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Spring provides the opportunity to improve or even remake the outside of your house, and perhaps knock out some tasks you've put off for far too long.
Here are five areas where a little time and effort can pay off:
MULCH, FLOWERS AND VEGETABLE GARDENS
Placing fresh mulch is a good start each spring. Mulch moderates soil temperature, conserves moisture, suppresses weeds and adds organic matter to the soil as the shredded bark breaks down.
You don't need much space to grow ornamental plants or nutritious veggies.
Consider a pollinator garden that attracts the insects who greatly benefit our food supply, with plants like bee balm, chrysanthemums, lemon balm and salvia.
For a project that'll leave visitors' and neighbors' mouths agape, grow vertical instead of horizontal. Wall gardens made from shipping pallets look cool, and can cut your electric bill by naturally cooling the area outside your home where they reside.
If you craft a sturdy raised bed filled with good potting soil, a backyard vegetable garden will yield vitamin-rich produce filled with many varieties that'll grow through fall in seasonal climates.
NEW BACKYARD FEATURES
If you want to take your backyard to the next level, consider adding an eye-catching water feature, koi pond or fire feature. All come in a variety of sizes and styles friendly to most budgets.
Planting a tree will liven up your yard and deliver family enjoyment and memories as it grows over the years. Just make sure you don't plant a tree that'll cause more problems than it's worth.
PATIOS, DECKS AND WALKWAYS
Weather and age eventually take their toll on outdoor lounging spaces and pathways. Depending on size and the material you choose, new patios and decks run anywhere from $2,000 to more than $25,000. Similarly, walkways start at $1,000 and go up from there. Minor repairs to problem areas are much cheaper, so if you can get by for a few years, consider that route.
For less than $100, a good DIY pressure wash can restore luster to patios, decks and walkways that have darkened over time.
If winter left your exterior dingy, consider a pressure washing of the entire house. However, power cleaning siding is often a task best left to a pro.
Too much pressure can blow a hole through vinyl siding, and an untrained hand and eye could cause damage to other surfaces as well. For homes with algae on their north-facing wall due to lack of direct sunlight, pros typically use a soap and algaecide scrub to get rid of the green growth.
Expect to pay around $300 to $400 for the service.
High winds often pull fence boards loose over the winter. With a box of nails and a hammer, it's easy to walk the perimeter of your fence and fix problem boards.
To liven up a timeworn fence, DIY power washing can help bring back that attractive wood grain. Like siding, too much pressure often causes damage. If you want to stain the fence after cleaning, pick a shade that's slightly darker than what you want the finished product to look like, as the sun will eventually lighten it.
For a new fence, expect to pay $16 a foot for wood up to $40 a foot for aluminum.