The summer has come to an end. How sad. You’ve had a great time these past few months, even if there has been more rain than you would have liked. You had company over, you enjoyed reading in the July and you ate most of your meals outside. How lovely.

Well, that is all over, and now your summer patio furniture must be put away for another year. Cushions and chairs, tables and swings need to be cleaned, stored away and readily accessible for when spring makes its triumphant return. Until then, you need to get ready for the fall.

You may be craving for a few additional weeks of summer, which means you could be leaving some of your lawn chairs outside until the calendar reaches December, but that wouldn’t be wise. Your outdoor patio furniture needs to be protected from the freezing cold, rain, snow and other natural elements of autumn. Here are five tips for storing your summer patio furniture in the fall and winter:

1. Clean Your Patio Furniture First

Before packing away your chairs, loveseats and chaise lounges, you should clean them first. By doing this, you remove all of the dirt that has accumulated on these chairs so they don’t eat away at the material for the next several months.

Whether it is scrubbing away with a cloth or using a special product to eradicate the grime, it is important to clean the furniture before you place them in storage for the next couple of seasons.

2. Give Your Pieces a Coat

Although you are protecting your patio furniture by transferring them inside, it would still be prudent to give your pieces a coat. You are providing additional caution by covering up your lawn chairs and glass tables, which could be damaged from the freezing cold.

3. It’ll be Hard But Put Away Your Play Equipment

Do you have play equipment? Sand box? Swing set? Whatever play equipment you have in your backyard, it is time to take them down and put them in storage. Yes, it’ll be hard but necessary.

You should also give them a coat as well. One more thing: be sure to empty the sandbox completely before you putting it away.

4. Seasonal Serving Ware Should be Put in a Box

If you’re quite the entertainer and host then you likely have serving ware for every season, including spring and summer. Well, since you won’t be using these forks and knives, plates and bowls for six months, you should clean utensils, allocate them into a box, label the container and drop them in storage.

5. Scrub Your Barbecues in the Cool Weather

Your barbecue has taken a beating this summer – how many steaks have you fried this year? This also means that your grill is probably really filthy. But before you close the lid, cover it up and neglect it for the next few months, you should clean it first, and in cool weather.

By scrubbing your barbecue, you’re eliminating the meat, leftovers and grime that have accumulated over the last little while. This makes it easier when spring returns and you can simply barbecue your chicken breasts again.