Spring is the time to awaken your yard after a long winter and get it ready for an enjoyable summer. Use these tips to stay on top of your outdoor maintenance tasks this season.

Spring Readiness

prepare the yard with a thorough cleaning

Get started on the right foot with a complete yard clean-up.

  • Blow leaves and other debris into neat piles using a leaf blower, and gather it into large yard waste bags.
  • Clean the exterior of your home with a pressure washer  connected to a quality garden hose. Use a recommended strength of 1200-3000 psi, and and be sure to test it on a small corner of the siding first. Do not use a pressure washer on window screens.
  • Inspect irrigation lines for parts that may have loosened due to the freezing and thawing of the soil.
  • Remove the burlap that you added in the fall to trees and shrubs.
Prune your Trees, Bushes and hedges

Any tree branches, hedges, or bushes that dried up in the winter should be pruned back in early spring.

  • Make quick work of tree trimming with a  chainsaw, but only for limbs up to shoulder height.
  • To prune small trees or large shrubs, use a pruning saw.
  • Use a bow saw to prune branches more than half an inch in diameter.
  • Prune unwanted shoots where tree branches intersect. Cut evergreen trees back to lateral branches.
  • Cut small branches that are beyond your reach with a telescopic pole saw.
  • Do not prune more than one-third of a tree at a time.
  • Provide supplemental deep root fertilization for trees, especially those that are young and not established yet.
  • Use hedge trimmers to prune and shape hedges every year. Trim back smaller hedges lightly.
  • Prune back blooming shrubs like forsythia after they start to flower.
  • It is best to hire a licensed and insured arborist to prune large branches.
prune your perennials

Perennials should be trimmed back at the start of spring to prepare for the new growth season.

  • Trim perennials down to about 4"-5".
  • For any ornamental grasses, trim to a height of 2"-3".
  • If you have climbing plants, remove the older wood canes and reshape them using a textile fastening system or jute twine.
  • Daylilies and hostas should be transplanted with about three stems per clump.
  • After each cutting, spray your pruners with a solution consisting of equal parts water and rubbing alcohol. Doing this will help prevent the spread of disease from one plant to another.
  • Put together a pruning kit that includes a bypass hand pruner, a lopper trimmer,  gloves, kneeling pads, a tool bagplant ties, and a wastebasket.
prune your rose bushes

Ensure beautiful and healthy growth as the weather grows warmer for any rose bushes on your property by pruning them back.

  • Early spring is the ideal time to prune repeat-blooming rose bushes.
  • Rose canes should be pruned down to about 1" below blackened areas.
  • Deter insects from pruned canes by applying a dab of wood glue to the ends.
jump-start your lawn maintenance

Beginning your lawn care maintenance early in the springtime will let you enjoy a healthier lawn throughout the entire growing season.

  • Start by removing turf that has been damaged by disease, salt, or plows. Apply new grass seed to bare areas.
  • You can begin grass seeding as soon as the weather is warm and when there is no more concern for frost.
  • Check the pH level of your soil and apply soil amendments as-needed.
  • Lawn fertilizers can be added using a spreader once temperatures are consistently warm.
  • Apply crabgrass treatment in early spring before the crabgrass begins to grow.
  • Seed your lawn at least two weeks before applying weed treatments. Alternatively, you can plant new seed in the fall as well.
  • Pull out your lawn mower and start cutting the grass when it reaches a height of 2", but take care not to cut more than one-third of the grass height at a time.
take time to remove weeds

Removing weeds before they have a chance to spread will save you a lot of trouble later on.

  • Get rid of dandelions using a weeder before they begin seeding.
  • Do not throw weeds into your compost pile, as sprouts can grow and reseeding may occur.
examine any outdoor spigots

Freezing temperatures can cause damage to outdoor spigots over the winter, so be sure to check them out.

  • Test your spigots by placing your thumb over the hole and turning on the water. If you can stop the water flow, then it may indicate damage.
  • Examine your garden hose for cracks and holes as well so that you can purchase a new one early in the season.
clean flower borders and beds

Prepare your flower beds and flower borders for fresh plantings by cleaning them out.

  • Pull up annuals now if it was not already done in fall.
  • Use a rake to remove dead foliage and leaves.
  • Take away old mulch to make room for  new mulch.
  • Push down any roots of frost-heaved plants.
  • Apply 5-10-10 fertilizer around bulbs and the recommended fertilizer  for any flowers.
  • Use a square-head  shovel to create a clean edge for your flower beds.
  • Use a wheelbarrow to make it easier to carry around all of your gardening supplies.
Bring out your landscape and lawn tools

Be prepared to tackle any landscaping task by taking your tools out of winter storage.

  • Take stock of your collection to ensure you have the right tools for all your spring yard tasks.
  • Give your tools a quick inspection to see if they require repair or replacement.
  • Carry out any necessary tool maintenance.
  • Make sure your tools are carefully cleaned before use.
  • Start your  power tools  to check that they still work.
Maintain Your Lawn Mower

A gas-powered lawn mower requires some maintenance before the first mow.

  • Disconnect the spark plugs before beginning your inspection.
  • Empty and refill the gas tank. You may want to try premixed fuel.
  • Drain and refill the oil.
  • Replace the air filter.
  • Remove the blade and use a brush and water to give it a thorough cleaning. Ensure that it is fully dry after cleaning.
  • Wash out the undercarriage while the blade is removed using a garden hose. Allow it to completely dry as well.
  • Return the spark plugs once maintenance is complete.
  • If your lawnmower has seen better days, consider buying a new one.
check your retaining walls

Retaining walls that have loose areas or bulges will need structural repair.

  • Ensure that water behind the retaining wall has a path to drain by clearing out weep holes.
  • For issues that have persisted for a few years, consult with a professional.
get your patio furniture ready

Patio furniture can be cleaned using cold and soapy water. Give it a good rinse when you are done.

  • Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for cleaning cushions and fabrics.
  • Tighten any fasteners and oil all aluminum joints, hinges, swivels, and glides.
  • Use sandpaper to remove rust. Every spring, apply liquid or paste wax to unpainted metal furniture.
  • Repaint painted metal furniture using rust-inhibiting primer and paint.
  • Cracks in wood frames can be filled in with wood filler or epoxy putty. When dry, finish by sanding and sealing.
maintain your outdoor wood structures

Keep wood structures like decks safe and stable with some routine maintenance.

  • To clean wood structures, give them a good scrub with a solution made of 2 gallons of water, 1 cup of liquid soap, and 2 quarts of bleach.
  • Remove any structural pieces that are damaged or rotted, including siding, soffit boards, porch supports, pickets, and lattice.
  • If it's time for repainting, scrape off the old paint with 60 grit sandpaper and paint when temperatures are consistently above 10 C (50 F).
  • Use wood epoxy to patch rotted sections.
  • Install new wood anywhere it is needed.
  • Secure any loose fence posts.
  • Water damage on non-structural wood, like trim and shutters, can be repaired using automobile body filler. Simply fill the area, sand it, and paint it.
prepare your footpaths

Keeping your footpaths in good condition helps keep them safer to walk on as well.

  • If you have aggregate walkways or patios, regularly rake the gravel back.
  • Add more aggregate to areas that are looking thin.
  • Refill the stone dust or sand between flagstones.
  • For pavers that are heaved out of place, remove the stone and add more base material before moving it back.
  • Consider upgrading older pathways with new paving stones.
  • Using a power washer and a low-pressure tip attachment can clean off algae spots and leaf stains.
get your grill ready for outdoor cooking

Grill maintenance is an important step in preparation for the warmer weather.

  • For gas grills: Clean out the burner jets to keep them from clogging, secure gas connections and hoses, and replace the propane tank if it is low.
  • For charcoal grills: Use proper barbecue cleaning products to thoroughly clean all surfaces or grease residue and last year's grilling remnants.
  • For pellet grills: Scrape away grease, remove ash, and wash the surface of the grill.
  • If it's time for a new barbecue, make sure you do some research to help you choose the right one.

More Tips for Spring