Ask Brian is a weekly column by Real Estate Expert Brian Kline. If you have questions on real estate investing, DIY, home buying/selling, or other housing inquiries please email your questions to [email protected].
Question from Melinda of Greenville, SC: Hello Brian, we aren’t quite there yet but the weather is turning nicer and I’m excited to get out in the yard this spring. I’ve always lived in apartments since my college days but this spring I’m in my first house with a yard. What is some of the important maintenance that I should start with?
Answer: Hi Melinda. Congratulations on your first home. It’s good that you’re excited to get outside to do some yard work because spring is probably the most important time of the year. If you didn’t do a mid-winter mowing, your grass is probably seriously in need of it by now. Don’t try to cut it all back at once. Raise the mower so that you only cut about 1/3 off the top to begin with. In about five days, lower the mower and cut it back again. From that point, you should start a regular mowing schedule of at least once a week. Your part of the world is probably past the last winter freeze. This is the time to plant flowers from seeds or young starters that will grow into full bloom late in the spring. But there are other important tasks needing your attention this time of the year…
This might surprise you Melinda, but spring is an important time for the dreaded chore of cleaning gutters – again. Hopefully this was one of the last chores you did before the winter storms. But now you need to clean out the debris again so that spring rains don’t back up under the roof to do expensive damage.
While you’re going around the roof-line, take a look for trees and shrubs getting to close to your home. Trees and shrubs against the house damage paint and push their way into small openings in the siding and roof. Trees and shrubs also allow squirrels, raccoons, and other critters to get in the attic. Spring is the best time for cutting back heavily. Plants are starting to grow again and suck up nutrients. This is when they best withstand a heavy pruning.
Next, it’s probably a good idea to inspect and repair door and window screens. It might be a little early to open windows and doors but insects, bugs, and other pests are becoming active. By repairing screens now, these critters won’t find a way inside when you do open everything up.
While, you’re at it, look around your yard for mosquito breeding grounds. Mosquitoes are more than a nuisance. Although the numbers are small, they do carry deadly diseases. Mosquitoes breed in standing water. In severe cases, you may need to put in trenches and drains. But often you can fill in low spots with a mixture of top soil, grass seed, and fertilizer that will blend in with the yard before summer. Also, look for containers such as unused planters and buckets that may be holding standing water.
It’s a little early in the season to begin outdoor painting and staining projects. You want to wait until the wood dries. But this is a good time to start planning these projects. Some deck or other repairs might be needed before you slap on a fresh coat of paint. Repairs also might be needed if this is the summer you plan to paint the house.
There are a lot of gardening and lawn chores this time of the year. Before you spread fertilizer and start watering, you should consider aerating an unhealthy lawn. Spring is when the grass is most actively growing and the best time to do this. You don’t need to aerate every year but you should when the soil is packed down or if there is a lot of thatch in the lawn. Aerating uses a special piece of equipment that punches little holes into the soil or pulls out little plugs. This allows air, water, and nutrients to get down to the grass roots and returns it to a healthy green that is easy to maintain year round.
It’s still early in the season to be worrying about the air conditioning. But you might want to do any needed maintenance and repairs before the hot weather hits. Especially if you plan to hire a professional and don’t want to be on a wait-list when the temps hit 90.
Melinda, these are some of the most common chores needing attention in the spring. The best thing to do is get outside and poke around in your yard to see what needs your attention. Please comment with their thoughts and experiences about spring DIY projects. Our weekly Ask Brian column welcomes questions from readers of all experience levels with residential real estate. Please email your questions or inquiries to [email protected].