Bob Vila’s 5 “Must Do” Projects for April

Though water issues may demand homeowners' attention this time of year, springtime is when gardeners really get going.

April Projects

Photo: The Gazette

Spring is officially underway, and while our focus has swung toward outdoor projects, it’s not all daffodils and sunny skies for homeowners this season.

1. Avoid basement flooding 
The past couple of years—certainly last November with Hurricane Sandy—we’ve seen that in order to undergo serious storm damage, a house does not necessarily have to be located in a flood zone. This spring, water issues are top of mind for many homeowners discovering leaks that developed over the winter. Snowmelt in combination with seasonal rain showers can result in overwhelmed culverts, backed-up sewers, and flooded basements. 

Of course, there’s little you can do about the weather, but some steps may be taken to ensure your basement or crawl space remains dry. Having cleared your gutters of debris, position downspouts away from the house and foundation. The goal is to drain storm water at least three feet away, so consider running extensions or troughs. If you have below-grade basement windows, install window well covers made of a strong acrylic that will fasten securely to your home’s foundation.

Inspect the exterior foundation and your basement’s walls and floors. Use epoxy to fill any foundation cracks and if warning signs are detected, apply masonry sealer to basement walls. Does the problem appear more serious? Call in a professional. 

If you haven’t had your sewer inspected or your septic tank cleaned, April is a good month to address these concerns. And if you’re operating a sump pump, be certain it’s free of blockage, correctly positioned, and connected to a power source. Since a sump pump won’t run if your electricity goes out, a generator may be a long-term investment worth considering. 

2. Consider a fresh coat of paint
There’s nothing like paint to transform the look of a home’s exterior, and it makes good sense to tackle the job now before the hot, humid days of summer. Before settling on a new color scheme, though, take into account your neighbors’ palettes. Make your house distinctive, but try not to make it look out of place. Remember that while light colors make a house look bigger, dark colors make it look more substantial. Think about using a contrasting color on trim and architectural details, and for maximum curb appeal, don’t forget to factor in the color of your roof. For more tips on choosing exterior paint color, click here.

3. Start your lawn care early
April ushers in the ultimate homeowner challenge—growing the perfect lawn—but before you pick up the fertilizer, first determine what type of grass you have. Cool-season grasses (including Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue) benefit most from fertilizer in the fall, so dosing again is not recommended. But if you forgot back in autumn, or if your lawn suffered winter damage, a light application now isn’t a bad idea. Springtime fertilization of warm-season grasses (including zoysia and Bermuda) is appropriate once grass is actively growing, about six weeks after the last frost date. For more on fertilizing grass, click here.

April Projects - Deck Rail Planter 4. Make a planter for your deck or patio 
You will find a multitude of planters at your local garden center this time of year, but if you are moderately handy and possess a saw, hammer, drill and assorted hardware, you can easily make a planter of your own—for under $40! Shown here is a DIY cedar deck rail planter that provides a place for flowers and greens to grow from spring through fall. For the project tutorial, click here.

5. Take advantage of selling season
Thinking of putting your house on the market? Historically, spring has been the optimal time to do so, and the market seems to have picked up momentum this year. Since you’ll want to showcase your house in the best possible light, why not complete a few inexpensive curb appeal upgrades? Meanwhile, seize opportunities to make the interior more welcoming. Eliminating clutter, concealing family memorabilia, and emphasizing your kitchen’s finest features could all mean the difference between “for sale” and “sold.” For more home staging tips, click here.