It's Time to Prepare a Welcome for Spring and Summer 2017!
Winter is finally on its way out, which means the sunny days and warmer temperatures are right around the corner. But before you get into the full swing of spring, you need to give your yard a little TLC to help it recover from the damage it faced during those cold months.
It might not sound like the most fun, but home yard cleanup is essential to ensuring that the outdoor areas of your home are safe and ready to use when the time comes. Follow these essential tips for spring home yard cleanup to whip your yard, patio, and more into shape in no time.
Spring is almost here, and it’s time to get your yard back to its former glory (courtesy Field Outdoor Spaces).
Survey the Yard and Clear Big Debris
Before you jump right into the cleaning, take some time to walk around the yard and get a feel for the state of things. Take note of any major damage that took place over the winter, such as a broken fence or fallen tree, so that you can prioritize your work and make sure you have all of the necessary tools. Make sure you do the same for any other outdoor areas around the house, such as side entries or courtyard entryways.
Identify the areas of your yard that need the most attention, such as patches of dead grass or flowerbeds that need replanting (courtesy Ewen Roberts).
While you’re taking stock of the yard, you can also take the time to start clearing away any large debris that could obstruct your view of the finer details, such as flowerbeds or the base of a shed. Don’t get caught up in needing to clean everything, just make sure you can get a clear picture of your yard and the work it needs.
Clear and Compost
Once you have a good picture of everything you need to do in the yard, it’s time to start really clearing out all of the dead and damaged plants, grass, and leaves. Designate a single area in the yard where you’ll be gathering all of the debris to help keep things organized, rather than making dozens of little piles that could make it hard to move around.
Many plants and shrubs will leave dead branches that need to be removed, as they can become fire hazards or cause other problems if left in place (courtesy Parthenocissus Henryanna).
Odds are you’re going to have a lot of yard waste, typically in the form of dead leaves and plants, so you should also establish a composting pile to help you get a head start on enriching the soil for the months to come.
Prune Perennials and Other Plants
This process will vary significantly according to the different plants and flowers you have in your yard and garden – and in most cases should be done in late winter or very early spring – but the basic concept is to trim down any blooming perennials to around 5 inches in order to allow for new growth. If you encounter any plants with dead branches or stems, remove them while making sure to keep any green and growing areas intact.
Pruning plants and flowers allows new growth to take place and gives you the chance to shape the overall look of your yard and garden (courtesy Eileen Kane).
Follow a similar pattern with the remaining plants and shrubs in the yard, making sure to preserve as much healthy green as possible. If your soil has properly thawed, you may need to dig up some completely dead plants and prepare to either plant new ones or transfer existing beds to the area.
Prep Lawn for Spring Seeding
Snow and salt can be damaging to grass, as can heavy rain or severe frost, but thankfully most lawns are incredibly resilient. Start the rejuvenation process by raking away any remaining dead leaves or old mulch, then taking away damaged topsoil and dead grass.
Dead grass looks unsightly and won’t always grow back on its own. Remove it and treat the soil so that you can reseed the lawn and grow it all back nice and green (courtesy Eric Martin).
This allows you to add a new layer of compost (around one-half inch thick) to help enrich the soil once it reaches the correct pH level for new grass to grow comfortably. All that remains is to reseed the area once the temperature reaches the right level and regularly water to promote new growth.
Reset Pavers and Re-gravel Driveways
Spring home yard cleanup is about caring for the areas around the yard as much as it is taking care of the yard itself, which means you also need to check driveways and walkways as well. Stone pavers, which are commonly used to create patios or walkways, can come loose due to rain or snow, so make sure these are securely in place to avoid possible injuries.
Gravel and other rocky materials often wear away during the winter, which means it’s time to freshen up your supply in the spring (courtesy David Michalczuk).
A gravel driveway like this at a 3-bedroom, 2-bath Vacation style home plan may need to be replenished periodically in the spring after a hard winter (House Plan #160-1009). The need for spot fixes is not uncommon, though.
Gravel can also suffer quite a bit during the winter, often as a result of snow plowing and shoveling or simply washing away from melting snow and rain. If you can use the existing amount of gravel you have to smooth out any rough areas, you’ll save a bit of time and money. Just remember that if the gravel is too low, or not properly packed, it can lead to more erosion issues later on down the line.
Assess the Damage to Fencing
If you’re lucky, all you will need to do with your fences will be to spray them down with a pressure washer and give them a fresh coat of paint to make up for any stripping. However, many fences often break or fall out of alignment due to the weight of snow or other weather conditions, which means you’ll need to put in some more work to fix them.
Even chain link fences can break over the winter. Use your spring cleaning time to make repairs before the fence breaks down and requires a costly replacement (courtesy Ann Kinney).
For wooden fences, remove and replace any broken or cracked fence slats in order to keep the overall integrity of the fence as strong as possible. Also, make sure to check the wood for signs of rotting or other damage down near the ground.
Examine Decks for Signs of Rot
Speaking of checking wood for signs of rot, this is an absolute must if you have any kind of wooden deck or a house with a porch. Snow and rain will leave a lot of excess water on and around the deck, which can cause mold to grow or the wood to develop a nasty case of rot. If your deck is rot-free, then you can focus on washing it down to clear out any dirt and buildup.
Clean Out Those Gutters
No one ever likes to do it, but cleaning out your storm gutters is an integral part of spring home yard care. Those gutters are likely filled with dead leaves and other debris built up during the fall, and then locked into place during the winter. Even if you cleaned your gutters in the fall, you’d be surprised at how many stray leaves and other debris can make it to your gutters even in winter. If you don’t clear the debris out, the gutters won’t be able to drain water off your roof properly, which could lead to a lot of expensive damage.
If you want your gutters to drain properly during the spring and summer, you have to remove all the gunk and buildup. It also allows you to check for any damage before it’s too late (coutesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service).
Check Tracks on Sliding Doors
If you have a home built for outdoor living, then you’ve probably got a sliding glass door or similar feature that allows for easy access in and out of the house. You probably haven’t use the doors in a few months, so take a few minutes to check them out and make sure they’re in good working condition. They might have frozen up during the winter or could have water damage and debris build up that require a little special cleaning.
Hose Down Patios and Patio Furniture
Cleaning up your patio in time for spring is often a simple process that you can complete with a power sprayer or even your garden hose. Just make sure to check grout lines on stones or tiles, which should be filled before you put the patio back into regular use.
Patio furniture can often experience damage over the winter that you might not notice at first. Examine all pieces thoroughly before putting them back into regular use ()courtesy Sanjoy Ghosh.
You should thoroughly clean any patio furniture left outside and check it for damage. Metal furniture is susceptible to rust, which could be very dangerous if left untreated. If you were able to cover and store your patio furniture during the bad weather months, it’s still a good idea to spray it all down to clean out any spiders, dust, or debris.
You are sure to be spending more time outdoors on your porch, deck, patio, and yard as warmer weather arrives. Make sure you’ll be able to enjoy yourself fully by “spring cleaning” those areas just as you do inside.