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Restoring your property after a long winter

One of the best things about the dawn of spring and the return of warmer weather is the chance to get out of the house and get some fresh air. For homeowners, this is the perfect opportunity to assess any damage the previous months did to yards and develop a plan restore properties.

• Don't jump the gun. The first warm day of spring might seem like a great time to get out in the yard and get your hands dirty. But it's best to wait until the grass has completely dried out before getting to work. Raking on wet grass increases the risk of tearing out grass, which can cause bald spots and the growth of weeds down the road. In addition, stepping on the grass while the ground is still wet can compact the soil, which can slow drainage and block the lawn's roots from breathing.

Patience should prevail with regard to mowing the lawn as well. A lawn's roots will not start to grow until the average everyday temperature routinely reaches 40 F, so mowing too early is both unnecessary and potentially harmful to the lawn. When the temperatures regularly reach 50 F, then homeowners will likely start to see their lawns growing.

• Remove debris that's piled up. Debris has a tendency to infest a yard over the course of the winter months. Fallen branches, stones and even trash can accumulate in a yard, putting those who spend time in the yard at risk of injury once the warm weather returns. For instance, bits of twigs and pebbles that are blown across the yard during a windy winter can be embedded in the yard, making the yard less of a haven and more of a hazard. Once the grass is dry enough to walk on, walk around the property and remove any debris that's piled up over the last few months.

• Employ a pre-emergent weed killer. Homeowners who routinely spend their summers agonizing over weeds throughout the yard should consider applying a pre-emergent weed killer around the beginning of spring. It's important to do so around the end of March or early April, when the weeds have not yet had a chance to grow. When applying, follow the dosage instructions provided by the product's manufacturer. Such instructions often recommend a second application right before summer begins.

• Remove thatch. Once the grass has dried, you can begin to remove thatch that's built up over the winter. Thatch is potentially very harmful to soil, blocking sunlight, air and moisture the soil needs to ensure a lawn looks lush and healthy. Thatch removal does not necessarily need to be an annual task. If thatch buildup is insignificant, then it can be done every other year. Just use a dethatching rake to make the job much easier.

• Aerate, particularly if the yard is a heavy traffic area once the warm weather arrives. If your yard transforms into a child's wonderland upon the arrival of spring and summer, you might want to revive the soil by aerating. When the yard gets heavy usage, it's easy for soil to become compacted, which makes it hard for air and water to reach the lawn's roots. That can eventually make for a less-than-appealing lawn. So if your yard is the place to be come the warmer months, aerate in the spring to loosen the soil and make it easier for the lawn to withstand the months ahead.

No matter how harsh the winter months might have been, spring is a great time for homeowners to restore the property around their homes.

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