Prevent back pain during yard maintenance

Published On: Apr 11 2012 09:57:03 AM EDT   Updated On: Apr 25 2012 11:16:45 AM EDT

(NewsUSA) - Whether you're considering the resale value of your home or are simply resigned to doing maintenance projects to keep your house in good condition, your lawn and garden could certainly benefit from some TLC of the home- and lawn-improvement variety this spring.

The exterior of your house commands most first impressions, and even mild winters inflict seasonal damage. If you don't know where to start, a home-improvement project checklist may help. Consider the following lawn- and garden-maintenance tips from home and garden experts at HGTV and MarthaStewart.com:

* Remove piles of dead leaves from the lawn. Not only will your grass grow greener, a clean lawn helps maximize fertilizers and pesticides. Don't make the mistake of fertilizing your grass too early though. April is the general benchmark; any sooner might result in yellow spots and dried-out patches of grass.

* Check gutters for leaks and debris. Loose gutters cause improper drainage, so water can collect in basements and crawl spaces. Downspouts should point away from the foundation of the house and must be clear of all debris.

* Start a roof fund. It's a good rule of thumb to check your roof for rotted, buckled, loose or missing shingles after winter because summer sun will only worsen the damage. Since roof maintenance is so expensive, it's also smart to start a fund before you need it.

* Remove piles of wood or debris stacked near the home. Firewood should be kept far away from the foundation, and stacked 18 inches off the ground. These preventative measures help keep insect pests from exploring your home.

* Don't strain yourself, and stay hydrated. This might be the first time you've done any heavy lifting or spent hours in the sun for months. Remember to drink plenty of fluids, take breaks and stretch your muscles. If you suffer from backaches and muscle strains, keep some relief ointments on hand.

* Call a professional to clean your AC unit. Heating and cooling experts recommend an annual servicing since clean coils work more efficiently. When the summer's blazing heat drives you indoors, your family will appreciate having an AC operating at peak levels.