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Remove the Clutter

Even the cleanest of homes can appear messy and unorganized when it is cluttered with too much stuff. A lot of times, the clutter is made up of things that are rarely ever used (or never used, in some cases). So, how can you identify and remove these items that are making your otherwise clean home look messy? In this article from Enviro Maids, there are 12 tips on how to declutter your home. blog-clutter1

12 Things to Get Rid of Today

Spring has arrived and that means houses around the country are getting a good
old-fashioned spring cleaning. Don’t just be amazed at how many “things” and how
much “stuff” crowds your closets, drawers, and open spaces throughout your home.
Make the best use of your storage spaces by donating, recycling, or tossing
items that are never used, old and broken. Here’s a list of items to tackle this
spring with the help of FamilyCircle.com.

The Utensil Drawer

If your utensil drawer is looking more like your junk drawer, it’s time to corral all those wayward knives, forks, and spoons. Take an inventory of your utensils. Are there duplicates that never get used such as can openers or serving spoons? Many times when we buy new utensils we just add them to our current inventory without taking the time to donate or toss old ones. If you own way more spatulas or serving spoons than you need, donate them to your local soup kitchen.

Coffee Cups

Coffee cups and mugs tend to take up valuable cabinet space. If you reach for the same mug each morning, or only use one fancy coffee cup set for when entertaining, scale down your collection.

Plastic Storage Containers

Trying to find a container and its matching lid can be as frustrating as trying to match up pairs of socks. Make the task easier by keeping only a few of each size container and recycling the rest. Before delegating them to the recycling bin, think about using containers around the house for storage. They make great holders for crayons, paper clips, rubber bands, and any other small items that tend to get lost.

Little or Never-Used Kitchen Gadgets

Many kitchens in the U.S. are stocked with novelty kitchen tools or gadgets that rarely if ever get used. If you’ve only used your waffle maker once or never got around to putting your fruit and vegetable juicer to good use, ask friends or family if they can make better use of them.

Vases

Flowers are always a welcome gift. Over time, anniversaries, birthdays, and Valentine’s Day result in a collection of vases. If you’re not sure what to do with extra vases, give them back to your local florist to be reused.

Pantry Purge

This spring make a point to clean out your pantry. Clear the shelves and take an inventory of the items you have. Check the expiration dates. Keep an eye on foods that are soon to expire and think of ways to use them for upcoming meals. If you bought the wrong item or know you won’t be using an item, donate it to your local food pantry.

Magazines and Catalogs

Even with the convenience of digital magazine subscriptions and online shopping, hard copies of magazines and catalogs probably still crowd your coffee table and bedroom night stand. Recycle what you’ve already read and tear out pictures of articles you want to keep.

Books

Books are wonderful items to collect and a wall of neatly arranged books makes a great decorative impact. Keep your favorite books and donate the others to local schools or organizations.

Clothes Closet

Gain valuable space in your clothes closet by donating any items in good condition that no longer fit or items given to you as a gift that you know you’ll never wear.

Electronics

If you frequently upgrade your electronic devices, you probably have a collection of USB cords, power cords, and other electronic equipment. Ask around your local community if organizations can use your equipment. If you do dispose of broken or outdated electrical equipment, be sure to visit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website to learn how to properly dispose of your equipment.

Linens

Need extra space in your linen closet? Retire worn or ripped towels or sheet. According to FamilyCircle.com, a general rule of thumb is to keep two sets of sheets per bed.

Toys

Donating toys to underprivileged children gives you the extra space you need and teaches your children a valuable lesson about sharing their belongings with the less fortunate.

Tips for Celebrating Earth Day

Since 1970, April 22nd has been “Earth Day”, a day when everyone should be mindful of blog-earththe environment and do what they can (at least for a day) to reduce their carbon footprint. Today is a day to do our part in taking care of our home, our planet, Earth. Here are a few simple tips on how to participate and celebrate this Earth Day.

“Leave the Car at Home”- I think it’s safe to say that one of the biggest causes of pollution on a daily basis are cars. Instead of driving to work, try walking or riding a bike. If you happen to live to far from your job to either walk or ride a bike, try using public transportation or at least carpool.

“Plant a Tree”- Nothing symbolizes Earth Day, quite like the planting of a tree. Planting anything, really, is a positive thing for the environment. Think of it as your way of helping to offset the destruction of the world’s rainforests.

“Switch Out Your Lightbulbs”- It sounds simple, and it is, but switching from incandescent to fluorescent lightbulbs can actually have a real positive effect on how much energy you use to light your home.

“Brown Bag-It”- If you usually purchase your lunch, try bringing one from home. Instead of buying a drink which you throw away when your done, try bringing water, juice or coffee from home in a reusable bottle or thermos.

“Make Everyday Earth Day”- The absolute best way to celebrate Earth Day, is to make a commitment to doing your part to help the environment everyday. Little changes in our lives can have a big impact on the environment.

These are just a few ways we can all celebrate this Earth Day. There are many more ways you can help the environment, most are so simple you’d never know you were making a difference…..but you are!

Make This A Green Easter

blog-easterEven some of the most eco-friendly folks can sometimes lose their way when it comes to the holidays. Perhaps, the reason for this is that the holidays can be stressful enough, and you don’t want to make things any harder by trying to make sure everything is eco-friendly. Luckily, the good people at The Huffington Post, have put together a list of tips on how to have a greener Easter. Hopefully, these tips will help everyone who is celebrating, have a more sustainable Easter Sunday!

13 Tips for a More Sustainable Easter Celebration

As Easter approaches, Food Tank wants to share some ideas on how to have a more healthful and sustainable holiday.

1. Locally sourced eggs If you choose to celebrate with real eggs, support your local farmer and buy eggs from pasture-raised chickens. Eggs from pasture-raised hens are healthier for you, containing more vitamin A, vitamin E, and omega-3 fatty acids, according a report conducted by the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

2. Alternatives to Easter eggs There are many alternatives to using real eggs for Easter celebrations; for instance, the White House traditionally uses decorated wooden eggs for its annual Easter Egg Roll.  There are also plastic Easter eggs that are compostable, and ceramic Easter eggs that are dyeable!

3. Blown eggs Blown eggs are another reusable dyeable option. Blown eggs are made of real eggs whose yolks and whites have been removed. Here is a tutorial. The leftover yolks and whites can then be used for baking, scrambled eggs, or other cooking projects.

4. Homemade egg decorating There are many methods to make homemade egg dyes, using vinegar and spices, fruits, and vegetables. Check out these instructions from Real Simple!

5. Prevent food waste If you hard boil fresh eggs before you dye them, the prospect of eating all of those hardboiled eggs may be daunting, but throwing them out is wasteful. Turn the eggs into a delicious dish: here are some ideas!

6. Avoid plastic Easter grass Cellophane Easter grass, often found in Easter baskets, cannot go into the recycling bin. If you already have Easter grass, reuse it. If you were going to buy some for Easter baskets, try replacing it with shredded newspaper or tissue paper.

7. Give children stuffed toys instead of live Easter bunnies and chicks Dyed Easter chicks are a perennially controversial topic: chicks are dyed while in the egg or sprayed shortly after hatching. The food coloring used to dye the chicks is non-toxic, but the real concern is what happens to the chicks after the dye wears off. Chicks are sold as seasonally-themed pets, most of whom are discarded or neglected after they molt and lose their artificially colored feathers.
Rabbits are also common Easter gifts: just as with chickens, rabbits are often neglected, surrendered to animal rescues, or released into the wild when the novelty wears off. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommends giving children stuffed or chocolate bunnies instead of live animals, as rabbits can live seven to ten years on average and are a serious commitment. The Make Mine Chocolate! campaign also strives to educate the public on the realities of rabbit ownership.

8. Make a locally sourced Easter meal If it’s your tradition to have an Easter meal, why not try to make as many of the dishes as you can from local food? Check Local Harvest for your nearest farmer or farmers market.

9. Visit a local farm Take the time to bring your family to a nearby farm. Children and adults will get an up-close look at how their food gets from the farm to home. Be sure to contact the farmers ahead of time! Here’s another link to Local Harvest with helpful things to remember before your visit.

10. Instead of an Easter basket, Easter plants Check your local nursery for seeds or seedlings and give friends and loved ones a reusable Easter gift: a homemade herb garden.

11. Give a donation to Heifer International If giving plants is not your style, consider making a donation to Heifer International or a similar non-profit to fight poverty while providing an animal to a family in a developing nation.

12. Minimize packaging with candy and treats Choose Easter treats with less packaging to cut down on the amount of waste generated by the holiday festivities.

13. Reuse your existing plastic eggs If you still have a treasure trove of plastic eggs at home, there are plenty of ideas online for upcycling. From tea candle holders to a set of toy teacups to sophisticated Easter decorations, there are many great tutorials online.

Happy Easter!

Cleaning Can Help With Energy Savings

There are a ton of reasons why maintaining a clean home is very important and beneficial. blog-energyBesides some of the obvious benefits of keeping your home clean (organization, health, and overall appearance), maintaining your home, especially your appliances, can actually have an effect on the amount of energy that is used in your home as well. Making sure certain appliances are dusted regularly can have an impact on how much energy they use to perform their job. Energy Smart, has a few tips on how to save some energy this spring and summer, by doing a little spring cleaning.

Spring Clean Your Way to Energy Savings

It’s the time of year when many people stash away winter gear and prep their businesses and homes for the warm summer months. It’s also a good opportunity to make sure a business or home is running as energy efficiently as possible.

Here’s a checklist of ways to turn your spring cleaning into an energy-saving event: Redirect ceiling fans. Air conditioning often produces the highest electricity bill in a business or home, especially when it’s used consistently during the summer months. So a worthy goal is limiting your air conditioning use as much as possible. One way to avoid A/C use is using ceiling fans. In the winter months, ceiling fans should go clockwise to push rising warm air downward. In the summer, however, the fans should circulate counterclockwise for the opposite effect. It’s usually as easy as flipping a switch in the center of the fan.

Change air-conditioning filters. Keeping your air filters clean will not only improve air quality, but will ensure your system is working as efficiently as possible.

Dust off electronics, light bulbs and vents. Dust prevents electronics and other infrastructure from running at maximum capacity. Make sure to dust off all light bulbs, office equipment and electronics. Also make sure to clear dust off vents to prevent air circulation obstruction.

Seal air leaks. Just like warm air seeps out of buildings or homes in the winter, it seeps in during the summer. It’s estimated that 30% of heating and cooling bills are consumed by air leakage. You can buy weather stripping and duct tape and specialty kits to seal up air leaks you encounter.

Use a programmable thermostat. One good way to control cooling costs is to use a thermostat that allows you to program the temperature throughout the day, thereby using less cooling when rooms or homes are unoccupied. You might, for instance, keep the setting at 72 degrees in the summer when the space is occupied but raise the temp to 78 when after closing.

Vacuum refrigerator coils. Dust that builds up on refrigerator coils can force the fridge to work harder to keep things cold. So remove it.

Tune up the AC. Even if your filters are new, there are other issues such as low coolant levels that may be taxing your air-conditioning system. Getting a professional maintenance check before summer can ensure your system is working efficiently.

Bug-Proofing Your Home

We are now a little over 3 weeks into spring, and the weather finally seems to be warming blog-no bugsup (at least a bit). Unfortunately, along with warmer temperatures, green grass and flowers blooming, springtime also brings back bugs. To make sure your home remains bug-free this spring, try bug-proofing your home before they have a chance to move in. Here is a list from How Stuff Works, with ten ways you can make sure your home doesn’t become a springtime resort for some unwanted guests.

10 Ways to Bug-proof Your Home

While some people are frightened of bugs, others may be fascinated. But the one thing most people will agree on is that insects don’t belong in the home. Not only do they create unsanitary conditions, but they’re also just plain annoying, from the buzz of a fly to the itchy bite of the mosquito. Bees, wasps and scorpions can cause painful stings, while fleas, mosquitoes and ticks can carry diseases that they transport to pets or humans. Even the common cockroach can be a major contributor toward allergies and asthma attacks, especially in children [source: Asthma and Allergy Foundation].

With more than 10 quintillion bugs in the world (that’s 10,000,000,000,000,000,0000!), bug-proofing the home can sometimes feel like a losing battle [source: Smithsonian Institute]. Fortunately, by understanding what attracts bugs to your home, you can begin making changes that will help get rid of them for good.

Just like humans, insects need food, water and shelter to survive. By eliminating their food supply and getting rid of bug’s favorite hiding spots, you can reduce the risk that insects will take up residence in your home. Of course, the best way to prevent infestation is to keep bugs out entirely. To do this, you’ll need to seal up the cracks and gaps in your home’s exterior. By tightening up the entry points that insects use to gain access, you can greatly improve your chances of staying bug-free.

Ready to get started? Read on to the next section to learn how some simple door hardware can help you begin bug-proofing your home.

10. Seal Your Doors

Just as a locked door can keep intruders out, a properly sealed door can help keep out unwanted pests. If you examine your entrance ways carefully, you’ll likely be surprised by the number of unsealed gaps you see, each of which makes an easy entrance path for bugs.

To keep insects from crawling under your door, install a sturdy steel or aluminum threshold under the door. For even better protection, combine this with a door sweep. A sweep is a cheap device that can be found at most hardware stores, and helps to cover the gap between a threshold and the door bottom. Choose nylon brush sweeps over vinyl or neoprene, as they offer the best protection against bugs.

Add weatherstripping or door-seal kits to the perimeter of the frame to keep insects from entering along the sides or top of the door. Use a clear caulk to seal the joint where the door frame meets the wall and also along the bottom of the frame, at the area where it meets the ground.

Remember, all of these door sealing techniques won’t help if the door is left open. If you have forgetful kids, consider installing a door closer. This hydraulic device will automatically close and latch your door after it’s been opened and can be adjusted to control closing speed and power. You can find affordable door closers at your local home improvement store, and the average homeowner can install this device using only simple tools.

9. Add Screens

Many homeowners rely on natural ventilation from doors and windows to bring fresh air into the home. This can be especially tempting during the hot, humid days of summer. Unfortunately, summer is also the worst time of the year for mosquitoes, fleas and other pests to invade your home.

To enjoy the feeling of fresh air without the annoyance of insects, install screens in windows and doors. Choose a 20-mesh or finer screen to keep out most common household pests [source: Gouge, Olson, Snyder, Stoltman]. Screen installation is relatively simple and requires only basic tools.

Don’t forget that bugs can also sneak in through holes or tears in your existing screens. Try using a screwdriver or scissors to carefully push the broken wires back into place. Add a coat of household cement or clear nail polish to seal the hole and prevent insect entry. If the screen has simply come loose along one side or corner, use staples (for wood frames) or a splining tool (for aluminum frames) to reattach it to the frame [source: Ramsey].

8. Maintain Your Yard

Yard maintenance can have a big impact on bug infestations, especially when it comes to mosquitoes and fleas. Mosquitoes need a water supply in order to breed, so eliminating pooled water in your yard is one of the top ways to reduce the mosquito population. This can not only help you to better enjoy time spent in the yard, but will also reduce the number of bugs that are trying to enter your home.

To eliminate pooling, look for areas where water tends to collect in your yard. If you find standing water on your lawn, you may have a thatch buildup. Aerating the lawn can reduce this problem and allow water to naturally absorb into the soil. Another common problem is poor drainage, which is related to the slope of the Earth. You can try to add fill dirt yourself to correct this, or have the yard professionally regraded [source: Amundsen].

It’s also important to maintain regular drainage channels, such as gutters and drains. Keep them free from leaves, grass clippings and debris so they’re able to operate effectively. If you have a pool, keep it chlorinated and filtered, even when not in use. Change the water in your fountains or birdbaths twice a week to keep mosquito eggs from hatching in them.

While you’re working on your yard, be sure to remove any piles of leaves or debris. These areas are the perfect hiding spot for insects to hide and reproduce, preparing themselves for an infestation that can be difficult to eliminate.

7. Repair Cracks

Given the microscopic size of many bugs, it’s not hard to believe that they can enter the home through cracks or holes that are nearly invisible to the homeowner. That’s why sealing cracks on your home’s exterior can be one of the best ways to bug-proof your home. One good guideline to keep in mind is this: If a pencil can slide into a crack or gap, a young mouse can also fit through, as can an endless stream of insects.

Start by examining the exterior of your home with a critical eye. Look for damaged or missing sections of siding, cracks in foundations, loose or crumbling brick and rotted wood. You’ll be surprised by just how open and inviting your home is when you pay attention to the number of openings you find.

To keep bugs out, use mortar or cement to patch foundations and masonry walls. Clear away damaged bricks and add new ones, filling the joints with mortar. Replace rotting wood or trim, and repair or replace damaged sections of siding or cladding. Consider adding a layer of cementitious backerboard to areas susceptible to termite damage, including exposed foam insulation or wood sheathing. Pay particular attention to the roof line, where bees and wasps frequently build nests. Gaps or holes in the fascia board or soffit can lead to a dangerous encounter with a stinging insect in your home [source: Amundsen].

To really seal your home and repair small cracks, take time to enjoy the wondrous properties of caulk. Caulk is cheap, easy to apply and can go a long way towards keeping bugs out. Add caulk around window frames, as well as around any air intake or exhaust grilles. Use caulk to patch small cracks in foundations and siding, or use it to seal joints where the siding meets the roof or foundation. Latex varieties are best if you plan to paint over them, while clear silicone caulk is more flexible and less likely to dry out and crack over time [source: Gouge et al].

6. Seal Around Pipe Penetrations

believe that they can enter the home through cracks or holes that are nearly invisible to the homeowner. That’s why sealing cracks on your home’s exterior can be one of the best ways to bug-proof your home. One good guideline to keep in mind is this: If a pencil can slide into a crack or gap, a young mouse can also fit through, as can an endless stream of insects.

Start by examining the exterior of your home with a critical eye. Look for damaged or missing sections of siding, cracks in foundations, loose or crumbling brick and rotted wood. You’ll be surprised by just how open and inviting your home is when you pay attention to the number of openings you find.

To keep bugs out, use mortar or cement to patch foundations and masonry walls. Clear away damaged bricks and add new ones, filling the joints with mortar. Replace rotting wood or trim, and repair or replace damaged sections of siding or cladding. Consider adding a layer of cementitious backerboard to areas susceptible to termite damage, including exposed foam insulation or wood sheathing. Pay particular attention to the roof line, where bees and wasps frequently build nests. Gaps or holes in the fascia board or soffit can lead to a dangerous encounter with a stinging insect in your home [source: Amundsen].

To really seal your home and repair small cracks, take time to enjoy the wondrous properties of caulk. Caulk is cheap, easy to apply and can go a long way towards keeping bugs out. Add caulk around window frames, as well as around any air intake or exhaust grilles. Use caulk to patch small cracks in foundations and siding, or use it to seal joints where the siding meets the roof or foundation. Latex varieties are best if you plan to paint over them, while clear silicone caulk is more flexible and less likely to dry out and crack over time [source: Gouge et al].

6
Seal Around Pipe Penetrations

If you’re like most homeowners, you’ve had to deal with utility installation at some point. Whether it was a new cable line, Internet service or phone wiring, the installers likely ran the lines into your home through holes drilled in the exterior walls. The more conscientious installers may have added sealants or caulk around these lines on your home’s interior, but what about on the outside? Most likely, there are at least some utility or pipe penetrations in your walls that are surrounded by large gaps, providing an open invitation for insects.

Some common types of through wall penetrations include those made for water, gas, electrical or air-conditioning piping. Check the entire exterior of your home for these types of openings, as they may be located at either ground level or along the roof line. Often, you can visually follow cable and telephone lines from outside poles to find the path they take into your home. Don’t forget to check around outdoor faucets and electrical outlets [source: Gouge et al].

Fill smaller gaps or cracks using pipe sealants or caulk. For larger openings, look for expandable polyurethane foam. Some installers prefer to add copper mesh or steel wool as a base layer behind this foam to deter insects that may bore through [source: Potter].

5. Cover Large Openings

Some of the largest holes in your home’s exterior are more difficult to cover. After all, you can’t exactly fill your chimney or roof vents with caulk. To fill larger openings and keep bugs out, use very fine wire mesh, often called hardwire cloth. This material comes in rolls that can be stapled over holes to keep out pests. It not only keeps bugs out, but can prevent squirrel and raccoon infestations, which often bring fleas, ticks and other insects into the home [source: Potter].

Look for large holes on the roof, which are often found at the chimney and roof vents. A pre-fabricated chimney cap can be used in lieu of wire mesh, and may be more successful at keeping a variety of pests out of the chimney. Wire mesh should also be installed over holes in crawl spaces and basements, as well as over grilles, vents and registers [source: Gouge et al].

Some vents have pre-installed dampers, which are designed to keep bugs out. Check to see if yours are operating properly, and repair or replace the dampers as necessary. You can also replace existing grilles or vents with screened models that are designed to keep bugs out.

4. Don’t Invite Bugs To Dinner

No matter how many ways you try to bug-proof your home, there’s likely going to be some way for them to enter your house. To keep them from making themselves at home, get rid of their favorite amenities. This means eliminating clutter, as well as unprotected food and water sources. Without these resources, bugs will move on to the next house and leave you in peace.

A cluttered home is an easy breeding ground for bugs. Hidden by piles of newspaper or in a packed cupboard, insects can reproduce in huge numbers before they’re even discovered. By that point, it’s almost impossible to get rid of them. Keep clutter to a minimum, and end infestation before it begins.

Insects also need a source of food to survive. Keep them from dining in your home by storing all food in airtight containers and storing unsealed food products in the refrigerator whenever possible. Limit food consumption to a single area of the home, and wipe up crumbs or spills quickly [source: Heloise].Wash dishes immediately after use, or put them into the dishwasher.

Don’t forget pet food, which can be a tempting treat for ants and cockroaches. Put pet food away after mealtimes, or invest in a bug-proof container, which gives your pet access to food while keeping insects out.

3. Store Trash Properly

Just as one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, the trash cans in a home can be a gourmet smorgasbord to cockroaches and other pests. To prevent bugs from feasting on your trash, proper storage and handling are critical.

Keep food trash in the kitchen and not in wastebaskets throughout the house. The trash should be placed in a can with a lid, and should be emptied each night. Exterior cans should have self-closing lids along with tight seals to keep insects out. All interior and exterior trash receptacles and recycling bins should be cleaned and sanitized regularly, especially if they’re exposed to spills.

If you keep a compost bin, it should have a secure lid and should be lined with hardwire cloth to keep bugs from feasting. Be sure to remove fully composted materials every three to six months [source: Gouge et al].

2. Keep Foundations Clear

Because your home’s foundations are the closest part of the house to the ground, they’re also one of the most common entry spots for bugs. By keeping foundations clear and protected, you can greatly reduce the likelihood of infestation.

Insects such as termites, ants, fleas and spiders are particularly good at breeding and thriving in wet areas. By keeping moisture away from your foundations, you can make it more difficult for them to reproduce. Keep piles of wood, leaves, mulch or grass clippings away from foundations, and place firewood far away from the house to avoid tempting termites [source: Amundsen].

Check for gaps along the foundation and siding joints as well. Often, the bottom row of siding or trim is not securely sealed to the home and provides a gateway for insects. Check up under this row for gaps or poor connections, and use trim, caulk or foam to fill this space [source: Gouge et al].

Many homeowners choose to use chemical insecticides or termicides to treat their foundations, and these treatments are often unavoidable. For a more natural solution, consider placing boric acid or diatomaceous Earth at the base of these walls. These substances are non-toxic and will not harm pets or family members [source: Garrett].

1. Encourage Natural Predators

One of the simplest methods for bug-proofing your home is to rely on the insects’ natural predators for help. Small insects are the main source of food for a large number of birds and bats. Warblers and swallows, in particular, are potent mosquito killers [source: Lyric Bird Food]. Bats eat a much larger variety of bugs and pests, including wasps, flies, spiders, mosquitoes and even scorpions [source: Carstens].

To encourage birds to help with your pest control efforts, it helps to provide trees and bushes where they can establish nests. Add a fresh water supply, and change it often so that it doesn’t grow stagnant. You may also wish to add a birdseed or nectar feeder to supplement their insect-based diet [source: Gouge et al].

Many homeowners may be hesitant to encourage bats in their yard, despite their ability to help control insect populations. Fortunately, bats sleep during the day and only fly at night, which means you’re unlikely to even notice them. As you’re sleeping they’ll be hard at work getting rid of bugs before they can crawl their way into your home. Encourage bats by installing a bat house or roost in your yard.

Cleaning Up Your Yard After A Long Winter

While some areas of the country may still be dealing with some winter like conditions (hopefully not for long), most of the country is beginning to feel more and more like spring. With the melting of snow and overall thaw of spring, lawns and gardens begin to emerge again. Before you can have the greenest lawn or prettiest garden on the block, there is a clean-up job to be done. In this article from Lawn Doctor, there are several tips on how to properly clean-up your yard after the harsh winter months.

End of Winter: Tips to Clean Up Your Yard After Winter

This winter has been one of the worst in years – and in some areas of the country, even decades. That severe weather, including snow and ice, has wreaked havoc in many parts of the United States. Even areas like Atlanta faced multiple snowstorms this year. All of this winter weather could mean damage to your yard. Here are some tips to clean up your yard and prevent winter yard damage:

Clean  up  rock  salt  and  other  deicing  products

Using rock salt, ice melt, and other liquid or solid products to deice the sidewalk or the street may be important in the winter to keep you from falling or sliding around on the roads. But some of the products can potentially cause damage to your greenery. When the snow starts to melt, make sure that you clear off the deicing materials off your lawn, shrubs and trees to potentially protect against any winter yard damage.  Apply gypsum to the areas of the lawn where road salt or salt from the driveway or sidewalks may have made contact.

Prune  trees  and  shrubs

You many have put burlap around your trees or shrubs to protect them from the worst of the winter. If so, now is a great time to remove the burlap. However, winter storms may have done damage to the shrubs or trees in your yard. Make sure that you clean up your yard by pruning any branches damaged by the winter, so that new growth can take its place.

Remove  dead  materials  and  litter

One of the pitfalls from winter is that many things may blow onto your lawn that do not need to be there. Once the snow melts, you may see that litter has made it onto your lawn. Obviously, you need to clean it up.  Other things you will need to remove include things like leaves, pine cones, fallen tree branches, and dog waste that may have ended up on your lawn.

Trim  back  perennials  and  remove  annuals

Cut back the dead leaves and branches on your perennials to ensure future growth. In addition, if you have some annuals that you did not remove in the fall, now would be a good time to do so. Many of this plant material could end up in your composting bin.

Control  weeds

If you did not get rid of any existing weeds at the end of fall, apply weed controls when temperatures are 50 degrees or higher.. Do not put the weeds, though, in the compost pile, as they could sprout and overwhelm your yard.

Treat  snow  mold

You may have an unpleasant surprise after winter – snow mold. This is common in areas with significant snowfall.   Areas that have been matted down by the snow mold, use a leaf rake to remove the dead leaves and allow the lawn to recover.

Fertilize  for  spring

Now is a good time to start on spring fertilizing to get your yard ready for summer enjoyment. Use a fertilizer which includes crabgrass preventer.  Follow label directions to avoid over fertilization.