Get ready for spring with these tips for your home and yard

By Tom Phelan - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Tue., Feb. 26, 2013
- Contributed Photo

You can bet we will get more snow, and your heating bills will still hover near the outrageous mark. However, you should be starting to emerge from the winter doldrums. Spring is just around the corner, so begin to think about what you can accomplish for your home as the weather improves.

Here are some things you might want to include on your list:

Inspect your roof for winter storm damage. Be sure the shingles are intact, and check the flashing and caulk around chimneys and in the roof valleys.

If ice dams built up on your roof, you might find some gutter damage. It could be obvious if a gutter has fallen or come loose, but look also for leaking seams and damaged drainpipes. Be sure the hanging mechanisms are in place and securely fastened.

On the inside, look closely at ceilings for telltale signs of water leaks. If you find a suspicious stain, investigate possible causes. If you had ice dams and damaged gutters, water might have found a route inside the structure. Check the underside of the roof, as well as rafters and ceiling joists, for evidence of water trails.

Survey the yard for evidence of winter-hardy outdoor pests. Look for burrows in mulch on your flower beds or even on top of the ground just under the snow cover. These are signs that you have been visited by voles that will ravage your lawn and vegetable or flower gardens. If they are there, you can be sure they haven't been going hungry all winter.

Even if you can't even see your lawn, it's there. Remember to get the lawnmower back from your service mechanic. Or if you put it away without doing the proper maintenance yourself, get it done now. Change the oil, replace the air filter and sharpen the blade. If it is self-propelled, check the drive belt(s).

While the winter winds are still blowing, make notes about places where the house's envelope leaks. In fact, put sticky notes at those spots. They will remind you to make a visit to the home store and make some repairs when the weather warms up a little. Don't leave this job until next fall.That snow around your house will melt someday, and if you have a whole lot around your foundation and near the house, it will be looking for a place to drain. If there is a sump pump in your basement, check to be sure that it is functioning well.

By the way, those small mountains of snow left by the town snowplow and your snowblower could have some affect on your spring bulbs and flowers. Carol Quish at the UConn Home and Garden Education Center tells me the bulbs and flowers under that deep snow pack will probably get a later start than those areas that have bare soil access to the sun. She suggests removing some of the higher piles to hopefully speed up the spring emergence process in your flower bed.

Last year you may have read in this column about Community Supported Agriculture and thought that is something you would like to try. If so, contact a CSA provider now, and get set up to receive fresh vegetables during the 2013 growing season.

You may also have read in this column about setting up barrels to collect rainwater in the spring. They make free water available for your flower and vegetable gardens in the summer, when blooming season is at full throttle and the rains don't fall.

The winter is not over, but for me the smell of spring is in the air. I have already been looking at gardening websites where I can order vegetable and flower seeds for my gardens. It lifts my spirits a little. Get yourself thinking about what you should get done in early spring.

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