How to Clean Up Your Backyard

Just as a quick vacuum and pick-up improves the appeal of the inside of your home, cleaning the backyard can make it more welcoming. Start with clearing trash and debris before you move on to lawn and garden maintenance and larger projects.

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Clean Sweep

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Whether it's old soda cans blown out of the recycling bin or candy wrappers left by neighborhood kids, mess has a way of accumulating in the backyard. The first step in tidying up is a simple "clean sweep." Start at one end of the backyard and work your way across. Pick up trash and broken tree branches. Recycle plastics and metals. You may also wish to move objects -- such as a play house or kiddie pool -- that will kill the grass underneath if left in one place too long.

Mow the Lawn

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A properly maintained lawn can give your backyard a fresh face, but homeowners often make mistakes with the mower. Before you get started, sharpen the mower blades for a clean cut. Dull blades make your lawn susceptible to disease and damage. Set the blade height at 2 1/2 to 3 inches. You may have to mow more often, but keeping the grass at longer lengths can prevent weed intrusion and encourage healthy root growth. If you mow the lawn regularly, it is okay to leave the clippings behind, as they will decompose and fertilize the lawn.

Flower Beds and Gardens

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Use a rake to pull dead leaves and debris out from underneath shrubs, bushes and perennials; they can mold or make the plants susceptible to disease. Pull up old annuals and cut back dead branches on trees and bushes. Put all of the plant matter into a compost bin to transform it into rich soil. Use an edger to tidy up the borders of your flower beds. If it is seasonally appropriate, you may wish to split and transplant perennials and apply fertilizer and mulch to your gardens.

Bigger Projects

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Some clean-up projects may take a few weekends. Survey your backyard and make a list of things you'd like to improve. The list may include items such as repainting the shed, fixing cracked walkways, putting in a new garden, repainting the fence and installing features such as a fountain or pond. Check with local authorities before making any major changes to your yard to ensure compliance with zoning and construction laws.