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Front Page » March 6, 2008 » Home and Garden Focus » Winters wrath shows when the sun comes out...
Published 2,773 days ago

Winters wrath shows when the sun comes out...

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Some damage caused by snow, ice, wind and cold temperatures, such as this awning collapse is apparent immediately, but other damage shows up in the spring.

The start of spring gets many people thinking about lawn and landscaping projects. But stormy economic times, and the hard winter, mean that people are looking for ways to cut costs around the house. Unfortunately, many homeowners don't know how to prioritize their lawn projects to help them understand where to spend their money most effectively, and they may not know what they can do themselves and when they should hire a professional.

"What people should focus on first is making sure that their lawn and plants, trees and shrubs are healthy," said Jim Martin, CLP, president of the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET). "In the spring, do a walk-through of your yard, look at the plants, trees, and shrubs and make sure they look green and healthy. If you are concerned that the lawn is patchy and brown or that you may have diseased plants, trees, or shrubs, you may want to call a professional lawn care company to make an assessment and offer solutions."

Spring provides an opportunity for homeowners, whose yards are healthy and in good shape, to save some money by doing a basic yard clean-up.

"People can make a big impact in their yards without spending a lot of money just by cleaning out leaves from under shrubs and bushes, cutting-in bed edges, mulching, and planting annuals in beds and pots," said Jason Cupp, CLP, president-elect of PLANET.

For homeowners who want to engage in bigger projects around the yard, hiring a professional can be a smart move. Many homeowners don't have the skills, expertise, or the tools to take on more complicated projects. PLANET offers homeowners advice about when to hire a professional and when to dust off the wheel barrel.

They suggest homeowners hire a professional for the following tasks.

• Landscape design and installation. Most people, with the exception of very experienced gardeners, do not feel comfortable designing a landscape so people generally turn to professionals for design and installation help.

• New lawn installation or major repairs. Installing a new yard or repairing a damaged yard is difficult and time consuming. Professional companies have the equipment, training and the skills to do this task, and to do it safely. It is important to the value of a home that the lawn is in good condition.

• Irrigation, aeration, and lighting projects. Projects such as installing irrigation systems, aerating a lawn and installing outdoor lighting are usually done by people with professional grade equipment and expertise.

Here are some things they suggest for do-it-yourselfers.

•Maintenance. Some people opt to have lawn care and landscaping companies mow, weed, prune, and trim hedges on a regular basis. However, homeowners with an interest in gardening or who are looking to save money can do much of their own maintenance.

Damaged bushes from heavy ice and snow are often twisted in strange ways.

•Seasonal sprucing up. Homeowners can add a lot to their curb appeal by planting seasonal annuals, and by mulching and cleaning up plant beds.

But there is more to the yard after a hard winter than just the plants and lawn. There is also the fixtures in the yard as well as the house and out buildings themselves.

During a hard winter, such as the one Carbon County just experienced a lot of things happen. One of those things is garbage. It seems every piece of trash in a neighborhood ends up in someones yard buried under snow or in such areas as coves around houses or in window wells. One of the first orders of business as the snow leaves the ground is to pick this mess up.

Next comes looking at the structures themselves. Over the winter things break, blow away or sometimes even fall down. While the larger problems are often noticed during the winter months, smaller disasters may not appear until the spring. March is a good time to look for such things.

Roofs and gutters, in particular take a bad beating when snow storm after snow storm hits with a little melting between causing ice dams on many roofs and in rain gutters.

In addition strong winds and fallen tree branches can crack or rip asphalt roof shingles. Fixing a damaged shingle tab before it tears off a roof, can make the difference between a lot of work and a little. The spring, as the snow recedes from the roof is a good time to check this. To make such repair, a tube of roofing cement and a piece of metal flashing will help. Trim the flashing about one inch narrower than the ripped tab, and about three inches longer, so that it lays beneath the tabs on either side. Use a large screwdriver or pry bar to loosen the damaged tab. Then apply as many beads of roofing cement as needed beneath the shingle. Push the flashing underneath and put roofing cement on top of the flashing. Compress the tab so it will adhere the flashing to the roof.

Houses with wood shingles on the roof or on the walls are particularly susceptible to winter woes. The average wood-shingle house has thousands of individual shingles. Some will split or be damaged, especially in bad weather.

There are easy ways to replace these shingles. The use of a chisel and hammer to split it into several narrow pieces is a good way to start. A hacksaw blade can be pushed under the pieces and a sawing action will cut away the nails. Create a new shingle by carving one the right size out of new stock. Slide the new shingle into place, but not all the way. Use two shingle nails, at an upward angle, directly below the edge of the shingle next to it. Use a non-marking (rubber or composite) hammer to pound the shingle into place. The shingle will go into place and it will tug the nails with it and behind the shingle next to it.

Of course big damage of any kind should be examined by a person's insurance company. While most people have deductibles on damage from the wind, snow or water, the costs of damaged awnings, patio covers, or chimneys caused by ice can easily exceed those limits very quickly.

The rule for repairs should be fix what you know how to fix and leave the rest for reputable professionals.

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