Organizing Outside

outside organizing

Summer is just around the corner, and that means we will be spending more time outside. This can bring some welcome relief to well-used family rooms and bedrooms, but it can also bring a new set of challenges. How do we organize all of the outside supplies?

Since everyone’s living situation is different, there is no single answer. But a few principles apply to any space, including outside.

1. Sort first. Don’t automatically drag out everything from last year. Ask yourself, “Will I/my family really use this item this year?” Get rid of anything that you are tired of, is broken, or your family has “grown out of.”

2. Designate boundaries. Frequently, our belongings get out of control because we buy first, store second. Instead, begin by defining “storage zones” in your space (cooking, sandbox, rolling/riding toys, sporting areas…) Let the physical limitations of these spaces help you decide how much to put out. You don’t need every sporting good on the lawn at once. If you have a garage, allocate some space inside for various summer supplies (maybe you park outside in the summer to free up space.) Another option is to build/buy a shed or storage container if you need one.

3. Define “put away.” Frequently we tell the kids, “Go clean up!” In order for kids to comply (and for parents to be happy with the result,) we need to begin by establishing a “home” for all the items. Where will wet bathing suits and towels go? Do you care if the hose is coiled up and hung? Where should children put sidewalk chalk when they are finished? Where should athletes put their sports gear? Having a bag per activity can help, all hung on a row of hooks. Also, consider adding labels as it is easy to forget what goes where, especially as we transition to a new season.

4. Remember the weather. Frequently you see beautiful spreads in catalogs and magazines for patios, decks and backyards. While these are lovely, remember that you are looking at staged photos. If your entertaining areas are exposed to the elements, restrict the amount of decor you leave out 24/7 to durable, weather resistant pieces only. Allocate weather-safe storage for more delicate pieces.

To give you a bit of inspiration, I’ve trolled through my “Outside Organizing” Pinterest page to share a few creative ideas…

Hang some hooks on a fence and suspend buckets for children’s weatherproof toys.

Attach an flower box to the side of a sandbox to hold the shovels and supplies.

Hang or install a mailbox near the garden to hold gardening gloves and supplies.


Use a galvanized metal bin with a topper as a coffee table on a deck or patio. Keep necessary items inside for a quick setup.

Hang a row of peg hooks under the overhang of an entry to make an outside “mudroom” for wet items. Paint the hooks to make them match the siding if you want them to fade away.

Make a simple and affordable side table for an outside area with a large flower pot and its matching saucer inverted as the tabletop. Store small items inside.

*     *     *     *     *

Being outdoors is one of the best parts of the season. A bit of planning now will make the entire summer more pleasant for everyone.

What’s your best trick for storing an item outside of your home?

30 thoughts on “Organizing Outside”

    1. I can’t wait to get outside myself. We’ve had an early warm spell, and it just makes me happy! I know I’ve got a few broken items in the garage that just need to go!

    1. I know all about that book – it is HOT on the bestseller list! I think most Professional Organizers would agree with her advice — keep what brings you joy. That Cassidy… great minds think alike!

  1. Just perfect! And while summer is starting for you guys, ours here is ending. But it’s generally warm all year round since ours is a tropical country so it still feels like summer most of the time. I wish that our homes can look like those staged photos all the time but it doesn’t work that way right? LOL.

    1. Tropical and warm all year sounds like a dream to me, Rea!! Yes, I don’t know anybody’s home who looks perfect all the time. I don’t think it would be very fun to live there…

    1. Yes, renting does have its issues. But a few small hooks could go a long way, and many landlords don’t object to these. It’s worth a try, anyway!

    1. I loved having a bin on the side of our box. You could also take the hose over and rinse off the toys without filling the sandbox with water – a win/win!

  2. Those are some really clever Pinterest ideas you’ve included, Seana! And I couldn’t agree more that parents need to be really specific what “clean up” and “put away” mean to them. (Sometimes they don’t know. How are their kids going to know if they don’t?)
    Hazel Thornton recently posted…It’s All About the Labels!My Profile

    1. Yes, I frequently hear parents complain about their kids not cleaning up, and then I look around and see that a system for doing so has not been clearly defined. Make it simple and communicate, right?

  3. Great suggestions and questions, Seana! Just last weekend we set up our outdoor furniture. It kicked off the unofficial summer season. Looking forward to entertaining, impromptu BBQs, and gatherings with friends and family. Having places for the “entertaining stuff” makes all of this much easier and less stressful.

    Love the Pinterest inspiration boards you sources. We tried something similar to the galvanized tub. Instead of a tub we used a giant planter as a base and put a table top on it for our outdoor “lounge” area. It’s just the right height (nice and low,) and the table top matches our cafe tables.
    Linda Samuels recently posted…What Are Today’s Interesting Finds? – v5My Profile

    1. Finding the tabletop is probably the trickiest part, but it works so well, right? It’s hard to keep items clean with all these trees around, and most patio furniture doesn’t protect items from true, heavy rain. Summer entertaining — can’t wait!!

  4. This winter we had an inground pool installed. My challenge now is to figure out the rules (what to do with the bathing suits and towels) and storage for pool toys large and small. For the small items like diving rings and goggles, I happened to have a cheap, small laundry basket that already had holes in the bottom. It’s working great so far! Now to address the floats and pools noodles….
    Andi Willis recently posted…Organizing Your Photos: How to Get StartedMy Profile

    1. How fun! That will bring a lot of pleasure during the hot months:) I know you will get it all figured out, Andi. Noodles & rafts are tricky since they are so big and blow around. Sounds like the perfect time to check out Pinterest for some of the best ideas!

    1. Kids tend to be specialists in obeying the “letter” of the law:) Much of organizing – especially when you are dealing with multiple users – is about communication!

    1. Agreed, Olive. I was just thinking it might be fun to do another post that has a lot of images in it, as people seem to like “seeing” inspiration!

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