Warm, sunny days are finally here again, so it's time to prepare your outdoors for summer weather and all the fun that comes with it. Here are some tips to spruce up your home's exterior:
Prep the lawn
Clear the yard and garden beds of any debris that landed there over the winter months. Getting leaves and other yard waste out of your flower beds provides a clean surface for mulching and planting. You should also reactivate your irrigation system if you haven't already. You may need to call an irrigation pro for the job, since some state or city codes require a professional to perform a backflow test.
Check your deck
Your deck quickly becomes a gathering place over the summer, perfect for family dinners or entertaining guests in the warm weather. To make the most of it, you'll want to perform an early inspection and fix any problems that might have arisen over the last year.
First, give your deck a basic cleaning. Clear everything off of it, and sweep out all debris and dirt, giving you a clear view. Check all the screws and nails, and tighten or replace any loose or damaged fasteners. Look around for stability hazards, including faulty banisters, railings, and boards. If you discover any issues, call a decking repair pro right away to be sure you can enjoy your outdoor space ASAP.
If you have a wooden deck, consider whether you need to power wash, stain, and reseal it. This work isn't required every year, but it does become necessary after a few years. Test for sealing by pouring a little water on the surface. If it beads up, your wood is still properly sealed. However, if water instead seeps into the boards, it's time to reseal.
Get your mower ready
If your lawn mower has been serving as ad-hoc shelving for your patio cushions since last fall, give it a little TLC before you fire it up this spring. You'll get the best results and cleanest cuts by taking a few simple maintenance steps. Wear safety glasses and gloves, as mowers are potentially dangerous equipment.
Mower blades need to be sharp for the best cutting job, and both the previous year's work and potential rust from the long winter's nap can dull the edges. A pro can sharpen them for $20 to $30. If you decide to do this work yourself, use extreme caution and remove the spark plug before removing the blades.
You'll get the best results by flushing the fluids. Remove the gas if you didn't do so last fall. Then, drain the engine oil by removing the screw cap and tilting the mower on its side so the excess oil drains out into a pan or bucket. Then, add new oil and gas according to your mower's specs. Follow local regulations for oil disposal. You should also replace the air filter, which should only cost about $10 at a hardware store. Dirty filters make the engine work harder and use more gas than needed.
You can do much of this work yourself or hire a lawn mower repair pro to take care of it for around $50 to $100.
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This story was originally published May 16, 2022 4:30 AM.