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February Outside Clean Up To Do Before You List

February 2, 2012

February Oustide Clean Up To Do Before You List

IF you are thinking of listing your home in the Spring, here are a few tips of things to do before that first “Open House”.

Outside February is a transitional month in much of the U.S. Winter storms may continue to cause damage to home exteriors and landscaping, but spring is in sight and you can begin working in the garden to prepare for warmer weather.

Check for storm damage. While you’re outside, walk around the house looking for missing or damaged siding and shingles. Remove fallen branches and storm debris from around the house.

Clean the gutters. It’s easier to scoop up the leaves and debris in your gutters when the stuff is wet, so pull out your ladder and clean the gutters after a soaking rain. You should do this at least twice a year, but may need to do it monthly if your home is surrounded by trees. For more information, see “Gutter cleaning and care.”

Mulch garden beds. By the end of the month, the ground has thawed in many parts of the country and it’s time to start warding off weeds. If you didn’t mulch in early winter, now is the time to add a layer to discourage weeds.

Prune ornamental grasses. Clean up pampas grass and other ornamental grasses by cutting them in early spring, before new green shoots get tall. Cut the old grass about 2 to 4 inches above the new green shoots. Wear gloves and use a chain saw on big, unwieldy pampas grasses. Tackle others with pruning shears or hedge clippers. Cut straight across the top of the clump and rake away the dead stalks to clean up the plant.

Try corn gluten meal on weedy garden paths. Corn gluten meal, a yellow powder or pellet, is used in livestock feed but it also is an organic “pre-emergent” weed control. You’ll find it in garden supply or agricultural supply stores. Spread it on garden paths (find inspiration for garden paths from this slide show on 16 beautiful garden paths) or beds where you do not want seeds to take root. Read label directions for correct application. Corn gluten meal stops seeds from forming roots when they are germinating. It also contains nitrogen that feeds the established plants in your garden. Apply it early in the season: If you wait until weeds have sprouted, it will be ineffective. Avoid using it on beds where you have seeded ornamentals or where you are counting on plants to self-seed from last year. Learn more at Iowa State University’s Department of Horticulture Corn Gluten Meal Research Page.

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