GET T Y IMAGES
By Will Fifield
SPRING IS JUST around the corner. While
you’re washing windows, cleaning drapes and
crossing other indoor spring-cleaning tasks
off your list, the following steps can help you
get a jump on your outdoor spring cleaning.
Take advantage of the cooler temperatures to get your yard ready for spring.
❁ Rake. Taking care not to damage any
new grass plants, give your yard a light once-over with a rake. Besides clearing away yard
debris, this gives you a chance to to assess the
extent of winter damage and look for signs of
pests or disease.
❁ Aerate. Removing plugs of sod, aerating loosens compacted soil, allowing water,
air and fertilizer to get down to your lawn’s
root structure. For small lawns, consider
using a manual aerating tool that removes
plugs from the turf; for larger areas it might
make sense to rent a power aerator.
❁ Top-dress. After aerating, professionals
often “top-dress” lawns, spreading a thin layer
of peat moss over the grass with a rake. This
gradually conditions the grass throughout the
year, strengthening it and making it less susceptible to disease and weeds, and reduces the
amount of water and fertilizer it needs.
❁ Weed. Cultivating a healthy lawn
crowds out weeds, but if you have weeds, go
after them early in the season before they go
❁ Remove thatch buildup. Thatch, a
tightly bound layer of dead grass, roots, leaves
and other debris, prevents nutrients from
getting to soil below. For this reason, it’s
important to go over your yard with a
dethatcing rake or power dethatcher to prepare the way for new lawn growth.
❁ Repair tools. Spend some time in your
garage, or wherever you store your gardening
tools, making sure they’re in good working
condition before you need to use them for
the first time of the season. Consider taking
your lawn mower in for an annual servicing
Grime-free rain gutters
Rain gutters help protect your house
against water damage—unless they’re
clogged with debris. Rain gutters should be
inspected and cleaned at least twice each year.
When cleaning gutters, always use heavy-duty, waterproof gloves and protective eye-wear. Also, use a sturdy ladder and place it on
a firm, level base.
The following steps will help you safely
clean your gutters.
❁ Clear the way. Beginning at a drain
outlet, scoop out all debris with a narrow gardening trowel. Continue working away from
the drain until the entire gutter is debris free.
It’s easier to do this when the debris is slightly
damp. To minimize cleanup, scoop debris
into a trash liner or hanging bucket.
❁ Blast it. Using a high-pressure nozzle
attached to your garden hose, spray the gutter
clean, working toward the drain. When necessary, use a stiff scrub brush to break away
❁ Fix the leaks. If you see areas where
water leaks through seams between gutter
sections, mark the leaks with chalk and let the
gutter dry completely. Then seal the leaks
from inside with gutter seal.
❁ Check downspouts. If water doesn’t
flow freely through the drainpipes, try flushing them with a hose. If that doesn’t work use
a plumber’s snake, working from the bottom
up, to clear the drainpipe. C
The Costco Connection
You’ll find a wide variety of lawn and garden
equipment and products at your local
Costco warehouse and at costco.com.
WITH WARMER WEATHER coming,
you might be looking forward to finally
being able to use your wood deck. But
before you fire up the grill and light the
tiki torches, give your deck a little
attention. Here are tips for cleaning,
restoring color and refinishing a wood
deck using a pressure washer.
1. Clear the deck. Remove all furniture,
grills and other items from the deck. If
you have plants or other landscaping
near your deck, decide if you can avoid
damaging them. If in doubt, cover them
with protective plastic sheeting.
2. Get down to it. Remove all dirt, leaves
and other debris with the pressure
washer. Use a fan-type nozzle tip rather
than a pinpoint-type nozzle that can dig
into the wood. Wearing safety goggles,
gloves and work clothes, hold the nozzle
about 6 inches above the deck’s surface
and spray slowly in line with the wood
grain, overlapping your path.
3. Deep clean. Apply a deck-cleaning
solution. Check the manufacturer’s
directions to determine how long you
should let the solution soak into your
deck. Most instructions suggest that
you scrub the cleaner into your deck
with a stiff-bristled brush.
4. Rinse off. Give the deck a final rinse
to flush away the cleaner and lose dirt
5. Seal the deal. Once your deck is
clean and thoroughly dry, apply a
protective finish. There are three
important characteristics to look for
in a finish. First, it should be water
repellent or waterproof, not just water
resistant. Second, it should offer UV
(ultraviolet) protection. And third,
if mildew is a potential problem,
the finish should contain a mildew
preventative, which a wood preservative