Thank the heavens! After a long, blustery winter filled with weather events you could only imagine in a dystopian sci-fi film (we’ll take your polar vortex, and we’ll raise you a “bombogenesis”), spring has finally sprung.
But before you mix up that batch of lemonade and get ready to take your perch on the porch, know this: With warmer—and often rainier—weather comes a host of home maintenance challenges.
Buzzkill, we know. And besides, that’s futureyou’s problem, right?
Well, yes and no.
Future you will certainly pay the price (and then some) if you delay in tackling these tasks. A little spring maintenance now could help prevent major repair costs down the line.
Here’s a bit of good news: We’ve done the heavy lifting for you, identifying the top items to address—and what professional help will cost you if you want to throw in the towel and binge all seven seasons of “Game of Thrones” instead.
1. Clear your gardens
April showers bring May flowers—but what if your May flowers can’t grow? Fall and winter likely left your garden beds covered in debris such as sticks and branches, which could stifle your spring floral display.
“Be on the lookout,” says Amy Enfield, a consumer horticulturist with Scotts Miracle-Gro. “The freezing and thawing of the soil throughout winter and early spring sometimes moves rocks to the garden surface.” And nothing can stymie an eager tulip like a rock squatting in its spot.
DIY: Raking up garden debris is an easy job. Make sure to clear the garden entirely, and cover it with a layer of mulch.
Call a pro: If you’re blessed with an expanse of gardens, consider hiring a professional lawn care service to clear out the mess. You’ll spend an average of $226 to get your beds in spring shape.
2. Squish spring termites
Just like us humans, insects are big fans of spring’s warmer weather, and termites are no exception. If you spot small, winged insects flying around your windows, you might have a termite problem.
DIY: Termites aren’t a DIY job. “It’s important to get a company out there to take a look at the problem,” says Los Angeles real estate agent Jennifer Okhovat.
Call in a pro: “Most termite inspections are free,” Okhovat says, “and companies can spot-treat problems to avoid future larger ones.”
Water pooling around your foundation can cause expensive structural damage. And if your home is located on a slope, free-running water can even induce a miniature mudslide.
Then there’s another pesky problem that can result from poor drainage: mosquitoes, which “quickly breed in stagnant water when temperatures rise,” says Cassy Aoyagi, a board member of the Los Angeles chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council and president of FormLA Landscaping.
DIY: You might be able to solve this problem by extending your gutter downspout, or adding dirt to create a steeper slope that diverts water from your foundation.
Call in a pro: If you can’t figure out how to un-soggify your space, hire a professional landscaper. The pro will look at your yard and determine the best drainage solutions. The average cost for landscaping is around $3,240, but small projects will likely cost less.
4. Expand your hardscaping
If your drainage situation is OK, but your yard just seems to always be swampy, consider adding hardscaping—things like patios, walkways, and decks.
“Adding a new hardscaping feature will let you reclaim the muddy area while also improving the appearance and utility of your landscape,” says Joe Raboine, the director of residential hardscapes at Belgard.
Think: A wooden boardwalk over the mucky spot, or a flagstone path between your front and back yards.
DIY: If you’re handy, hardscaping is absolutely a DIY project, but be warned that laying brick or pouring concrete can be tedious.
Call in a pro: Not ready to sacrifice your back? A pro will be happy to take on the labor. Costs vary dramatically depending on the type of project you want to do. For instance, a concrete patio costs an average of $2,634.
5. Kill those pesky weeds
It’s everyone’s favorite spring task: weeding. (We can already hear your knees crying in pre-emptive pain.) But getting at weeds before they grow hardy is the best way to keep your lawn lush.
Make sure to pay attention to your lawn and garden beds—and get the sides of your house, too. Letting a species go unchecked on a small side yard could lead to it spreading throughout the rest of your outdoor space.
DIY: Apply a weed preventer in the spring, Enfield recommends. (Every brand will list on the packaging the types of weeds it’s designed to kill.) Then, move on to weeding by hand.
“Remove the root along with the top, since many weeds will grow back if root pieces are left behind,” Enfield says. Got a pesky one that won’t budge? Try a spade or digging fork.
Call in apro: Too pooped for this labor-intensive task? A professional lawn service can come to the rescue. Expect to pay an average of $226.
6. Inspect your windows and doors
Cold weather makes metal and wood contract, which can affect the alignment of your locks and hinges. Now that things are warming up, make sure all your doors latch properly.
“Two-thirds of home break-ins occur through front, side, or back doors,” says Eric Janssen, co-founder of JM Security, a home security and alarm company. “Ensuring your entryways are properly maintained could prevent a break-in.”
DIY: If your door is a little jittery, make sure the hinges and knobs are fully screwed in. Janssen also recommends reinforcing door locks with a strike plate, which costs a couple of bucks at your local hardware store.
Call in a pro: Ready for a front-door upgrade? Consumer Reports recommends steel, fiberglass, or wood doors for security. Hiring a pro for installation can run anywhere from $750 to $2,000, depending on if the pro will need to rough-in a new door frame.
7. Check exterior lights
Speaking of home security, spring is a fantastic time to double-check your exterior lights. Are the bulbs dim or dead? Are there any dark spots?
“Great exterior lights don’t just make your home look more beautiful—they also deter would-be criminals,” Janssen says.
Ensure your backyard is well-lit and add motion-detecting floodlights to your garage. Janssen also recommends adding timers to your house lights, which “give the appearance of activity in and around the home while you are away.”
DIY: Replacing bulbs and adding new lights is a simple DIY job—just make sure your property is evenly covered with light.
Call in a pro: If you want to install lights on the second story or just aren’t comfortable with DIYing it, a handyman can help. Expect to pay $60 to $65 per hour.