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Pre­pare your out­door spa­ces for warmer weather with our spring-clean guide so you can spend those end­less sum­mer days re­lax­ing al fresco

Your Home and Garden - - Contents - Text by Carol Buck­nell.

A guide to spring­clean­ing your out­door spa­ces

It seems so far away, when skies are grey and it rains con­tin­u­ally, but the sun­shine will ar­rive be­fore you know it, herald­ing lazy days and re­lax­ing bar­be­cues on the lawn or bal­cony. But the out­doors is less en­joy­able when the sun um­brella is cov­ered in mould, the out­door fur­ni­ture is grubby and the lawn is full of weeds. If this sounds like your place, don’t worry. Just follow our spring-clean check­list and your out­door ar­eas will be in tip-top shape in time for sum­mer.

Lawn and or­der

1

Lawns can look tired af­ter a cold, wet win­ter. To get your grass grow­ing strongly this spring, give lawns a good feed and dig out or spray com­pet­ing weeds such as pas­palum, dock and dan­de­lion. Some lawn prod­ucts will feed grass and kill broad-leaved weeds at the same time. Fill gaps with hand­fuls of grass seed mixed with top­soil or an­other suit­able grow­ing medium. Boggy lawns are an­other is­sue at this time of year. You can buy pur­pose-built aer­a­tors or make your own by at­tach­ing a sharp spike to a pole. Think about putting in a mow­ing strip to give lawns a crisp edge, or use a trim­mer to keep them tidy.

Seat wise

2

Out­door seat­ing, ta­bles and other fur­ni­ture items have to with­stand tougher con­di­tions than those in­side and there­fore need reg­u­lar main­te­nance. Are fix­ings loose or bro­ken? Does tim­ber need re-stain­ing, oil­ing or paint­ing? Do you need to take a wire brush and/or sand­pa­per to that metal ta­ble to re­move rust? Re­mem­ber to coat rust spots with a rust-in­hibitor primer af­ter clean­ing them up, and then brush off all dirt thor­oughly be­fore paint­ing with a top coat. Does your out­door seat­ing need up­dat­ing? Per­haps some new cush­ions will do the trick.

Brush hour

3

While you’ve got the paint­brushes out, are there other ar­eas that could do with a quick facelift, such as tired-look­ing fences, walls, sheds and per­go­las? Re-stain­ing deck­ing tim­ber af­ter a thor­ough clean can have a huge im­pact on your out­door liv­ing ar­eas.

“Think about putting in a mow­ing strip to give lawns a crisp edge, or use a trim­mer to keep them tidy”

Hit the deck

4

Mould can build up over win­ter, making decks and ter­races slimy and dan­ger­ous.

Use a wa­terblaster to clean these and other hard sur­faces around out­door en­ter­tain­ing ar­eas. Be­fore you start, check the mor­tar isn’t cracked on brick, ma­sonry or stone paving and walls. Make any re­pairs at least a week be­fore wash­ing. Follow up with a fungi­ci­dal wash, such as 30 Sec­onds, for very mouldy ar­eas. Try to sweep decks and paving reg­u­larly in sum­mer so dirt doesn’t build up in cracks and cor­ners with mould and weeds sure to follow.

Made in the shade

5

Sun um­brel­las, shade cloths and other out­door fab­rics should also be checked for mould and grime. Take them down and scrub with a weak so­lu­tion of bleach, soap and wa­ter. Make sure to rinse them well.

Wa­ter works

6

Ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tems should be checked at least once a year, as spray noz­zles get blocked and hose tub­ing can eas­ily be dam­aged by spades and so forth. Un­screw spray at­tach­ments and use a sharp ob­ject to re­move dirt from noz­zles. Most hard­ware stores sell DIY fit­tings to re­pair leak­ing hoses. Now is a good time to as­sess whether you need to up­grade or re­ar­range your ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tem to cater for plant growth etc.

Bar­bie boost

7

There’s noth­ing worse than hav­ing a bar­be­cue break down while the steaks are cook­ing. To avoid such dis­as­ters, check gas tanks for dam­age or wear, and make sure valves are work­ing prop­erly – like­wise, the con­nect­ing hose and ig­ni­tion switch. Turn the bar­be­cue on high for 10-15 min­utes to burn off resid­ual par­ti­cles and grease, then follow up with a wire brush. Soak grill racks and wash the out­side of the bar­be­cue in warm, soapy wa­ter.

Weed it and reap

8

Weed-choked beds are not a good look for sum­mer en­ter­tain­ing. Thor­oughly weed all gar­den ar­eas, par­tic­u­larly those around your out­door liv­ing spa­ces. If you im­me­di­ately cover up with a good 10-15cm layer of mulch, there’ll be a lot less weed­ing to do over the sum­mer. Mulches also help to vis­ually unify the gar­den, re­tain soil mois­ture dur­ing the hot months (thereby re­duc­ing your wa­ter bills) and im­prove the soil’s over­all health.

Switched on

9

Out­door light­ing also needs an an­nual main­te­nance WOF. Re­place blown light bulbs, clear cob­webs off fit­tings and take a good look at out­door light­ing in cru­cial spots such as decks, ter­races, steps and bar­be­cue ar­eas. LED light­ing can be in­stalled by any­one with ba­sic DIY skills and is very cost-ef­fec­tive these days. So­lar­pow­ered lights are a good green op­tion.

Child’s play

10

Don’t for­get the kids when you’re on your spring-clean buzz. Even a quick weed and top-up of bark ar­eas around tram­po­lines and other play equip­ment will freshen up their play space. Safety is the key is­sue, so check there are no rusty fit­tings that could break, or dan­ger­ous cracks in plastic. Also, trim back shrubs and trees that have grown too close to play equip­ment. •

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