The Independent
  • Now is the time for outdoor spring cleaning

  • mployees at lawn and garden stores are experiencing the deluge of residents bringing in their riding and hand mowers to get them ready for the season.
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  • A long winter has pushed back some tasks for getting yards in shape for the season. We’re finally putting away the snow shovels and blowers just in time to break out the lawn mowers and hedge clippers.
    This week is expected to be rainy with highs reaching 70 on Thursday, according to the National Weather Service. This means we’ll be seeing a lot more green in our yards. Partly sunny skies are in the forecast for Saturday and Sunday with highs in the 50s and 60s, so it may make for perfect conditions to clear out and clean up for spring.
    Employees at lawn and garden stores are experiencing the deluge of residents bringing in their riding and hand mowers to get them ready for the season.
    “The big rush is hitting,” said Greg Paul, general manager of the family-owned Paul’s Lawn and Garden. “We’re trying to get them through as quickly as we can.”
    Here are four things to help get you started on spring cleaning outdoors:
    1. Service your mowers
    People already will be starting to mow their lawns this week and next week, Paul said. A lawn mower is like a motor vehicle — it requires regular maintenance to run easier on the user, extend its life, and do a proper job. Some people prefer to do maintenance themselves, such as sharpen their mower’s blades, change the oil, and scrape the underside of the mower, while others may bring equipment in to any of numerous businesses in Stark County that offer services. At Paul’s it costs about $5 to sharpen blades, and $48 plus parts for basic maintenance.
    Paul recommends a couple of things to keep in mind at the end of this year and before the next season. Run the equipment out of gas before storing it for the winter, and bring mowers to be serviced in February or March before the spring rush. Ethanol sitting in a lawn mower over the winter is hard on fuel system components and may make starting the mower the following spring difficult, Paul said.
    2. Prepare yards and gardens
    Wayne Demmer, a staff member at Kamph’s Hardware and Plumbing Services, says now is the time to use products on your lawn to prevent crab grass. Also, rake up the grass that has been flattened over the winter and put down grass seed on bare spots.
    Planting time is coming up, so prep the ground and soil with fertilizer.
    “People already are looking at onion sets and seed potatoes,” he said.
    Demmer also recommends making sure your equipment and tools are in good condition, from pruning shears to garden hoses and nozzles.
    Page 2 of 3 - “Think about what you’re going to need and check it out,” he said.
    Get up on a ladder and make sure gutters are cleaned out, he advised. Think about what you’re going to need for yard work and gardening and check what needs to be repaired or purchased.
    Get answers and advice about gardening through a garden information line at 330-830-7700, ext. 113 or 114, operated by volunteer Stark County Master Gardeners from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesdays through October. Also, visit osustarkmg.org and select “Helpful Links” under the Resources section for more gardening information.
    3. Check roofs and gutters
    Take the time to take a walk around your house. It sounds simple, but look carefully at your roof, windows and siding.
    Jay Walker, chief estimator for A-1 Roofing and Siding, recommends that homeowners look for everything from missing shingles, to loose siding, to debris in gutters and spouting detaching from the house.
    “Basically, look for anything loose on the house,” he said.
    Some things can be done by homeowners such as tightening gutters, while replacing windows and siding may need a professional’s hand.
    For a big job such as a new roof, Walker advises to get a free inspection from a company that is licensed, bonded and insured. Get three estimates from different companies before investing in a big project. Ask the company about a free estimate and make sure it has a good rating on the Better Business Bureau. Also, make sure the business can provide numerous referrals.
    Loose siding or leaking roof or windows can cause your house to lose energy efficiency and result in bigger heating or cooling bills.
    “All those things come hand in hand,” he said.
    Christine Satterfield, who has a blog called idreamofclean.net, has numerous do-it-yourself tips for spring cleaning inside and out. Among her outdoor items on her spring cleaning checklist — clean your decks, power spray siding and garage doors, clean outside windows and door frames, and use a bit of dish soap and the spray attachment to clean out large outdoor trash cans.
    4. Keep your cool
    Don’t wait until the first 80-plus degree day to turn on your air-conditioning unit. Derek Shanklin, co-owner with his brother, Kip, of Shanklin Heating and Air Conditioning, recommends that even though you don’t need air conditioning now, the most important thing to do is check the air filter of the unit. Second, turn on the unit to make sure it runs before temperatures get too hot.
    “A lot of people just assume it’s going to come on,” he said.
    Page 3 of 3 - Also, check for any plants or ivy growing into the air conditioner outside, he said.
    “Cut that away and free around the air conditioner so you can walk around the air conditioner,” he said
    Now is the best time to call a heating and cooling company for maintenance and to clean units to make sure they run efficiently this summer, and also to save money. Shanklin recommends to have systems checked every spring. If refrigerant levels are low, it may cause the unit to work overtime and you may not notice it until you receive your first electric bill.