It is a good idea to have your outside living spaces spruced up quarterly. This gives you ample opportunity to prepare for the upcoming season. This works great going in to the winter season and going in to the spring/summer season. I am calling this article Spring cleaning but it can definitely be applied at every seasonal change.
The first thing you want to do is make sure you are regularly walking around the exterior of your home and see what needs to be repaired, maintained, spruced up, etc. Keep a log of this and when you are ready (financially, physically, etc) to get the jobs done you can mark it off of your list!
Next, you want to make sure that last seasons equipment (snow shovels, leaf blowers, etc.) are put away for this season. Make sure that everything has a place and a home and can be put away until the next time you need it. This is a great time to look at these tools and see what they need. Are they in good repair? Do you need to get it fixed? Does it need to be replaced? If there is something that needs to be done to it (cleaned up, washed up, oiled, degreased, etc) prior to being put away for 6 months (or so) then this is the time to do it. This will save you time and money at the start of that next season.
Now you need to look around. Do bushes, trees, plants need trimming? Do it! Does any of your wood need refinishing? This would include play houses, garden boxes, wood decks, furniture, etc. If it is the spring season - go ahead and get it refinished. Do it while it is cooler, rather than putting it off until it gets warmer!
Make sure you have plenty of trash receptacles in your outside areas. If you have different areas designated for different things then you need to make sure you have enough. Then keep in mind when you have guests over you need to add more!
Now you need to make sure that all of your patio furniture is in working order, padding doesn't need to be repaired and you umbrella's and other furniture are all in good working order.
Once you have the deep stuff done it is easy to keep up on the regular cleaning that really keeps your outside spaces looking good.
Make it a great one!