Spring Cleanup of the House and Garden
Lots to do around the house before the green season.
Ever wonder what to do in a garden in early spring before everything goes green? It is easy to grow impatient while huddling indoors with a cup of tea, and waiting for life to come back to the garden.
But is the awakening season only about barely venturing outside to turn the compost and shop for tools?
Nope. There is more outdoors stuff to do at this time of the year than one might think. Even though everything is still half-asleep and gray, I like early spring and find myself busy with all kinds of stuff.
Most of my neighbors still lounge around their fireplaces but once in a while, a insect on a practice run drifts by on a low-pitch buzz. Not really geared up for the pollen hunt yet, but if they are awake... then summer can't be far away!
Here is a glimpse of what's going on at the moment by the small house I rent.
Images by me
Nature has its way
People who live in apartments don't always realize how early the outdoor season starts.
A example is when I was invited to go horse-riding the other day. It is something I have wanted to do for a log time.. but I declined, saying I had too much to do around the house.
My friend pointed out that it was early spring here in northern Europe, with snow still melting, and isn't that too early to plant anything? Well, yeah..
So how could I not have time?
The short answer is: damage control.
Fall storms can do some damage, heavy snowfall and cold do their bit, and the sliding friction of melt does the rest.
Anyway, there is this and another small tree that have broken off and a large stand of 10 foot saplings that have all been squashed under the snow and will be cut. The positive is that it will bring a bit more light in!
Bent and broken stems
so will be taken down.
The walls look a lot worse now than last year when I moved in. I'll have to speak with my landlord about fixing this before next winter because raw wood against snow is not a good idea.
Once the wood goes humid, so can the insulation and all sorts of problems can get a foothold - everything from mold and rot to colonization of harvesting ants.
I'm thinking some of the wood will need to be replaced here. Edit.. I ended up taking down all of it.
The outside panels of the cabin haven't been taken care of for several years it seems.
Snow accumulates in drifts along the walls which quickly get worn without regular maintenance.
My fault, not nautre's
Candle lanterns in the snow?
The house I rent has all kinds of stuff lying around. I found this lamp when I moved in, tucked way back in the tool shed and it is one of my favorite yard decorations.
The huge stagecoach lantern is just a flimsy thing built of thin metal and even thinner glass, and it got completely buried under several feet of snow. It could be in better shape.
I obviously knew it couldn't handle any hard conditions, much less a heavy blanket of snow... so why didn't I bring it in for the winter? It could have lasted several years more. I'll get it fixed.
It is just a decorative outdoor lamp with a hinged door, all flimsy with thin metal and even thinner glass, but it is pretty cool when you light it up.
In spring and fall when the nights are dark it would serve as a lantern when I had guests. During summer it served as a mini greenhouse for small potted flowers.
Not a big deal but weird - The flight of the coldframe panels
This is one of my plant starter setups. It is based around a cargo accessory which we call pallet collar. You simply place it on the ground, fill it with soil and you have your raised bed garden.
Another way to use it is leave out the soil, add shelter over it and it becomes a mini hothouse which acts as a great potted plant nursery. The green stuff here are plastic cold frame panes that you assemble over it and the whole thing becomes a raised bed mini greenhouse.
Since they are plastic I left them outside but neatly stacked waay over to the far right, outside of image. Somehow, during winter they have transported themselves as a group a couple of yards to left, straight over the nursery bed. Maybe it's a sign I should get started!
One small and enjoyable job is to gather the small pots, tidy up and get seeds planted. Still thinking about what to have this year but chard (which we call mangold), carrots and tomatoes for sure. Some herbs. Sunflowers, cress and something which attracts butterflies.
The power of ice
A greenhouse for plants and me.
I managed to assemble my coldframe panels for another year but if I was buying new I would probably go for something substantially bigger like the above which has a good size and unbreakable panels. Palram greenhouse selling on Amazon
I would set it up with half of the floor space cultivated, one side wall with pots, and the rest empty space to fit a nice lounge chair for me :)
Busy digger alert
Someone has been busy. As the snow melts away you get all sorts of surprises. Just outside the driveway posts, people dogs have left all sorts of visiting cards. Here in Sweden, people are good at picking up their dog droppings but not during winter.
We have a Swedish saying that translates badly into something like "What hides in snow is revealed in thaw".
As you can see, some expert diggers have also been busy under the snow. If you have something that looks like this you can be sure you have a bunch of critters on your property. I don't mind too much but they can attract snakes, and they tend to like veggie plots.
Luckily, there are ways to deal with them as I describe in my get rid of digging rodents lens.
Most of the roof has taken a serious beating this winter. Granted, the clay tiles are old and brittle and should have been replaced a long time ago. The long and cold "spring" with warming sun during the days, and freezing temps during the night, created thick sheets of ice on the roof. In time, these ice sheets start moving down the slope, about an inch or two a day, with a highly efficient grinding power. If you have ever seen rock which has been covered with glaciers, then you know what I mean. Of course, a foot or two of ice is no glacier... but on the other hand, old roof tiles are not made of granite either :)
The big problem is the clay which gets brittle with age. I can sense another call to the landlord coming up!
Leave it or paint it?
Good tools for spring maintenance of home and garden
I prefer a random orbit sander to a sheet one. Works much better on curved and uneven surfaces.
Old outdoor furniture always seems to pose a dilemma. Let them be for another season with the fashionably shabby patina of fading paint?... or give them a new coat of fresh paint?
Well, the furniture got lucky this year and received a new coat of paint! Same blue color which I really like.
A bit more dull in shade than what you see on the classic Greece postcards but it somehow blends in pretty well with green of the garden in summer.
Old wood doesn't need much precision though. A quick sanding, paint it, done!
Weeds are early starters
One of each is all you need for every garden eventuality. I use a flat spade a lot of the time. The perfect tool to edge the lawn near paths and around plants.
One area in the garden which needs early cleanup is the gravel path that runs on one side of the house. Weeds and grass start their expansion campaign right after the snow melts, maybe earlier. From one day to another there are green spots of weed and grass shoots everywhere.
Recommended weapons in the crusade against gravel weeds are a knife rake and the double prong thing. Here is a tip if you also battle gravel green: do it when when everything is wet. As soon as the underground dries it gets really hard to push the knife rake around under the gravel. Water the gravel, then go after the weeds.
Do this cleanup every year and the work is not demanding. A day or two gets it done. Let the weeds settle in and you will have a real problem. They turn gravel into lawns that you have to dig up in just a couple of years.
My Lawn Mower Guides
After the weeds comes the grass which is great to look at and lye on, but it grows so fast sometimes. Unkempt lawns make your property look bad. Cutting the lawn often is also good fro the grass.
Some of my other hubs about gardening.
- The Riding Lawn Mower Guide
If you want to know when you need to get a ride-on lawn mower, a rule of thumb is when you have an acre or more of lawn to cut. If your property is hilly though, you may even want to get one for smaller gardens. A riding lawnmower covers more...
- Electric Lawn Mower Best Sellers
To most people, a big advantage of an electric lawn mower over a traditional, gas-powered one is the low noise level. A electric lawnmower is quiet. Another advantage is low weight and size which is a direct result of the electric engine which is...