As we leave this year’s especially cold winter behind, it’s nice to think about all the possibilities for outdoor living in the next few months. A climate that allows for so many months of an “al fresco” lifestyle is an intangible but very real asset for the Wilmington area. As we know, that helps make our area an attractive destination for relocating homeowners.
But before we can fully enjoy the warm-weather lifestyle our mild climate encourages, those of us who are homeowners should attend to some important seasonal tasks.
“Spring cleaning” isn’t just something we do in the house. It’s important for our yards and other outdoor areas, too. Here’s a short checklist of outdoor sprucing-up ideas to think about.
- Remove the last of fall and winter debris such as leaves, twigs and pine needles from your lawn, flowerbeds and patio. Some of this material may actually prove useful: on lots that include North Carolina’s signature long leaf pines, the “pine straw” can make an attractive mulch around azaleas and other plantings.
- Speaking of mulch: Whatever material you use on your flowerbeds, it often needs to be tidied up, and more added, after a long, wet winter.
- Now’s a good time to remove dead or sickly perennial flowers and prune damaged or overgrown shrubbery. Be careful, though, not to remove flower buds from your azaleas and other flowering bushes before the spring blossom season.
- Early spring is often the best time to fertilize lawns and treat for weed problems. Be kind to your wallet and our environment, though, by choosing the most appropriate treatments and applying only the amounts needed. Our local New Hanover County Cooperative Extension office offers a wealth of free advice on how to care for plants in our climate.
Porch and patio furniture will need cleaning, unless it has been covered or stored indoors through the winter. Remember that spring is pollen season, so you may want to keep those covers handy for several more weeks so you won’t have to be wiping yellow dust off everything.
Outdoor cooking equipment may also need some attention, especially if grills and smokers weren’t thoroughly cleaned at the end of last year’s cookout season. For safety, it’s always a good idea to carefully inspect all fuel lines, tanks and fittings on gas appliances, and get replacements as needed.
Patios and decks will often need a good spring cleanup, not just for esthetic reasons but to help prolong their lives. Especially if they are in shaded areas, these surfaces may have buildups of mold and other organic growth that can degrade wood, concrete and other materials. Pressure washing or an old-fashioned scrubbing with a bleach-based cleaner are good alternatives. But be certain whatever cleaning method you choose is approved for the surface you’re working on.
An older wooden deck also may be due for refinishing if it’s starting to show significant weathering. Water-repellent wood treatments, applied every few years, can keep decks looking attractive and help them last longer.
Now is also the time to be getting pools, fountains and other water features ready for summer. Removing winter’s accumulated leaves and debris, inspecting covers for wear and tear, scrubbing algae off surfaces, and making sure pumps and filters are working properly are all items for an early spring “to-do” list. In Wilmington, pools will be warm enough for swimming in May, earlier if they have heaters.
Finally, though this isn’t technically an “outdoor living” issue, it’s a very good idea to have your air-conditioning system inspected before the weather turns hot. While our porches, patios and pools are all wonderful amenities for spring, summer and fall, we want to be able to retreat into a reliably cool house on those hottest summer days. They will be here before you know it!
Michelle Clark is a broker with Intracoastal Realty, based at the Wrightsville Beach office. She is an Accredited Luxury Home Specialist, ALHS and also a Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource. Whether you are buying, selling, or investing, know that Michelle and her team will go the extra mile for you. To learn more about Michelle and Intracoastal, go to www.intracoastalrealty.com. You may contact Michelle at [email protected] or 910-367-9767. Like Michelle’s team on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MichelleClarkTeam.