For many, our outdoor spaces become our own personal sanctuary. A place where we can unwind, relax, enjoy time with our family and friends and enjoy our own personal space. But just like our indoor space, our own outdoor oasis can sometimes benefit from a substantive overhaul after a few years of tranquil indifference. Children grow older and so why keep that wooden swing set with that dented yellow slide attached to it (you know the one—we’ve all got one in our neighborhood that just sits there!)? Maybe you’ve recently looked under your deck to fondly gaze upon those 15 to 20 flower pots and think “next year, I really will use them, knowing that you said the same thing five years in a row. Maybe you wish that your spouse would just pitch those old shears that don’t cut a darn thing, but still hang in the shed only because he or she claims “they just need oil.” Yes, sometimes you need to do some spring cleaning within your yard—especially when fall is approaching! To help you restore some peace and tranquility for next year—here are some tips for decluttering your yard now!
Commit to One Weekend With Everyone Involved
Rather than promise to do the garden one weekend, the tool shed one night next week or the front lawn when the temperatures cool down, commit to a plan where you take on your yard within one dedicated weekend. Even if this brings you to a state of slight overwhelm, it’s better to work through the pain and get it done all at once! This way, you can tackle the shed, the garden the deck and any other outdoor living areas and have a sense of accomplishment when all is said and done. Before starting, take a night before the weekend and simply sit down with the other folks who share your home (yes, put them ALL to work with you so everyone shares in the fun) and develop the map to tidying up the yard.
Preferably assign folks an individual space, create an action plan cleaning out each area together. Sure, it’s easy to have your children focus on something like their own swing set or the sandbox, or have your husband do the tool shed. However, what often happens is that folks can get distracted when left to their own devices. Taking on each yard area together means everyone plays a part in going through the entire yard at the same time! This way, you’re less likely to still feel frustrated when someone says, “I finished” and you look over and see that what they meant was that the mess has simply moved to a new position and you still have items in your yard you know need pitching!
Plan With the End in Mind
Surely you’ve read that book about those seven habits by now! Rather than just go through the motions of decluttering your yard, write out a statement that captures exactly what the yard needs to look like by the time you’re done! If your goal is to toss every tool that doesn’t work properly, then make that a goal to check off once you complete the entire process. Have a plan for your life to have only flowers planted in the ground around you? Then make it a line item to commit to tossing every single empty pot. Tired of honeysuckle in your yard? Then make one of your items to uproot it and cart it off!
The important thing to do here is recognize what it will take to make your yard an oasis again. Imagine what you want every area of your yard to look like and how organized you’d like your spaces to become.
Organize the Work
There are several ways you can approach the backyard clean-up effort, just make sure you choose one that will ensure you get the job done during one weekend. You could map out a plan and tackle the biggest problem areas first or start with the front and work your way back to the very end of the yard. If your worst nightmare is having a shed where the tools are scattered about, then start there! Can’t stand having a ton of items that no longer work (like old fountains or ratty looking Adirondack chairs with boards missing) under your deck? Then make that your priority for a starting place!
The bottom line is that if you’re taking on the entire yard, make a plan that you can fully work to completion and get the worst items out of the way first so that you can breeze through the less problematic areas—like maybe your flower beds.
Keep What You Love—Toss What Needs to Leave
Ever hear of the KonMari Method™ of creating blissful spaces? Marie Kondo created a great system for tidying up that results in creating spaces that leave you feeling joyful. As you’re going through the yard, Kondo’s approach encourages you to pick up every item and determine whether or not it gives you a “spark of joy,” meaning if an item is broken or brings you a sense of frustration or dread, then it’s time to toss it out, recycle it or sell it. The goal is to keep only those things that have value to you that you still need.
Sometimes this process can draw up a lot of emotions—and if you have a strong reaction to something ask yourself why you’re having them. For example, it can be tough to toss out an entire swing set that your children played on for many years. However, if they’re off to college with no plans of moving back home and your main goal is to create a fresh-looking space, then maybe it’s okay to donate the swing set to a new home so a young family can create precious memories. After all, you’ll still remember you have a child each time they text you and ask to add funds to their checking account!
As you’re going through the entire yard, you can create several distinct areas for items you intend to keep, recycle, sell or donate. You can also create a “need to think about this” section so that as you draw to the end of your backyard cleaning process, you can revisit certain items that may have fond memories attached to them, but you still need to come clean about the fact that maybe it’s time for them to go. This is where doing this as a family unit can be helpful—sometimes your spouse or your child will be the one to move you in the right direction to deciding (or vice versa). Sometimes it takes someone else to help you appreciate that those nasty red clay bottoms need to go since there’s no pot to put on top of them!
Don’t be surprised at the end of the process that you realize that you need to add new items because of your efforts. Getting rid of a rake with missing teeth could mean it’s time for a new one! Maybe you need to replace that torn canopy on your pergola so water stops leaking through! (If you do own any outdoor items that you’ve purchased from one of the box stores, go to GardenWinds as they sell replacement parts for all outdoor décor!).
Be Grateful For What You Have and What You’ve Done
Once you’ve gone through your decluttering your yard, take time to appreciate your efforts and enjoy your yard again. Spend time in your yard before the temperatures turn cold and see what you notice about this newly organized space. Maybe you’ll see openings for new items to come in next year once the temperatures warm up, or maybe you’ll go online and find that the expensive outdoor furniture set you always wanted is now 60% off, so don’t feel guilty about filling up the yard with something new and beautiful! After all, it’s your own personal sanctuary—why not enjoy it the best way you can!
Need a Fence to Go With that Perfect Oasis?
As you declutter your yard, consider looking at your existing fence. If it’s looking worn down and starting to fade or warp in places, then maybe it’s time to fix your fence with replacement panels or get a new one. Fall is a great time for a fence as installation times tend to be shorter and it’s often easier to get permits approved once the summer season ends. If you need help designing that perfect outdoor oasis, then let us help you put a fence around the backyard of your dreams! Click on our on-line chat icon, visit our Contact page or just give us a call at 1-800-49-FENCE to get started on your outdoor sanctuary!