By Jeffrey Brower
With spring comes home maintenance, spring cleaning, and getting the yard and flower beds ready. Some of these projects require professional help or perhaps special tools, but some things can be done on your own with tools you already have. As someone who has worked in the home improvement and home services industry for over twenty years, I am often asked for tips and still learn new tips from my partners today. Here are some helpful, easy tips that I hope you find useful as you maintain and beautify your home this spring:
- Don’t ignore your plants. Now is the most important time to fertilize your shrubs, trees, and bushes. Use a 10-10-10 fertilizer for the first feeding of the year. This is especially helpful for fruit-bearing trees and flower-bearing bushes and shrubs. Doing this in March should be enough until you tackle early summer fertilizing, which I like to do when I know it will rain for a few days in a row.
- Start trimming. Now is the time to trim bushes back that may have overgrown from missing past trimmings. For trees it is always better to trim a tree before it has broken dormancy.
- Garden prep can start now. March is a great time to start cultivating garden seeds indoors. Placed in a southern-facing window, seedlings will be ready for the outdoors by Good Friday (the old folks when I ran my father’s hardware store always swore by Good Friday). Now is also a good time to prepare beds and add compost.
- Make your house sparkle. If you don’t have a pressure washer but want to get your outdoor furniture, steps or trim around the outside of the house clean, you can use a regular hose, scrub brush and a solution of three parts water, two parts Pinesol, and one part bleach. I’ve used it for steps with moss on them and an outdoor piece of furniture that had green and black mold on it, and it worked like a charm. The best use for this is around window frames to clean them nicely and inspect the paint and caulk.
- Put on your HVAC hat. If you don’t want to spend money on an air condition tune-up you could clean the outdoor condenser yourself. While it’s always important to change your indoor air filter, cleaning the outdoor unit is almost as easy. First inspect the unit for leaves and debris that can be easily removed. If you can get the inside of the cabinet free of leaves with a blower this is great, if you need to remove the panel of the cabinet to do this you will want to turn the power off at the breaker and use a 5/16” nut driver. Once all of the leaves are removed, spray the air conditioner coil with all-purpose cleaner and let it sit for a few minutes. Then, with your hose on high, spray the coil as closely as you can all over. This simple 20-minute task can keep your unit working more efficiently all summer.
I hope the five tips above are helpful. Here are some other tasks to consider: chimney sweep if you used the fireplace frequently this winter, re-seal your deck, check the dryer vent for lint, make sure dogs have flea meds, check erosion areas or depressions near the foundation, and clean your grill. And the most important Atlanta springtime tip? Don’t forget the Claritin!
Jeffrey Brower is an East Atlanta resident of 13 years and owner of Just Call Jeffrey. He has worked for the Home Depot managing remodeling projects, Moncrief Heating and Air where he managed HVAC projects, and John Wieland Homes where he oversaw new home inspections and completion. You can reach him at Jeffrey@justcalljeffrey.com or visit www.justcalljeffrey.com.