Get Outside Ready
While we were hibernating in our cozy homes all winter, our houses were working double-duty to protect us from the elements. As soon as the snow starts to melt, take a stroll around your property and look for any winter wear-and-tear, give T.L.C. to the areas you’ll want to enjoy this season, and start thinking about weekend projects. We recommend starting with these four zones:
Grab your gloves and enlist the help of an assistant to hold that ladder for you – it’s time for a safety check: gutters need to be cleaned and checked for damage, eavestroughs cleared and repaired or replaced if necessary, and special attention paid while inspecting your home’s siding and roof. Look for damage and weak points where critters could crawl in or moisture could develop mould and mildew.
Curb appeal starts at the curb, and it’s so much more than green grass. First thing’s first: start with safety. Clean up the yard to remove debris and weeds, and while you do, investigate for hazards like insect infestation, leaning trees, invasive roots, and evidence animals are making homes where they shouldn’t. If you’re not sure which trees are dangerous, check with an arborist for a professional tree hazard assessment.
Once you’ve looked up at your trees, look down at your feet. Prepare your lawn for new growth with a deep rake to lift of the remaining thatch from the fall and dead grass from the winter. Prune back trees and shrubs to their shapely and fall-proof forms. Tackle what you can, but call in experts for things like stump removal and tree removal.
Don’t forget to check your fence as well – especially if you have pets to keep safe within; when the snow melts and your lawn is raked, you may find low points that need to be filled in or blocked to prevent escapes. You’ll also want to check the wood for damage: cracks, leaning, rusted or missing nails, and rotting. Rot happens most often where snow melts, and should be removed before it spreads. Finish off by cleaning and lubricating your hinges and latches. Bonus points for beautification projects – but that’s a whole other weekend!
THE BBQ & DECK
Before you can flip the shrimp onto the barbie, you’ve got to clean it up! Start by assessing your tool situation. You’ll need a slim, flexible venturi brush for cleaning the venture tubes and a stiff-wire brush with a scraper. If your brushes from last season are worn out, spring for a new set. Blue Flame Kitchen’s got more tips for your first seasonal scrub here.
Finally, we know we don’t have to tell you, but someone else might need the reminder: make sure you’re placing the BBQ a safe distance from deck railings, siding, and any combustible materials (your BBQ’s manual will tell you how much space you’ll need) to avoid damage. A barbequed steak can be the highlight of your day. Barbequed siding, not so much.
Speaking of your deck, follow our guide for deck prep and you’ll have the best lookin’ patio on the block.
Whether you intend to grow herbs, flowers, or veggies, start by prepping your gardens, ideally a few weeks before you plant. First, clear off any twigs, leaves, and debris so bulbs can poke through. Turn the soil over and rake it out, then work in fresh or store-bought compost to add nutrients. Use your local almanac’s planting calendar (customized to your postal code) to know when you should plant what.
If you’re new to gardening, try starting with herbs – small footprint and delicious results. Fresh herbs are handy to have around for last-minute flavour boosts or even spur-of-the-moment cocktails (Ginger Peach Spritzer with Rosemary sound good to you?) Grow them in a ground garden or planter box for condos or other small spaces.
Not sure what to grow? We recommend parsley, thyme, rosemary, sage, basil and chives. Oregano and mint are fantastic too, but they like to spread their wings...er, we mean roots...so keep them isolated. For something more exotic, lemon verbena can be used in marinades or as a lovely flavouring for an ice cream.
Top to bottom, corner to corner, outdoor prep in spring means exploring your own backyard. Focus on safety first, call in experts when you need them, and set yourself up for summer success with tools and basic prep. You’re one weekend away from a splendid summer.