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2012 Spring Maintenance Tips

Ah, spring has sprung and it’s time to take stock of the ravages of winter. Whether you’re getting ready to plant your new seasonal garden, or you’re still keeping the snow shovel handy, it won’t be long before the real green shoots (not the ones Washington has promised) assert their presence in your lawn and garden.

There are numerous tasks you can perform in spring, so be sure to refer to our Seasonal Checklists. However, two of the most important maintenance tasks involve your yard fencing and your irrigation system. Although wooden fencing will warp, twist, split, rot and become a candidate for early replacement, by taking a few simple steps annually, the life of a fence can be extended to 20 years or more. Here’s what to do: look for warped or split boards and replace them. Look for top and bottom rails that have pulled away from the posts. Re-nail with a one size larger galvanized nail, or if the gap is too big, tie the post and rail together with a galvanized framing strap. Posts that have rotted can be replaced with post replacement kit found at any home improvement store. However, posts that have leaned over more than 10 degrees should be dug out and re-leveled or replaced.

The other maintenance item is your irrigation system. Whether you live in an area that is subject to freezing or not, your irrigation water should be turned off at the main supply valve during the winter months. If you leave the water on and only turn the controller off, you could be asking for a big surprise water bill. Here’s why: electric irrigation valves are notorious for sticking open, sticking closed, and leaking at the main body gasket. Valves are usually housed in an underground box where small leaks can go undetected for weeks or months. Turning off the controller just turns off the power to the valves, and if the irrigation water supply is still on, the valves are under pressure. If a valve is stuck slightly open, it will allow water to flow to the sprinkler heads. If the main body gasket is loose, water will drip out between the two valve parts. Fixing a valve that sticks open or closed usually involves replacement of the solenoid, a simple task that runs about $25 in parts. Fixing a valve that leaks at the main body gasket involves tightening the screws that hold the two parts together. If that doesn’t work, then the entire valve will need to be replaced at a cost of about $45 in parts.

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