5 Ways to Revive a Patio After Winter —Small Tricks Landscape Designers Rely On

Now that winter is on its way out you might be looking at your tired deck and wondering how to revive your patio - well, this is how the experts do it

a patio with potted plants
(Image credit: thejoyofplants.co.uk)

Nothing says the arrival of Spring quite like a weatherbeaten patio. All that effort you put in last year (or always intended to) so as to make the most stylish alfresco space possible, bashed around by rain, snow and general neglect. Which is why, as days get a little longer and our desire to live beautifully outdoors returns, we need to know the ways to revive a patio after winter, little tricks that make a big difference.

Which is why we've asked our favorite landscape and garden designers, what they do to patios right now, this month. how they spruce up the paved areas of backyards in order to make them visually appeal once more.

From pruning and potting up new plants to welcoming wildlife and accessorizing, find out how to return a lackluster patio to its Spring/Summer glory.   

1. Clean and declutter

clean and minimal patio

(Image credit: Getty Images)

It's not just our homes that require a spring clean, but outside spaces do too. From languishing leaves and other debris to dead plants and muddy footprints, dirt builds up. A good sweep and wash down of your decking, tiles or stone flooring (with eco-friendly dish soap and hot water) will revitalise it. Consider whether the weather is fine enough to remove bulky furniture covers too.

'Early spring is also a good time of year to clean and care for your outdoor furniture,' says New York-based Kat Aul Cervoni, landscape designer and founder of Staghorn NYC and The Cultivation by Kat.

'Metal furniture is easily sprayed off with a hose (if need be), or wiped down with a damp cloth. For wooden furniture, I like to clean these off with a stiff brush, hose and mild, diluted soap. It’s also good to use an oil or conditioner on your wooden furniture once a year, so now is a good time to apply that once it’s completely dry.'

'I like to declutter the patio area and make it light,' says Miami-based landscape designer, Rituparna Simlai, founder, Studio Arth. 'The spring season resonates with light and a minimalist ambience, so remove all that is not necessary and let the space flow.'

2. Cut back and prune surrounding plants

pruning a boxwood hedge

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Plants can look a bit tatty after winter, and whilst we welcome a wild look, some trees, plants and grasses may need trimming and pruning.

'One of the first things I do to refresh my patio in early spring is to cut back any remaining dead or spent growth from the previous year,' says Kat Aul Cervoni.

'This is particularly important for most ornamental grasses, such as pennisetum, miscanthus, sporobolus, panicum and hakonechloa. The exception is Mexican feather grass, which should be combed out to remove old growth.

'Any lingering dead perennial growth should also be pruned back to about 1-2” at this time as well to allow for fresh new growth to come through.'

'I'll also do some shaping to evergreen shrubs like ilex and boxwood that have any wayward growth from the previous fall. Other woody plants like lavender, panicle hydrangeas, butterfly bush and smokebush also do well with pruning at this time of year.'

3. Get creative with new plantings

Plantings in a project by Studio Arth

(Image credit: Javier Alba)

Even with the best of care, it is likely you may have lost a plant or two in cold or windy weather. So once you've looked around to see what needs trimming, pruning or composting, consider what else to introduce to the pots on your patio.

'Refreshing your patio or backyard with accent pollinator species will not only add color but will animate your garden too,' says Riturparna Simlai. 'Choose native species with nectar-rich flowers that provide food sources for pollinators such as hummingbirds, butterflies and bees.' Our guide to the best flowers for bees will help you here.

'A combination of plants in a pot, with a low flowering bed in the bottom instead of pebbles, some accent plants in the base that contrast with the flowering bed and a sculptural tree off centre will enhance the look and liven the space making it more than just a potted plant.'

'I love potted plants around a patio to bring color, dimension and seasonality to the space,' says Kat Aul Cervoni. 'While I keep simple boxwoods in some, I like using seasonal annuals in others for a more colorful arrangement that can be switched out and adjusted throughout the seasons. 

'For early season color while it’s still a bit cold, I love pansies, violets and violas which can handle the colder temperatures much like spring-flowering bulbs.'

4. Install a bird bath

bird bath in a project by Studio Arth

(Image credit: Studio PYG)

'Install a bird bath to provide a water source for local birds and butterflies,' says Rituparna. 'As well as enticing them to visit, it will add a charming touch to your spring garden.'

If you have a bird bath already, give it a good scrub and fill it with fresh water. Add a couple of large rocks for birds to perch on, as it can help protect them from predators. Or consider installing a second or third bird bath on or near your patio. 

These sculptural pieces are decorative, low-maintenance and provide a lifeline to feathered friends.  

5. Accessorize outdoor furniture

patio garden with hanging pendant lights


If it's warm enough where you live to remove outdoor furniture covers and clean tables and seating for use, it's time to bring accessories out of storage too. 

'Springtime means warmer weather is on the way, so cushions for outdoor furniture can be brought out of storage,' says Kat. 'I wash any machine-washable cushion covers or use a stiff brush to clean off any dust gathered over winter.'

'Decking lighting plays a crucial rule in creating the right ambience with changes in the weather,' says Rituparna. 'Moving from an inviting and warm ambience of lanterns and string lights in the winter to a more romantic setting with accent pendant lights hanging off of large trees or the pergola is ideal in the spring.

'Introducing pillows with vibrant spring colors or floral pattens enhances the celebratory and uplifting mood of the spring season too.'

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Jacky Parker is a London-based freelance journalist and content creator, specialising in interiors, travel and food. From buying guides and real home case studies to shopping and news pages, she produces a wide range of features for national magazines and SEO content for websites

A long-time contributor to Livingetc, as a member of the team, she regularly reports on the latest trends, speaking to experts and discovering the latest tips. Jacky has also written  for other publications such as Homes and Gardens, Ideal Home, Red, Grand Designs, Sunday Times Style and AD, Country Homes and Interiors and ELLE Decoration.