5 Steps to Winterize Your Deck

I feel like August was about five minutes ago. Until last Saturday, my deck reflected this state of mind. Plants, sand toys, and furniture sat untouched, looking ready for a summer party. Finally, I got around to winterizing my deck, and checked these five steps off my household to-do list.

It can be easy to forget about the deck, with so many fun fall celebrations and being indoors more often. A little TLC can go a long way toward keeping your deck in pristine condition for next summer. If you have anything on your list that I didn't include, please feel free to share it below!

  1. Prepare plants and planters for winter. I take clippings from my coleus and bring my hyacinth and lantana plants inside for the winter. Past that, my flowers become landscape waste. I clean and store my ceramic and terra cotta pots inside, but my sturdy plastic and wood planters get wrapped in plastic and piled in the corner of the deck. This article from Brooklyn Botanic Gardens is chock full of great advice for winterizing potted plants.

  2. Prepare furniture. We used to bring our cushions inside for the winter, but now I cover my couches and dining set with outdoor covers from Crate & Barrel. We also clean our son's sand table and strap down the top with a bungee cord. Finally, we stack our kid-sized metal chairs in the corner and store extra accessories and toys in an outdoor storage box.

  3. Clean the grill. We usually forget this step, but we actually did it this year. First, we cleaned the burners, grates, and cover. Once they were dry, we sprayed the grates with cooking oil to prevent moisture build-up and moved the grill to the corner of the deck for more protection.

  4. Sweep and clean the deck. This is a bit more important for wooden decks than metal, but giving your deck a good sweeping and cleaning will help maintain it. A hard-bristled brush and some Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds work fine, although you may want to power wash (though many contractors advise against doing so). Make sure your wood deck repels water instead of absorbing it — if it's absorbing water, you may want to find a last warm afternoon and put on water sealant.

  5. Make winter essentials accessible. If you need a new shovel, replace it now. I also pull out Safe Paw salt and a broom for light snow, so they're easy to find should a winter storm arrive.

    (Images: Emily Winters for Apartment Therapy)