Bob Vila's 10 March "Must Do" Projects

Spring officially starts this month, and with the change in seasons comes a new flurry of activity. The warm weather will undoubtedly draw the family outside, which is why it's important to clean and maintain your outdoor spaces now. It's just as timely to turn your attention to the floors (and what lies beneath them in the basement) before blue skies and sunny days keep you away from the old tool belt.

Repair a Battered Deck

Repair the deck

In most regions, temperatures are finally rising to where it's comfortable enough to work outdoors, but it's still not quite backyard hangout season. If your deck needs routine maintenance or repairs, do them now. Start by checking deck boards for deterioration. Soft, spongy, or cracked boards should be replaced with new pressure-treated wood. Make sure that handrails and deck posts are secure—if they feel wobbly or appear rotted, repair or replace them.

Related: 6 Simple Steps to a Refreshed Deck

Patch Cracked Concrete

Patch cracked concrete

Although durable, concrete driveways, walkways, and patios can crack when exposed to repeated fluctuations in temperature, specifically the frequent freezing and thawing that happens during winter. To fix damage, take a hammer and chisel to the affected area and chip away any cracked or crumbling concrete. Rinse and let dry before applying a repair mixture. 

Related: Time's Up—9 Things to Repair in Your Home Before It's Too Late

Clean House

Spring Cleaning

Winter is on the way out and with it also goes corrosive salt melt, slushy entryway mats, and stuffy indoor air. Give your house a total refresh by cleaning the windows, inside and out. Wipe down the inside of kitchen appliances, including the fridge, microwave, and dishwasher. Once that's done, you can turn your attention to your home exterior. Consider renting a pressure washer to spray away a year's worth of grime from deck, porch, and patio flooring.

Related: 13 Lazy Cleaning Tricks for a Spotless Home

Sharpen Lawn Mower Blades

Sharpen lawn mower blades

When it comes to cutting the grass, dull mower blades are more than just an inconvenience, as they increase mowing time and can also cause harm to your lawn. Dull blades tug at grass blades, leaving a lawn ragged and discolored, while sharp blades cut grass cleanly and neatly, resulting in a yard that looks lush and green. Sharpen your blades now so you can be prepared for peak lawn mowing season. You can do it yourself, or pay a pro at your local home store or licensed mower dealer to do the job.

Related: 7 Lawn Care Myths Debunked

Wax the Floors

Wax hardwood floors

For gleaming hardwood floors, try giving them a polish with old-fashioned wax. Wax can only be applied to certain flooring types, such as unvarnished hardwood or concrete, so be sure to check your flooring type and the label on the can of wax before beginning. Apply the wax evenly over the floor using a lint-free rag. Once dry, buff the surface with a clean sponge mop or dry towel. You'll be left with shining floors that make the whole house look new.

Related: 7 Unusual Tricks for Your Cleanest Floors Ever

Level the Yard

Level depressions in the yard

Low spots in the yard can turn into a soggy mess after enduring spring rains. Not only do these depressions lead to muddy, damaged portions of lawn, but they also encourage mosquitoes and other pests in the yard. Fill large low spots by cutting pieces of sod away from the area using a spade. Set the pieces of turf aside and topsoil, bringing it level with the rest of the yard. Replace the grass and water it to conceal your work. 

Related: 10 Natural Ways to Combat Summer Mosquitoes

Check for Leaks

Check garden hose for damage

Ideally, you've stored your garden hose in a relatively warm garage or shed during winter in order to protect it from frequent freezing and thawing. Even so, examine the hose for damage it may have incurred throughout last season. The easiest way to do this is to hook the hose to an outdoor spigot and turn on the tap. Any leaks will be easy to spot with water springing through splits and tears. Repair the hose by cutting out the damaged sections and patching it back together again with the help of a hose repair kit that you can pick up at any home center.

Related: 9 Essential Tools for Every Gardener

Refresh the Mailbox

Repaint the mailbox

Every home exterior needs a mailbox, but an old, outworn one can be a blemish on your curb appeal. If yours has been damaged by weather, consider taking a wire brush to the box to remove any rust. Then give it a coat or two of spray paint in a color that coordinates with your home. If your mailbox is beyond saving, replace it with a brand-new one. 

Related: Before and After—DIY Facelifts for 8 Home Exteriors

Inspect the Sump Pump

Inspect the sump pump

A sump pump is your first line of defense against basement flooding due to spring rains, and a little maintenance on it now will save a lot of trouble later in the season. Remove the cover on the sump pump and remove any debris that has accumulated. Test the sump pump by pouring water into the pit. If the pump switches on after the water level reaches 9 inches, everything is in working order. If not, it may need to be replaced.

Related: The Invincible Yard—12 Ideas for Lazy Landscaping

Examine the Siding

Check home exterior siding

Winter weather can leave exterior siding in rough shape. Chipping paint leaves wood vulnerable to rain and rot, while dirt and grime dulls your home's appearance. Take time now to inspect the siding, checking for any signs of rot, cracks, or peeling paint. Once you've replaced or repaired any damaged portions, give it a good wash with a pressure washer—available for rent at most home centers—or an ordinary garden hose.

Related: 8 Exterior Paint Colors to Help You Sell Your Home

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