As the weather begins to turn warmer, the last thing many homeowners want to think about is prepping the lawn, garden and outdoor living spaces for the spring and summer months. Ever since Hurricane Matthew blew into town in October, we’ve been cleaning up our properties and trying to restore some order to unwelcome disorder.
But with spring comes the chance to harness Mother Nature’s power for good. The storm showed us how unpredictable she could be, but now that most of the debris has been removed from streets and yards, it’s time to remember the beauty Mother Nature can bestow upon the Lowcountry.
On a nice, warm, invigorating kind of spring day, with the salt air floating freely, spend an hour or two walking around your property. Visually inspect everything, from natural scapes to hardscapes. With acute attention comes the power and motivation to make changes.
Think spring planting, outdoor entertaining and casual outdoor living. Look for wear and tear on your deck, terrace, porch, fences, trellises or railings; check your outdoor lighting, walkways, pathways and driveway for raised or uneven surfaces; clean your outdoor kitchen or grill, gutters, swimming pool, fire pits and fireplaces, and outdoor furniture; inspect dry, brown patches in the grass and determine the health of your plants, trees, shrubs, flower beds and borders; and pick up everyday clutter like discarded plant pots, random branches, sticks and leaves.
Here are some spring maintenance chores that are especially important in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, as well as some other tips for the new season.
Look closely at your shrubs and trees for broken or bent branches that could be caused by hurricane damage or winter cold and remove to allow for new plant growth. Make sure the branch is cut cleanly, not torn, to allow the plant to heal from its seasonal dormancy and to ensure its natural shape. New growth needs to be nurtured to reach fruition.
Prune buds on new wood and spent perennials. Leftover annuals? Pluck them. Flower and leaf buds should be showing now.
GREENING THE LAWN
Make sure your lawn is dry before walking on it and beginning spring maintenance.
Dethatch, aerate and reseed. Most of our lawns suffered some damage from Matthew, and dead grass needs to be raked and removed. Moisture and air reinvigorates fresh grass. If planting anew, consider doing a soil test to determine the pH and nutrient levels; applying lime might be the best option for high acid levels.
In the next month, fertilizing with herbicides adds nutrients to the soil. Control pests by applying an organic pesticide. The first few mowings should cut only the top third of the grass blades.
Be mindful to check for winter weeds that might be emerging now. A post-emergence product should be used depending on grass type.
CLEANING OUTDOOR FURNITURE
Quality outdoor furniture on your deck, terrace or patio is an investment in enjoying the Lowcountry good life. But like your lawn and garden, it needs maintenance, especially after enduring brutal weather conditions like a hurricane — or simply everyday exposure to the elements.
Sun, rain, wind, heat, cold, tanning oils and nature’s droppings affect woods, metals, iron, plastic (polyvinyl chloride or polyethylene), wicker and bamboo. Tables, chairs, umbrellas, hammocks and cushions are all susceptible to fading, stains, rust, cracks, tears, chips, discoloration, dirt, mold and mildew.
Sweep the material to lightly clean, rinse and then wipe down with a sponge with a gentle cleanser. Rinse again and dry with a lint-free cloth. Scrub to remove mold, and regularly clean wicker to limit mildew buildup. Peel chipped paint, then touch up with paint if needed. Clean wood surfaces, paint if needed, and then seal with a preservative. Sand metal furniture lightly if there’s evidence of mold or rust, and then touch up with paint and apply a liquid wax for protection; a silicone spray will lubricate moving parts. Fabrics should be cleaned regularly; use a fabric protector to ensure water repellency.
SPRING CLEANING TIPS FROM THE EXPERTS
Choose a reliable outdoor lighting contractor. NiteLites, an industry leader in professional outdoor lighting, suggests retrofitting existing systems to energy-efficient LEDs and maintaining your outdoor lighting system regularly. With free outdoor lighting consultations and great maintenance programs available, NiteLites makes it easy to illuminate your home, landscape or commercial property to help provide curb appeal, safety and security.
NiteLites Outdoor Lighting | www.nitelites.com| 843-593-9672
You can lay sod any time during the growing season, though spring and early autumn are best because cool temperatures combined with occasional rain help sod quickly root. If you lay sod in summer, water at least twice a day for several weeks. Begin by preparing the soil properly.
Taylor’s Quality Landscape Supply & Nursery | www.taylorsqls.com | 843-705-2600
Late winter and early spring in the Lowcountry are the ideal times to plant shrubs, trees and hardier perennials. Gary Moews at The Greenery, Inc. says, “The mild winter and even milder spring allows your new plants to easily develop strong root systems without the stress of drought and heat from summer months. Now is the time to get ’em in the ground.”
The Greenery | www.thegreeneryinc.com| 843-785-3848
Cabinet refacing can be a great alternative to the mess, hassle and high cost of kitchen remodeling. The key is choosing the right contractor. First, seek out quality materials. Look for solid hardwoods and craftsman construction techniques. Choose quarter-inch solid wood facing, not thin veneer. A good refacer offers many styles and finishes, as well as countertops and rollouts. Installers should be experienced carpenters and the job should carry a lifetime warranty.
American Wood Reface | www.woodreface.com| 843-815-6700
A metal roof is more energy-efficient than a shingle roof. And if you live in an area that is prone to hurricanes or harsh climates, metal roofing can help to protect your house from harsh winds up to 145 mph, as well as severe storms and hail. Many insurance companies provide discounts on homes that have metal roofing, and a metal roof can last two to three times longer than a shingle roof. A metal roof also complements many architectural styles, from a Lowcountry home to a more contemporary design. Having a metal roof can also add value to the home for resale. Metal roofing often is made of recyclable materials and is fully recyclable if you decide to remove or replace it.
4M Metals | www.4mmetals.com| 843-208-2433