Are we still debating on whether or not we’re ready for Spring weather? Think our local forecaster needs to get the memo and start doing something about these forecasts ’cause this southern bell is ready to move on.
Don’t you judge me.
I know I’m not the only one.
A great many of us are ready to stash our coats for a while to prep for the months ahead.
April creates the perfect window during the year to tackle many home projects as most areas straddle between harsh winter conditions and the heat of summer, which can really make even the simplest maintenance tasks feel like intensive chores.
In the majority of cases, regular maintenance takes minimal time and expense. But left unchecked, minor tasks quickly turn into major headaches that could be avoided with a little regular attention.
So tap into that seasonal surge of enthusiasm by completing these easy spring chores.
1. Check Your Yard for Low Spots
Task: After a spring shower, tour your yard to look for puddles that indicate low spots that will kill your grass and could possibly provide a happy breeding ground for mosquitoes; not to mention serve as a safety hazard for people trekking through the yard.
Home Hack: Mark low spots with a short stake (you can cheat and use a paint stick or put some paint on a stick to help it stand out). Fill a wheelbarrow with good dirt and make your rounds. Don’t worry about burying grass—it can grow through a couple of inches of soil cover. if your low spots are a touch deeper, sprinkle with preferred seeding and cover with a touch of straw to hold moisture and promote germination.
2. Check Soil Drainage Around Your Foundation
Task: Make sure soil slopes away from foundation walls to prevent water from soaking the soil around your foundation and causing leaks and cracks. Working all around the parameter of your home to check this may seem like a pain in the butt but could save you many thousands on thousand of dollars in what it could otherwise cost you to remediate an issue you could have fixed in minutes or hours with a shovel.
Home Hack: Use an 8-foot-long stud (two-by-four) and a level to determine how much slope the land currently has. Note: the general recommendation for sloping is for the final grade away from the house to drop at least 0.5 inch per foot for 10 feet. (*This could be more or less depending on your area, climate and/or soil conditions so be sure to check with local experts for their suggested specs on this.)
3. Clean Out Planting Beds
Task: Prepare flower and veggie beds for spring planting by removing debris, trimming back last year’s dead perennial growth and adding your layers of compost and mulch.
Home Hacks: To avoid double work, place a compostable bag on a wheelbarrow or garden cart and fill it with weeds and spent plants as you work through the beds. If the green matter is disease-free, empty bags into your compost pile. If you see fungi or bugs, tie the bags and toss in the trash.
Looking for a good weed barrier? Try layering old newspaper or, what I like to do, is make sure I get paper bags each time I hit the grocery store. I set these aside and use them instead of the plastic or non-composting weed barriers that tend to just make a mess of the soil over the years. Keep the layers thick (1-2 bags thick) and mulch over top. This usually lasts the growing season then breaks down, feeding the worms and adding to your soil rather than wrecking it.
4. Check Sprinkler System
Task: Get your sprinkler system ready for summer by inspecting each zone to make sure it’s working and giving you the proper coverage. If you find dry spots, straighten and re-align any crooked sprinkler heads. Replace heads with broken or worn parts.
Home Hack: Draw a quick diagram of your property, and sketch in sprinkler heads and supply line locations. Turn on each zone individually, noting any problems on your sketch. Then turn off the system and water supply to make corrections and repairs where noted.
5. Tune Up Your Lawn Mower
Task: Sharpen the cutting blade, add a new spark plug and air filter and change the oil to make sure you’re ready to tame your lush lawn. Regular spring maintenance ensures a long life for your mower and avoids costly replacement.
Home Hack: Run your mower for a minute or two to warm the oil before draining it. Warm oil runs out faster and more completely than cold, sluggish oil. After running the mower, disconnect the spark plug before servicing. Just be cautious to not get burned when touching parts of the mower that may have heated while running. You shouldn’t need to run it long to warm the oil.
6. Check Foundation and Eave Vents for Obstructions and Damage
Task: Your house needs to breathe and has vents that let air circulate through crawl spaces and roof framing to help prevent mold and mildew. These vents have screens to keep debris and critters out. Tour your house to check and clean clogged vents along the foundation walls and under eaves, and to repair any broken or missing screens.
Home Hack: To make easy repairs, look for pre-made vent screens at hardware stores and home improvement centers.
7. Spot Worn and Chipped Exterior Paint
Task: Not all house painting tasks are major. This yearly job involves inspecting your siding and exterior trim for small cracks and chips and repairing spots before moisture can penetrate.
Home Hack: Store and label extra paint in airtight containers so you can spot-paint as needed. (I like using a sharpie to right the room/location I painted that color on each can.) Keep paint identification numbers on file so you can replace paint if you run out.