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Spring Cleanup of the House and Garden

Updated on September 21, 2014

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

Damaged trees need to come down.
Damaged trees need to come down.

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.

I like electric tools and what I use to cut trees is similar to the 18-Inch 4 HP WORX Chain Saw seen below.

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

outdoor planting nursery
outdoor planting nursery

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.

6 x 8 foot greenhouse kit
6 x 8 foot greenhouse kit
tunnel paths
tunnel paths

The power of ice

broken clay roof tiles
broken clay roof tiles

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 Palram greenhouse selling on Amazon which has a good size and unbreakable panels.

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?

My blue garden table
My blue garden table

Good tools for spring maintenance of home and garden

Milwaukee 6021-21 Random Orbit Palm Sander with dust collection bag
Milwaukee 6021-21 Random Orbit Palm Sander with dust collection bag

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

gravel weed tools
gravel weed tools
Brook & Hunter Combo-DY-3D Premium 3-Piece Combo Kit With Stainless Steel Alloy Polished Shovel, Fork & Spade With Hand Crafted Red Oak Handles
Brook & Hunter Combo-DY-3D Premium 3-Piece Combo Kit With Stainless Steel Alloy Polished Shovel, Fork & Spade With Hand Crafted Red Oak Handles

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.

Got spring plans?

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    • profile image

      GrammieOlivia 4 years ago

      Just looking over this lens I realize that I have some work with my name on it! I'd rather be digging in the dirt, but the other stuff needs doing too!

    • shewins profile image

      shewins 5 years ago

      I know how you feel, there's always a lot of cleaning up to do in the spring.

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 5 years ago

      A new coat of paint always freshens things up! Nice lens.

    • IMKZRNU2 profile image

      IMKZRNU2 5 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      There is always things to do around my yard especially in the Spring. Nice lens and thanks for the tips.

    • leifgustafson profile image

      leifgustafson 5 years ago

      When we all have some spring cleaning to do... this lens is an incredible guide! Good work

    • anne mohanraj profile image

      anne mohanraj 5 years ago

      An interesting and great lens!

    • kindoak profile image
      Author

      kindoak 5 years ago

      @GardenerDon: hahah... that's cheating!!

    • GardenerDon profile image

      Gardener Don 5 years ago

      This year my spring cleanup was going to be a monumental task, as winter set in before we had a chance to clean up in the fall. However, I fixed it by hiring a guy to do it for me - my biggest task was writing out the cheque to pay him!

    • profile image

      laurenrich 5 years ago

      This is an awesome lens. The ideas and tips are wonderful. I enjoy spring clean up after staying in the house during the winter. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      JimH 5 years ago

      I hate having spring cleanup hanging over my head especially when trying to concentrate on the NHL playoffs.

      You have lots of good tips here and I enjoyed reading about Sweden.

    • profile image

      lionmom100 5 years ago

      My cleanup consists of repairing my drip irrigation. I'm still working on it.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thumbs up!

    • kindoak profile image
      Author

      kindoak 5 years ago

      @Jogalog: It is a coolplace, but quite rustic. And almost no insulation in the house so winters are really, really cold and only hot tea and 3 layer clothes keeps you warm. But now in summer it is a very nice place :)

    • rattie lm profile image

      rattie lm 5 years ago

      Lovely, interesting lens. I have not forgotten the harshness of winters in the northern hemisphere. Even spring seems too cold to venture out and start the process of restoration.

    • profile image

      MarcellaCarlton 5 years ago

      Good lens with outstanding ideas. This is what I always say "Why wait"? I had no idea that so much damage could be sustain over winter in Northern Europe.

    • JacobEssayUK LM profile image

      JacobEssayUK LM 5 years ago

      great lens - brilliant info, thanks a lot!

    • Jogalog profile image

      Jogalog 5 years ago

      It sounds like a really lovely place to live, despite the challenges.

    • profile image

      dellgirl 5 years ago

      What a unique lens, itâs very interesting and a great idea for a lens! I like it. Thank you for the tips and advice.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Nice tips.. We always do it before the occasion of the deewali in India

    • imagelist lm profile image

      imagelist lm 5 years ago

      Great lens with valuable info...

    • Swisstoons profile image

      Thomas F. Wuthrich 5 years ago from Michigan

      Living in an apartment as I do, I have to settle for enjoying other people's gardens as I walk for exercise. daily. But a gal I know up in New Hampshire tells me she is out in her yard everyday preparing for planting. Great lens.

    • JoanieMRuppel54 profile image

      Joanie Ruppel 5 years ago from Keller, Texas

      We are finished cleaning up and already harvesting greens, radishes, and scallions in North Central Texas! Tomatoes are flowering (some on the vine) and the flowers are in full force!

    • maryseena profile image

      maryseena 5 years ago

      Had no idea how much damage snow could do and so much work was involved in renovating the homestead every year.

    • profile image

      CASHGURU 5 years ago

      Good lens well written

    • accfuller profile image

      accfuller 5 years ago

      Great lens! It's been warm here in Upstate New York, and every morning I carry my seedlings outside, and bring them in at night. I gave you a squid-like and a g+1 ... )

    • profile image

      LadyDuck 5 years ago

      My garden needs a cleanup too, heavy snow has damaged the wooden fence, I have to fix it.

    • Erin Mellor profile image

      Erin Mellor 5 years ago from Europe

      I'm looking forward to having some time in the garden this weekend, it certainly needs some love.

    • whiskeystill lm profile image

      whiskeystill lm 5 years ago

      Summer comes and I think I can make it green in a less than a week. Great Idea!

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 5 years ago from USA

      So much to be done isn't there? I can see you have a lot to do before summer comes. We've started on some things, but the weather has to break before getting to more serious things.

    • TrialError profile image

      TrialError 5 years ago

      It needs to be done, but I'll do it next week. ;)

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Am still away so it has to wait till June.

    • Ardyn25 profile image

      Ardyn25 5 years ago

      Now that the snow is finally gone I see lots that needs to be done. More than usual as I didn't do fall cleanup like I should have...I'll remember this fall for sure. Your photos are interesting.

    • Cynthia Haltom profile image

      Cynthia Haltom 5 years ago from Diamondhead

      My clean up is not so bad in the spring but the summer brings us tropical storms and hurricanes and that can be a bit mess.

    • gottaloveit2 profile image

      gottaloveit2 5 years ago

      I love your pictures! Very nicely done.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      Fun seeing how nature can have its own way and mess with our cleaning plans. Fascinating pictures.

    • MarcStorm LM profile image

      MarcStorm LM 5 years ago

      We've got a lot of yard work to do this Spring as well, and we've also started some projects too. I enjoyed reading about yours and had a laugh at the custom bio you wrote lol I hope your plans all work out great! Great job writing this!

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