With the first day of spring coming up on March 20, the time has come in many areas to start shedding winter layers and encourage new growth. Whether the view out your window this month is of a snowy wonderland or something springy and green, these 10 to-dos should help you get in the spring spirit.
1. Remove storm windows and put up screens. If you used storm windows during the winter, take them down and put up window screens. If the weather has warmed where you live, take this opportunity to clean the windows, too.
2. Get lawn and garden tools tuned up. Sharp blades make for easier trimming, so bring in your gear now so you're ready to go when the lawn needs its first haircut.
3. Check the exterior. Once winter storms have passed, check the exterior of your home for signs of damage, from roof to foundation.
4. Pull out the porch furniture. Whether or not it's porch-sitting weather yet in your neck of the woods, just seeing your porch furniture out there can be enough to lift your spirits.
Plus, getting things set up early will give you time to inspect your chairs, benches and cushions, and replace or repair worn-out pieces.
5. Make a fresh start in the kitchen. Clear the last of the Christmas cookie makings from the back of the pantry, shine up the stove backsplash, wipe out the veggie drawers in the fridge and clear the gunk from those hard-to-reach spots around appliances. A few hours of work will make your kitchen shine and set the stage for cooking healthy spring meals.
6. Bring in a touch of spring. Help usher in the season with colors and accessories inspired by new growth. Try a fresh spring green or pale sky-blue wall color, blooming bulbs, houseplants, a new painting or art print, or botanically inspired decor.
7. Remove winter layers and rotate mattresses. Feeling a bit stifled under a pile of thick duvets? Swap out heavy winter bedding for lighter-weight quilts and coverlets. Also consider changing deep-pile rugs for flat-weave or natural-fiber versions for the warmer months. While you are sprucing up the bedroom, don't forget to rotate your mattress.
8. Clean carpets and soft furnishings. Have carpeting steam-cleaned and send out area rugs for professional cleaning. Launder washable curtains, furniture slipcovers, pillow covers and shower curtains. If you're done with those heavy duvets, have them cleaned before storing them.
9. Get organized for tax season. Be proactive and start sorting paperwork and computer files now, so when tax time arrives next month, you will be prepared. If, while organizing, you realize your record-keeping system leaves a little to be desired, take the time to set up a more effective system now for the year ahead.
10. Clean light fixtures and fan blades. Have you taken a close look at your light fixtures lately? Dust and, yes (as gross as they are), dead bugs build up in and around light fixtures. Use a vacuum with an attachment or a long-handled duster to clean pendant lights, chandeliers and fan blades. If you need to get closer, use a sturdy stepladder, not a chair. And don't forget to clean the floor when you're done -- some of that dust is bound to end up there.