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It is officially the first day of Spring in Georgia and we are excited to work on our vegetable garden, flowerbeds and other outside areas. This is the time of the year when we do a good spring cleaning outside.
Here is how you can get your outside areas ready for Spring and Summer enjoyment.
Clean and Pressure Wash your Patios, Walkways and Driveways
Get those pressure washers out of the garage and put them to work to clean anything and everything around the outside. We use ours to wash down the wooden deck, the sides of the house, the driveway, downstairs patio and walkways. All these areas get a proper pressure wash and usually we point to nozzle to a car or two as well.
I’m always amazed at how dirty and mossy things get during winter. It happens so gradually that you don’t notice it until you start the cleaning process. I love the look of a freshly pressure washed piece of concrete and we will spend ours to get it to look good.
Trim Bushes and Small Trees and Remove Weeds
Now is the time to give those bushes and small trees a quick “haircut”. Pieter spent a lot of time and effort last year to turn some of our bushes into trees. This year we can come by and give them a quick trim and they will look great again. I already removed a lot of the dead plant growth around our front flowerbeds and getting everything else in shape shouldn’t take too long.
Weed removal is also at the top of my list this time of year. I’ve spent many hours removing them by hand before and it is becoming easier each year to keep them in check.
Prep your Vegetable Garden
We have a very, very small fenced in vegetable garden at the front of our house. The previous owner created the area and planted a blueberry bush. It was the perfect spot for growing some tomatoes, green peppers and lettuce. This year we are laying down a layer of cardboard to kill weeds and keep them from sprouting. I’ve been collecting boxes since December and look forward to freeing up that space in the garage. Prep your vegetable garden by pulling up any water pipes and stakes then add some fertilizer and lay down the cardboard to cover all the soil. I added mulch on top of my cardboard to cover the “ugly”. Since we are not quite ready to plant our veggies (they are still getting a bit bigger inside the house first) we will not make holes in the cardboard for planting yet. Once we are ready, we will use our spade and dig through the cardboard to get our veggies into the ground.
Another tip for your vegetable garden, especially if you are planting tomatoes or green peppers, is to add the largest cages you can find. These can be the pretty (but more expensive) ones or just the plain old steel looking ones, but make sure you go big. Even though the plants start out very small, they quickly grow very tall and will need the support from a larger cage.
Plant some Color
Always a fun part of a Spring project is to add some color to your flowerbeds and outside pots. I have a couple of pots by the front door and front patio that I reuse for plants every year. This allows me to plant a few annuals and change it up a bit. A lot of the other plants come back year after year. I have Knock Out Roses, Cat Mint (which the cats love), Hydrangeas, Lavender and Canna Lilies. Another favorite of mine is the Moonflower plant I got from my neighbor Diane. It was the tiniest plant and now it fills up one whole flowerbed. It gives big, beautiful white flowers that are only open at night.
The trick in our area is to pick flowers and plants that don’t appeal to our local wild life. We get a lot of deer in our neighborhood and while we like to put out food for them, I prefer it if they don’t snack on my plants. I’ve caught them right by the front door before, so nothing is safe.
Besides the deer, we also get various animal visitors throughout the year. We have to watch out for baby snakes in Spring and will see turtles, possums and racoons. Our Great Dane, Ben, likes to greet the visitors when he can.
Cleaning and Refreshing Your Back Deck
After a quick wash, our back deck gets some plants and flowers too. Here I can plant anything I want since we have a gate and I do not have to worry about the plants becoming deer snacks. We grow our Jalapeños in pots on the back deck too and they have done really well here in the past. I have to keep an eye out for pests though. Last year my plant got attacked by hornworms. Those pretty pests can eat their way through the leaves and baby jalapeños in the time it takes me to finish a cup of coffee!
We added some shade to our back deck last year and now this is a great place to enjoy morning coffees, afternoon cocktails and evening braais! Read more about the shade project here: DIY Deck Shade
Freshen Up the Mailbox
A quick and easy (and very budget friendly project) is to paint your mailbox post and wash and clean the actual mailbox. We planted a new post after we moved in and last year we painted it white. A quick clean and some touch up paint will make it look fresh again. If your address numbers are faded or peeling, grab new numbers and stick or screw those on for an instant upgrade.
Don’t forget the area around your mailbox. Plant greenery (or flowers, if the wildlife will allow it) and add mulch to keep everything clean. I opted for some green plants last year since the colorful flowers didn’t last a week before they became deer salad.
Love our handy cart! It can hold lots of mulch, trimmings and weeds. It can be hooked onto the riding mower or pulled by hand. I use it all the time!
Add Mulch to your Flowerbeds
Most people will pick up multiple bags of mulch from their local Home Depot or Lowes, but you don’t have to spend a ton of money on mulch. There are local companies that will deliver mulch for free. It won’t be great quality, but if you’re not picky it could be a good option.
I prefer a colored mulch, so Pieter usually goes to a landscaping supply store and collect a couple of truck loads. Last year one load was enough to cover all the front flowerbeds and he was even able to pull right up to where I needed it and we spread it directly from the truck. If you want to focus on one project to refresh your garden or flowerbeds I would highly recommend adding mulch.
Get your Lawn Mower (and Lawn) Ready
Soon it will be time to start mowing the lawn again. Bring that mower out of hibernation and give it a good once over. If a service is needed, now is the time to take care of that. Ours usually needs a good cleaning and then it is ready to take on the lawn.
All the special lawn equipment that we needed in Rome, GA also comes in handy here in the suburbs. We have this handy aerator that hooks onto the lawn mower and can aerate our lawn very quickly if needed. We’ll add fertilizer, weed & feed or seed if needed but usually it is ready for the first mow in no time.
Mowing the lawn is also a skill I can add to my resume now and it is a chore that is oddly satisfying to complete (who knew?). Of course, using a riding mower is hardly any exercise, but still.
Well, that is my list of items to get your garden, deck and outside areas ready for Spring and Summer! What do you do outside this time of year?