Outdoor Spring Cleaning

Spring has sprung, the grass has riz, it’s time to source some landscape biz. Well that’s not quite how the saying goes but at this time of year it’s appropriate because there is so much that can be done in the way of spring cleaning that opportunities abound in the landscape maintenance sector.

Most clients, both corporate and domestic, have competing priorities like managing their core business or recreational pursuits outside of the workplace. They don’t have a great deal of time, or for that matter expertise, to allocate to landscape or garden maintenance.

The preference these days is to leave things to the professionals. Outdoor spring cleaning therefore becomes an important part of landscape maintenance to get outdoor areas in tip-top shape for the activities that make them the go-to places during the warmer months ahead.

Outdoor spring cleaning is like any other job, the best approach is to have a plan but even without a planned approach it’s important to just get started. To begin with, a visual inspection of the site is critical, and notes should be taken on any observable issues with all hard landscape components, furniture installations, irrigation systems and plantings that require attention.

A lack of use for many of the components within a landscape during the cold months of winter can cause some problems with breakages, loosening of fixtures and surface protectants breaking down, particularly on timber installations. There’s also the loss or damage of some plants due to cold, wind or frost damage to contend with. Wind damage can be a serious issue, particularly for large trees which may require remedial pruning to make them safe.

So, when it comes to a maintenance schedule for an outdoor spring clean, where do you start?

Well that all depends on what elements are within the landscape.

Concrete and paved surfaces

Hard surfaces are probably the easiest to maintain and a spring clean of paved or concrete surfaces will bring them back to their former glory in no time. Depending on the condition of the surface it may be as simple as using the blower to remove any debris that has accumulated over winter. In some regions mould or algae can grow on hard surfaces, which will require either high pressure removal utilizing a water blaster, or the application of chemical mould and algae removers and/or inhibitors.

Weeds can also become problematic in paved areas, established in the joints between pavers over winter requiring removal. Non-selective herbicides are probably the go-to product for this job but consider other environmental options such as mechanical control using cord trimmers or thermal control through steam application or flame.

Ponds, pools and other water features

Maintenance of natural pools and ponds is usually far less than conventional pools but critical to their success. The key to a healthy pond, pool or water feature is in maintaining the correct ecological balance within the system. Unlike a conventional swimming pool, natural ponds rely on a balance of beneficial bacteria and microorganisms.

By only removing some of the water in the pond during maintenance the balance of beneficial organisms is easier to re-establish. Plants will require some pruning and/or replacement, and filtration systems checked and cleaned.

Pool and pond surfaces will require removal of gross pollutants such as leaves,and the removal of algae may also be required. On a seasonal basis remove the accumulation of organic debris on the pond floor and conduct a complete check of all pond components including the pond liner, pond sealant membrane or the preformed pond’s overall condition. Small tears or punctures may need to be patched, and evidence of larger damage or degradation may indicate that it’s time for replacement or upgrading to better materials.

Irrigation system maintenance

Every system requires maintenance and at minimum the system should be checked at least twice seasonally, but monthly checks will reduce the risk of potential system failures. Some of the basic checks before the growing season gets into full swing are:

  • Inspect controllers and update run times and dates as required
  • Check wire connections on all system controls and weather sensors
  • Replace back-up battery to controllers
  • Operate each zone and check for
  • Leaking vales or pipes
  • Broken or missing emitters
  • Clogged nozzles
  • Sunken heads
  • Pressure problems
  • Incorrect wetting patterns

Plant maintenance

Once established, plants will continue to grow to maturity under favorable soil and climatic conditions. It is this very aspect of plant characteristics that makes the maintenance of plants an important part of effective landscape management. Ongoing maintenance procedures of pruning, staking, tying, mulching, fertilizing, watering, weeding and mowing, will all require attention. Repairing damaged plants such as trees through wind shear is probably best left to an arborist but other plants may require some minor pruning to improve their aesthetic appearance or even replacing to present the landscape in its best form for spring and summer. Spring is also ideal for topping up of mulch in plantings. A fresh application off mulch can present the garden with an inspirational new appearance.

Decking and timber components

The organic nature of timber and its tendency to deteriorate over time when exposed to the elements will undoubtedly warrant the need for timber treatments or preservatives to be employed in any ongoing landscape maintenance program. As technology continues to advance, the development of even better timber treatments and preservatives will continue to be introduced to the industry. One thing is certain though, the use of such products is imperative to ensure the ongoing durability and enjoyment of timber installations in landscape constructions.

It’s estimated that approximately every six months depending on conditions, a timber deck will require maintenance. The following maintenance activities (dependent on surface finish) are all required throughout the year and the start of spring is perfect for getting any deck into shipshape condition.

  • Sanding
  • Loose nails punched in
  • Nail holes filled and sanded
  • Mould removal
  • Cleaning
  • Paint removal
  • Finishing, for example decking stain, decking oil, painting

Quality products have been designed to protect the natural beauty of timber. When it comes to maintenance, always purchase quality products to keep your deck ship shape.

Landscape lighting

Many landscape installations include the use of lighting to enhance the functionality of an area and to improve the aesthetics of the space by highlighting features within. Lighting, like any landscape component requires ongoing maintenance. Start by replacing any lamps that have burned out. Follow this up with cleaning the lenses of the lights. For both glass and plastic lenses, clean both sides thoroughly. If it’s possible remove any dirt off the internal reflectors. Remember that lighting involves electricity and it may be more appropriate to have any maintenance carried out by a licencesed electrician.

When it comes to any cleaning job indoors or out, the effort put into attention detail will ultimately yield the best results. Investing time into an outdoor spring clean will bring benefits to the client and your business bottom line.

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