DIY Do's And Don'ts

Top Home Improvements for Spring

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Susan Goldfarb of Albany, N.Y. spent last summer avoiding her backyard. "Our mosquito problems were just above and beyond," she says. "No matter what we did, from sprays to candles to bug zappers, we just couldn't get them to stop breeding in our yard all summer long." Goldfarb spent the winter reading up on ways to keep spring and summer rains from puddling in her yard. That way, by spring she was able to begin construction on a major home improvement: a drainage system.

Knowing what season-appropriate changes to make to your home is often hard to pinpoint. Here's a list of seven top home improvements, repairs, additions and adjustments to make to your home to get the most out of it, and out of spring!


1. Inspect and fix your roof.
At the end of winter, once the snow and ice has melted, make sure you or someone sure-footed takes inventory of winter-damage. From fallen branches to cracks caused by ice, springtime is a great time to make sure things are in order no matter what winter threw at you. "Whether its shingles or tar, make sure there are no breeches," suggests Steven Mazur, a contractor in New York City. "And if there are, have them repaired."

2. Evict winter guests.
Once things begin warming up, take some time to walk the perimeter of your home surveying any obvious property damage. "Make sure you do a thorough inspection to make sure no animals have burrowed into your house over the winter." Less-used spaces like storage basements and attics can sometimes invite houseguests of the inhuman variety by way of holes in the walls, window cracks and roof breaches you may not have noticed. "You can also help keep bugs away," says Mazur, "by pulling weeds that are growing in or close to the foundation of your house."

3. Grow your dinner.
While flowering gardens are best planted in the fall, vegetable gardens should be started in the spring. Earmark a section of your yard, and plant a few items that you and your family love to eat in the summertime. Tomatoes and herbs are easy to grow and can even be purchased as plants with existing edible growth. But any garden and supply store, like the one found at Lowe's Home Improvement will be able to help you when deciding on the kind of garden you hope will flourish in the months to come.

4. Green your grass.
Brian Griffith, a landscape designer and the winner of the 2009 Oasis Award for outdoor kitchen design, says, "Look at your lawn; find the dead spots and seed them. Use the spring rains to your advantage, so you don't have to stand over new seedlings everyday with a hose." Griffith also suggests taking care of the rest of your lawn as well. "Give it fertilizer to keep it healthy."

5. Update and repair windows.
"Check your window glazing to make sure it's sound and there's no breaching," suggests Mazur. "The glazing is what holds the glass to the wood. If there are signs of disrepair, it's a good thing to redo when the weather warms up because they'll often crack in colder weather." By making this simple improvement, when the hot summer months arrive you'll save on air conditioning.

6. Repair drainage problems.
"Spring is a good time, especially with all the rain," says Griffith, "to pay attention to what is happening to the movement of water through your yard." Moving water often leads to erosion. Where standing water often makes it harder for things like grass to grow-- not to mention the fact that it can easily become a mosquito breeding ground. Griffith suggests adding a French pump to poorly draining yards. "You can even do it yourself," he says. "Any hardware store will have what you need." Just make sure you connect the pump to your home's already existing downspouts. But be aware: "You aren't technically allowed to drain your yard to the street," he warns.

7. Prepare outdoor spaces for summer.
The spring months are best for beginning any larger scale projects you have in mind for your outdoor living spaces. The earlier you begin, the sooner you may begin to enjoy them. So make sure that you spend time in the winter consulting with landscape designers and builders so that projects, like the construction of patios, decks and swimming pools, can be executed with the first signs of warmth. "As soon as the ground thaws," says Griffith, "you can start building."

As spring approaches, the desire to reawaken our homes with improvements may become as overwhelming as our desire to clean out the closets.

"With the repairs I made to my yard in the spring," says Goldfarb, "I was able to enjoy my yard in the summer."

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