Big Spring Clean: Outside spaces
Let’s face it, in the colder months of the year we tend to hide inside, but as the sun begins to shine, we notice the windows need cleaning and that there are cobwebs taking over the corners above the front door. But fear not, getting those outside spaces into shape is as much about organisation as it is about perspiration.
Make the right start
Take a broom to the garden path and any patio areas, and round up broken twigs and leaves from the borders and lawn. Even before you’ve had a chance to get stuck into a spring dig, you’ll instantly see an improvement in how the front and back of your home are looking.
Now you’ll want to enjoy the view again. Ideally, you have a son standing by who can be issued with a bucket of warm soapy water and a soft rag to do your ground-level windows, but if not, window cleaning wipes make this task quick and easy. (If you have high windows or ones that are awkward to get to, it’s worth getting a local window cleaner in at least two or three times through the spring and summer, to keep things looking a little more sparkling. You don’t have to do this every week if you’re worried about cost, but it’s a worthwhile treat.)
Outdoor cleaning – top tips
Gutters get clogged up through winter months, with leaves and moss and mud washed out in heavy rainfall. If left, it’s possible that during heavy rainfall water will not be channelled away from your walls and roof and could get problems with leaks and excessive water on your brickwork. Guttering you can reach safely can be simply cleared out by hand. Take care not to be so rough you dislodge or crack the guttering, though. Guttering at the top of a house is much better left to a professional who can safely use tall ladders. If you are not paying them to repair brickwork or do any painting at the same time, a guttering clear-out should not cost too much.
Clear away any leaves or other garden debris that might have been swept towards the foot of your outside drains. If windy winter weather has left drain covers damaged or loose, replace them, anchoring them in position with a brick or stone if you can. It’s important to keep good habits all year round to avoid blocked drains. Avoid washing food or oily items (like left over salad dressing) down the kitchen sink, and discourage your family from flushing anything other than natural waste and loo paper down the toilet. Once a year take the outside drain covers off to check there is no excessively horrid smell that might signal a blockage (you will probably notice this inside your home, when you use your sinks, if there is a problem). Serious blockages should be seen to by a drains specialist.
It’s horrible in hot weather, when pools of water gather in your bins and attract flies. Get all your refuse and recycling bins together and give them a hose down. Use an all-purpose cleaner or washing up liquid to rinse them through. As these bins are only for use outside you don’t need to clamber into them and scrub them out, but allow them to dry off in their air before throwing any more rubbish into them.
It’s good to clear weeds away before you need to use the outdoors a great deal. When using a weed killer, if you need to mix it in a watering can, use a different one for watering plants – choose a distinctive colour or use a marker pen to write ‘for weeds’ on this one. Try to use weed killer on a day when it doesn’t look like rain so that it has time to get to work before it’s washed away. Patio weeds tend to grow when the stones are not walked on so once you’re out using your garden again, it shouldn’t be necessary to de-weed too many times through the coming months. Make sure you follow the instructions on the bottle of any solution you buy so that you use it safely.