A string of holidays best celebrated by grilling and outdoor fun are just around the corner, but — especially if you live in a region where it feels as if spring has only recently arrived — your lawn and garden may not quite be in shape for entertaining. Luckily, there are a few steps you can take to get your outdoor space wow-worthy in just a week or two. Here are some to consider:

  1. Give Your Lawn a Salon-Worthy Cut
    If you have a square or rectangular lawn, you can add a little more visual appeal by cutting it diagonally. Start by making a pass that starts in one corner and goes to the opposite one. Then all you’ll have to do is keep your lawn mower parallel to that line as you work your way across on either side, and you’ll have a snazzy cut that will make you the envy of the neighborhood.
  2. Make the Most of Plain Old Mulch
    Mulch is inexpensive and easy to work with. Use a layer to cover up any dirt that’s showing in your flowerbeds so that they don’t look empty even if they’re still a little bare from winter.
  3. Strategically Plant Bright Annuals
    Instead of trying to get a lush landscape right away (which is both costly and work-intensive), plant rows of eye-popping annuals in strategic areas around your lawn and garden. Focus your planting around doors or other access points such as arbors and gates, where the flowers will make the most impact. You should be able to do this in somewhere between an hour and a half day, depending on the size of your yard, and the only tool you’ll need is a simple garden trowel.
  4. Feature a New, Shiny, High-Tech Grill
    If you want to make your backyard as functional as possible, then a new grill is a worthy investment. Around 63% of the U.S. population grills every single month — and probably many more grill in warm weather — so a new charcoal or propane grill is something you can expect to get your money’s worth from. You may even want to feature it in a complete grill center; just be sure that it’s placed wisely. Based on data collected between 2007 and 2011, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 8,800 home and outside fires involving grills each year, and you don’t want to find yourself a part of those kind of statistics.
  5. Clean and Update Outdoor Furniture
    Pull out or uncover your outdoor furniture and give it a good cleaning and inspection. Get rid of anything that’s falling apart (nothing can make a guest feel worse than sitting on a chair and having it break), and pick out at least a few new pieces to spruce up the entire collection. If you’re really short on time, even a few brightly colored outdoor throw pillows can hold you over until larger pieces arrive.

The 2010 National Gardening Association Survey found that Americans spend, on average, $363 dollars every year on lawn and garden activities. Are you looking to spend more or less than that this year? Share your plans — and how our tips might fit into them — in the comments.