You wouldn’t know it by the three feet of snow we’ve had in some areas of the Kansas City metro but, yes, spring is around the corner. I, for one, couldn’t be happier for the chance to get outside. I’ve had enough time indoors this winter to think about what I’m going to do when spring weather hits so let me share 10 tips from my list to help you get ready for spring and summer.
Weed, feed and seed your lawn
This one is kind of a no-brainer especially if you value the curb appeal your house gains by having a lush, weed-free yard. One key tip when thinking about what kind of fertilizer goes onto your yard is to avoid a fertilizer heavy in nitrogen. It’s the first of the three numbers on the bag of fertilizer and only promotes leaf growth in the grass plant. I suggest something more balanced, which will help the total grass plant.
Fertilize and trim shrubs, especially flowering shrubs
I have some Red Wiegela and other flowering shrubs, like wild roses, around the house and they tend to perform much better with a trim when green shoots appear on their branches. Trimming also helps them hold a pleasing shape and makes them easier to manage as they mature. On the fertilizer front, I usually buy a 20 pound bag of slow-release 12-12-12 (this is a balanced fertilizer per the tip above) and I will throw a small handful of this around all my shrubs (except my euonymus and barberries). I also put this fertilizer around my day lilies, but I will lower the amount I throw around them.
Check those gutters
The constant freezing and thawing of winter can wreak havoc on your gutters. The weight of the snow and the ice can shift their position against your house, which may cause them to not capture runoff from your roof. Fixing this may be as simple as pounding the nails that hold your gutter up back into the fascia board. Additionally, with heavy spring rains a given in our area, if you have downspout attachments at the end of your downspouts, make sure they are connected. Lastly, check for matted leaves in your gutters leftover from fall and remove promptly.
Plant a tree
This one is kind of fun to undertake since you can watch the tree grow and know that it’s doing its part in helping process the carbon dioxide on the planet. I planted a Heritage River Birch two years ago and have found it to be a fast grower and able to withstand hot summers. One tree to avoid, however, is the Bradford Pear, which will grow fast and keep its shape, but are brittle and tend to fall apart when they are old or laden with snow and ice. Silver Maples are also a fast growing, but extremely weak tree to avoid. New sub-divisions won’t even allow these two trees to be planted.
Check your deck
I am always amazed at how much a deck has to endure over the winter. The concrete piers can shift in the ground and the post supports above them can have a mind of their own too. Not corrected, these problems can worsen over time and be costly to repair. The deck planks themselves can warp and nails can work their way out of the boards. Here again is ice at work. I recall one year where pieces of one plank in my deck stuck up like a surf board after winter had ended. I removed the protruding piece of decking and sealed the deck. Years later, I replaced the entire deck and chose Trex decking (http://www.trex.com) and have been very happy with its performance.
Look at the paint on your house and repair any critter damage
Each year I take a walk around my house to see how the paint is holding up and make the call on what needs to be repainted. The south side of my house is the front and, as you can imagine, it takes a beating from the summer sun. I usually combine this home walk-around with checking out my gutters. Critters do damage to my house every year too. I have squirrels which, I guess, think my house is where they sharpen their claws and teeth. This year, one spot by my garage has had a bunch of scratching so I’ll be filling that up with wood filler. After I’ve repainted it, I’ll spray it often with a cayenne pepper and water mixture to try to keep them away.
Prepare for the insect invasion
When the spring rains come, the insects outside will look for dry places to reside. Each quarter, I’ll have an exterminator spray the inside and outside of the house. It helps cut down on the rollie pollies and silver fish. I also have them look for termites since I live in an area with older trees. Amazingly, there is, on average, one termite colony per acre so it makes sense to take a proactive approach to keep them away. My house has some older termite damage and I can easily see how expensive this is to repair.
Decide not to bag your grass clippings
Bagging your grass clippings is laborious, needlessly fills landfills with organic waste and is a tremendous misuse of whatever fertilizer money you spend on your yard. Experts have shown that grass clippings contain a tremendous amount of what they absorb so, as clippings, they help your yard. What’s more, the clippings insulate the soil level from heat, helping to retain moisture for your yard. If you bag your clippings, think about making this year the one you stop bagging and start mulching.
Replace some windows and get the energy tax credits
I like this tip so much I have already replaced all my windows in my home and taken advantage of tax credits from Uncle Sam. According to Dewey Walcutt at http://www.windowsbywow.com, the tax credit in 2010 is up to $1500 on all windows and doors that meet a U-factor and SHGC of equal to or less than 30. Pick a window in your house that is the worst one for leaking air and think about replacing it.
Set up a birdhouse
I saved the best for last. You can build your feeder or buy one. Businesses like the Wild Bird Center in Prairie Village are great places to learn and get started. Birds are beneficial in bug control and I enjoy summer nights on the deck watching these winged creatures frequent the feeder. Occasionally, we will see a new bird like an Oriole. We also have a humming bird feeder and they are really fun to watch and marvel at their flying capabilities. It’s cheap fun around the house and you’re helping nature at the same time.
There are many things to do in the spring time and these 10 tips are just a few of the things you can do to get your spring started and they’ll put you well on your way to a fun and leisurely summer.