The Inside Outside Guys: Spring Walkabout
By Ken Calverley and Chuck Breidenstein
DETROIT, April 14, 2022 ~ Finally! It is not only spring on the calendar, but the weather is cooperating, and we are seeing the yellow daffodils brave early morning frosts to poke their heads out of their green sheaths.
On the Inside Outside Guys calendar, it is also time for your spring walkabout. Put on the appropriate footwear, grab a notepad and pen, and head outside to begin a leisurely stroll around the house and the yard.
As you walk the yard, look for signs of winter kill, mold and evidence of rodent nests in the grass. It may be time for application of pre-emergent weed killers and fertilizer. For the DIYer, Scotts makes a four-step program that begins early spring with crabgrass killer and food for healthy grass. In late spring, they suggest step two that consists of a weed killer and more nutrition for the grass.
Not every softscape situation can be resolved with “canned” solutions. The Michigan State University Extension service, located throughout the state, can help with unique problems and situations that don’t fit a one-size-fits-all remedy.
This is also a good time to overseed a lawn and repair bare patches, but don’t use weed killers or fertilizers on new, germinating seed.
As you continue your walk, note areas where you may need more mulch and keep in mind that naturally decay-resistant wood like cypress or cedar will not invite nesting by ants and other pests.
Take a good look at your downspouts and the ground around the perimeter of your foundation. Over time, you may note slight depressions in the grade at the foundation line where water might pool and flow down to your drain tiles. This should be remedied with a compacted clay soil to create slope and drainage away from the house. The Guys also suggest you purchase 6-inch, sleeved, plastic pipe in 10-to-12-foot lengths. Bury these just below the soft spring sod and connect them to the ends of your downspouts such that water from the gutters is carried well away from the home.
Do any trees or shrubs need to be cut back from the house? Many gutters would never get plugged, and thus need cleaning, if not for overhanging tree branches. Bushes too close to the siding may hold moisture and invite molds and pests. Cut them all at least 12 inches away from the home.
It is also a good time to have the ground and foundation perimeter sprayed with an insecticide to keep ants, spiders and other pests outside the home. Rove Pest Control in Novi can help you with any pest issues you encounter.
Take a good look at the house as you move around, noting pieces of exterior material that the wind may have loosened or taken off. This includes a look at the ground for parts of shingles, and take a good look at the roof. A pair of binoculars will assist in this inspection from the safety of ground level. Note areas where the roof intersects sidewalls and anywhere there is a penetration from a pipe, a chimney or a roof window. Keep in mind The Guys have some great roofing companies that will complete needed repairs and warranty them.
Look also for any signs of molds growing on the roof or siding. If left unchecked, molds only get worse. Many DIY products are on store shelves that safely kill such molds. Products containing Concrobium can be very effective.
Look closely at your windows and doors. Many leaks result from displaced trim pieces and caulk that needs to be repaired or replaced. If you are not skilled in the art of caulking, the Guys can refer handyman-type services. Make certain you use high quality urethane caulks only after removing the old caulk and cleaning the surface.
As you look at those windows and doors, also note the condition of weather strips and screens. Both can go a long way toward keeping the house comfortable and denying access to pests. A good local hardware can replace torn screens and recommend a good local handy person to replace weather stripping. Every homeowner should have a great hardware as a resource.
Also use this time of year to make sure every floor in the home has a new fire extinguisher, including basements and garages. Type A-B-C are appropriate for most home use. Kidde and First Alert make affordable units that include wall mounts to keep the extinguishers visible and easily accessible.
An out-of-sight-out-of-mind issue that many homeowners deal with is exterior receptacles. They should all be protected by GFCI breakers, and, over time, they can fail. An inexpensive tester can help you determine their condition, and The Guys have professional electricians available to replace, repair or even add receptacles to the garage or back deck.
Performing these walkabouts a couple times a year not only conditions you to noting routine maintenance items around the home but can save you thousands over time by catching issues early.
Remember you have a trusted resource in The Guys and our network of professionals at InsideOutsideGuys.com to help you keep your home safe and enjoyable.
For housing advice and more, listen to “The Inside Outside Guys” every Saturday and Sunday on 760 WJR, from 10 a.m. to noon or contact us at InsideOutsideGuys.com.