March has a way of bringing glimpses of hope as we get those lovely spring samplers here and there with the weather getting warmer. I personally love the excitement and sense of anticipation that comes with this time of year.
It’s time to get out.
It’s time to get dirty.
It’s time to SHINE!
Okay, so maybe the garden enthusiast in me got a little keyed up there BUT I think we can all agree that there is much to be excited for in March. Among all the excitement, don’t forget to tackle these few tasks before those April showers bring more than May flowers to your home.
1. Clean the Gutters
Task: Remove leaves, pine needles, and other debris that have accumulated over the winter so your gutter system is ready to handle spring showers. Overflowing gutters and blocked downspouts can damage siding and foundations.
Home Hack: Install gutter guards—screens, foam inserts, surface tension covers—which help to keep debris out of gutters. According to the folks at Consumer Reports screen types generally work best.
2. Clean the AC Condenser
Task: Remove dust and debris that have accumulated on the AC condenser (that big metal box outside your house) so that the AC works efficiently.
Home Hack: Hook up a garden hose and spray the outside of the condenser. The water will melt away the gunk. Don’t use a brush, and be careful if pressure washing—you could damage or bend the fins.
3. Prep the Yard
Task: Start bringing your yard back to life now, before temperatures warm up for real. Now is a good time to remove fall/winter debris, knock out your pruning and start figuring up how much mulch/fertilizer you may need for the year ahead.
Oh, and plants… can’t forget your plants! If you haven’t started yet, you’ll want to start game-planning plantings for the season ahead. What seeds/starters should you be getting ordered to ensure your order is locked in before suppliers sell out? I know planting season may seem a ways out but it will be here before you know it.
Don’t worry about ordering too far ahead – most nurseries have special shipping schedules to mitigate risk of damage to plants due to cold snaps. Make sure you’re connected with a nursery that knows your region and can help you plant for success.
Home Hack: Remove branches and stones, and use your lawn mower with a catch bag to make short work of dead leaves and twigs.
Got roses? For full, beautiful blooms, most landscaping experts will tell you to prune your rose bushes just before the plant breaks dormancy and after the final frost which is around mid-March for much of the country. If any buds are diseased, bag and toss them in the trash to avoid spreading fungus and infestations.
4. Clean the Siding
Task: Ditch the dirt and grime that can cause mildew and shorten the life of your siding. (You hear that? Pressure washing isn’t just cosmetic!) As a bonus, the exterior of your home will look fresh and clean for spring.
Home Hack: There’s no need for fancy cleaning solutions or power washers; a bucket of warm, soapy water and a long-handled brush are all you need. Rinse with water from a garden hose.
Word of Caution: Be mindful of any chemicals you may use to make quick work of cleaning your home. You want to be sure anything applied is not going to damage or kill your landscaping. This warning should be heeded all the more if being used around anything edible.
5. Clean and Repair Outdoor Decks
Task: Cleaning your deck of leaves and debris—especially between deck boards—prevents staining and reduces the chance of rot. Check for loose boards, and reset protruding nails to keep your deck safe.
Shortcuts: Use a flat-bladed screwdriver to pry gunk out from between boards. Use a deck cleaning product to revive faded and stained boards.
6. Caulk around Windows and Doors
Task: Inspect the caulking and repair any that was battered during the winter. Check around your windows, doors, and corner trim to prevent water infiltration and avoid costly repairs.
Home Hack: Feel like you’re always caulking? Cut down on the frequency of this task if you buy high-quality siliconized acrylic latex caulk rated for exterior use. These products are made to have better adhesion and flexibility, clean up easily with water, and are paintable as well.
7. Inspect Walkways and Driveways
Task: Winter is tough on concrete and asphalt—freezing and thawing cycles can break apart stone and concrete. You’ll want to seal cracks with sealant made for the specific material of your driveway or walkway to prevent further damage.
Home Hack: Legend has it, you can stuff foam backer rods in large cracks to reduce the amount of sealant you’ll need.
8. Inspect the Roofing
Task: Take a close look at your roofing to check for loose and missing shingles, worn and rusted flashing, and cracked boots around vent pipes.
Home Hack: Make it easy on yourself by checking your roof with a pair of binoculars while standing firmly—and safely—on the ground. Be sure to follow this up with periodic checks by roofing specialists who can get up there and take a closer look as there’s much that can be missed looking up on the angle.