Your Guide to Outdoor Maintenance — Southwest
If you live in the Southwest, prevent problems and preserve the value of your property with proactive outdoor maintenance.
The unfailing sunshine that makes the Southwest the envy of the rest of the country also simplifies some routine outdoor maintenance tasks. There aren’t many leaf-filled gutters to be cleaned in most parts of the region, for example, and excessive humidity is rarely an issue.
Still, homeowners from Texas to Colorado to Southern California face challenges that include extremely dry conditions punctuated by brief, torrential downpours, and temperature variations that may swing 40 to 50 degrees between midday and midnight. If you live in the Southwest, here are the crucial outdoor maintenance tasks you should perform to protect your home and help preserve its value for decades to come.
Check for drainage problems
In flood-prone areas, check any drainage swales located on your lot—and look at the space between your house and neighboring ones—to ensure that these crucial drainage areas haven’t become clogged with debris and vegetation. Remove yard waste and any shrubs or plants that may interfere with the free flow of storm water.
Keep an eye on drainage channels or gutter openings in the street for debris as well. If you notice potential problems, notify your local water works department. Keeping municipal water drainage systems working helps ensure that heavy rainfall will flow off properly, reducing the likelihood of water backing up and damaging your property.
Prune back vegetation
Prune back any vegetation that’s encroaching on the house. Cut back shrubs and bushes so that they’re no closer than 3 feet from siding. Remove overhanging branches so they’re no closer than 10 feet from siding or roofing, preventing them from rubbing against exterior surfaces in the wind. “I’ve seen overhanging palm fronds wear the coating right off roof shingles,” says Upland, Calif., home inspector Jim Turner, a past-president of the National Association of Home Inspectors.
Overgrowth can also present a fire and a flooding hazard; check with local fire officials about exactly how wide an area should be kept clear around your home. In some areas, codes call for up to 30 feet of clear space around your home. Be sure to annually prune ornamental trees and shrubs, which can grow quickly in the ideal conditions of an irrigated landscape in the sunny Southwest.
Caring for lawns
Proper mowing techniques are the best way to maintain turf health. Mow as often as required to ensure that you’re never removing more than one-third of the grass height; removing more than that may shock grass plants. Keep your mower blade sharp to avoid tearing the grass.
Use the mulch setting to return the grass clippings to the soil, where they help the soil retain moisture. Eventually, clippings decompose, providing nutrients for the lawn. “Mulched clippings are better for your lawn than any fertilizer you put down,” says Turner.
Talk to a local garden center or state extension service about a fertilizing regimen you can use to strengthen your lawn’s roots and build disease resistance. Or, have a landscaping company handle the cutting and feeding. Expect to pay $50 to $100 per cut and per fertilizer application, depending on the size of your property.
Calling your Dallas roofing contractors should be part of a regular annual maintenance routine. We suggest planning ahead when needing to schedule inspections. There are also plenty of things you can do by yourself to maintain your home.
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