As the winter months move gradually further behind us, it's the perfect time to take stock of what needs doing in the garden - and that doesn't just mean preparing the flowerbeds for spring or giving the lawn its first trim of the new year.
Outdoor furniture also deserves some attention, especially if it's been exposed to the elements throughout the winter. Smaller, portable patio furniture that's been in storage can be brought out for a clean too.
With a little prep work now, you can get your garden ready for the first warmer days. Don't get caught out by a spring heatwave - make sure your garden chairs and tables are in good condition now, and you won't miss your chance for the first barbecue of the year when the sunny days arrive.
Store removable parts
This is a step to take in preparation for winter, rather than after it, but it's worth mentioning that a lot of modern garden patio furniture comes with removable cushions that should be stored in bad weather.
As winter approaches, make sure you know where you will store your cushions, along with items like your patio parasol which should not be left out in strong winds.
It's good to keep this in mind all year round - unfortunately the British spring and summer months usually bring their share of heavy weather too, so keep your patio cushion storage ready if you have to pack away your seat pads at short notice.
Check for damage
Most of us spend less time in the garden during winter, either due to the temperature, the weather conditions or the shorter hours of daylight.
It's easy to miss significant damage to your garden furniture, so take a look at your main tables, chairs and other outdoor furniture, and decide what needs fixing.
This could be as simple as replacing a single timber on a wooden picnic table or bench, or sanding down a damaged surface and painting or staining the newly exposed woodgrain.
Replace it if necessary
It's a fact of life that over the years, not all garden furniture will survive every winter, especially one with extremely cold temperatures or severe rainstorms.
Be realistic about outdoor furniture that has seen better days, and consider replacing it with even more weatherproof alternatives.
For example, a stone garden bench can handle much worse weather conditions than a wooden bench will, and is just as comfortable with a rain-resistant outdoor cushion added.
With luck, the spring, summer and early autumn months should bring a good number of longer, warmer, sunnier days - so make the most of your garden furniture and spend some time in the sun.
A patio parasol heater can be an excellent investment for the longer, lighter evenings, so that you can stay outside as the sun goes down and the temperature begins to fall.
Vitamin D and fresh air are both on the agenda more than ever in 2021, so don't miss out on this valuable natural resource that is literally to be found in your own back yard.