When the first flowers poke their heads resolutely through the muddy soil, it's time to leave winter behind. This means it's time for outdoor maintenance.
Don't wait for a sunny day to get going. Rainy and overcast days are perfect ones for many of these chores. You're going to get dirty anyhow, so a little mud won't hurt. Plus, as you work, the drizzle keeps you cool.
Take a Walk
Walk around your house and yard. See if winter has left any damage such as ripped shingles, clogged downspouts, or fallen branches. Make a note to repair or remove these as soon as you can.
Check the deck for signs of weakness or rotting. If you have a flagstone or brick patio, replace or fix any loose stones.
Hoist a ladder to the roof and make sure the roof tiles are in good shape and the chimney flashing is in place. If not, call a reliable roofer and get them fixed.
Now is the time to remove or adjust storm windows. Wash the windows indoors and out.
Replace storm doors with screens. Check the screens on all doors and windows for tears and patch them, if you can. Otherwise, replace the screens.
Turn on all outdoor spigots to make sure they are in good working order. Attach hoses and run water through them. If any leak, replace or patch.
Determine if hedges or bushes need trimming. If they are about to flower, wait until they bloom before taking clippers to them.
Rake leaves from under shrubbery and caught in groundcover. Clean the gutters of leaves and twigs.
Make sure the lawnmower is in working order. Take it in for servicing.
Garden and Lawn Maintenance
Inspect the garden tools and equipment. If you put them away clean and dry in the fall, they will be in good shape. Before you dash to the hardware store to buy new equipment, take careful inventory of what you have.
Rake the garden and remove all debris. Edge the beds while the soil is moist and easy to work. Turn the soil in preparation for planting.
Make note of the emerging plants. Take care not to dig them up!
Early spring, when the weather is still cool, is a good time for seeding the lawn. Look at it and decide where it needs help. Persistent bald spots in the lawn may never grow -- so think about planting them with groundcover or shrubbery.
Work hard. Your energy is up in the spring and early spurts of enthusiasm pay off when the warmer days arrive. Then, when the sun is hot, you will be able to enjoy your labor, from the vantage point of a lawn chair!