As the temperatures slowly start to rise, fond memories of summer evenings spent dining alfresco, or afternoons spent basking in the sun start to become a reality. But, much like anything else, those outdoor spaces we treasure when the sun shines require a little maintenance this time of year. Now is the best time to check your patio, deck or other outdoor living space for wear and tear, make repairs and spruce it up for the best of the summer months.

Usually the life expectancy of a wooden deck is between 10 and 15 years, and the Home Safety Council reckons that as many as 20 million decks may be at risk for serious damage each year. Doing a yearly inspection of your deck can not only make sure it is safe for friends and family, but can help make sure your deck lasts as long as possible. Repairing or replacing all damaged or missing parts, as well as treating the wood with a preserver, can help extend the life of your deck.

The first thing that needs to be checked is the overall structure of the deck - the wood or composite itself, then the hardware that keeps the deck together and attached to your house. Make sure you look underneath the deck, checking for corrosion, missing fixtures and rotten or cracked boards or posts. These are items that need to be replaced, not repaired.

Ground level patios are usually concrete or tile, and they, too, require a bit of maintenance. The main safety concerns with patios are slippery surfaces and cracks. Broken tiles can be replaced but cracks in a concrete slab are a bit more of a challenge. Small cracks can often be temporarily patched or filled, but the patio will need to be replaced in the future.

After a long, wet winter slippery patio surfaces become a big concern. Usually, moss is the culprit with patios in our area. This problem is best handled with a cleanser and a strong pressure washer to remove the chemicals from the solvents.

Once your deck or patio is cleaned and repaired, you can enjoy the sunsets, sunrises or outdoor barbecues all season long.