Getting your backyard ready for summer

Updated May 29, 2023

With the arrival of springtime and the warmer weather, our thoughts turn to the outdoors. If you have a backyard space, it’s time for hosting barbecues, relaxing on a hammock, or just curling up and reading a book. Or maybe, just puttering about in your garden, growing your own fruits and vegetables.

But before you do all that, it’s time to start thinking about getting the backyard ready for the warmer times ahead. We have some handy tips to help you prepare your backyard (in particular, your lawns and fences) for the outdoor season.

Thumbnail showing a backyard with lawn, fencing, and a red shed

General maintenance

Before starting any backyard projects, the first thing to do is to assess any damage your property might have sustained from the winter elements.

  • Take a look at the foundation of your house for any cracks or signs of water infiltration
  • Check your fences for any damage
  • Inspect the gutters for damage or obstruction, and clean as needed
  • Remove any debris that has accumulated in the yard

Tip:

If you have any bushes or small trees growing close to the house, you should have them removed as their roots can damage the foundation.

Lawn maintenance

The star of your backyard is your lawn so you will want to take good care of it. Not everyone is an expert landscaper, but with these simple tips, you should get the best out of your lawn during the warmer months.

Mowing

Your lawn will quickly start to grow as the weather warms up, and it’s time to get out your lawn mower. Do you have a traditional gas-powered mower? You may want to consider a battery-powered lawn mower as a more environmentally friendly option.

With a battery-powered machine, you don’t have to worry about gas and oil, or struggling with a pull cord. You just need to have a charged battery and you’re ready to go! Battery-powered mowers also make less noise and are generally easier to maneuver around your yard.

Which kind of mower you use will depend on the size of your yard. If you have a big yard that takes well over an hour to mow, a battery-powered mower may not have enough charge to last the duration. In that case, a gas-powered machine would still be the better option.

Try not to mow your lawn when the grass is still wet and never mow your lawn when it’s raining. Not only does wet grass damage your mower, but you also run the risk of slipping and exposing yourself to the mower’s blades or getting an electric shock (if you are using a battery-powered machine).

top-down image of a green lawn mower on the grass

Watering

The best times to water your lawn are early morning and around dusk. You only need to water the grass for 20 minutes at a time, twice a week, as the lawn only needs about 2.5 to 4 cm of water per week. In an effort to conserve water, most municipalities have regulations in place as to what days and how often you can water your lawn during the hotter months. If you are not sure, check with your city or town.

Weeding

Weeds are invasive plants that compete with other plants in your yard and garden for space, water and nutrients, so it is important to remove them as much as possible. The best time to do so is after it rains or after watering the lawn, as the soil is softer and looser.

There are a variety of tools you can use (including your hands) to remove weeds, the most common being the garden knife and garden (or Dutch) hoe. Whatever tools you use, make sure you pull out the weed and its roots, otherwise the weed will just regenerate.

Tip:

Don’t remove your dandelions. They are actually good for your lawn as their roots loosen hard-packed soil and aerate the earth. Dandelions are also a natural fertilizer—their roots pull nutrients such as calcium from the soil to the benefit of other plants.

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Fence maintenance

A wood fence gives your backyard privacy and style—but only if it’s maintained properly.

A properly-cared-for fence should last 8-15 years. Your fence is exposed to moisture and insects, which cause the structure to rot. That barbecue you were planning to host will not be as pleasant if your guests see missing planks of wood or nails sticking out of your fence!

Annual inspection

Every year, inspect the fence for damage or decay, like broken boards, and loose nails and screws. If you detect any cracks in the wood, you can use a waterproof wood glue to prevent moisture from causing further deterioration.

Painting and staining

If you have had a new fence installed, you should wait a year before staining or painting it to allow time for the wood and chemicals used for pressure treating to dry. The last thing you want to do is seal moisture in, which can lead to decay.

Every 3 to 5 years you should repaint or re-stain the fence. Exterior oil-based stains or latex paints seal out moisture, prevent decay, and extend the life of the wood. Always remember to let the wood dry for about a week before applying a stain or sealant.

Longer term maintenance

Pressure treated wood can still swell, shrink, crack, or warp, which means you need to maintain your fence every 2 or 3 years. Reducing the fence’s exposure to moisture will extend the life of the structure. Set up your sprinklers so they don’t wet the fence or cause the growth of moss. Prevent vines or bushes from growing on the fence, as they add both moisture and weight.

Every 3 to 5 years, remove dirt, moss, and mildew. If you see any mould, spray a solution of 4 parts mild detergent and 1 part bleach on the fence an hour before washing it to kill off any mold spores.

Home insurance considerations

Square One offers optional coverage for detached structures, fences and landscaping. Detached structures include things like sheds and gazebos, while landscaping includes trees, shrubs, plants, and your lawn. However, insurance won’t cover damage to landscaping caused by disease, drought, water, wind, hail or weight of ice or snow.

Proper backyard maintenance is also important with respect to liability insurance. Remember that you could be liable if one of your guests happens to injure themselves by tripping over a poorly-placed garden hose or stepping on a loose nail.

Commonly asked questions

What is the ideal height for my grass?

You don’t want to mow your lawn too low. Generally, you should not remove more than one-third of the glass blade height. If you cut too low, you expose the lawn’s canopy to the sun and heat, which can increase weed growth. Taller grass retains more water, produces more chlorophyll, and provides shade for the soil.

Use the three-inch (7.62 cm) setting on your mower. You can change the setting by moving the adjustable handle near the front wheel. The higher you cut, the more the grass roots will extend into the soil. The roots of a one-inch-high blade of grass will only extend three inches into the soil, while those of a three-inch-high blade will go up to nine inches deep. Deep roots translate into a healthier and more resilient lawn.

For the final mowing of the season, it is recommended that you cut the grass to a height of two inches in preparation for the colder weather.

How much does a wood fence cost?

The cost to install a wood fence depends on a number of factors, such as the type of wood, the height of the fence, the region you live in, whether or not you do the work yourself or hire someone else, and whether you share the costs with your neighbours. The best thing to do is get an estimate from a professional contractor.

Can you eat dandelions?

Yes! Dandelions are a great source of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins A, C and K. These plants contain several antioxidants which help protect your body’s cells. Dandelions also reduce inflammation, help manage blood pressure and lower cholesterol. Feel free to add the greens and the flowers to a fresh salad, just make sure they have not been exposed to chemicals.

Want to learn more? Visit our Homeowner resource centre for more articles created specifically to help you navigate homeownership. Or, get an online quote in under 5 minutes and find out how affordable personalized home insurance can be.

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