How to Easily Organize Your Outside Summer Stuff

Garden tools. How to easily organize your outside summer stuff
Image by Mariakray from Pixabay

Summer is in the air and that means 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. In the summer, we haul out a lot of supplies that sit dormant during the winter, and without a plan, they can quickly turn our yards, patios, and balconies into chaos. Summer should be fun and breezy, so here are some tips to easily organize your outside summer stuff.

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

Look at your outdoor stuff with fresh eyes.

A lot can can happen in a year. Maybe the kids have gotten older, or maybe you had a leak where your summer items were stored. Don’t automatically drag out everything from last year. Instead, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Will my family use this item this year?
  • Are any of our summer items broken? If so, do you truly want to fix them or should they just be trashed?
  • Are any of these items that our family members no longer want?
  • Have any of our summer things “yucked out?” (e.g., have mold, no longer bounce, are rusty, have been chewed by mice, etc.)

Items that you don’t use, need, or love can be donated if they are in good condition, and this is a perfect time of year to do this! If you need to replace anything, make a shopping list as you do your review. For example, my family typically needs to buy a new grill brush each year, which ends up being a great Father’s Day gift.

Define “put away”

It is impossible for both parents and kids to put things away if we don’t first decide what “away” means. In order for kids to comply (and for parents to be happy with the result,) begin by establishing a “home” for anything you want to store outside. Try to keep the storage solutions as simple and easy as possible; no one wants to spend hours putting things away at the end of a summer day. Focus on containers into which items can be easily tossed, and think through what needs to be protected from the elements vs. what can sit outside in the rain. Also, ensure that the storage you set up is sufficient. If you can barely fit the family’s ball collection into your storage container, consider either getting a bigger container or letting go of a couple of balls. Lastly, make your storage intuitive by establishing zones where like items can be kept, such as sand toys, balls, outdoor cooking tools, garden supplies, etc.

I encourage you to be as specific as possible. For example:

  • Where will wet bathing suits and towels go?
  • Do you care if the hose is coiled up and hung?
  • Where should children put bubbles and sidewalk chalk when they are finished?
  • Where should athletes put their sports gear?
  • Should bicycles be brought into a certain area of the garage or locked up?
  • Where should bike helmets be placed or hung up?
  • Will the garden tools live inside a shed or be left out in the garden?
  • Do cushions need to be brought inside in bad weather, and if so, where do you want to put them until they can go back outside?
  • If you have a pool, where should the pool toys go at the end of the day?
  • Where will the sunscreen and bug spray be stored and applied?
Designate boundaries.

Frequently, our belongings get out of control because we buy first, and think about how to store second. It’s funny how everything looks smaller in a store or online than it does in our home, right? Plus, it can be hard to resist the latest and greatest summer gadget. If you are drowning in summer fun supplies and can’t decide how much to bring out, use your designated storage location as your boundary. For instance, decide how much of your garage you want to allocate to strollers, bikes, and rolling/riding toys. Then, see how many of this type of object you can make accessible at any given moment. Remember, you don’t need to have every sporting good or supply out at once. Maybe you hold a few things back in storage as replacements or “mid-summer” surprises.

If you lack sufficient storage, think creatively about where you can add some. For instance:

  • Park one of your cars outside during the summer months to free up space in the garage.
  • Invest in a shed or outdoor storage bin. If you need to put small items inside a large container, remember to add structure, such as shelving or smaller bins, to keep like items together.
  • Relocate anything taking up convenient space that won’t be used during the summer months. For instance, move your skis and ski boots to an attic, or hoist snow tires up on a ceiling-mounted garage rack.
  • Add a rolling cart or rack near a play or entertaining area that can be easily rolled out when needed.
  • Add a horizontal cover to an alcove to add storage that is safe from rain and sun. This table idea is cute!
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 play and/or 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 a flower box to the side of a sandbox to hold the shovels and supplies.

Use or make a coat rack to hold wet beach towels.

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?

14 thoughts on “How to Easily Organize Your Outside Summer Stuff”

    1. We are just finally getting into pool weather. Gotta be hearty to go into Long Island Sound this time of year… too cold for me!

  1. This statement, “Frequently, our belongings get out of control because we buy first and think about how to store second.” is so true. I’m always asking my clients, “But where are you going to put it?”.
    While I do have the room in my shed house, I know I have a lot of items in there that I probably will not be using in the future. I used to give a couple of big parties each year and all of the extra chairs, tables, etc. for those outside events are stored there.

    1. That’s a great example of a stage of life issue. I was just reading a blog that talked about table linens and I realized that I haven’t thrown a big party with table linens for years. I still use the holiday ones, but not the ones for a formal dinner party. Might be time to let those go.

  2. I love the list of questions. Last summer, we discovered that our fountain had a crack in the basin holding the water. We spent time patching it and figured if it didn’t last another winter, we would get rid of it. So, this year, we found out that it didn’t last. =( So we got rid of it right away and replaced it with another one.

    It’s important to reassess all the items as you pull them out for the season. Even if they are weather-resistant, some may not have survived the winter. Making a list of things that need replacing will save you time and money. These items will most likely be on sale before or just after summer.
    Sabrina Quairoli recently posted…The Best Ways To Do Nightstand OrganizingMy Profile

    1. Reviewing and making a list is good for all of our belongings, but especially those that we may store seasonally. I discovered that chipmunks had EATEN my plastic watering can. I mean, I didn’t even think this was possible, but there it was. So, a new watering can is on my list.

  3. These thoughts are spot on. There’s little worse than having children put things away only to find them in a state of total chaos because no one shares your vision of what ‘away’ means. Your Pinterest boards have lots of good ideas! My favorite is the mailbox for gardening gloves!

    1. I love the idea of the mailbox as well. It’s watertight and easy to attach, especially one with the shape of the one in the photo. Keeps me from having to walk back and forth between the garden and garage all summer long.

  4. The biggest thing we do with the change of seasons is move our outdoor furniture from the greenhouse to the back patio. I usually hose things down. And this year, I needed to replace a few of the side and small tables. Sometimes, we need to replace the umbrella. They don’t last that long.

    We don’t have a lot of outdoor-specific equipment. We don’t have a pool, so there aren’t those types of accessories. But one trick we did, which works great, is this. We attached a metal hook to the side of the house near the BBQ. When my husband removes the canvas grill cover, instead of throwing it on the ground, he can now hang it up on the hook until it’s time to cover the grill again. Game-changer!!!

    1. I love this idea! We are still dumping our cover on the ground. Might need to “suggest” that my husband do the same. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

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