor countertop market. It’s manufactured by Cosentino, who are renowned for their technologically advanced, high-performance surfaces, including brands like Silestone and Sensa.

While Dekton may not have the countertop name recognition of granite, concrete, or porcelain, it’s well worth a look. The high-tech Sinterized Particle Technology process Dekton is made with produces ultra-compact surfaces made from a combination of porcelain, quartz, and glass.

Because a Dekton slab is so dense, it can be fabricated into countertops much thinner than what other stone materials offer. Dekton’s ample design versatility extends to its many pattern and colour options, which allows for a vast array of aesthetic possibilities.

Dekton’s extremely durable, innovative design is tailor-made for use outdoors. Here are a few more benefits it offers:

  • highly UV-resistant to maintain the countertop’s colour
  • completely stain-proof and resistant to abrasions and scratches
  • exceptional thermal expansion properties that are ideal for Ontario’s climate
  • the low-maintenance, non-porous surface never needs sealing and can be easily cleaned
  • competitively priced with other natural stone countertop materials
  • withstands high temperatures without burning or cracking
dekton countertop

Dekton countertops are extremely durable and offer a wealth of colours and patterns to create a beautiful design that stands out.

Soapstone

One of the biggest selling points for soapstone countertops is that they’re non-porous, which makes them well-suited for the outdoors.

Soapstone countertops are very dense and don’t require any sealing, although liquids can darken the surface if they’re not regularly cleaned with water and soap. An occasional application of mineral oil helps protect the surface and maintain its shine.

As well as soapstone can endure outside and withstand high temperatures, it is a soft material. That makes it more susceptible to scratches and abrasions, which may be a concern for those who anticipate using their outdoor kitchen a lot.

Soapstone is a dark natural material. This limits your range of colour choices to darker shades. Those darker colours become a notable factor for an outdoor countertop because they can become uncomfortably hot in direct sunlight.

If you are considering soapstone outdoor countertops or dark countertops made from another material, prioritize keeping them shaded with an overhead covering.

Concrete

Concrete outdoor countertops are quite trendy right now and it’s not hard to understand why. Because these countertops are produced by pouring a cement mix instead of installing a manufactured slab, an abundant number of design options open up.

Unique countertop shapes that most other materials can’t produce without costing significantly more (if they can be made at all) are possible with concrete. Moulded features like a sink cutout can be crafted by a skilled tradesperson to add even more of a custom look and specialized functionality to the countertop.

You’re not limited to the dull grey look of concrete, either. Concrete countertops can be stained virtually any colour and can also have artistic effects added for more visual appeal.

Considering that concrete is one of the strongest building materials, it’s not surprising that when installed and maintained properly, outdoor concrete countertops can last a long time.

Some ambitious people have had success DIYing concrete countertops for their outdoor kitchens. We’d advise against this unless you’re proficient in moulded concrete applications, however. You don’t want to be one of those DIY novices who have had the unfortunate experience of seeing their concrete countertop project fail when the supporting base collapsed from the weight of the poured concrete!

Another reason to think twice about DIYing a concrete countertop is that a poor installation job can lead to all sorts of headaches, especially cracking.

There are three other notable drawbacks of choosing concrete as an outdoor countertop material:

  • because concrete is very porous, it needs to be resealed annually to prevent cracking and damage from stains and mould
  • concrete countertops that aren’t protected from direct sunlight can lose their colour and start to yellow over time
  • intricate countertop designs can be expensive to mould and install

A gorgeous countertop like the one pictured here becomes the focal point of an outdoor kitchen and living space.

Quartzite

It may be pricier than other types of countertops because it’s made with a rarer natural material, but quartzite is an intriguing choice for a few reasons.

The beauty of quartzite is undeniable, highlighted by the material’s colourful hues and an elegant look that often gets confused with marble.

Quartzite, which is not the same as quartz (the former is a natural stone and the latter is an engineered product), is very durable. It’s harder than granite and although quartzite is porous, one of these countertops will last for many years as long as it gets resealed once a year.

The material can withstand hot temperatures from the sun and retains its colours nicely. Quartzite performs less effectively compared to other materials when it comes in contact with high heat, such as setting a hot pot down on the surface. Quartzite does scratch a little easier as well.

To learn more about quartz vs. quartzite take a look at Ownerly’s article – How Much Are Quartz Countertops?

Porcelain

Another in-demand countertop material is porcelain. It has most of the attributes of a high-quality outdoor countertop:

  • very durable
  • excellent UV resistance and colour stability
  • high heat resistance
  • non-porous
  • low-maintenance
  • excellent stain, cracking, and scratch resistance (except ceramic blades)

Because it’s man-made, porcelain slabs can be manufactured in a wide range of colours, finishes, and patterns. That makes them capable of exhibiting the kinds of attractive characteristics and patterns that natural stone produces.

Porcelain is one of the most hygienic types of countertop material, so food prep can occur right on its surface safely. That’s worth noting for anyone with a busy outdoor kitchen.

Adding another tick in the “pros” column for porcelain is the fact that it’s priced very reasonably compared to most other popular outdoor countertop materials.

Slate

Slate can be a finicky material to choose for an outdoor countertop because its quality tends to be more inconsistent. You really need to pay close attention to the quality of the slate the countertops are made with, as it can vary widely.

Lower-quality slate is less durable and less dense. Remember, less density means the material is more porous and more prone to staining, scratching, cracking, and abrasions. As with any non-porous countertop material, regular sealing applications will protect the surface and extend the countertop’s life.

Higher-quality slate provides better strength and durability and requires less maintenance (like resealing) because it’s denser and less porous. Slate is a softer stone, so extra care is needed to prevent the surface from getting scratched and chipped. The material also has a high resistance to heat.

outdoor living space

A multi-level countertop design adds visual appeal and zones that separate the work and dining areas.

Glass

If you’re looking for something different from the popular look of stone for your outdoor countertops, glass is worth considering.

Because we instantly associate glass with fragility, some might be surprised that it’s a viable option as an outdoor countertop material. Keep in mind that a glass countertop can be manufactured to be several inches thick.

Although glass is more breakable than any of the other outdoor countertop materials we’ve covered and scratches a little easier, it’s still well-suited for use outside. It’s non-porous, very hygienic, won’t get damaged from prolonged sun exposure, extremely easy to clean, and modestly priced.

Acidic drinks and foods can stain regular glass countertop surfaces easily. You can avoid this worry by buying higher-quality white glass countertops.

A major benefit of glass countertops is the high level of design customization they have. Here are some examples of the unique design options glass offers:

  • available in many different shapes and sizes
  • lots of colour options
  • add patterns and textures
  • embed stones, shells, or other materials
  • incorporate dynamic LED backlighting (a guaranteed conversation starter!)

Think twice about buying one of these countertops

Now let’s look at three countertop materials that present a few more questions than the above materials about their viability for outdoor use.

Marble

This one might be a tad controversial, but while researching this article, we found that marble outdoor countertops were less favoured by design professionals.

Although marble is certainly aesthetically pleasing and durable, concerns came up more than once from them about marble’s resiliency in colder climates. A honed or tumbled finish is strongly recommended over a polished finish for a marble surface, which won’t wear well over time.

Marble is porous and a softer stone, so more care needs to be taken to prevent stains and scratches. Like several other countertop materials, regular surface resealing will protect your investment.

Wood

If you’re partial to the natural, rustic look of wood as a countertop material, it will come at the cost of more maintenance.

That means putting in time every year to preserve the surface by sanding, oiling, and sealing it. For some folks, that may be a deal-breaker. After all, an outdoor living space is supposed to be for relaxation, not creating extra work projects.

Because wood surfaces are more vulnerable to the elements, make sure they’re protected by an overhead covering.

Stainless steel

The biggest drawback of having stainless steel countertops is they don’t play well with the sun. Unless they’re in a shaded area, outdoor stainless steel countertops will get very hot and cause a blinding glare.

Stainless steel is fairly durable and low-maintenance. However, it is more prone to denting and is typically on the higher end in terms of cost.

If you can live with these shortcomings, stainless steel is still a solid choice, especially if you’re aiming for a sleek outdoor kitchen aesthetic.

open outdoor living space

Whichever type of outdoor countertop you choose, keeping it below an overhead covering will protect both it and your investment.

Avoid these outdoor countertop materials

There are three countertop materials you should steer clear of altogether when your outdoor kitchen design is being put together.

Tile

Ceramic, porcelain, and stone tile countertops are one of the cheaper options and offer a wealth of design possibilities. Unfortunately, tile is not a good choice for cold climates.

Even in ideal temperatures, tile can break, chip, and crack easily. That becomes a much bigger issue when the tile resides outdoors and has to deal with the elements, especially freeze-thaw cycles. The countertop’s colours will fade much quicker compared to most other countertop materials, too.

Another major issue with tile countertops is their grout. We all know how fun it is trying to keep the grout in our bathrooms and kitchens clean. You can imagine how much more of a challenge this is when the grout is outside.

Even with a grout sealer and if the countertop is in a covered space, it’s still a lot of extra work to keep the grout clean and stain-free. And on top of this, grout applied outdoors is a lot more vulnerable to cracking.

Quartz

Quartz is another popular material for indoor countertops that don’t hold up well in most outdoor climates. The exception would be a climate that’s dryer and has consistent, moderate temperatures. Even then, outdoor quartz countertops need to be located in a well-sheltered area.

Although quartz may be non-porous, the resin it’s made with will yellow from the sun. Extreme cold and hot temperatures, as well as humidity and moisture, will cause quartz countertops to warp and deteriorate faster than most other materials.

Laminate

When anyone pricing outdoor countertop materials take a look at laminate, it quickly stands out as one of the lowest-priced options. Laminate is also likely the worst choice for an outdoor countertop.

The structural integrity of this type of countertop will reveal its shortcomings relatively quickly because low-quality particle board is used beneath the laminate.  That makes the material vulnerable to moisture and humidity, with issues involving mould, rot, and warping sure to follow.

Get the best outdoor countertop for your kitchen

Now you can make a more informed decision about which outdoor countertop material to use for your outdoor kitchen.

Outeriors will work with you on a customized design to make your outdoor kitchen and living space the heart of your home this summer, featuring a high-quality Dekton countertop.

Schedule a free design consultation with us to start planning your dream outdoor living space.

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Backyard Spring Cleaning: Top 10 Tasks to Tackle


Spring is in the air. That means it’s not just the nicer weather that is finally coming – all of those home spring cleaning tasks are as well.

While spring cleaning is typically associated with organizing and sprucing up the inside of a home, there’s still plenty of essential work to be done in the backyard, too. Several months of the harsh Canadian winter does tend to take a bit of a toll on the exterior space of our homes.

The average home property presents a sizable amount of backyard spring cleaning work to be done. Everything from the lawn to the gardens to your grill will need some TLC.

8 benefits of backyard spring cleaning

The pandemic has made us reflect on how our homes are designed and how we use them. Homeowners have never appreciated being able to use their backyards more, than right now.

Enjoying your backyard doesn’t come without a lot of effort, however. Spring is a time of renewal and the best time to get a yard in shape so you can get the most out of it throughout the rest of the year.

woman doing backyard spring cleaning work

If you’re struggling to get inspired about starting that backyard spring cleaning work, consider these eight benefits of doing it:

  1. Having a nicer backyard means you’ll be more likely to be drawn outside to enjoy it. 
  2. The early spring temperatures are more comfortable to work in. You won’t be sweating buckets in May and June doing neglected yard chores.
  3. Connecting with nature by getting some fresh air and sunshine is good for your mental health. A pre-pandemic survey by Coleman Canada found that 29% of Canadians spend less than 30 minutes per week outside.
  4. Backyard spring cleaning work is great exercise.
  5. Completing the work in spring to get your backyard summer-ready means you can enjoy the space more during the best weather of the year.
  6. Yardwork provides a good opportunity for family bonding and gets kids off their numerous screens (at least for a little while).
  7. Being proactive in the spring with the maintenance and care of your lawn, gardens, and other types of foliage keeps them healthier.
  8. There are fewer bugs to be annoyed by!

Get spring off to a positive and productive start. Whether you’re doing your own yard work or hiring a pro for the job, be sure to include these ten essential tasks on your backyard spring cleaning checklist.

1. Clean up any backyard debris

The first step in refreshing a backyard’s appearance is to clean up all of the debris that has accumulated over the winter.

Rake and pick up any dog waste, broken branches, leaves, wind-blown garbage, and other types of debris that ended up on your lawn, deck or patio, and walkways. Do the same with any loose debris in your gardens (we’ll come back to them later).

The sooner that this initial cleanup step is done, the sooner you’ll be able to:

  • start restoring the various areas of your yard
  • give your lawn and gardens more direct sunlight
  • better assess what backyard areas will require some extra attention

2. Start restoring your lawn

grass in backyard

One of the top priorities on a backyard spring cleaning checklist will be getting your lawn looking not just presentable but lush and colourful.

Nothing impacts backyard curb appeal like the appearance of a lawn. A beautifully manicured lawn with a consistent green colour is an instant eye-pleaser, whereas a dried-out lawn with brown and yellow patches is just an eyesore.

Winters are rough on lawns, especially if too many leaves are left on the grass. An excess of leaves on a lawn over the winter can damage the grass by blocking the sun, matting it down, and creating mould and fungal diseases. That’s why you’ll want to remove those leaves as soon as you can come springtime.

On the other hand, leaving some mulched leaves on a lawn over the winter can be beneficial by covering up root systems, adding nutrients, and reducing weed growth.

Snow mould is another potential lawn issue you might have to deal with in the spring. It’s a fungus that leaves white, pink, or grey patches on lawns, typically in locations that get heavy snowfalls. Scotts, the leading maker of lawn care products, explains more about why snow mould occurs on lawns and how to treat it and prevent it.

FYI: dog poop is not a fertilizer

There’s a common misconception that dog poop left on lawns helps to fertilize the grass. In fact, dog poop kills grass if it sits on a lawn for too long and it also contains bacteria and parasites. Try not to wait until the spring to clean up dog waste in your yard. Cleaning up the dog poop every week or two throughout the winter will leave less of a cleaning mess in the spring. Your lawn will appreciate it, too.

Dog urine causes lawn burn over time, which can be difficult to combat since dogs like to do their business in the same area. Treating grass damaged from pet waste involves replacing sections of sod altogether or trying to grow new grass by using a combination of soil, fertilizer, and grass seed.

To help get your entire lawn looking its best, use fertilizer and grass seed, as well as aerating and dethatching your grass. Don’t mow your lawn too short, either. That impedes the root growth of the grass and can cause more weeds to appear. Scotts says to “only cut the top 1/3 of the grass blades at any one time, even if this means you have to mow again after several days”.

3. Get your gardens ready

Getting flower and vegetable gardens ready for the spring planting season is another big task for most homeowners.

Since we’ve already cleaned up any wind-blown debris that ended up in them, now it’s time to remove any dead growth in the gardens. This will not only improve the appearance of your gardens, it also creates more room for new growth and removes potentially problematic funguses and diseases.

Perennials should be pruned and trimmed back to make way for new growth. Some compost can be spread around them to aid the soil with root growth. If you’re using chemical fertilizers in the garden, don’t stray from the manufacturer’s application instructions. Overfertilizing can burn or kill plants.

Using mulch in gardens preserves the soil’s moisture and also reduces weed growth. For the best results, it needs to be replaced every spring, however. Remove the old much and put down new mulch after your planting is completed.

With the gardens now ready for the growing season, turn your attention to your pots and planter containers. Clear out any dead plants from last year, empty the old soil, and give the containers a cleaning so they’re ready for new residents when warmer temperatures allow for planting.

4. Clean your grill

There are plenty of benefits of using your grill during the winter, but some people don’t enjoy cold-weather cooking and store their grill away in the fall.

Whether you’re in the latter camp and didn’t give the grill a good cleaning before storing it or your grill was used throughout the winter, now’s the time to give it a spring cleaning. A clean, well-maintained grill will:

  • be safer to use
  • produce better cooking results
  • function more reliably
  • last longer

Disconnect the gas line (which you should also inspect) and remove parts like the rotisserie rod, grill grates, drip trays, and warming racks. Soak them in warm water with some dish detergent for a while before using a degreaser and scrubber to remove the rest of the dried grease and food remnants. Rinse the degreaser off thoroughly before putting the parts back.

Scrub the entire grill interior using warm water with a little dish detergent. Don‘t forget to clean the burners and flavourizer bars. Avoid using grill scrubbing brushes with wire bristles because the bristles can break off and end up in your food. 

Using a cleaning product for the exterior of the grill will make it look nicer and help protect its finish.  Once your grill cleanup work is all done, run the appliance at a high temperature for 15-20 minutes to burn off any residual degreaser and soap.

Another option to get your grill ready for the spring and summer is to hire a professional grill cleaner. They’ll come to your home and clean your grill and give it a tune-up. 

Why not expand your outdoor cooking space?

outdoor kitchen in backyard

Most outdoor cooking spaces take up the amount of space of a homeowner’s small grill. If your family enjoys barbecued food, why not make your outdoor cooking space bigger?

A professionally designed outdoor kitchen provides additional cooking space for your home.  You can have it fully outfitted with a built-in grill, appliances, countertops, a sink, and cabinetry for all your storage needs. Or, if you prefer, you can have a smaller outdoor kitchen space installed that will still be a major upgrade over a standalone grill.

Outdoor living space upgrades are one of the most popular types of home renovation projects over the last couple of years. You can complement an outdoor kitchen with a dining area and living room. This allows you to expand your home’s livable space and enjoy your backyard more

5. Clean your outdoor furniture

Next on our backyard spring cleaning checklist is getting your outdoor furniture ready. Even high-quality outdoor furniture needs some occasional maintenance.

After getting your furniture out of the garage or a shed (or removing their covers if the furniture stayed on a deck or patio during the winter), take stock of what shape everything is in.

Wood furniture requires the most upkeep. It can be cleaned with a wood cleaner and soft brush. If it needs more than a cleaning, restore its appearance with a treatment of oil or stain.

Soap and water and a light scrubber or rag should take care of cleaning up any dirt and grime on plastic, aluminum, and wrought iron furniture. Use touch-up paint to make plastic furniture with faded paint look new again. Rust on wrought iron furniture can be sanded off and then repaint the sanded areas.

Wicker furniture can be cleaned with a water and soap mix and brush as well. Afterwards, rinse off the furniture with a low-pressure hose. It’s a good idea to hose down your wicker furniture at least once a month between the spring and fall.

Don’t forget your outdoor cushions

Some outdoor cushion covers are machine washable. Run them through the washing machine on a low cycle with mild detergent.

For cushions that can’t be machine washed, clean them with some warm water, a mild detergent, and a cloth or sponge before rinsing them off.

If you need to replace some outdoor furniture or buy new pieces or cushions, remember that the demand for outdoor furniture goes up as the temperature goes up. If you wait too long into the summer, you’ll have fewer buying options and anything you are buying or ordering may be backordered.

6. Clean and repair your deck and fence

person staining fence

Sweep off your deck so you can give it a good wash after being pelted for the last few months with snow and rain. If you have a raised deck, check that all of the railings are sturdy.

To clean a wood deck, first, rinse it off with a hose and then use a handled deck scrub brush along with a deck cleaning product to remove dirt, stains, and any mould. Remember to scrub with the grain of the wood and then rinse the deck with a hose or pressure washer.

Replace any rotting or heavily split deck boards if needed. Wood decks typically need to be treated every 1-3 years with a stain, sealer, or stain/sealer product. Composite decking is much more low-maintenance than wood but does cost more.

Wood fences should be cleaned every spring. At the very minimum, use a hose or power washer to remove any dirt. A deeper cleaning with a scrub brush and cleaner is ideal to remove stains, mould, and mildew. Wood fences need to be stained and sealed approximately every 2-5 years, depending on the type of wood.

7. Clean your patio stones and walkways

Patios and walkways built with the most common types of stone-based products (like concrete, paver stones, flagstone, cut stone, and clay brick) are relatively low-maintenance.

A little bit of spring cleaning attention should be all the work that your backyard’s stone surfaces need until the late fall, other than an occasional quick sweep or hosing off.

See if any of the stones are damaged badly enough that they should be replaced. Remove any weeds growing around and between the stones by hand, making sure you’re pulling them out by the roots.

To clean most underfoot hardscape surfaces, using a hose or pressure washer along with dish soap and a scrubber should suffice. To remove tougher stains, mildew, and algae, a stone cleaner can be used.

For any of your backyard spring cleaning tasks, be mindful of using eco-friendly cleaning products. Cleaners are available that don’t contain chemicals that can damage anything growing in your yard and be harmful to people, pets, and local wildlife.

8. Prune your trees, shrubs, bushes, and hedges

tree being pruned

Tending to your shrubs, trees, hedges, and bushes in the spring doesn’t only help breathe new life into your backyard, it keeps them healthy and stimulates their growth.

After removing any winter protection netting and wrapping they have, remove any dead limbs. Dead branches are unsightly, a falling hazard, and make plants susceptible to diseases that can spread throughout the organism.

The amount of pruning work you’ll be doing in early spring depends on the types of vegetation you have. Some types of vegetation (like birch and maple trees) should be pruned in early spring.

With other types of plants (such as lilacs and forsythia shrubs), it’s best to wait until mid-to-late April to give them a pruning.

9. Clean your gutters and downspouts

Cleaning out your home’s gutters and downspouts is another important spring cleaning job. Sure, it may not produce the kind of eye-catching results you’ll appreciate when you’re outside. It’s still an essential task that shouldn’t be ignored, though, especially since spring is Ontario’s rainiest season.

Clogged gutters and downspouts can cause water damage to the roof, siding, and foundation of a house. Attached patios and decks can get damaged as well.

Gutters and downspouts should be cleaned at least twice a year – in the spring and fall. Since they were last (hopefully) cleaned in the autumn, leaves, shingle grit, and other debris will have accumulated in them.

Leaf/gutter guards will significantly help keep your gutters from getting blocked. They’re not a catch-all solution (pun intended) to keeping gutters debris-free, however.

Downspouts should ideally be drained a minimum of five feet away from a house. If needed, use downspout extensions to ensure that rainwater is draining far enough from your h0me’s foundation.

10. Organize your garage and shed

yard tools on garage wall

The final thing to include on your backyard spring cleaning checklist is getting your garage and shed organized.

Assess which yard and gardening tools and powered yard equipment will get you through another year and which items are ready to retire. Do the same with your hoses, hose attachments, and sprinklers.

Give all of your landscaping tools a good cleaning and organize them so they each have a home, which makes it easier to find them and put them away.

If you need help getting your garage organized, Garage Living has great storage and organization solutions that you’ll find invaluable.

Get your outdoor living space project started

All of this backyard spring cleaning work will be worth it as you get to appreciate and spend time in a nicer backyard for the months to come.

Why not maximize your enjoyment outside with an outdoor living space that brings an exciting new look and level of functionality to your backyard?

From design to installation, Outeriors takes care of everything with your outdoor living space project. Schedule a free design consultation with us today to get started on your backyard’s transformation.

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