Bob Vila’s 10 “Must Do” Projects for April
Now that the weather is warming up, it’s time to undo the damage winter has done to your property and begin prepping for a bountiful, enjoyable summer outdoors.
Spring is here, and with it comes a bouquet of seasonal responsibilities: It’s time to clean and repair outdoor elements on your property, like fences and patios, that winter has battered. April is the perfect time to spruce up your lawn, begin planting trees and seeds, and prepare your home’s interior for allergy season. Some homeowners, too, may be busy readying their homes for a quick spring sale. Whether you’re staying in your home or selling it, enjoy some fresh air this month! Read on for April’s top “must do” projects.
1. Repair the Fence
Winter can take a toll on the home and yard, and it can be particularly brutal on fences. Now that it’s nice enough to linger outside, walk around your property to check posts, gates, and other fencing elements. Replace a leaning fence post by breaking up the old footing, standing it upright again, and then pouring new concrete into the excavated area. While you’re at it, refresh any tired pickets or other surfaces with a coat of paint for a quick boost of curb appeal.
2. Sow Your Seeds
Once the danger of winter frost has passed, April is the time for sowing cool-season vegetable varieties outdoors. Plant your garden in raised beds for optimal drainage, or directly into the yard if your soil is arable. Choose your plants wisely, and opt only for foods you like—no one wants to get stuck with a bumper crop of cabbage the family won’t eat.
3. Reseal the Driveway
The secret to a long-lasting driveway is a routine resealing regimen. Choose a rain-free weekend to work, then spray down and scrub the drive clean. Allow it to dry for a full 24 hours. When it’s dry, pick up a driveway sealer from the hardware store and work it onto the asphalt in 4-foot by 4-foot patches using a squeegee or the back of a push broom. Keep tires (and feet) off the surface for another 24 hours to allow it to set properly.
4. Learn What Your Lawn Needs
Before you fertilize, sod, and reseed your lawn, you need to become familiar with its pH conditions, and it’s easy to do so by evaluating it with a soil test kit. (Many kits also test for key nutrients like nitrogen.) Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to determine your lawn’s pH. Once you’re armed with this information, you’ll be equipped to establish a feeding schedule for your lawn.
5. List the House
Thinking of putting your house on the market? Spring is historically the best time to do so. Before you list, consider making a few minor curb appeal updates that’ll show your house off to best advantage. Simple staging tips can transform your interior, too. For example, you’ll make it easier for buyers to picture themselves in their new home by packing away family memorabilia and knickknacks.
6. Wash Your Windows
Your home needs a thorough window washing twice each year: once in the spring to wash away winter dirt and grime, and once again in the fall before winterizing. Pick a cloudy day to work; this will help prevent streaks on the glass. Wash out window wells with a hose, then remove any storm windows and set aside for the season. Wipe screens clean of cobwebs and debris, and take a soapy sponge to window tracks. Dry with a lint-free cloth.
7. Plant a Tree
April is full of good reasons to plant a tree: Arbor Day, Earth Day, and—of course—the right climate to plant dormant trees. Your local nursery or garden center can help you choose an adolescent tree that’s right for your region, or you can become a member of the Arbor Day Foundation and receive 10 seedlings to plant on your property.
RELATED: 6 Fast-Growing Shade Trees
8. Prepare Your Home for Allergy Season
A wet and snowy winter can portend acute allergies come spring. Take precautions now by changing your HVAC filters regularly and keeping your windows closed while tree pollen is in the air. Allergy-proof your home by changing up your family’s routine: Get in the habit of checking footwear at the door, and place welcome mats both inside and outside the door to trap extra pollen.
9. Refresh Outdoor Furniture
Now that spring has sprung, it’s time to think about patio parties and alfresco dining once again. Ready your backyard barbecue area for guests by cleaning and perking up your outdoor furniture. Wicker chairs can be cleaned with a scrub brush, and rusty metal can handle a wire brush. A can of spray paint will go a long way toward putting a fresh face on a surprising range of patio pieces.
RELATED: How to Clean Patio Cushions
10. Power Wash the Patio
A year’s worth of grime can age a beautiful deck or patio beyond all recognition, but you can have your outdoor space gleaming again with an afternoon’s work: Use a pressure washer to spray down wood and concrete surfaces and lift away grime and mold. When the work is done, your space will look almost new again. Remember: When using a pressure washer on exterior siding, keep the wand a few feet away from the surface, as the powerful stream can cause damage to shake shingles or stucco at close range.