Spring Cleaning, Backyard Style
Seven time-saving tips to get your backyard ready for summer
(ARA) - Now that the wintry weather is gone and the colorful blooms
are back, its time to think about spring cleaning. But while youre
washing windows, scrubbing walls and dusting corners inside the house,
dont forget about rolling up those sleeves and giving the
outside a once-over, too.
Spending some time in the backyard as soon as
spring rolls around can really pay off. Winter can leave a lawn
in pretty tough shape, says backyard expert Michael Miller,
president of backyard tool manufacturer Hound Dog Products. But
there are lots of little things you can do to help spruce up your
backyard when the weather starts to turn warmer. By digging in to
cleanup in early spring, youll be ahead of the game, and your
neighbors will be playing catch-up all year long.
- Miller offers seven tips that the
professionals use to ensure a successful backyard spring cleanup
effort -- and to help your homes outside sparkle and shine as
vibrantly as the inside. * Rake. As soon as the lawn begins to wake
up for the season, give it a light once-over with a rake, taking
care not to disturb any new grass plants by raking too hard. In
addition to clearing leaves, twigs and other debris left over from
last fall, the first raking of the year also allows you to assess
the extent of any winter damage to your lawn. Look for early signs
of pests or disease, and nip them in the bud before they cause big
- * Aerate. Heavy use throughout the year can
cause soil to become compacted. Removing plugs of sod in the spring
-- aerating -- loosens the soil and lets water, air and fertilizer
get down to the grass plants root structure. For smaller
yards, or for concentrated trouble spots in any size yard, consider
using a manual aerating tool that removes plugs from the turf. If
you have a large yard, consider renting a power aerator.
- * Top dress. After you aerate, spend a few
minutes doing what the experts call top dressing,
spreading a thin layer of peat moss over the lawn with a rake. The
top dressing helps to gradually condition the lawn throughout the
year, strengthening the grass so it can resist disease, weeds and
thatch, and reducing the amount of water and fertilizer it needs.
- * Weed. Go after weeds early in the season
before they have a chance to go to seed. Cultivating a healthy lawn
is one of the simplest ways to crowd out weeds. Or, remove
dandelions and other broadleaf weeds with an easy-to-use weeder.
Ergonomic tools like the Weed Hound have helped make long afternoons
spent weeding nothing more than a backbreaking memory. All you do is
place the tool over the weed, step lightly on the footrest, and pull
the weed up, root and all.
- * Fix bare spots. Whether its due to
disease or dog urine, bare patches can make a yard look shabby. A
quick and easy way of improving the look of your yard is to repair
the discolored patches, especially in early spring, when the cooler
temperatures help the grass grow. Just clear away the dead-looking
patches, sprinkle grass seed on the newly exposed soil, add
fertilizer, and keep the area moist until it sprouts.
- * Remove thatch build-up. Thatch prevents
sunlight, oxygen and moisture from getting to the nutrient-hungry
soil below. But its easy to remove, especially if you do it
regularly -- every year or two. Just go at the yard with a
dethatching rake or power dethatcher to clean away the layer of
tangled roots and stems. It takes some elbow grease, but it will
help clear the way for new growth.
- * Give your tools a spring tune-up. Spend a
few minutes in the garage or storage shed making sure your tools are
in good working condition -- before you need to use them for the
first time. Consider taking your lawn mower in for an annual
tune-up. The dealer can replace the oil and spark plugs, sharpen the
blade, and get it ready for the season.
A little effort in early spring can lay the
groundwork for a thriving, healthy backyard -- and have your neighbors
turning green with envy. For more backyard tips, visit
Courtesy of ARA Content