The first day of spring is right around the corner, and you know what that means—it’s time to come out of hibernation and get your place spic and span, inside and out. Here are the best cleaning and lawn care tips for your home this spring.
Nix Carpet Stains
When you spill wine on the carpet, your first impulse might be to dilute, dilute, dilute to keep the stain from ruining the fibers. Instead of saturating the stain with water or carpet cleaner, which can break down carpet fibers and push staining material down into the pad and underlayment, focus on blotting the stain. You’ll draw liquid out of the carpet fibers this way, and you can repeat by lightly misting the area with water or cleaner until the stain is gone.
Freshen Up Your Garbage Disposal
If you want to keep your garbage disposal clean and fresh, use baking soda, along with a few ice cubes. The baking soda acts as a light abrasive and odor neutralizer without causing damage, while the ice clears away any debris that’s built up in the blades.
Dust Your Home the Right Way
Feather dusters look like they should work great, but depending on what they’re made from they can be expensive and a waste of your time. While ostrich feather dusters do naturally attract dust, they’re expensive and hard to clean. Other types of feather dusters just spread dust around, and if you have allergies you want to avoid kicking up dust and dander whenever you can. A much better solution? Disposable dry dust cloths. Look for ones that are electrostatically charged to attract and trap dust.
Keeping Hardwood Floors Clean
If you’re one of those people who revel in spotless polished floors and furniture, we don’t blame you. It’s easy to overdo it though, and putting polish on top of polish is a recipe for dull, sticky buildup. If you’re polishing your floor every week, that’s too much. Layers of built-up polish can even trap debris, causing scratches to these surfaces over time. If you notice your floors or furniture getting dusty between polishings, a lightly dampened cloth will do the trick to get these surfaces gleaming again.
Clean Up Your Yard
Your grass has been lying dormant all winter, so to give it the best environment possible for healthy growth in the spring, you need to do some simple cleanup. That means picking up branches and other fallen debris, raking up any leaves you may have missed last fall, and clearing any thatch that’s accumulated. Wait, what’s thatch? As individual blades of grass die, they fall and form a matted layer on the soil of your yard. If the thatch layer gets thick enough it can cause real problems for the health of your lawn, so it’s important to get rid of it periodically by giving your grass a deep, thorough raking.
Address Bare Spots in Your Lawn
Whether you’re dealing with dog pee spots, heavy traffic areas or insect larvae infestations, you want every square inch of your yard looking its best. This starts with overseeding your lawn, or applying grass seed to the bare spots. Spring isn’t the ideal time to overseed (it’s better to do it in the fall when new grass won’t have to compete with crabgrass and weeds), but if your situation is grim you can still do it.
Before seeding, you’ll need to apply a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer. Once you see that the grass has sprouted, wait five weeks, then apply quick-release nitrogen fertilizer for best results.
One thing to remember—in the spring, you have to choose between seeding and weed prevention. Any pre-emergent herbicides you put down will last for around 12 weeks, and they don’t differentiate between weed seed and grass seed (they stop both from germinating). You need to give your newly planted grass at least four mowing cycles before using other types of herbicide, too, to prevent killing the sprouts.
If you don’t have any bare spots and seem to have the opposite problem—things won’t stop growing!—you need to determine your plan of attack. One weed-killing strategy won’t work for all types of weeds, so you need to figure out which ones you’re dealing with.
Annual weeds spread by seed each year. They grow from seeds either deposited by last year’s weed plants or by birds or other foragers who drop them in your yard. Crabgrass, bindweed, purple deadnettle, speedwell, knotweed and yellow oxalis are all examples of annual weeds. These types of weeds are best dealt with using pre-emergent herbicides, which work by halting the seed’s germination before it has a chance to sprout.
Perennial weeds like dandelions, burdock, ground ivy, quackgrass, thistle and ragweed are more difficult to purge from your lawn, because they can sprout either from seed or by their root systems. In other words, if you pull a perennial weed and miss any tiny part, it can and will grow back. Perennial weeds also tend to grow deep taproots, which means that hoeing and tilling don’t work to get rid of them, either. Use a broadleaf herbicide to kill perennial weeds without harming your grass, or you can choose to pull them by hand (just make sure you get the whole weed).
Check Your Mowing Habits
If you usually cut your grass at your mower’s lowest setting so you don’t have to mow so often, you should know this isn’t good for your lawn’s health. So what’s the right height? It can depend on the type of grass you have—cool-season grass should be maintained at a height of 2.5 to 4 inches, while warm-season grass generally fare better with heights of 1 to 3 inches.
It’s easy to get in the habit of mowing your lawn the same way every time, but it’s better to switch things up and run the mower in different patterns each time. Why? If you don’t, you’ll most likely end up with unsightly ruts in your lawn caused by the wheels of your mower.
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