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9 outdoor maintenance tips

Regularly maintaining the outside of your home keeps it looking good and functioning well and avoids costly renovations and repairs. Small chores like cleaning the leaves from gutters or spending a couple of hours touching up the paint on a fence or deck can make all the difference. All it takes is a little organization and a checklist of what to do each season. Let's get to it!

Clean gutters and downspouts

The guttering and downspout system on a house is the first line of defense for keeping water away from the foundations. Installing leaf guards prevent leaves and twigs from building up and forming dams that collect dirt and debris, and will save you the trouble of cleaning your gutters each year.

Stop weeds growing between paving stones

To prevent weeds coming up between your patio paving stones, spread a little ice-melting calcium chloride over the sand in the joints.

A trellis can be painted with a roller

After it has been scraped and cleaned, a trellis can be painted using a long-haired (+ 15 mm) roller. Moreover, by rolling in both directions, you'll cover the entire surface in even less time.

Old hoses for outdoor electrical wiring

To protect buried electrical wiring or to run it around the foundation, split an old garden hose and insert the wires. They will be better protected and last longer, and what's more it will cost you nothing, whereas plastic conduit is fairly expensive and requires the proper adhesive and fittings.

Protect picnic table legs

To prevent picnic table legs from rotting, stand each one on an aluminum plate filled with a good-quality wood preserver. The wood will absorb the liquid and thus be effectively protected for years to come.

Sharpen garden tools

While it is important to properly choose your gardening tools, it is equally important to sharpen them. Sharpening shovels, turf cutters, axes and other outdoor implements will make it much easier to cut through stems, roots, hard soil and other obstacles. Using sharp tools also helps prevent back injuries or tendon strain.

Store garden hoses during the winter

Good-quality garden hoses are expensive and should be emptied, rolled up and stored in a shed during the winter. If they are left out, the water inside can freeze and cause them to split, making them unusable the following year. In addition, if there is an interior shut-off valve for the outside tap, turn this off and bleed the line to the outside to avoid burst pipes.

Keep your home pest- and draft-free

To keep animals and insects out of your home, make sure there are screens on all exterior vents and caulk small spaces where ducts and pipes enter the house. Stop drafts by checking that there are no gaps under garage doors or pet doors, that all doors and windows close well, and that the weather-stripping is in good condition.

For more information on proper insulation, read our tips on the subject.

Sprinkle cat litter on icy paths

One of the best products to use on an icy path or driveway is regular, non-clumping cat litter. Its gritty texture has effective anti-slip properties, and, unlike other products, it will not damage the concrete. However, make sure not to use clumping cat litter.

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