Spring Cleaning for the Outside
Spring has (almost) sprung, which means that warmer days, blooming flowers, and singing birds are just around the corner. It also means that the ravages left behind by winter are on full display, and that mud, leaves, and other debris have turned the exterior of your home into an unsightly mess. So, as you get started on spring cleaning, don't forget to tend to the outside of your house too. Here are 10 outdoor spots that could use some special attention now that the worst of winter is behind us.
With spring showers ahead, you want your rain gutters clear and ready to handle the runoff. Winter storms knock leaves, branches, and debris into rain gutters, so put on your work gloves, scale a ladder (grab a friend to act as spotter), scrape out as much debris as you can, and then hose away the rest. While you’re at it, clear clogs from the downspouts, and make sure they direct water well away from the foundation.
Good fences may make good neighbors, but a rundown fence is just an eyesore—for both you and your neighbor. Spruce up your fence by raking leaves and other debris away from the base and then hosing or scrubbing off any mud. Touch up wooden fences as needed with fresh paint or sealant.
Don’t let dirty windows dim the sparkle of spring sunshine. You can hire a service to clean the outside of your windows, or you can tackle the job yourself. You'll need a sprayer hose attachment, ladder, squeegee, a rag or two, the cleaning solution of your choice, and quite a lot of elbow grease, but the crisp view out your windows will make it all worthwhile.
Your home’s exterior walls keep you warm, safe, and dry throughout the worst of winter’s fury, but in the process they get splashed and stained with mud, especially near ground level. An afternoon with a power washer, or even a hose with a jet attachment, will make quick work of the grime and tidy up the outside of your home. Pay extra attention to recessed areas, the tops of walls where insects like to nest, and walls bordered by lawn or plantings.
Outdoor Kitchen and Entertaining Areas
When backyard entertaining goes dormant for the winter, dirt, grime, and creepy-crawlies take over your patio, barbecue, or outdoor kitchen. Get ready for backyard bashes by inspecting your outdoor furniture, grill, sink, and counters, for wear and tear, then hose or scrub away the accumulated dust or grime.
Even if you live in a mild climate where gardening is a year-round hobby, use these early days of spring to clean up your garden beds. Rake out leaves, pull last year's dead annuals, and trim back spent perennials. Spring is also the time to prune summer-blooming trees and shrubs, including crape myrtle, butterfly bush, and hybrid tea roses. Most evergreens are also ready for a haircut by early spring. And, of course, remove broken or diseased branches from any type of greenery.
While you're working your way around the outside of your house, don't forget your garage. Haul off unneeded tools, unused sports equipment, and other clutter to the thrift store, and toss anything that’s no longer usable. Then, sweep the floors, wipe shelving units, knock down cobwebs, and give garage door springs and hinges a light touch of oil to keep them working smoothly and silently.
Trellises, archways, pergolas, gazebos, and benches add beauty to a yard, but they can look a little ragged after a rough winter. Go ahead and hose down all your garden structures, then replace any broken or rotted wood pieces and repaint or reseal as necessary.
Blast away mud, water or salt stains, algae, and general grunge from your exterior paths and walkways with a power washer or hose with a jet attachment. Use a stiff broom to push stray gravel back onto gravel paths or driveways, and if necessary, refill the spaces between bricks or pavers with fresh sand, grout, or gravel. If winter's many freeze-thaw cycles heaved your pavers out of place, level the ground before returning them to their proper positions.
Depending on where you live, it may have been months since you've seen your lawn. Now that it's emerging from its snowy blanket—or at least emerging from dormancy—bid it a hearty good morning and get it ready for a season of vigorous growth. If you live in a cold climate it's still too early to seed, but wherever you live, early spring is a great time to remove winter debris, dethatch the lawn, and apply spring fertilizer. Once all danger of frost has passed, go ahead and seed your entire lawn, or reseed just those areas that are damaged or dead.
You Missed a Spot...
You might be tired from spring cleaning inside, but look at tidying up your outdoor space as a chance to get fresh air and spend time outside. Plus, you'll want your yard and patio to be clean so you can enjoy it all season long!
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