From freezing rain to Arctic cold blasts, Jack Frost is known for delivering New Jersey some harsh seasonal punishment. But it’s after he moves on and warmer temperatures begin setting in that the evidence of his destructiveness can be fully observed, especially around your home’s exterior and yard which have likely endured brutal conditions for months.
Putting your property back in proper shape will require careful planning, and timing is of the essence here, as delaying any crucial cleanup and maintenance chores can result in damage that will require costly repairs.
As with all household tasks, procrastination is enemy number one. Ignoring your exterior maintenance in late winter or early spring can lead to things like premature rotting of your siding, porch or deck, home foundation problems, death of your favorite bushes, and even insect infestations. As soon as the snow has cleared and the ground is somewhat thawed and workable, you should do at least some basic exterior maintenance.
This is particularly true of your lawn and landscaping.
This is the time to strengthen your lawn in order to control weeds before they emerge and so that it can take on the summer heat.
Michael Josephson, owner of Fresh Start Design/Build Group in Central NJ, offers up this checklist of recommended steps to take now to prevent damage and ensure a more attractive property come summertime:
Inspect your property carefully. Do an evaluation of your landscape and home exterior. Snow may have compacted your bushes, and they may need to be staked. Additionally, look for loose, damaged or lost roof shingles that may need to be replaced, broken large tree branches or limbs that could be a hazard, and other red flags.
Clear dead leaves, dead foliage, and debris from your home’s perimeter, lawn, bushes, flower beds and gutters to prevent water damage, bug infestations, and mold outbreaks. If not removed, this layer of dead matter can smother your lawn and leave unsightly dead patches.
Aerate, fertilize and overseed your lawn. This will thicken and strengthen your turf and improve your lawn’s overall health.
Apply a weed pre-emergent herbicide to your turf.
Apply mulch to your garden to avoid weed growth. This will help the soil retain its moisture. The layer should be just thick enough to act as an isolating cover.
Prepare your lawnmower. Check the spark plug, clean or replace the air filter, change the oil, and sharpen the blade.
Prune your trees, bushes, and shrubs to protect your property and fit the urban environment. Consider hiring an arborist to inspect any trees you’re concerned about. They can spot defects and deadwood and detect pest problems.
Power wash your patio, driveway, deck and/or home’s exterior on a warm day to remove grime, salt and other deposits that have built up over winter.
Inspect and repair your fencing. Check your panels for damages or cracks caused by the winter frosts.
Mow when the time is right. Wait until your grass is about three inches tall, and don’t cut more than a third of the grass’ height.
While these tasks may sound formidable, any do-it-yourselfer homeowner can accomplish them efficiently and effectively over a few weekends in March and April.
Expect these early spring preparations to take around 10 hours or so. You can save money by doing some of it yourself, but you should consider hiring professionals for more involved tasks as they will have the right equipment and know-how.