Turn Your Attention to Your Outdoor To-Do List

Get some fresh air while you get your house ready for summer.

A turn in the weather is enough to drive everyone towards outdoor activities, be it a stroll through the neighborhood, dining on the patio, or making it your mission to chip away at your home maintenance to-do list. Around here we always suggest these maintenance tips to get your home ready for spring, but I’ve also been compiling my outdoor chore list for months, and now that the weather is warm and threat of frost has passed, I can get to work.

Get yourself outdoors too, and don’t forget to cross these home maintenance tasks off your to-do list:

Clean Your Screens

Ventilating the stale, winter air from your home is often one of the first inclinations on a warm spring day. But first, take a moment to clean the screens. You’ll have the best results if you can remove the screen from your window all together; use a hand vacuum to lift loose spider webs and dust from the screen, and if that isn’t enough, use a garden hose to wash it down and allow the screens to air dry in the sun before reinstalling. Check out these tips for cleaning door and window screens.

Wash Siding

Giving your siding a good rinse is the first step at achieving curb appeal. Dust and dirt from the Fall and Winter accumulate easily on siding, and usually more heavily on the side of your home that faces the road due to traffic distributing dust. Single-story homes can easily be cleaned by hand, or with the help of a pressure washer. Use a ladder, several rags, and a bucket of warm water to maintain your siding, and use it as an opportunity to make sure that the exterior including soffits, window seals and gutters are in good shape too. For 2+ story homes, use an extendable wand to wipe siding on upper stories. Here’s an easy guide for cleaning your siding. 

Maintain Your AC Unit

Spring is the perfect time to maintain your air conditioning system. Bring in local pros for a quick check-up or review the following DIY tips and be confident that it’ll be operating efficiently and without error once you need it to cool the entire house.

  • Remove plants that may be preventing the AC unit from breathing.
  • Make sure that the fins on the unit are not bent, so they can continue to provide good airflow.
  • Check that the unit is level.
  • And check for damage on circuit boards, wiring and compressor tubing.

Essential AC Maintenance 02:49

Follow this simple check list to keep your AC unit operating efficiently.

Re-seal Your Driveway

Living in the Northeast, I’ve found a short window of time between the winter and summer seasons when the cracks in the driveway haven’t yet sprouted weeds or moss, and the temperatures are ideal both day and night. A sealed driveway not only boosts curb appeal, but helps to preserve the integrity of the driveway so that it can last longer. Take advantage of this time of year and spend a day repairing and and resealing your driveway. Learn how easy it is to reseal your driveway (if I can do it, you can too).

If you have a gravel driveway, spring is a great time of year to rake on a fresh layer of stone. It will cut down on weeds and improve your curb appeal.

Maintain Your Outdoor Tools

Sharpen pruning shears, sharpen your chainsaw, sharpen your mower blade (sharpen all of the things!). Also, fill up your gas can for the lawnmower, create any oil/gas mixes that your small tools require, and refill the spool on your string trimmer too. Phew! Lots to do, lots to do.

Show Your Lawn Some Love

Do a soil test to check the acidity before you put down new seed or nutrients. If you have acidic soil, lime is a great nutrient to add because it’ll encourage growth of existing and new grass seed. You can also supplement the health of existing grass with a slow-release fertilizer; you’ll want to help it absorb, so the best time to spread lawn fertilizers is right before (or during!) a good rainstorm. 

Use in Spreader to Distribute Insecticide on a Lawn

Use in Spreader to Distribute Insecticide on a Lawn

Ortho BugBGon effectively eliminates grubs, Chinch bugs, cutworms, army worms and sod webworms that will damage a lawn.

Photo by: Debbie Wolfe

Debbie Wolfe

Lawn aerating and dethatching is also a good springtime chore; if your soil is compacted, an aerating will help aid growth of grass and help it thrive all summer. Do it again in the fall for best results.

Insect control can be managed all spring and summer, but familiarize yourself with the products available, especially products that effectively prevent a multitude of pests (ants, grubs, ticks, fleas, spiders) and have them available at home so that you can be ready to act when pests pop up.

Landscape Garden Beds

Quick, before all of the weeds sprout, tend to your landscaped garden beds. Chances are, if you mulched in the fall the product you put down will still do a good job blocking weeds in the spring, but if you need to redistribute mulch, or add extra landscape fabric to block weeds, spring is a good time of year to tackle this.

It’s also a great time of year to transplant ground cover, or put new plants into your beds. Use the spring showers to your advantage at helping the roots of these new plants take hold, and water regularly so that they are ready to withstand hotter temperatures come summer.

How to Shape a Lawn or Garden Space

See All Photos

Measure the New Shape and Size of Your Lawn

Sketch out the design on a piece of paper first, and then use a tape measure to transfer these measurements onto the lawn.

Photo By: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Lawns and Groundcover © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Identify the Center of the Circle

Once you have it pinpointed, place a tent peg in it. Attach a piece of string to it and then holding it taut, swing it around in a circle to the desired size, trailing sand or using spray paint to mark out the circumference.

Begin Cutting the Groundcover

Using the trail of sand as a guide, firmly cut straight downward to a depth of about 1-1/4 inches to 1-1/2 inches, using a half moon cutter. At intervals throughout the process, check that the shape of the circle is even.

Slide a Spade Underneath the Turf to Be Removed

Sever the roots away from the soil. Carefully lift the sections of turf, and place them upside down in the compost heap to allow them to decompose.

Line the New Edging

Take a strip of strong, flexible edging material, and wrap it tightly around the outside of the circle or curve. Push it firmly down into the soil, ensuring that it does not poke up above the surface of the lawn.

Fill Empty Spaces

Add slate, pebbles, or bark chippings to the spaces left by the removed turf, making sure that they sit below the surface of the lawn to make it easier to mow. Alternatively, the gaps could be used as planting pockets.

Make Sure the Lawn is Hydrated

The lawn may need watering around the newly exposed edges until it is established. You can use this shaping method for straight-sided shapes as well — use a line of taut string to ensure that you achieve a straight edge.

Other outdoor tasks you might want to add to your to-do list:

  • Hire an arborist. We like to check in with a tree professional periodically to make sure the trees nearest our home are healthy.
  • Check the pool. Remove the cover and do a quick assessment of water levels and pump condition so that you can proactively schedule a pro to maintain, if necessary. You’ll want to be able to make a splash as soon as summer is here.
  • Update your house numbers. Here's a tutorial I made that shows you how to make your own durable numbers from cementboard.
  • Remove brush. We always find it easiest to clear brush while the ground is soft in the spring, and leaves are not fully grown.
  • Clean your outdoor furniture.
  • Strip and refinish a deck. Be ready to entertain all year long.
  • Replace outdoor spotlights with LED bulbs for efficiency. The savings will keep on coming!

More Spring Cleaning

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5 Spots You’re Forgetting to Clean in the Kitchen

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Wrap up your container garden season with some TLC for pots: wash, sanitize and drip dry.

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