Clean up the remnants of cold weather to fully take advantage of outdoor spaces.
Spring is undoubtedly a beautiful time of year — daylong sunshine, blooming flowers and green grass are more than welcome after gray winter skies. But, there’s no denying how much work goes into cleaning up the yard after the snow melts. Just as you would on the inside of the home, it’s important to administer some spring cleaning techniques outdoors.
Here are a few ideas to freshen home exteriors after a long winter.
Wash the exterior thoroughly
Don’t waste time scrubbing the entirety of your house by hand. A pressure washer eliminates the need for elbow grease and even has a compartment for specialized detergents, mimicking the same soapy scrubbing without the muscle aches. Be careful, though, as pressure washers can be dangerous if used incorrectly.
“I actually have used a pressure washer,” says Heather Hahn of Chiffon Souffle. “It was when I had to assist my dad back home in washing off our front patio to our lake cottages. When I was using it, I felt like I was going to be knocked over. You need to have a strong, sturdy stance when you’re using one of those.”
Although primarily an autumn task, check the gutters to make sure no debris clogged passageways over the winter. Wash all windows and screens thoroughly. For a natural cleanser, combine 50 percent water with 50 percent vinegar and wipe down grimy glass with crumpled newspapers over paper towels.
Spruce up the garden and lawn
If you live on the East Coast, you likely experienced heavy amounts of snowfall this past winter. When temperatures warm, it’s common to see hats, gloves and garbage lying about the yard that disappeared under blankets of cold snow. Make sure to go around the yard and dispose (or wash) any out-of-place items before proceeding with lawn care.
Whether trying to attract house hunters or just sprucing up for your own enjoyment, an aesthetically-pleasing lawn requires more than trash removal. After snow melts, grass is usually soggy, flat and brown. First, try raking matted blades to bring them back to life. Then, sprinkle fertilizer for added nutrients. Check your sprinkler system to ensure it’s functioning efficiently so grass remains hydrated and green through July and August.
“It’s really important to get an early start on the lawn,” says Mike Collins of Wealthy Turtle. “I try to throw down some fertilizer and fresh seed as soon as the weather warms and then water it religiously until it takes root.”
For even healthier grass, consider calling an aeration service company. Aeration allows water and air to reach the roots of grass faster for a plush looking lawn.
Replace or refurbish lawn furniture
Forget fumbling with towels or suffering pesky mud stains to enjoy the outdoors. Instead, furnish your yard. It’s important to use furniture intended for outdoor settings. Wicker, wood, metal and resin are the most common materials used outside due to their durability. Patio furnishings are designed to weather the elements, but they may require intermittent upkeep.
If you’re purchasing new pieces, check out garage sales. Many homeowners downsizing or moving to an apartment without patio or yard space need to unload their outdoor furnishings, and buying second-hand is a great way to find quality at a low cost.
If you failed to winterize your patio furniture, no fear. You can implement a few different techniques to revamp your tarnished outdoor chairs and chaises, depending on the material.
For wrought-iron, apply a fresh coat of stain or paint. Don’t forget to use a rust-resistant primer. If rusting is widespread, you might want to sandblast and start fresh. Aluminum doesn’t rust, but regular washing and waxing will keep surfaces shining.
Wood furniture should always be protected with outdoor varnish to avoid drying and cracking. Faux wicker (made of vinyl) should be scrubbed regularly. Bamboo tends to split when left out for extended periods of time, so make sure to bring pieces inside during inclement weather or stow away at the end of the season. Plastic is easy to scratch while cleaning, but blemishes can be painted over with specialized super-bond paints.
Although it may not be warm enough to bask in the sun quite yet, get started now so you’re prepped for breezy, open-air living all summer long.